I'm not a mathematician or a physicist but interested in quantum mechanics/gravity/relativity. I'm trying to understand some ideas that are presented for laymen, and a lot of them talk about different fields. I understand what a field is and how to work with it, like finding a slope, direction of maximum increase etc. What I'm unsure of is why something like a higgs field is considered to be everywhere while a magnetic field or gravitational field seem to be generated by an object and are local. So my question is why do some fields have a distance limit and others can act at arbitrary distances and seem to be at every point in space? If possible I would like a technical answer first and then maybe some explanation. Thanks for answering.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/13157/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/114344/2451 , physics.stackexchange.com/q/67364/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ what the fields are will be discussed during a long time but how they behave in each theory is best known :) QFT considers that there are many fields on the same spacetime $\endgroup$
    – user46925
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic thanks for the link, I did read the whole page but I don't feel like it answered my question. They mostly explained what a field is, which I sort of understand. But I wanted to understand why some fields are considered infinite, like gravity. And why some fields are considered to be omnipresent like the higgs fields. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ --continue I'm also trying to understand what does it mean when physicsts say a photon is a particle of an electromagnetic field, or graviton is part of a gravitational field. Is the field just considered to be a literal field of those particles, or is the field the background and the particles arise out of the field? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 10:47
  • $\begingroup$ Also related: Making precise the statement “particles are excitations in a quantum field”. I'm afraid you won't find a satisfactory layman's explanation of QFT - if you want to understand it, you have to do the math (and physics). Currently, your question is quite vague and broad (meandering from the gravitational field to what particles are). Read up on those things and try to ask narrower, more specific questions. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


The reason the Higgs field is said to exist everywhere (have a nonzero value) is that it is a theory with spontaneous symmetry breaking which insures that it will have a nonzero vacuum expectation value. To understand what this means you will need to study the differences between classical field theory and quantum field theory. This should help you understand the concepts of particles as fluctuations about the mean values of quantum fields.


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