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I am an amateur learning about the Higgs because I was interested in what the LHC's purpose is.

I read that as a particle passes through space, it is actually passing through a Higgs field and there are little Higgs particles that accumulate on the moving particle, which is where mass and momentum come from.

But that's where my main question comes from:

This all sounds similar to a "medium"; and mediums usually impart resistance on particles moving through them so the particles would slow down even in space. As far as I know, this is the reason why aether/ether theories don't work.

Please let me know.

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migrated from Apr 21 '12 at 21:55

Possible duplicate: – Qmechanic Apr 21 '12 at 22:03
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The Higgs ether does not pick out a preferred velocity--- it is the same in all reference frames. Because of this, it can't impart a resistance to velocity, since any velocity is symmetric with any other. There is no Higgs drag. But it can impart a resistance to change in velocity, and this is a change mass. The most important thing is that it allows different helcities of fermions, which would be necessarily massless, to join up in pairs to make massive fermions.

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Ok I can't really visualize it but I can understand it somewhat based on your description of it being symmetrical on all sides. Thanks. – Lakey Apr 22 '12 at 17:44

I read that s a particle passes through space, it is actually passing through a Higgs field and there are little Higgs particles that accumulate on the moving particle, which is where mass and momentum come from.

That's one way that people try to describe the Higgs mechanism to non-specialists, but it doesn't really work like that. The Higgs boson is more like a side effect of the mechanism by which particles gain mass, not the thing that actually gives the particles mass. There aren't really little Higgs bosons latching on to particles and slowing them down.

You're right about that causing problems for physics, if that were the way it worked. It wouldn't break relativity, but it would prompt us to wonder why we haven't noticed the effect of this "cloud" of Higgs bosons. This is very similar to what people were thinking in the late 1800s, when they were wondering why they didn't notice the effect of the electromagnetic aether.

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The picture of a left-hand electron latching on to a higgs boson and becoming a right handed electron, and thereby slowing down from the speed of light is exactly the picture provided by the Higgs field. We see the effect, in that the fermions become massive. Any hypothetical new scalar would get dragged by the Higgs to change its mass (from scalar-scalar-Higgs-Higgs coupling) but since a second light scalar would be a second hierarchy problem, don't hold your breath. The effect of this "cloud" is the masses and the superconductivity of the vacuum with regard to W's and Z's, both observed. – Ron Maimon Apr 22 '12 at 16:42
I am sorry, you meant that popularizers confused the Higgs boson (which is a side effect) with the Higgs field, which is the field whose quanta latch onto left handed electrons turning them into right handed electrons and giving them mass in the process. The Higgs field quanta are not Higgs bosons, I should have seen what you meant. +1. – Ron Maimon Jul 5 '12 at 14:50

I think you are confusing the Higgs field with the so-called Dirac sea.

The both things give some mass to the particles.

But it is Dirac sea that has pairs of virtual particles that lake dipoles accumulate on a charged particle and increase its mass.

It is the Dirac sea that behaves more like Aether, not the Higgs field.

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protected by Qmechanic Mar 3 '13 at 18:54

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