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All up quarks and antiup quarks have the exact same mass of 2.3 MeV/c³, just as every instance of each particle also has an exactly set quantum for their mass, according to their kind.

But if the Higgs field is what gives mass, then these particles could not have existed with those masses, nor any mass of any value, before they began interacting with the Higgs field.

What preexisting properties of these particle species caused matter to acquire the specific quanta that physicists have found them to possess?

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    $\begingroup$ Wikipedia: “A Yukawa coupling term to the Higgs field effecting spontaneous symmetry breaking in the Standard Model is responsible for fermion masses in a symmetric manner. … The Yukawa coupling for any given fermion in the Standard Model is an input to the theory. The ultimate reason for these couplings is not known: it would be something that a better, deeper theory should explain.” $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ before they began interacting with the Higgs field There is no “before”. In the Standard Model the Yukawa couplings exist for all time; they did not begin at some point. What changed was the Higgs vacuum expectation value, and thus the effect of these couplings. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ Moreover, the Higgs field is also not some independent physical phenomenon that we can just turn on or off anyway we want to. It is integral part of the theory, even if the theory has to be considered an effective field theory at this moment (at least according to many field theorists). You couldn't remove hydrogen from the periodic table, either. It's there because the underlying principles that create the periodic table require that it is there. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2023 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe my answer here will help understand that in QFT and the standard model that fields do not interact, fields are acted upon by creation and annihilation operators which manifest interactions between particles. physics.stackexchange.com/questions/428305/… . also the answer here physics.stackexchange.com/questions/148337/… . $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 7, 2023 at 4:33

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The Standard Model consists of some fields (spin-1 gauge fields, spin-½ fermions, and spin-0 Higgs) and all possible renormalizable couplings between those fields, with seemingly random strengths. The masses of the fermions at low temperatures ("after electroweak symmetry breaking") follow from those fundamental coupling constants.

No one knows why the coupling constants have the values they do. It's certainly possible that they acquired those values in some sort of dynamical process in the very early universe, but if so, no one knows what sort of process that might have been. As far as the Standard Model is concerned, the constants have been constant since the beginning of time.

Much as Newtonian gravity doesn't disappear, as such, when a star collapses into a black hole, the particle masses don't disappear, as such, above the electroweak unification temperature. The simple approximation stops being accurate, but the underlying phenomenon is still there.

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The answer to that comes sideways.

There is no such thing as individual particles.

The real thing that is there is each type of quantum field.

Each quantum field interacts with the Higgs in whatever ways it does, but once that is fixed, every well-separated, localised excitation on those quantum fields, will look like individual particles that have the same rest mass. Because they all inherit it from the same underlying source, the quantum field itself.

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    $\begingroup$ Why is somebody downvoting this trivial fact that "particles" are not individual entities but emergent phenomena of fields? If anything, that is one of the great unifying principles of field theories. They explain in a fairly simple manner why (or at least how) the universe looks so perfectly the same wherever we look. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2023 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ I commented on the question to provide a due-diligence Wikipedia reference and to correct a misunderstanding by the OP, but I didn’t downvote, in case anybody was wondering. $\endgroup$
    – Ghoster
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ This seems a bit like moving the goalposts. Why do those individual quantum fields interact with the Higgs field in such a way that the emergent particles from those quantum fields are observed to have fixed mass values? $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2023 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ @LoganJ.Fisher That is famously not known if it can even be answerable! But we know this is a definite improvement because this is one fixed value per each field, and then all particles of the same field will get the same value. Much better than infinitely many such parameters to simultaneously fix to the same value. $\endgroup$ Jun 5, 2023 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ I down voted because "There is no such thing as individual particles." as an experimentalist with particle physics I know this is wrong. see my answer here physics.stackexchange.com/questions/423985/… . Also "Each quantum field interacts with the Higgs" this is wrong. Fields are like a coordinate system in QFT, they do not interact but are acted upon by creation and annihilation operators to manifest particles. $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 7, 2023 at 4:37
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You state:

But if the Higgs field is what gives mass, then these particles could not have existed with those masses, nor any mass of any value, before they began interacting with the Higgs field.

The basic misunderstanding is that particles interact with fields. The fields are like a coordinate system on which one can model with quantum field theory the behavior of particles.

All the particles in the table of the standard model are represented by a field. The field mathematically is represented by the plane wave solution of the corresponding particle, Dirac for fermions, Klein Gordon for bosons, and covers all space time. The electron field covers all space time the same is true as well for all particle fields in the table, including the Higgs.

Fields do not interact in quantum field theory, fields are acted upon by creation and annihilation operators which manifest interactions between particles.

Energy exchanges happen between particles , not between fields.

The Higgs field acted upon by a creation operator will describe the Higgs boson interaction or decay , not the Higgs field.

In general the energy is input coming with the four vectors of the particles , the fields do not have a four vector describing them, just a quantum mechanical wavefunction.

The popularized image of an electron gaining mass because it is wading through the Higgs field is misleading. Electrons and the rest of particles in the table gained their mass at the symmetry breaking time in the model of the universe, and have this fixed mass ever since.

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