A Short Break

Personal and professional activities require me to take a short break from posting.  But I hope, whether you’re a novice with no knowledge of physics, or you’re a current, former, or soon-to-be scientist or engineer, or you’re somewhere between, that you can find plenty of articles of interest to you on this site.  A couple of reminders and pointers:

* If you haven’t yet seen my one-hour talk for a general audience, “The Quest for the Higgs Boson”, intended to explain accurately what the Higgs field and particle are all about, while avoiding the most common misleading short-cuts, it’s available now, along with a 20-minute question and answer session.

* If you want a slightly more technical and written discussion of the Higgs field and particle, complete with animated images, and suitable for people who may once have had a semester or two of university physics and math, try this series of articles first, and then go to this series.

* If you’d like to better understand the language of “matter”, “mass”, and “energy” that is everywhere in popular explanations of science, but eternally confusing because of how different authors choose to talk about these subjects, you might find some useful tips in these articles: #1, #2, #3, #4.

* If you need a reminder about what “ordinary matter” (i.e. things like pickles, people and planets) is made of, try this series, which goes all the way from molecules down to quarks.

* If you’re curious about what “particle/anti-particle annihilation” does and doesn’t mean, try this article.

* And here are the types of particles and forces of nature that we know about, and (for the moderately advanced reader) here’s how they’d be rearranged if the Higgs field were turned off.

Hopefully there’s something on that list that interests you, and many links within those articles to other things that may even interest you more.  Have fun exploring!  And stay tuned; I’ll be writing more in the near future…

4 responses to “A Short Break

  1. May the fun be with you!

  2. Have a good time Professor.

  3. I understand that the Higgs field is significant in its effects on the other fields.

    But I’ve been wondering if the Higgs particle plays any real role in interactions. I understand that the gauge bosons mediate force, and from what I understand their popping in and out of existence creates force. The fermions have the exclusion principle, but it seems the Higgs particle isn’t going to do much at all besides being a relic coming from needing a quanta for the Higgs field.

    Is this analysis correct? It seems the Higgs particle is just really rare due to short lifetime and energy required to create it – although presumably it comes into existence temporarily frequently on universal scales, it seems not enough to really affect other particles.

    • The Higgs produces an attractive force between massive particles proportional to their masses. Because the Higgs is extremely massive, the force is short ranged like that of the weak bosons. Because stable particles (electrons, up and down quarks) have relatively weak interactions with the Higgs, the Higgs force is much, much weaker than the weak force. But, it’s there.

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