Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Does the Higgs Mechanism contradict Entropic Gravity?

It seems like it probably does. But then again, one is a microscopic theory and the other is macroscopic. Can they live together in harmony? or is the recent CERN stuff empirical evidence against EG?

share|cite|improve this question
Can you explain why you think the Higgs mechanism might contradict entropic gravity. – John Rennie Nov 11 '12 at 8:23
I don't have any particular reason to say this, the intuition is that they are two different explanations for the same phenomenon, and quite often (though certainly not always) when that is the case, one is right at the expense of the other (especially when one is a very specific mechanistic explanation and the other emergent). – Lucas Nov 11 '12 at 8:35
I think I see what you're asking. Have a look at my answer and if I've misunderstood your question comment here. – John Rennie Nov 11 '12 at 9:12
Entropic gravity has other problems – Mitchell Porter Nov 11 '12 at 21:35
@MitchellPorter I really like the Visser paper, it's really clear and measured. – Lucas Nov 11 '12 at 22:18
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It's a common misconception to think that because the Higgs mechanism is the origin of mass it is also the origin of gravity. This is a misconception because the origin of gravity is not simply mass. Instead it's a quantity called the stress-energy tensor. The stress-energy tensor is usually represented as a 4 $\times$ 4 matrix containing 10 independant entries (10 not 16 because the matrix is symmetric) and in most cases the only significant entry is the top left one, $T_{00}$, which gives the energy density.

The key point is that as far as the stress-energy tensor is concerned mass and energy are the same thing related by Einstein's famous equation $E = mc^2$.

Immediately before the electroweak transition all particles were massless, and immediately after they had a finite mass, but this change didn't make any difference to the stress-energy tensor and therefore to gravity. Before and after the transition the energy density was the same (well similar anyway) so the contribution of the particles to the stress-energy tensor and therefore to gravity was the same.

So there is no contradiction between the Higgs mechanism and the idea of entropic gravity.

share|cite|improve this answer
Yes, good point, well made. – Lucas Nov 11 '12 at 9:16

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.