Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc 170

Giovanni Organtini of Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (well, Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) has agreed to answer questions about the recent observations of a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson. Dr. Organtini is part of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He is careful to note that while the researchers "[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson," they "need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that. Organtini likes free software (he's written Linux device drivers, too) and has his own physics-heavy YouTube channel, mostly in Italian. Please confine questions to one per post, but feel free to ask as many as you'd like.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Discovery

Comments Filter:
  • In regards to the Higgs Boson, what's the stupidest thing you've seen in the press? Has anything in particular made you really laugh or groan? Has the reporting been overly irresponsible for this discovery process or just the same old press that you're used to?
  • by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#40630489)

    "Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc"

    Is the Higgs Boson disc-shaped or is Timothy too lazy to use the preview button before posting ?

    • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:22PM (#40631087)

      "Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc"

      Is the Higgs Boson disc-shaped or is Timothy too lazy to use the preview button before posting ?

      No, what he meant was that Organtini is going to put a bunch of Higgs Bosons on a DVD and sell them to people who want them. This is your chance to ask questions before you buy, such as:

      How many bosons will be on the disc?

      Will I be able to view them on Linux?

      Why not just make them available for download?

  • What does the Higgs Boson taste like?

  • Disc (Score:4, Informative)

    by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:28PM (#40630499)

    How much do you hate people who say "disc" instead of "discovery" and lead halfwits everywhere to believe the Higgs particle is disc-shaped somehow?

    • and lead halfwits everywhere

      I think you mean to say laymen.

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        and lead halfwits everywhere

        I think you mean to say laymen

        To a particle physicist, most laymen are halfwits. Folks in that profession usually have a bit higher IQ than the general public, and certainly more education.

    • It looks there wasn't enough room for it- I think /. limits the length of the headline.

      Personally I would have reworded it.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      My wit feels halved today. I honestly thought there was a disc shape involved.

    • by mattr ( 78516 )

      First time I came across the usage. Thought someone was being dumb, was just me. Thanks.
      Also today first time came across the new word copyvios (copyright violations, thanks wiktionary).
      Language is evolving very quickly this week.

  • Open Data? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:28PM (#40630507) Journal
    Since you're a fan of free software, why don't we see more open data efforts in particle physics? I see headlines like this [] and they're kind of a turnoff. Aside from this super confusing applet [] I haven't been able to find torrents of the data available on these tests. Why is that? I mean, as a software developer there is a legitimate effort of folks writing open source software and then there's a legitimate effort of people using that software to accomplish many things and everyone deserves credit. So why are particle physicists so keen on being the collectors and (at least initially) the sole keepers of their data? It would seem to make sense to me that people should be rewarded based on their collection of data and how meticulous and well they do that while any group can consume and derive results from said data. I understand the process has gotten more open but why so slowly? Why not torrent your data to whoever wants it immediately after you get it?
    • Probably because then somebody could scoop you on the analysis paper that you are in the process of writing.
    • Re:Open Data? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:14PM (#40631673)

      ATLAS generates 23 petabytes of raw data per second. A large computer cluster near the detector identifies which events to store amounting to 100 megabytes per second which is around 1 petabyte of data per year. (Straight from wikipedia)

      The actual analysis of the data requires multiple large computer clusters world wide. I believe the data is available to anyone with the expertise and knowledge required to do any meaningful data analysis. Oh and having a spare cluster sitting around with nothing to do probably helps as well.

    • Particle physics data is not open because of the money, time and effort needed to analyse it. First data would never be released until first analysed by the collaboration - there is no way that you are going to get someone working on building and operating the detector without the reward of being among the first to analyse that data. We are physicists, not engineers.

      Secondly analysing the data is a huge effort. You have to understand many varied and subtle detector effects related to how the detector was
      • Then there is the cost of storing and making available the petabytes of data an experiment like ATLAS generates each year. Who is going to pay for the network, disks, servers etc to make this all available not to mention the development of a simple event format and the processing needed to generate and fill it.

        Taxpayers? The same people who funded most of the research in the first place?

        • I'm a huge supporter of publically funded science, it has provided society with the means to build the modern world and defines our civilizations both past and present. There is also an inate desire in humans to absorb and expand our collective understandiing of nature, in geeks it can become their metaphysical equivalent of their "purpose for being". However the reason taxpayers fund this stuff (willingly or otherwise) is that a deep understanding of nature has turned out to be extremely benifitial to soci
    • I haven't been able to find torrents of the data available on these tests. Why is that?

      The data set is enormous, torrents are mere trickles compared to the amount of data that the LHC generates. Also someone (or some team) who has spent decades on the project to get to the point where data is coming out should (in my opinion) have the right to publish first, provided they do so in a timely manner. Data is the lifeblood of science but the glory goes to whoever is first to analyse it correctly. The LHC is "team science" working on carefully selected questions, independent teams produce and anal

  • by Dartz-IRL ( 1640117 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:29PM (#40630509)

    While I know it is rather early to comment, what do you think the future applications of today's research into Higgs Boson will be?

    Don't be afraid to be a little bit sky-high. I for one am already fantasising about space ships propelled by manipulation of the Higgs field on a local scale.

    I'm only asking because, a century ago the electron was discovered and nobody was quite sure what to do with it. And it runs the world.

  • Is it higgsy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rwven ( 663186 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:30PM (#40630523)

    What success or failure factors can/should/will be used to determine whether or not the new particle is actually the higgs, or something else unexpected?

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      Also, of the tests that were conglomerated to get to the 5 sigma value, how similar were those tests to each other, and how does that speak to the robustness of the results? What I mean is, is this just a glimpse at a corner of something that is jutting out where a corner of the higgs would jut out, or are we seeing more than one corner of it?

    • Disproving Super Strings is the first thing that came to my mind. That would be a relief!

  • The question on everybody's mind, of course, is ...

        will it blend?

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:34PM (#40630553) Journal
    So say hypothetically that with this discovery we quickly unify the four fundamental forces of our universe. Does the 'particle hunt' end there? Is there any reason there aren't more fundamental particles -- even ones that might not be predicted by the Standard Model but do exist? If your answer is "no one knows," what is your gut feeling and why?
    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      There are still many questions that can be asked. We still don't understand why there are certain asymmetries in the results of the results of some of the experiments being performed. Both numerical asymetries (e.g. why does X happen more than anti-X?) and geometric asymmetries (e.g. why are the created particles not uniformly distributed over the sphere of all possible directions?). There are also plenty of curiosities, such as why the various subatomic particles have the (ratio of) masses that they do hav
  • by ThorGod ( 456163 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:34PM (#40630555) Journal

    What does it mean to say a particle that gives all other particles mass...has mass itself?

    • by TemperedAlchemist ( 2045966 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:08PM (#40630913)

      The Higgs mechanism is what gives particles mass, not to be confused with the Higgs boson ;)

      Two different things, named the same because of how related they are.

      • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

        How related are they? Is it like the electron and the electron-field (the cosmological term/concept)?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Intuitive physics breaks down, so I'll try the best I can to explain this.

          In quantum field theory, stuff goes down differently, very differently. The fundamental things (entities, stuffs) are fields. You're perhaps intimately familiar with one of them, the EM field. And I'm sure you know about wave-particle duality, so this next part may make sense. Photons are thought to be oscillations in the EM field. But of course, go into the details and things get loopy.

          A proposed ubiquitous Higgs field is one of

        • In real laymen way to explain it is it's named the Higgs field so it kind of fits in the family of things like magnetic fields or gravitational fields.

        • by noobermin ( 1950642 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @08:41PM (#40634211) Journal

          This is slashdot, so I'm going to assume I can at least share some "mathy" parts of it (not really the whole thing).

          The Higgs Field is represented by two complex numbers. It is a field, therefore, it has a value in every point in space, kind of like how the temperature across the world varies depending on where you are. In that example, the "temperature field", I'd guess, is represented by a real number at every point.

          Now remember that each complex number can be written as two real ones given the form:
          z = a+bi
          therefore, technically, the Higgs field is not just two complex numbers but it can be thought of as four real numbers. So think of it as being a bundle field with four numbers for each point. Each number, turns out, becomes a particle.

          So there are four particles that come out of the Higgs field. Three of them turn out to be components of the Weak bosons (W+, W-, Z_0), as needed to explain why they have mass while photons don't. But there is one field left. This is identified as a new boson, the Higgs Boson.

          So, the Higgs Boson is actually just _part_ of the Higgs Field. It isn't like the photon, which is the particle of the whole EM field. Oddly enough, the Higgs Field itself is massless, I think. But the Higgs Boson recieves mass the same way the other three Weak bosons recieved mass, by the Higgs Mechanism.

          Really, you can get all woowy with the conceptual part of the Higgs Mechanism but it really is just a neat math trick that I can't really explain here. Essentially, you start with a mathematically description of the particles with mc^2=0 (remember Einstien's equation, E=mc^2 for the energy stored in mass), ie, the particles are massless. After the math trick involving the Higgs Field (not just the Higgs Boson!) you obtain a term that looks like mc^2, so it's like the mass term arises spontaneously without having to put it in there a priori. Hence how we say the particle has "acquired" mass: We started out modeling out particles as massless but all of a sudden, the math tells us it has it.

          • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

            Cool! What's the relevant number system? I'd have to google, but I think the name's quaternions or something like that. (Clifford algebra, maybe?)

            I'm glad you took a second to break it down to the brass-tacks. Thanks!

  • by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:35PM (#40630575)

    Despite the reference to the Higg's Boson as the "God Particle" in popular science journals and mainstream media, just how important is this discovery as far as weak interactions, gravity, etc., are concerned? Is this discovery going to change the face of quantum chromodynamics as we know it?

    • Well, since the Higgs was apparently discovered at approximately the energy predicted by the existing theory my first guess would be no, it won't fundamentally alter the theory that predicted it. On the other hand I seem to remember there were some significant inconsistencies as well (charge maybe? Seems like something was off by a factor of 2 or so). If those inconsistencies prove to be real and not experimental noise, that could be the beginning of some serious re-thinking, especially if none of the c

    • This was similar to a question I had about the Higgs field. Maybe my understanding of physics is lacking in this area but since higgs gives things mass and gravitational forces are based on mass I'm curious if this discovery could potentially lead to a greater understanding of how gravity works. I also wonder if this discovery gives us any insight as to how we might be able to manipulate the higgs field to say alter the mass of objects leading to perhaps new forms of propulsion.
      • what, like warp drive?

        I read a theory in a Trek novel (one of the early crossover ones I think - Strangers From The Sky?), which explained the arrowhead symbol as a function of mass, energy and velocity. Basically it went something like: as you approach the speed of light, the amount of energy required to push a mass approaches infinity. If you can change the mass to something less than zero, then the amount of energy required to accelerate past C becomes less than infinite, hence attainable.

        • If you had matter with a mass less than zero, you'd have the kind of exotic matter [] that's necessary to hold open a wormhole.

          (We do not have this, the Higgs mechanism does not describe, validate, imply, or even reference exotic matter, and none of this has anything to do with anything)
  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:40PM (#40630635) Journal

    Dr. Joe Incandela of UC Santa Barbara and CMS director said recently of the CERN Higgs results:

    "This is so far out on a limb, **I have no idea where it will be applied**, We're talking about something **we have no idea** what the implications are and **may not be directly applied for centuries**."

    (source: [])

    My questions: Do you agree that the direct application of the findings are as nebulous and abstract as he describes?

    Please discuss the implications of your answer and how they relate to the economic choices of how humans use their scientific resources.

    • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

      Who ever perfects shooting mass-bearing particles first (i.e. protons and up), will have first dibs on the next generation of particle weapons. Imagine how much more effective a laser would be at destroying things if instead of firing pure energy it was firing a similarly coherent mass beam.

      That ought to fund physics for another thousand years...

    • The key to answering this is to look back 50-100 years. In 1912 the atom was a brand new discovery and quantum mechanics was still being figured out. At the time these were highly esoteric and abstract concepts. Applying that knowledge 50 years later was what made the transistor possible and hence gave rise to our modern IT infrastructure. But absolutely none of that was predictable when the discoveries were being made!

      Particle detectors and physics of 50 years ago are now revolutionising medicine as doc
  • With every passing news item about particle physics, it seems everyone's pet theory mutates or breaks off into different sects. I read some Brian Greene in high school and have since become a little flustered with string theory ... or rather the many variations. The cynic in me fears that any new information on the Higgs Boson (or lack thereof) will result in more not less theories that should unify the four fundamental forces. Could you explain how information on the Higgs (one way or the other) would rule out certain symmetries or models that many people have been theorizing? Can I expect this to at least reduce our set of possible theories and not just provide N more mutations for each existing theory that strives to account for what we just found? Or should I just buckle up for everyone pushing their version through these results no matter what they show?
    • I read some Brian Greene in high school and have since become a little flustered with string theory ... or rather the many variations.

      What? You mean the idea that we are all points in a 2D information plane and that our perceived realty is just a holographic illusion doesn't make perfect sense?

      Elaborate models with a thousand knobs to tune so it matches any possible experimental observation don't sit right with you?

      You some kinda anarchist or something?

    • 'more' and 'less' don't need theories; we already have software implementations.

  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:45PM (#40630697) Homepage Journal

    The initial call for questions included a factoid that I had somehow missed in all the other layman summaries: "He is careful to note that while the researchers '[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson,' they 'need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that.' "

    I'm totally not familiar with the details here. For some reason I was expecting that the boson would be a much smaller thing, in the same scale as quarks or even strings, and that other particles including the proton would owe their structures to this. If the Higgs "explains" mass, to me that implies it is responsible for mass. How would you explain the mass of other massive particles like the proton? Or is comparing it to a proton not really accurate?

    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:32PM (#40631191)

      I'm betting they're talking mass-energy when they refer to the particle's mass, that's the norm for particle physics, and one of the reasons masses are measured in GeV (technically GeV/c^2) instead of molar-masses or something as is done in chemistry.

      Basically there are three distinct phenomena that all go by the name "mass" since, in all experiments to date, they are invariant with respect to each other.
      (1) mass-energy: e=mc^2, how much energy would you get out if you annihilated the particle
      (2) inertial mass - F=ma, how much an object resists acceleration from a force
      (3) gravitational mass: f = G * m1*m2 / r^2, this is the gravitational "charge" that determines how strong the force of gravity between objects is, highly analogous to electrostatic charge though much weaker, to the point of being essentially undetectable in particle accelerator experiments.

      From what I understand the Higgs field is probably responsible for the latter two, however the first is still an inherent property of the particle itself.

      Oh, and incidentally top quarks are actually even more massive at 171GeV, and Bottom and Charm quarks are both pretty beefy at ~4.2 and 1.3 GeV, respectively, versus the puny 2.4 and 4.8MeV of the Up and Down quarks that make up normal matter (which actually gets most of it's mass from gluons) []

    • The theory is the existence of the Higgs field and calculations predicted that under a set of conditions the Higgs Boson can exist.
      So this is just one way of confirming the existence of the Higgs field.

    • Very rough and simple version: When particles interact with the Higgs field they get mass, the Higgs field is related to but distinct from the Higgs Boson. I'm not entirely sure on the details how the two (the field and the particle) are connected though.

  • Prior to the possible discovery announcement, the LHC was often called one of the last big science experiments of our generation--- big science being a casualty of recession budgets. Do you think this discovery might persuade governments to invest more in big/expensive/multinational investigations?

  • Is not the Higgs boson like particle 133 times that of the proton, and a total mass of 125.3 GeV. Not 125 the mass of a proton?
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:58PM (#40630815) Journal

    Once this particle is examined, and let's assume it's the elusive Higgs, is there a continuing reason for large particle accellerators?

    Basically, I'm asking in ignorance. If this confirms the standard model, what do you see for discoveries of this nature in the.future?

    • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

      You can't ever confirm a scientific theory, but you can fail to disprove it.

      There are still other theorized particles that no one has directly observed/created in a lab. One such: the graviton. Last I knew, the hypothesized mass of the graviton was prohibitively large (aka: we might need astronomically sized accelerators to generate them in a lab).

      • by Kookus ( 653170 )

        Just like you can never confirm the theory of evolution right? Sounds like you really like to just make stuff up and post it. It's theorized that the graviton is massless, but it sounds better to make grandiose statements, doesn't it.

      • Nonsense. When you disprove all alternatives, whatever remains must be the truth.
  • by c0d3r ( 156687 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:01PM (#40630849) Homepage Journal

    In regards to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, what is an example of a practical application of this discovery. I find that physics is best explained with real-world examples.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Using only Feynman diagrams, can you describe the best way to make fettuccine Alfredo?

  • Probably a stupid question but I'm sure others wonder, too: How can the discovered particle have 125 times the mass of a proton when it was discovered by smashing individual protons together? In other words, prior to a proton-proton collision that creates this Higgs-like particle, where was the particle?
    • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

      I think it has to do with the equivalence between mass and energy, at the fundamental, quantum level.

      See, they increased the energy on two protons beyond 125 GeV (where 125 GeV is the energy-equivalent of 125 protons, give or take). In any one collision at that energy there exist a number of possible results, and one such result was a particle with a mass of 125 protons. Via observing how that particle interacted with the universe (for as long as they could observe it) they deduced it's nature and whether i

  • The Higgs boson is famously associated with how particles acquire a 'mass'. But mass is, in itself, an interesting property. As I understand it, the Higgs boson is only associated with inertial mass. If this is so, do you expect gravitational mass and inertial mass to be always the same? If so, would you speculate on the mechanism that ensures this is true?

  • What kind of results will falsify the standard model Higgs - indicating that different theoretical approaches must be considered.
  • There's a slightly fuzzy line between cutting edge science and "hard" science fiction. Do you find this generates noise which distracts from the science, or would you support increased collaboration between science and science fiction?
  • Higgs and the Ether (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Liquidrage ( 640463 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @03:55PM (#40631445)
    The likely Higgs discovery would seem to validate Quantum field theory.
    Would this then be best described as an ether, only instead of matter traveling through the ether, matter is manifestations of the ether (fields) itself. Would this also than mean that the motion of matter is not a physical movement of a "particle" but instead the transfer of the "excitement" of a field from one spot of the field to another?

    And what, if any, implications does this disocvery have for unifying gravity or other areas of physics?
    • This is a great question, and I wish it had been modded higher. It's related to my question, but I didn't work the 'ether' angle in. Though quantum mechanics already has a kind of ether in the concept of space being foamy (particles popping into existence only to immediately disappear all the time in the midst of otherwise empty space). This just extends that ether so that mass exists as a consequence of it instead of just charge.

  • About the possibility for a Higgs Disc. Imagine, a frisbee that can fly not because of aerodynamics, but because it can manipulate its own mass!
  • by SpinyNorman ( 33776 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @04:41PM (#40631967)

    As I understand it, a Higgs Boson compatible with the standard model could have been found at a range of different masses, and the search for it has involved searching the possible mass range until it was either discovered or not.

    Assuming that this new discovery is indeed the Higgs Boson as predicted and compatible with the standard model, what is the significance of the particular mass that it has been found to have? Are there any macro-scale predictions that depend on its mass?

  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:04PM (#40632177)

    It is my understanding that the higgs mechanism requires some sort of spontaneous symmetry breaking for the proposed higgs field to yield scalar mass.
    Is this somehow related to symmetry breaking in other fields in the Standard Model (e.g., Spin0/hypercharge)?

    Also, might there be a whole spectrum of scalar properties like mass that might exist from symmetry breaking in other Standard Model fields that might be discovered that could explain currently un-unifyable parts of theoretical physics (e.g., matter/antimatter ratio, gravity, dark energy, etc), but still within the general framework of the Standard Model? Or is the Standard Model essentially doomed with respect to these currently un-unifyable observations?

  • by solidraven ( 1633185 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @05:21PM (#40632351)
    How do you feel about the fact that a large portion of the CMS was built by recycling military hardware? Do you see it as a sign that the world is finally moving towards peace and that large scientific projects like the LHC are helping it along that path; Or do you find it disappointing that it was the only option to acquire the necessary materials?
  • SSC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @06:18PM (#40632919) Journal

    Had the superconducting supercolider (SSC) been completed in the USA in the 1990s, would it have found this particle? Even with a 20 year technology advantage, LHC has taken some time to get there.

    • The SSC would have taken protons to 20 TeV, for 40 TeV collisions, six times that of the LHC. It might have found new particles predicted by some variations of the Standard Model

  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @07:04PM (#40633335)
    I heard they may want to check several other decay paths for energy resonances.
    I also heard there could be a family of Higgs bosons, so we may look for others?
  • I'm curious what's going on such that the top is heavier than the Higgs rather than the other way around. All I've been able to find is people asking why the top was found first. *That* I understand--the Higgs signal is much much smaller. I remember something from long ago about the top's mass "leaking," if you will, to the the lighter particles, but that doesn't mesh with how I understand the Higgs mechanism. Anyway, I would expect the Higgs particle manifestation to be the most massive of those that participate in the Higgs field.
  • I would like to know if the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson changed anything we know about the Higgs field. Thank you.
  • What next for LHC? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by iris-n ( 1276146 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @12:05AM (#40635575)

    Assuming that this new particle is in fact the Standard Model Higgs boson, what more can we expect to discover with CMS? Is there any new physics you expect to be within the reach of CMS? Or this is pretty much the end?

    I know this question is unanswerable, but your best guess would make me happy. I'm actually very worried by the prospects of running out of (falsifiable) theories to test...

  • dumb question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:39AM (#40636039)
    This is an IT worker question, not a particle physicist question, so hopefully it's an easy one. How does the Higgs boson come into play when photons, which have a tiny amount of mass, are spontaneously created when a substance like metal gets hot. Is it a direct energy to mass conversion?
  • and how can we stop them?

  • ...if it is demonstrably incorrect? As far as I can tell, the observation of the Higgs Boson at best simply confirms a model that is fundamentally incomplete, in that the model's parameters have to be set via experimental observation. If the Standard Model has to be tuned to this extent, why do you think the Standard Model is a good guide to truth?
  • by jkauzlar ( 596349 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @01:09PM (#40640375) Homepage

    ... the answers to the dumbest questions are sometimes the most interesting :) I understand that the Higgs is responsible for giving mass to all the other particles, then it must be *everywhere*. Why is it so difficult to detect? Why does it take such a staggeringly powerful supercollider to find what ought to be as common as the electron or proton?

    Also, I can't help but to visualize particles as something like billiard balls while I'm aware they're only mathematical abstractions from our point of view and that experiments like the double-slit experiment refute the billiard-ball model... is there a way to visualize the Higgs to make the answer to my previous question easier to understand?

  • by FreedomFirstThenPeac ( 1235064 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:13PM (#40642791)
    One press report discussed the idea that the Higgs field might have the same transient existence that the aether did in Electro-Magnetic theory. Do you think there is a field that will interact with the Higgs field to produce an energy transmission function similar to that described by Maxwell's equations?
  • This FAQ from FermiLab on the Higgs may be of some use to many here to answer some of the more basic questions that seem to be emerging from this discussion. []
  • Please pardon my deep lack of understanding. If any of these questions are worthy please provide your ideas on them.
    First, I read the following "Just as the electromagnetic field is higher near heavily charged particles, the Higgs field should be higher near heavy particles. For instance, near a Z boson—an object that accelerators should be able to produce in great abundance in the near future—the Higgs field is changed. The Z boson is unstable. When it decays into lighter particles, the disturb

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle