I am a high school physics teacher and did my physics degree a while ago, well before the Higgs boson was on in the physics undergraduate syllabus.

Now, I am a little confused. The recent discovery of the Higg's boson and its associated field has been celebrated because it is portrayed as being responsible for allowing matter to have mass. However, I had understood that the Higg's field conveys mass on the intermediate vector bosons - W+, W- and Z(0), plus that on electrons and quarks. Since for instance, in a proton, the mass of the quarks only contributes about 5% to the rest mass of the proton, the remaining mass is due to fluctuations in the gluon field. So, this has it that the Higgs field conveys mass on elementary particles only. The other thing is that I recently saw a documentary which suggests that there maybe up to 5 different Higg's particles which convey mass to different elementary particles. Just a tad confusing! Can anybody help?


1 Answer 1


You might be interested in this answer of mine, to the question "intuitive explanation of how hadron mass emerges from strong force".

Most of the mass we observe comes from the internal kinematics of special relativity, where mass and energy are interwoven. The proton for example contains not only three valence quarks but also a sea of quark antiquark pairs and gluons. The theory of QCD describes how this happens and restricts the action to the measured mass of the proton.

You are correct that the higgs field gives mass to the elementary particles. There is only one Higgs boson for the standard model's SU(3)xSU(2)XU(1) group structure of which the Higgs boson is an elementary particle , that has to be there because of the dynamics of the equations.

The discovery of the Higgs validated the existence of the Higgs field also. In theoretical models beyond the standard model, there may be more Higgs bosons because of the structure of the group representations. It remains to be seen if this holds experimentally. This reference has a review on the subject both for the standard model and beyond. Beyond the standard model the Higgs field itself acquires a structure dictated by the group symmetries and the need for finite integrals in the interactions.


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