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What is the Higgs boson?

  1. Aug 9, 2015 #1
    Is highs boson a subatomic particle? If so what gives it mass. I mean if Higgs boson give mass to other particles then what gives mass to Higgs boson? Also could anyone explain how it can give mass to other particles?

    I would also like to ask about the light photons. How come they hon have mass yet they can give out so much energy? Could we say that photons are a type of antimatter?

    Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2015 #2


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    The Higgs boson does not give other particles mass. That is done by the Higgs field and the boson is just transient excitation of that field.

    They have the energy that was imparted to them when they were created.(see note 1)

    No, why would we?

    (1) photons can (and do) lose energy (but not speed) as they traverse cosmological distances in the expanding universe.
  4. Aug 9, 2015 #3
    So what is Higgs field and what does it mean by 'the boson is just transient excitation of the field?

    How are light photons created?

    I do not know much about antimatter. All I know is that antimatter is opposite of matter so I think that anitimatter is matter but with no mass. So could you explain what antimatter is and its properties and also are light photons one of its kind or are there other subatomic particles with properties akin to photons?

  5. Aug 9, 2015 #4


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    I'll answer what I can:

    By the interactions of other particles.

    No, that is not correct.

    Antimatter particles have exactly the same mass as their matter counterparts. What they have is the opposite electric charge. This is a trivial definition and you could have found it on Google.

    No as I already said, that is not the case.

    Akin in what way? The most noticeable attribute of photons is that they have momentum but no mass. There are other properties. I suggest that you study the Standard Model (just Google it) and see what the various properties are of the various particles and how they relate to each other.
  6. Aug 9, 2015 #5
    I will phinds. Thanks a lot for you help
  7. Aug 9, 2015 #6


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    That's very difficult to explain and has to do with how things work in quantum field theories. Put simply, in a quantum field theory, particles are actually excitations of fields. So electrons are excitations of an electron field much like photons are excitations of the EM field.

    The acceleration of charged particles creates photons.

    Read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter

    There are other massless particles out there, specifically gluons, but they do not behave the same as photons.
  8. Aug 13, 2015 #7
    I recall reading that a photon is the only particle that is it's own anti-particle. That has nothing to do with anti-mater, but it sounds right when I think of waves completely out of phase.

    But what seems right for waves seems wrong for particles. Is the "anti-photon" also a photon? Admittedly it seems a bit of a meaningless question, but I was suddenly confused by it.
  9. Aug 13, 2015 #8


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    photon === anti-photon
    They are the same thing. There is no difference other than the name.
  10. Aug 13, 2015 #9


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    All elementary bosons other than the W boson are their own anti-particle. The W boson consists of a W+ and W- boson, which are a each others anti-particle, just like how the electron and positron are each others anti-particle. The other 4 bosons, the photon, Z boson, gluon, and Higgs boson, are their own antiparticles.

    There is no such thing as an anti-photon. All photons are identical. The fact that several bosons are their own anti-particles doesn't mean that there is a different type of that boson, it just means that two identical bosons, such as two photons, can annihilate each other and turn into different particles. For example, two photons of high enough energy can annihilate each other and form an electron-positron pair. This reaction is the reverse of the annihilation of an electron-positron pair, which forms two gamma ray photons.
  11. Aug 13, 2015 #10
    I would have to stick close to phinds answer. A higgs being a force carrier would not have mass but it's signature has the effect of giving mass. This is one of those areas that seem to be mostly theory at this point making it hard to nail down an answer. For now I look at higgs field(s) the same way all other forces exist, emf, weak, strong. I think mass is what the particles hold within their sphere of existence. Without the higgs they would appear to not have mass and thus the rules of interaction would change for the whole standard model.
    What ever happened to the Gravaton? I think the Higgs ate it in a classical sense. I strongly believe that we see a better answer in Higgs theory.

    I'm going to take a throw up a hypothesis that I have been working on understanding photons from a different angle. Reading this today gave me more thought. If a photon exists as both of it's counterpart then is it possible that the photon is a binary particle and being both particle and anti-particle might explain how it behaves as a wave and why it slips through the higgs fields. Since higgs fields are bent by mass then the photon follows the matrix and bends with it following classical rules.
  12. Aug 13, 2015 #11


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    The Higgs boson has a mass of 125 GeV. Being a force carrier does not mean that the boson has no mass. In reality, most of the force carriers do indeed have mass. Note that the Higgs boson itself doesn't give particles mass, it is the particles interaction with the Higgs field that gives them mass. This is known as the Higgs mechanism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_mechanism

    I believe it is the other way around. Without the Higgs mechanism particles wouldn't have mass.

    The graviton is the force carrier for gravitation, not for mass. It has not been found and it is unknown whether General Relativity and Quantum Physics can be unified.

    Nowhere in mainstream science will you find a photon described as a binary particle nor can this behavior explain how it behaves as a wave or why the Higgs mechanism doesn't give it mass. Please don't speculate in this manner.
  13. Aug 14, 2015 #12
    Thanks for catching that mistake on the first note about the higgs having no mass, i was thinking of way outside the box.
    Pleas don't snipe, like others I'm just here to learn. We have only begun to get close enough to photons to learn their behavior much less what their composition is. I'm sure I am off the mark by quite a bit but discussion breads knowledge if we let it.
  14. Aug 14, 2015 #13


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    For your continued enjoyment of this site, you would do well to read the forum rules. This site is specifically not about speculation, it's about known science. This can be frustrating at times, but was long ago decided on by the owner and his minions (he loves having minions but says they refuse to wash his car) as the best policy. So Drakkith was giving you a polite warning about this, not "sniping" as you put it.
  15. Aug 14, 2015 #14


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    I'm a Mentor (moderator). It's my job to inform people when they've stepped beyond what our rules allow. Please see PF Terms and Rules regarding speculation (under General Content Guidelines then Non-Mainstream Theories, fourth bullet point). Since further discussion of this would be off topic for this thread, please send me a private message if you wish to discuss our rules further.
  16. Aug 14, 2015 #15


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    Ah, Drakkith, a day late and a dollar short, as usual. :smile:
  17. Aug 15, 2015 #16


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    To the OP: if you are still looking, here's a video that might address your question on "What is a Higgs?" at a rather elementary level. It won't address everything because parts of your question require that you understand what a "quantum field theory" is.

    Note that this video was created before the Higgs was discovered at the LHC.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2015
  18. Aug 15, 2015 #17
    I thought it was still an open question of whether anti-matter would fall "up". I guess I associated that as analogous to the electric charge, with the positron-electron pair annihilating the equal and opposite electric charges.

    This may just be a speculative question or it may be a linguistic thing, but is anti-matter, anti-mass? Or is that a meaningless question? Mass is scalar, so it the electron has mass of +1, and the positron has mass of -1, ... that is the "same" mass?

    Has the question of whether a neutral anti-matter atom (anti-hydrogen) has ordinary gravitational attraction to ordinary mass, or repulsion been measured? I did a quick google and did not see an answer, but that doesn't always work.

    FWIW ... as I re-read the previous comments, I think the question is answered. Anti-matter will have ordinary gravitational attraction to other matter, following ordinary mass-bassed math. That seems to follow from the comment:
  19. Aug 15, 2015 #18


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    No. See below.

    No. Both have positive mass. Their charges are opposite, but their masses are of the same sign. Going from a particle to its antipartlcle doesn't change the sign of the mass.

    Not directly, no; the gravity of objects of that size is much too weak to measure directly. However, there is a lot of indirect evidence that antimatter and matter attract each other gravitationally.

    If your reasoning here is that antimatter must attract matter because the graviton is its own antiparticle, there are two problems with that:

    First, the graviton is not one of the Standard Model particles, which are what the statement you quoted applied to. Gravity is not included in the Standard Model. The graviton is a hypothesized "force carrier" particle for gravity in various suggested quantum gravity theories, but none of those theories have experimental confirmation.

    Second, the reason gravity is attractive between antimatter and matter, assuming we treat the graviton as a "force carrier" particle similar to the others, is not that the graviton is its own antiparticle; it's that the graviton is spin-2 while the other force carriers are spin-1. Only force carriers with odd spin can produce interactions that have both attraction and repulsion, like electromagnetism. Even spin force carriers can only produce attraction.

    If you want to discuss the above further, you should start a new thread, since it's a different topic and is also more advanced.
  20. Aug 15, 2015 #19


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    There is no direct measurement of antimatter falling down due to gravity yet, but experiments should achieve the required precision within the next years. There are no serious doubts that it will fall down, however. 99% of the mass of atoms is QCD binding energy, which is the same for matter and antimatter. It is known that this binding energy reacts to gravity in the same way electrons and quarks do - this can be tested with ordinary matter of different types.
  21. Aug 15, 2015 #20
    I'm satisfied with the explanations I've read. While I could try to get the last its of nuance, I think I can wait for another day. And I hope the original post got a good answer ... I thought one was in there, and my side question probably confused that enough already. That was not my intent when I read the question whether photons could be considered a type of anti-matter ... it just led to a small side question.
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