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My understanding is, within quantum mechanics, in a pure vacuum, all known fields have a lowest energy state of zero. The Higgs field is the only exception -- it's lowest energy state is not zero. Hence, the uniform field permeating all of space, through which other particles couple with and thus are endowed mass.

My question is whether this "non-zero lowest energy state" attribute of the field is an inherent lower bound; or if it just happens to describe the status quo of the Higgs field today.

i.e. could one theoretically do something to cancel out the Higgs field? If so, what would happen to mass that was passed into this "Faraday cage" of sorts? Would it immediately explode into radiated energy?

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You could cancel out the Higgs field by raising the temperature so the thermal energy was above the electro-weak transition energy. However what you and I know as matter wouldn't survive this much heating. –  John Rennie Oct 9 '12 at 9:16
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