What is the Higgs boson?

According to most physicists it really must be there: the Higgs boson. Unfortunately, it doesn't really want to cooperate to be discovered. What is the need for the Higgs boson and why do most physicists, despite the virtually absent experimental evidence, think it must exist?

The sixteen known particles of the Standard Model: quarks, leptons and gauge bosons (of each quark and lepton there is also an anti-particle). Click to enlarge.

Why is such a thing as the Higgs boson needed?
In the Standard Model of physics, all natural phenomena, excluding gravity, arise from three (or rather, two) forces: the strong nuclear force, the electromagnetic force, and the weak nuclear force. Both last forces appear to be manifestations of one force: the electroweak force. This model describes all known particles: quarks, leptons (such as electrons and neutrinos) and gauge bosons (photons, gluons, W and Z particles), quite nicely. Composite particles, such as the tri-quark protons and neutrons, can also be described well.

Where does mass come from?
There is one problem, however: mass. The equations of the Standard Model do not explain why, for example, the mass of the W boson is much larger than that of an electron or neutrino or why photons have no mass and quarks do. Or, why the masses of the particles are as large as they are.


(The Higgs Mechanism Explained, courtesy of Julie)

Higgs mechanism
For that reason, the so-called Higgs mechanism has been introduced in the Standard Model. According to the theory, spacetime is filled with a sea of Higgs bosons, which together form the Higgs field. This particle sea forms a kind of syrup, through which particles such as electrons, quarks and Z-bosons wade through. The stronger the interaction with the Higgs bosons, the slower the particles, in other words the heavier they are. Photons and gluons do not react at all with Higgs particles, making them massless. W and Z particles react very strongly, making them very heavy.

Using the Higgs mechanism, particle physicists have succeeded in predicting the masses of the then undiscovered top and down quark, as well as the W and Z particles. When these particles were actually discovered, the measured masses were found to agree with the predicted values. This earned the discoverers and predictors several Nobel Prizes and is in itself a strong argument for the existence of the Higgs field.

The theoretical disadvantages of the Higgs field
The Higgs field consists of particles with mass (according to the latest estimates, a Higgs boson has a mass around 125 GeV / c2: approx. 133x as heavy as a proton, so about an atom of a heavy element like barium), yet spacetime is massless. This “problem” is usually solved by a mathematical trick: renormalization, which means that infinities are crossed off against each other.
The Higgs boson is also a scalar boson with zero spin. This means that it has no direction, cannot have speed, and the effects of the Higgs field do not depend on location or speed.

In my opinion, the main argument against the Higgs boson is that the Higgs boson is in fact unnecessary. Mass is something that can also be generated through interactions with virtual particles. In fact, photons can also acquire a virtual mass by sending them through a transparent material. Nevertheless, experiments will have the final say.

6 thoughts on “Wat is het Higgsdeeltje?”

  1. Some more additions.
    If you collide 2 particle streams from both sides in a particle accelerator, an amount of “free” energy is created in the collision plane. However, this “free” energy partly passes very quickly into the well-known tribe of elementary particles with mass. At that energy level we see mass-carrying particles arise from “free” energy without the need for a Higgs boson for this transformation.
    A more or less similar phenomenon takes place when a photon (= intermediate “particle”) with a sufficiently high energy suddenly changes into a mass-feeding particle (for example a proton). Here too we see that energy quanta is spontaneously converted - under certain circumstances - into a mass-feeding particle without the need for a Higgs boson for this transformation.
    So the conversion of “free” energy into mass takes place everywhere in our universe without that “sea” of Higgs bosons. And when this issue was in the news around 1985, it was Martinus Veltman, among others, who protested against the hypothesis of the Higgs boson. Then why the Higgs boson?
    In the first half of the last century, the English physicist Paul Dirac proposed the existence of a “sea” of virtual electrons (and positrons) in space. In other words: from “nothing” electrons could emerge from the electromagnetic field and apparently disappear again. This suspicion was confirmed both theoretically and experimentally. This has led, among other things, to a further development of the thinking about virtual particles within quanta mechanics as an explanatory mechanism.
    And now we do not have a “sea” of (virtual) electrons but a “sea” of (virtual) Higgs bosons. But… this hypothetical model thus stems from the thinking of particle physicists (reasoning from the quantum fields, this picture is highly dubious).
    The false image referred to in the article of a “syrup” consisting of virtual Higgs bosons has its cause in the existing thinking about space and time. It was Albert Einstein who - completely within the spirit of the time - posited that physicists should only look at what can actually be measured. And because Albert Einstein saw no possibility of discovering a structure in the space of the universe, he set up his theory with the relations between the coordination system of the observer and that of the object being observed (all of this can be found on Wikipedia) .
    Now imagine that the Higgs field is not made up of "floating" virtual Higgs bosons but a scalar field that exists on its own. Well, then, among other things, the standard model of the evolution of the universe is no longer correct (based on a “big bang” theory). So the model of that “syrup” is nothing more than a time-bound representation of things for which there is actually no evidence.
    Coincidentally I saw on the internet that the current issue of NWT contains an article by Eric Verlinde. From that article it becomes clear that Eric Verlinde wants to throw the bat in the chicken coop: to question the thinking of the particle physicists. Phew… finally!

    1. Anita, type: Higgs, in the Google search box for example and you will see several links including 'Higgs-boson Wikipedia'. A link from Wikipedia contains encyclopedic information, including that the Higgs boson or Higgs particle is an elementary particle predicted by Peter Higgs but not yet observed.
      So you can enter a keyword and also your own questions, but of course you can always ask your questions here, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them. 

  2. [quote]
    In my opinion, the main argument against the Higgs boson is that the Higgs boson is in fact unnecessary. Mass is something that can also be generated through interactions with virtual particles.
    [/ quote]
    I'm afraid you don't understand the Higgs mechanism Germen, because this is exactly what the Higgs mechanism is doing now. It is a field that interacts with other massive particles creating mass terms, and the quantum of this field is the Higgs boson, which is virtual.
     
    What you are saying is something like "evolution is not necessary, because biodiversity can also be explained from natural selection".
     

  3. [quote]
    The Higgs field consists of particles with mass (according to the latest estimates, a Higgs boson has a mass around 125 GeV / c2: about 133 times as heavy as a proton, so about an atom of a heavy element such as barium), yet spacetime is massless. This “problem” is usually solved by a mathematical trick: renormalization, which means that infinities are crossed off against each other.
    [/ quote]
    This does not make sense. The statement “spacetime is massless” is not defined in the Standard Model. Moreover, it has nothing to do with renormalization: renormalization is a redefinition of parameters because you do perturbative calculations, and because of the looping effects you have to revise these parameters.
     
    [quote]
    The Higgs boson is also a scalar boson with zero spin. This means that it has no direction, cannot have speed, and the effects of the Higgs field do not depend on location or speed.
    [/ quote]
    This also makes no sense. A quantum of a scalar particle can easily have a direction or speed; the scalar character only tells you something about the transformation of the field under Lorentz transformations, not about the possible dynamics of the particle in question!
     
    If you still want to be "critical" of the Higgs mechanism, you can call it "naturalness": the mass of scalar particles is not "protected" by symmetries (in other words, no symmetries appear when you send the mass to 0, which eg for fermions), causing loop effects to make the mass “unnaturally large”. This makes renormalization “unnatural”. One possible solution is supersymmetry, which makes the quadratic divergences logarithmic.
     
     

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