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The Oh-My-God particle

  1. Jul 13, 2004 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2004 #2
    Higgs' hypothesis (so far, this is just an hypothesis) is beautiful. It is elegant, appealing, etc... because it allows to rescue symmetries that are not observed in nature, but that still pertains to physical laws. The purpose of the Higgs boson is unification. We would like it to occur.

    But we don't NEED it. We can deal without it. As long as its mere existence is not established, we should not care wether it is real or not. Only experiment can tell. Therefore, I would suggest not to use such "name" as "God particle", which is rather ridiculous for a scientist (don't you agree?). I do not expect physicist to quit their jobs if the Higgs boson does not show up at LHC.

    Besides, the Higgs mechanism is far more general than that. It is actually used here and there, in various models to generates particles from the breaking of a particular symmetry. In this case, we have effective theory describing effectively particular situation. But this is already enough to justify the study of Higgs mechanism by itself, with or without the Higgs fundamental particle of the standard model.

    I don't really understand the link with ultra-high energy protons in cosmic rays, "Oh my God"-particle as they put it.
  4. Jul 15, 2004 #3


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    I very much agree with you. In addition, the Higgs mechanism itself was "stolen" (the words of Alex Abrikosov, not me) from condensed matter physics. John Marburger, the current embattled science advisor to George Bush, even said that the Higgs mechanism came in from the back door from condensed matter into particle physics.

    The current issue of Physics World has a very revealing interview with Peter Higgs.


    I also wish those who are new to PF would do some checking of the archive. There's already a gazillion stuff mentioned about the Higgs.

  5. Jul 15, 2004 #4
    higgs marburger and qft

    I remember him talking about this while i was at Stony Brook. He used to joke with the particle guys all the time. This was when D0 was stil big news and RHIC was just setting up. After they found the top quark, the buzz was all about how "the Higgs was next" He seemed to think otherwise.

    'course this was a revelation for me.. at the time i thought condensed matter was all about semi classical physics...i could never understand why all the condensed matter grad students took so many QFT courses.
  6. Jul 16, 2004 #5


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    I don't quite agree, it would be a serious blow to Particle physics if we didn't discover the Higgs. I think most scientists would postulate that it was simply at higher energy, and we couldn't see it at LHC, rather than assume its nonexistance.

    If it doesn't exist, then well the electro-weak force is more or less completely up in the air, and we would need to revisit a large part of the theory.

    The standard model would then be in a situation where things are a lot more ugly, finetuned and somewhat adhoc than it already is, and we would be at a complete loss when it came down to explaining some rather fundamental mathematical questions.

    I don't feel this is appreciated enough in some circles. The standard model will fall quite far, if there is no Higgs. In fact, it will endanger a lot of current models ranging as far as the role of neutrinos in astrophysics and stellar fusion, all the way to the more archaic features of quantum gravity.

    It will be one of the biggest mistakes in the history of science, and an immense back to the drawing boards vibe.
  7. Jul 16, 2004 #6
    you can also say that the young physicists can partly benefit from this because new ideas should be put to the drawing boards, but the older physicists will be much more disappointed than the youngsters (or so i think).
  8. Jul 16, 2004 #7


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    A mechanism similar to Higgs happen when you try to do QFT in a two-sheeted space, which is a very abstract mathematical formalism. If the mass adquisition method is not Higgs', it will be very close.
  9. Jul 16, 2004 #8
    There is un upper bound on the Higgs mass around 130 to 190 GeV, from constraints on the scale at which the coupling to the Higgs blows up. (I just quote PDG 2002)
    I thought LHC will be able to reach this !?
  10. Jul 16, 2004 #9


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    That would be a scalar Higgs sector, not necessarily something a little more complicated
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