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What is the relationship between fields and particles

  1. Jul 5, 2012 #1
    Just trying to get my head around the very basics of the Higgs discovery.

    Could someone describe the relationship between the Higgs Field and the Higgs boson. A confusing point for a layman like myself is that if the particle decays so rapidly, how is it that there is an omnipresent Higgs Field that doesn't 'decay' so to speak.

    Apologize in advance if this is a silly question.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    The common metaphore for picturing particles as force-mediators is to imagine you and a mate sitting on well oiled office chairs - the kind with wheels - on a smooth surface. You each have some basket balls.

    If you chuck a ball at your friend and they catch it, you and your friend end up moving away from each other ... a repulsive force. But if you pass close enough for you to pass the ball over, the short time you are both holding on makes you rotate about each other: an attractive force.

    You can have a wide field of short-lived particles if there are a lot of them all over the place. However - the HIggs Boson is a short-lived purturbation in the field. You may as well ask how you can have an ocean-wide load of water when the waves that make it up are transient... though deeper: it's similar to wave-particle duality and the argument about locality.

    Here's another analogy ... none of these will be complete you realise: they are just metaphors. To understand this properly you have to get into the math.
  4. Jul 5, 2012 #3


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    Another metaphor: The omnipresent Higgs field is like a sea without waves. The LHC machine created a wave in the Higgs sea, and that wave is the Higgs particle.
  5. Jul 5, 2012 #4
    I think the field is an auxiliary concept (I'm not an expert, so I'm not that sure)
    What you do have physically are states (quantum state) that correspond to the actual physical situations, for example you could have a state that corresponds to two higgs particles and an electron running around,, we have theories that tell us how these states evolve over time (that's where quantum FIELD theory is useful). states with higgs particles rapidly evolve into states with other lighter particles or they tend to go to the ground state which i think corresponds to the sea without waves analogy.

    I think this is the view that takes particles as more fundamental than fields (waves) you only need to describe what the particles are doing and the field is auxiliary (again not an expert :).
  6. Jul 5, 2012 #5


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    John Ellis at CERN explains What is the Higgs boson in which the field and the relationship of the particle are explained.
  7. Jul 5, 2012 #6

    Simon Bridge

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    Oh dear ... I can hear the Aetheric theorists approaching...
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