General Question

flo's avatar

Are they going to see what Higgs Boson is made up of?

Asked by flo (7163 points ) July 8th, 2012

I’m trying to see if I got it right. The protons,electrons and the neutrons are made up of Higgs Boson? Is that what they are saying? If so, now that they have found that out, are they going to have to figure out what that is made up of? If not why is that the end of the line?

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8 Answers

ETpro's avatar

No, not exactly. Here’s a simple video that might help you follow what they are chasing. Particle might even be a misleading term. The Higgs is really a field that seems to impart mass to particles traveling through it. The more a particle interacts with the Higgs Field, the more mass it will have. The Higgs field seems to permeate all open space.

The Standard Model was in need of the Higgs. It wouldn’t hold true if there were no Higgs Field. But while the Standard Model predicts a great deal about particle physics exactly, it is clearly off target in some important areas. So we have a lot more to learn. Either we are just looking at the tip of an iceberg, or we’re looking at nearly everything that’s there, but we haven’t figured out how to interpret it well at all yet. Which is it? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

My understanding is that, as set out in the theory, a Higgs particle is an excitation of the Higgs field and as such it does not represent an assemblage of other more-fundamental particles. Neither does the Higgs particle contribute as a building block in the make-up of other particles.

Like @ETpro says, what’s important is that interactions between the Higgs field and other particles result in the mass associated with those particles.

Electroweak theory (the “mixing” of electromagnetism with the weak nuclear force and one of the two pillars of the Standard Model alongside the strong nuclear force) in particular depends on this interaction with the Higgs field to make physical and mathematical sense. Particle physicists have been largely assuming this field has been “out there” (in the figurative sense, literally it should fill all space) since about 1971. But it would be strange for there to be a Higgs field but no corresponding particle. So physicists have been on the look out for it since then.

flo's avatar

@ETpro @hiphiphopflipflapflop thank you for the answers but…^^^that’s simple?

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Simple? Compared to this, yes…

In the standard model, the Higgs field is an SU(2) doublet, a complex spinor with four real components (or equivalently with two complex components). Its (weak hypercharge) U(1) charge is 1. That means that it transforms as a spinor under SU(2). Under U(1) rotations, it is multiplied by a phase, which thus mixes the real and imaginary parts of the complex spinor into each other—so this is not the same as two complex spinors mixing under U(1) (which would have eight real components between them), but instead is the spinor representation of the group U(2).

The Higgs field, through the interactions specified (summarized, represented, or even simulated) by its potential, induces spontaneous breaking of three out of the four generators (“directions”) of the gauge group SU(2)×U(1): three out of its four components would ordinarily amount to Goldstone bosons, if they were not coupled to gauge fields. However, after symmetry breaking, these three of the four degrees of freedom in the Higgs field mix with the W and Z bosons, and are only observable as spin components of these bosons, which are now massive; while the one remaining degree of freedom becomes the Higgs boson—a new scalar particle.

flo's avatar

I was asking as a lay person, not as a person who has some knowledge.

Added: By the way I couldn’t even get halfway.

Mariah's avatar

No it’s not made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Not everything is. There are other fundamental particles. (And protons and neutrons are not in fact fundamental particles themselves, they are made up of quarks). I don’t know if the Higgs Boson is a fundamental particle, I’ve yet to find too many articles about it that I can follow worth a darn, but just wanted to point that out as a general fact.

Edit: Oh, I see I’ve answered you backwards. Protons, neutrons, and electrons are not made up of Higgs Bosons, but Higgs Bosons (or the Higgs field, or something) is responsible for giving particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons, mass. This doesn’t mean they are composed of Higgs Bosons, though. It just gives them mass…somehow…like I said, the articles are really damn difficult to parse.

flo's avatar

Thanks @Mariah . I was going for the “God Particle” thing. Have you read the articles why they call it that by the way?

Mariah's avatar

@flo, that title has no rhyme or reason. It’s a name that gets people’s attention, but most physicists wish it had never come about. This particle does nothing to prove or disprove God.

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