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Category Archive: Higgs

Apr 08 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 10: The non-zero Higgs field in the vacuum

In order to understand the Higgs mechanism, we need to first understand how it came to be that the Higgs field, unlike all the other fields corresponding to the other 18 elementary particles, came to have a non-zero average value in the vacuum. As I said in the previous post in this series, this is …

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Apr 05 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 9: What makes the Higgs field so special

I have said before that the emerging modern consensus is that there are no particles or waves in the classical sense of those terms, although those concepts are still useful to us in visualizing physical processes. (For previous posts in this series, click on the Higgs folder just below the blog post title.)

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Apr 03 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 8: Gravity and the graviton

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Although I will not be talking about the graviton much in this series, it is worthwhile to make a slight detour from the main story line to discuss the role of the gravity force. (For previous posts in this series, click on the Higgs folder just below the blog post title.) I should point out …

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Apr 01 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 7: How fields behave

Perhaps it would be good at this point to take a breath and summarize up the state of play so far. (For previous posts in this series, click on the Higgs folder just below the blog post title.) In quantum mechanics we have the unifying idea that everything in the universe is made up of …

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Mar 29 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 6: Relativistic quantum fields

In the previous post in this series, I introduced the idea of fields and also said that while the Schrodinger equation and wave function overcame some of the problems with understanding how particles could also have wave properties, there were still difficulties in both interpretation and practice. The person who made the next major advance …

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Mar 27 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 5: Fields as a unifying concept

In the previous post in this series, I said that wave mechanics as represented by the Schrodinger equation was a major advance in our understanding of physics. It adopted the view that all entities had both particle-like and wave-like properties and each of them were manifested by constructing the appropriate experimental set-up. If you set …

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Mar 25 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 4: Particles and waves

To better understand the Higgs field and how it works its magic, we need to make a detour into the history of physics and look at the similarities and differences between particles and waves. In ordinary life (what we call the ‘classical’ world) a particle is a localized object that is usually of small size, …

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Mar 22 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 3: The basic elements of the Standard Model

All the stuff of everyday matter is composed of atoms that are made up of protons and neutrons and electrons. The three quarks in the protons and neutrons consist of just the up and down varieties and make up only about 1% of their masses, if we use the current quark mass values (see part …

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Mar 21 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 2: What ordinary matter is made of

Everyday matter is made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, and something called electron neutrinos. These particles interact with each other via one or more of four forces: gravity, electromagnetic (which is the unified force of electricity and magnetism), strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Almost all of everyday life could be explained pretty well with just …

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Mar 20 2013

The Higgs Story-Part 1: The three faces of Higgs

Around the time of reports last year about the discovery of the Higgs particle at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), reader Anthony in a private email to me asked a good question. The Higgs particle is repeatedly referred to as the means by which all other particles get their mass. If not for the Higgs, …

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