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Author Topic: Higgs theory  (Read 3761 times)

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Offline feebix

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Higgs theory
« on: 20:15:14, 24 April, 2012 »
I was watching a program on the L.H.C the other day, and the Higgs theory was explained a little before moving on to show a few graffics representing the proton collision they hoped to see and the decay trail that would prove the existance of the Higgs bozon. It left me with a couple of questions I felt silly just asking the telly.  :canadian:   Firstly, the Higgs theory about this field that supposedly gives slower moving particles thier matter. I can't quite see how this theory actually answered the question? *Where do base particles get thier matter from?* Hasn't he just answered the question with a parallel of the question? I mean... If we want to know where the mass came from, how does it surfice to say "It came from a field we haven't discovered yet" When there's no explaination on how the theoretical field might have obtained the mass? You could spend generations answering questions like that and not get anywhere surely? Not that I don't see the point of the theory of course. He's shown a theoretical mechanism that potentially explains a part of what happens I suppose... So that's the first question and the second is.... If ALL fields have a particle "related" to them as this program explained. What are some other field related particles? and how are they related to/how do they react with thier field? Why do fields have related partices in the first place? Does that mean that particle has some hand in creating the field?
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Offline andrew s

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #1 on: 09:21:11, 25 April, 2012 »
Tough questions! Simple bit first? Modern quantum mechanics describes the world in terms of particles and fields the forces of which are mediated by their particles. So for example the electromagnetic force is mediated by the photon and the force of gravity via the graviton. Only particles with electric charge feel the electromagnetic force – i.e. interact with photons and only those with mass interact with graviton.

The difficult bit is that, at least from my philosophical stand point, out theories are just models of the world. Physical theories just tell us how to predict what will happen and in the case of quantum mechanics what will happen on average. In a sense they don't tell us what the world is just how to calculate about it.

Hope this helps a bit

Andrew

Offline chris.bailey

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #2 on: 12:57:49, 25 April, 2012 »
Is this not just an example of the way science has developed. Earlier people made observations and then developed theories to explain those observations or at least a best fit to them. Now the theories come first and then a fortune is spent making observations to prove or disprove the theory. In doing so other things are observed that were not expected and needing some fundamental rule re-writing and round it all goes again. Latest one seems to be the non-existence of all this dark matter than some pretty fundamental theories rely on being there. Trouble is that as Evan Davies put it on Radio 4 yesterday "it seems to be hiding round the corner" and the latest observations seem to suggest there is a lot less of it out there than is needed to explain Big Bang. Now that would put the cat amongst the pigeons.
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Offline andrew s

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #3 on: 14:02:10, 25 April, 2012 »
Chris - I think in science it has always been a mix of theory and observation. It is very difficult to make an observation without some theoretical assumptions (even if they are not made explicit). The key requirement for me that for a theory to be scientific is that it must make prediction about what will be observed in situations not used to construct the theory.

To this end I feel modern research into string, M theory etc. are more akin to meta physics as the energy range they consider is not accessible even in astronomical events.

Astronomy has a particular challenge as a science as normally our theories are not directly testable via an experiment we can control. However, without making correction required by the theory of general relativity our GPS system would not be as accurate as they are and would be unusable!

Regards Andrew

Offline feebix

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #4 on: 01:15:49, 26 April, 2012 »
That did help some thanks yes :-) It also adds a question or two though as is so often the case in science! I hadn't thought a graviton had mass? I'm not sure exactly what i thought it was even but... it's a particle?!
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Offline andrew s

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #5 on: 08:12:55, 26 April, 2012 »
That did help some thanks yes :-)  I hadn't thought a graviton had mass? I'm not sure exactly what i thought it was even but... it's a particle?!

Neither the graviton nor the photon has mass. The graviton just mediates the gravitational force which acts between particles with mass. The Higgs boson is supposed to give them mass and is the particle of the Higgs field. Just as a photon mediates the force between electrically charged particles it is itself without charge or mass. As far as I know particles just have or don't have electric charge there is no proposed extra field/particle to give them it.

Regards Andrew

Offline feebix

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #6 on: 20:07:06, 26 April, 2012 »
The word "Particle" suggested in my mind that it had mass. You don't really think of a particle of nothing do you? lol Do you see what I mean? That's what threw me there....
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Offline Ian Straton

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #7 on: 23:44:13, 26 April, 2012 »
The Higgs Boson (and by extension the Higgs field) give other, massive, particles their mass (where the word massive means they have mass and therefore interact with gravity rather than being any indication of their size!).

In particle physics the world splits into essentially two groups: Bosons and Fermions.

Bosons have no mass, their function is transmit forces between Fermions (the photon transmits electromagnetism, the Gluon the Strong nuclear force, which binds atomic nuclei together and the W & Z transmit the Weak nuclear force which holds sub atomic particles like neutrons together, the hypothetical Graviton would mediate gravity if General relativity is wrong.. and the Higgs is a bit odd in that it doesn't directly mediate a force but does allow Gravity to do its thing.  I should also point out that at VERY high energies the electromagnetic force and the weak force unify to become the electro-weak force but this is not a concern in the "everyday" world of QP)

That answers your second question I think..

Fermions have mass and make up ordinary matter (electrons, protons and neutrons as well as their constituent quarks)

(The above is a gross simplification which will get me thoroughly stamped on by any quantum physicists that happen to drift by but it will do for now!)

From the above we can see that the Higgs bosun itself does not have any mass which avoids the circular logic problem you bring up in your first question, it imbues other particles with mass through its interactions but doesn not itself have any mass.

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #8 on: 23:57:58, 26 April, 2012 »
Is this not just an example of the way science has developed. Earlier people made observations and then developed theories to explain those observations or at least a best fit to them. Now the theories come first and then a fortune is spent making observations to prove or disprove the theory.

Not strictly true Chris, the quantum theories of the standard model were derived directly from observation of physical phenomena in the real world, in order to understand what was going on Quantum Mechanics was developed. QM in all its flavours makes a staggering number of predictions which can only be tested at the extraordinary energy levels produced by the LHC and other particle accelerators, it is however very important to test these predictions in order to verify the limits and usefulness of QM at lower energy levels, its the same reason we keep testing general relativity, the more accurately we constrain its limits by testing its predictions the more accurately we can use the properties it describes in our everyday lives.

The Higgs Boson was predicted by QM Standard model, without it the standard model does not work at all and everything we have built on our current understanding of QM would not work, however since the computer I am typing on, the CD you are listening too and the Microwave Feebix heated his tea in earlier all do work it seemed sensible to look for the Higgs Boson just to make sure.. Actually knowing it exists (and more importantly at what energy levels it exists) will allow more accurate use of Quantum theory as it applies to doing useful stuff like communicating and designing complex electronics in the future.

So even QM follows the classic scientific method: Observe, hypothesis, prediction, test, refine hypothesis, test again, (when your hypothesis explains all currently observed phenomena it becomes a theory) its just that it is rather harder to test for the Higgs than the electron..

Offline feebix

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #9 on: 02:00:31, 27 April, 2012 »
How very DARE you suggest I own a microwave Ian Straton! Microwaves suck all of the taste out of food or even a cup of tea and I'm buggered if I'd ever or HAVE ever used one of the bloody things now appologise before I come round your house and wee through your letter box...
R.R.W.

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #10 on: 09:32:36, 27 April, 2012 »
Ha Ha!  I think our letterbox is a bit high off the ground even for you but I won't risk it!  I hereby apologise with the utmost profuseness. :butt:

Offline andrew s

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #11 on: 12:11:17, 27 April, 2012 »
What Ian said about the elementary bosons and fermions is correct but the real difference between them is that bosons have multiples of integer spin and fermions multiples of half integer spin. Bosons & fermions can be compound particles like atoms or ions and well as the elementary particles. Spin is one of the quantum numbers, like electrical charge, that characterises the particles

The difference between them is that they interfere quantum mechanically in different ways. The bosons interfere so that they try to get in to the same state and this gives us the wonders of LASERs, MASERs and super-fluid He4. While fermions interfere in such a way no two can be in the same state which gives us the structure of the electrons in atoms and so all of chemistry and hence life it ‘self.

While classical ideas are simpler to grasp than quantum mechanics, as we can’t experience the magic of the quantum world directly, without it we would not be here and unable to urinate or not, depending on your height, through letter boxes!

Regards Andrew

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #12 on: 13:31:22, 27 April, 2012 »
see I told you I would get stamped on  :laugh:

Offline andrew s

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #13 on: 15:20:13, 27 April, 2012 »
see I told you I would get stamped on  :laugh:

Strange kind of stamping as I was agreeing with you but just trying to point out the wonder of the difference between bosons & fermions - sorry if you were offended in anyway that was not my intention. Andrew

Offline Ian Straton

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Re: Higgs theory
« Reply #14 on: 17:31:36, 27 April, 2012 »
oh absolutely not offended Andrew, glad to have your input, I'm never sure with these threads how detailed to make the first responses, I think it is good to build the detail but I didn't want to go in too hot all on my own! 

 

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