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B What's an electron doing between interactions?

  1. Apr 8, 2016 #1
    I know an electron is constantly flipping between two quantum spin states. I know that one spin takes slightly more energy than the other and it gets and drops this energy into and from the Higgs field, which gives it mass. The default behavior of all particles is to travel at the speed of light, only interaction with the Higgs field causes any other speed.

    So here's my question, if the interaction with the Higgs field is what's causing the spin flips, what's going on in between? Is the electron not interacting with the Higgs field during that time? If not, is it traveling at the speed of light and doing momentary pauses during interaction which causes a statistical velocity of less than c?

    Or is the question completely non-sensical since it's in a superposition of all possible paths?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 8, 2016 #2
    Can you explain that with a mathematical model?
  4. Apr 8, 2016 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    That's wrong.

    What's going on between observations QM is silent about.

    QM is a theory about observations that appear in a common-sense classical world that exists independent of conciousness, observers etc - basically free of all the junk you read in pop-sci accounts. Anything beyond that the theory says nothing - although interpretations have various takes.

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  5. Apr 8, 2016 #4
    I've never seen this explained that way. Can I ask where it came from?
  6. Apr 11, 2016 #5
    It came from astrophycistist Matthew O’Dowd
  7. Apr 11, 2016 #6
    Fascinating. I'm curious about how this narration is received by the "orthodox" physicists here. They frequently don't care much for the popularizations of these subjects for us laypeople. Any opinions from the smart table?
  8. Apr 11, 2016 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I think this "spin flipping back and forth" thing is a metaphor for quantum superposition of the two spin states.
  9. Apr 11, 2016 #8
    But there is apparently an "energetic" interaction between the superposed electron state and the Higgs field that has something to do with asymmetry in spin chirality. Would you care to offer a dumbed down explanation of that?
  10. Apr 12, 2016 #9
    I watched a lecture from Nima Arkani that sort of explained why we have spin 2 massless particles.

    The explanation was that because mass-less articles travel at the speed of light, they can only spin in two directions, "frontwards" and "backwards", because everything in between would mean that it would have to be going slower then light to have such a spin state (In other words it would have a mass). His example was as follows :

    If you were to travel along with this mass-less particle as it goes at the speed of light, you wouldn't be able to see it in any other state, because if you were to see it spinning in any other direction, it would imply FTL travel.

    I may be butchering what he said, so if i find the lecture in question that i'm referring to i'll link it here so that there's no confusion.
    EDIT: I believe this is the video. at 18:56 He begins talking about what i just spoke of
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
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