I'm not a particle physicist, but I did manage to get through the Feynman lectures without getting too lost. Is there a way to explain how the Higgs field works, in a way that people like me might have a hope of understanding?
1$\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/6450/2451 $\endgroup$– Qmechanic ♦Dec 7, 2011 at 2:59
$\begingroup$ Thanks for the answers. It will take me a few days to dig in and comprehend them. $\endgroup$– Mike DunlaveyDec 7, 2011 at 14:02
1$\begingroup$ See also this popular description by L. Susskind, or this other by 't Hooft including pictures of the LHC and some nice diagrams. $\endgroup$– Eduardo Guerras ValeraMar 9, 2013 at 23:25
The Higgs mechanism is no different from superconductivity, except the condensate responsible for superconductivity is a relativistically invariant scalar field.
If you have a bosonic field, its particles can be in a Bose-Einstein condensate. When this condensate is charged, you call it a superconductor. A photon in a superconductor gets a mass, and this is the Higgs mechanism. For a relativistic boson described by a scalar field, you give the field a constant nonzero value to make a condensate. When the field has charge, this makes a superconducting condensate which gives the gauge boson a mass.
The whole effect is described in detail on the Wikipedia page on the Higgs mechanism, starting from a nonrelativistic superconductivity model of bosonic particles, and continuing analogously to relativistic condensates.
2$\begingroup$ I hate to choose between these answers, but this one helps me more, given my extremely limited understanding. $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2012 at 14:33
- simplest explanation without complex mathematical equation for a person don't have a wide knowledge about physics. Higgs Field, think of it as a field of people(audiences) waiting for a celebrity. Then think the celebrity as a particles and this celebrity(particle) walks toward the audience(higgs field). The more popular the celebrity is, the more people will mob him/her or let say the more interaction between the celebrity and the people, and less popular celebs less mob/interaction from the people. More interaction, more mass gains.
- everytime I discuss Higgs Boson/ Higgs Field/ Higgs Mechanisms, I'll start with this story so that the people I discuss it with already have a vision before I introduce to them heavy mathematics required to further explain the Higgs Boson/field/mechanisms.