Of Particular Significance

Public Talk on Large Hadron Collider Now On-Line

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 05/02/2012

My talk for the general public about the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] and the search for the Higgs particle, given online as part of the series of talks put on by MICA (Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics) at Caltech, is now posted.  The pdf of the slides, and the audio, are available here:


And I recommend you take a look at their other talks also; it’s a great list.


What is MICA?  Here’s what they say at their website.

Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics

  • The Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) is a professional scientific and educational, non-profit organization based in virtual worlds [VWs]. We are currently using Second Life (SL), and the Intel’s OpenSim-based world ScienceSim, and may expand to other venues as the VWs evolve.

You will sense, if you listen to the talk, that the virtual world is still a little buggy, there are some amusing moments!  But on the whole, the virtual world offers many new opportunities for bringing together large but dispersed communities of people with common interests.

Since particle physicists are dispersed across the globe, in professional settings we use video and audio conferencing all the time.  In fact, in just a few minutes after posting this, I’m going to listen to and watch a presentation at a conference at the CERN Laboratory (which houses the LHC) from the comfort of my office.  I’ve attended conferences in Geneva while in Ontario, and attended conferences in India while in New York.  I’ve even given a talk to a conference in Europe while I was just outside one of our National Parks in California!  (You can either view this as letting work intrude into a vacation, or not allowing work to prevent a vacation; up to you.)  And any experimentalist at the LHC probably attends at least one virtual meeting each day.  So for our especially international and collaborative community, virtual experiences have been the norm for quite a while.

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63 Responses

  1. I read your article ( implications of higgs search ) and found myself in the middle of quicksand ….no firm ground , i understood the following :
    1- The universe is on a knife edge among many many possible fields ,particles , forces , interactions ……
    2- Instability of the universe is a real possibility in some combinations of the above…….
    3- Our SM dictates that higgs field/fields MUST exist or else all our view would collapse while existence of higgs field itself is a deduction not experimental finding……
    I really wonder how high energy physicists feel in such a fluid situation !!
    how can i get peace of mind after that turmoil ?it is as if we are in the middle of an ocean without a shore……….

    1. Not easily. This is a detailed subject, it would take some long technical articles, I’m afraid. It’s very easy with technicalities, but very hard without them.

      I’ll keep your request in mind, though. Maybe I’ll figure out a way.

      1. How close am I in my interpretation of a “particle”?

        In the standing spherical wave concept, the energy in that sphere (packet) is E = h * c / lambda. where h is Planck’s constant, c is the speed the peak moves in the sphere and lambda is 2r (r is the spacial radius of the sphere).

        It takes the “peak” energy (density?) 720 degrees to make one cycle around the sphere (oscillating 90 degrees at a time from the center to the “surface” (amplitude?) of the sphere and back to the center).

        The spin is the intrinsic rotation of the peak around an axis to complete one cycle (through x, y and z, i.e. 720 degrees). This intrinsic rotation is what gives the “particle’s angular momentum.

        The electric charge is a measure of the effect by the “electric” field created by the peak oscillating between the center of the sphere to the “surface”. The electric field is the gradient of energy created in a grid of all the particles in the universe.

        The mass is the measure of the momentum transferable from one particle to another and is created by oscillatory motion of the peak confined in a spherical space (quantum confinement, quanta space).

        Speculations from my interpretation:

        1) The radius of the sphere for any type of particle is derived by the principle of least action, the resultant effects of all the fields acting on the particle.

        2) The attraction force, quantum gravity, is created by the oscillatory nature of the “wave” within the spherical space. When the peak moves to the surface it creates a negative pressure (tending towards “empty” space in the center) and by the principle of least action must return to the center. Like all other fields, gravity likewise is the summation of these (quanta) negative pressures by all the particles in the universe. hence, the gravity “wells” are greatest where there is a dense coalescing of particles, galaxies, stars, planets, etc.

        3) These oscillations that some have coalesced to “particles” (standing waves) where created by the expansion of the energy, space, and time system. The expansion of the universe (energy and space) could not be done isotropically because of the time factor, i.e. instantaneity is not possible and hence energy expanded in a non-uniform densities. These variations in energy densities patterns grow more and more complex leading to the “coalescing” of space, (formation of “particles”).

        4) The fields and particles have a duality in the sense that all the particles create the fields and each particle effects another through these fields.

      2. PS; What is energy?

        I would like to quote Narendra Katkar in one of his papers, “The Speed of Light, A Fundamental Retrospection to Prospection”

        “The Universe is a process of Absolute transformation,
        from Cosmic Primal Energy, CPE to Quantum to
        Radiation and back to CPE Vacuum State.
        CPE → QE → RE→ CPE
        Energy is never created neither lost.
        “Everything essentially is Energy”
        What is Energy? …!!! ”


  2. You said in newscientist of 12/2011 that if no higgs particle show up there must be another new ones….does this still hold ?
    Is higgs field a fact or an assumption ? i mean does it proved to exist or it is mere theoretical deduction ? can technicolour field replace it pushing proof by a 1000 years ?
    Please do not push us to 2020 , it would be too late………i hope to know now……its very very exciting.

    1. Sorry. In brief quotations no real knowledge can be conveyed. Read: http://profmattstrassler.com/2011/12/04/why-10-years-to-be-sure-theres-no-higgs-particles/ , and follow the link about the implications of Higgs searches to gain more insight. You cannot rush knowledge; it comes when it comes, and if you try to rush it you get wrong answers and head in wrong directions. It’s not up to me whether it will take til 2020; what nature has in store for us will determine whether we know before then.

  3. What if nothing show up in the LHC ? with that great dissatisfaction that the SM is not complete…….

    1. Well, since the Standard Model equations without a Higgs particle actually break down at the LHC — there are rare processes whose rates the equations will be unable to predict, because they predict nonsense — there isn’t really any such thing as “nothing” at the LHC. The question is how much detail will we obtain about the physical processes for which we have no prediction, and whether what we learn will give us insight into how to fix the equations. The closest thing to “nothing” would be that these processes provide rather little information, leaving us sure that the Standard Model is wrong but unsure how to fix it. That would indeed be frustrating, but it is hard to worry about it now; we won’t know til at least 2020.

  4. Hi Matt. ; i just read many posts on– not even wrong — i did not imagine the existence of such huge talks on BSM , so may i ask my good professor matt . : what is the latest on the BEYOND part of the BSM ? or nothing yet , what is your true anticipation of that BSM? what are you ultimately looking for ? what are the prospects of finding it ? are we at the edge or the end ?

  5. To eyal cohen : from what you wrote i as an outsider from the field of physics understood that you do not accept /trust / satisfied with existing theories of sub-atomic realm , and that you are looking /anticipating /hoping to see something great , something beyond , something nearer to reality as it is……
    correct me if wrong.

  6. to aa. sh.
    1. I’m not an expert in high energy physics. Matt Strassler’s site is the one I recommend to you. There’s a lot of excellent, well explained physics material here.
    2. The only book I know that could help you is in Hebrew. Not a common language.
    3. About the book you are citing, from its table of contents it looks like a philosophy book and in my view you have to know physics before you deal with phylosophical writings about it.
    4. Personally, when I found out reality is too weird, I went to study physics. For 8 years. It took many more years before I started actually comprehending it.

  7. To eyal cohen :
    Now as we non-experts are getting lost in that vast ocean of scientific ( praying that nature show some thing ) , do you recommend for us to read colin mcginn,s book ” the structure of reality-essays in meta-physics ” published in 2012 ?does this kind of investigation help us ?
    May you or Matt. help recommending something that MAY put us on not even soft ground?

  8. “Actually, most of us are praying we’ll be supplied with something else”. Thanks! That’s what I was aiming at from the start, and I apologize for not making myself clear:
    Any theory that produces infinities, especially where it shouldn’t, suggests that it may be ill defined. But instead of confronting the problem, physicists during the late 40’s chose the easy way for QED: Re-normalization (and it doesn’t matter how one actually performs the calculations. The problem is with the theory, not with the correction). Of course, renormalization has its own benefits – we can do calculations, design and perform experiments and all the other stuff physicists do, but there’s a price to it. We are putting a lot of effort in a theory we now know for sure is not the real thing (that includes the mass of the sixth quark, the masses of the weak bosons and neutrinos, the fact that the theory does not produce its own parameters, and a few more problems mentioned in Peter Woit’s book).
    Therefore, in my view, Han’s comment about the motivation behind the Higgs mechanism is more than a matter of taste. He may be criticizing (among other things) the theorists choosing once again to take the easy way by including the Higgs mechanism instead of dealing with the mass term. I think that the result of this approach is that we have to run a 9 billion dollars experiment, praying for something we have no idea about, to fall out of the box.
    In this perspective, Feynman’s words are still valid, even though he is 25 years dead, because if you take the easy way, you may miss the right way.

    1. The remarkable thing about the Standard Model is that it does not produce infinities!

      1. This is not really a well-posed remark. Most of the infinites that Eyal is worried about are infinities that show up only when you do perturbation theory. But those are artifacts of perturbation theory. The real infinities are the ones that show up when you define the theory properly. QED (electrons and photons and the like) has these infinities. QCD (the theory of quarks and gluons) does not. Oh, sure, it has the infinities in perturbation theory. But clearly we do not want to get worried about the validity of a theory that only develops infinities when we ask ill-posed questions about it — that’s our fault, not the theory’s fault!

        (The reason perturbation theory is ill-posed in QCD is that you always have to make a perturbative expansion in terms of a small dimensionless quantity. QCD has no such quantity — and so setting up perturbation theory in a coupling constant, when no coupling constant exists, always leads to mathematical artifacts — which appear in the calculations as infinities if you do them in particular ways. But physical quantities, defined consistently, show no infinities.)

      2. Matt, thanks for your detailed answer. I thought that “But physical quantities, defined consistently, show no infinities” was true for the whole Standard Model not just QCD or is that something that still has to be demonstrated? With “defined consistently” do you mean on the lattice?

        1. There are some subtleties here. I’m actually not entirely sure I know what their status is; there have been advances in recent years. The issue is that you cannot easily put a chiral theory on a lattice. QCD is non-chiral, but the full Standard Model is chiral. So there is an issue about what we strictly know is true versus what we suspect is true, and I’m not sure about the precise status. I suspect a few questions still remain unresolved.

  9. Matt.: my comment was not intended for you , i was forced to reply to david who introduced jesus and mohammed peace be upon them, accusing of alleged/false miracles , here we see true arrogance while we are just on the edge of the possibility of maybe knowing some thing , i did not accused you of arrogance ,i only described the attitude of humans where they know too little and think they know too much.
    If you after so long research reached a final conviction based upon facts and upon refuting all minus points , how can you call this arrogance ? did you or david spent 40 years in studying philosophy , science and religion so that you be in a position to accuse who did of arrogance ?
    how can any one deny this ?you misunderstood me so badly.

  10. David :
    Before calculating with such precision the probability of the a/m miracles , would you please teach all of us how much is the probability of mind , consciousness , feelings , understanding , grasping concepts and ideas , feeling awe and wonder………..how much all of this being the result of interacting fields !!!!!!!!!
    learn david…………learn.
    so tell the tales PERHAPS they will reflect.

  11. A typical example of the tiny , weak , ignorant human standing in front of the awesome stupendous unknown and with his prejudice and arrogance declare and decide what is possible and what is not !!!!
    That kind of mental attitudes are a definite mark of a human knows too little and claiming too much while he even cannot think how he can think , that kind of humans must know first how to think before decreeing such huge statements void of any meaning…………shame.

    1. Excuse me, but with respect, I would be inclined to describe you as manifesting exactly the same qualities that you are accusing others of — arrogance. It is you who started the discussion, by declaring that what is obvious to you must be true.

      I don’t see much point in this discussion. We disagree. And both of us think the other is blind and closed-minded. We have to accept that there is no resolution to be had here. We both have intellectually consistent positions.

      I think it is time to go back to the science.

  12. Ervin Goldfain specifically suggests that the Higgs particle might not exist. Recently, I have been thinking about alleged miracles. Consider 2 alleged miracles: (1) Jesus miraculously transformed water into wine and (2) Mohammed went on a night voyage over Jerusalem, visited the supernatural Paradise, and returned to planet Earth. I suggest that these 2 alleged miracles are less likely than a Higgs particle spontaneously turning into 37 fermions. Recently I read that 12% of the U. S. public believe that the world shall come to an end this year. I few years ago I read that in the U.S.A.10% of investors in biotechnology disbelieve in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Is the U.S.A. now only 1 of only 3 countries that has not adopted the metric system?

  13. “The same statements were made in the public talk; that was the whole point about emphasizing that the LHC is supposed to help us understand the Higgs field, not specifically to find the Higgs particle (which I specifically said might not exist), and that was also the whole point about giving the analogy of a piece of metal which may or may not ring with a nice tone.”

    Your point is well taken. I am inclined to believe that semantics is responsible for my misinterpreting your standpoint. Is it true that by Higgsless theories you mean models that are not based on the Higgs boson but preserve the concept of the “Higgs” field as underlying cause of mass generation?.

    1. Historically, the word “Higgsless” was introduced to refer to a very specific subclass of all the theories that lack a Higgs particle. Because of this, I don’t use the term that way, as it is already used for something else. I simply refer to the more general class of theories that “have a Higgs field but no Higgs particle”, and don’t give them a over-arching name.

      Now, with respect to `models that are not based on the Higgs boson but preserve the concept of the “Higgs” field as underlying cause of mass generation?’, here what is really meant is that there is an effective field theory description of the mass-generation process using the low-energy dynamics of a linear sigma model of the electro-weak interactions. I’m unclear on your theory background; is this language that makes sense to you? It’s the same type of theoretical trick used to describe dynamical symmetry breaking in QCD, but with some additional features.

      1. I am familiar with effective field theories and dynamical symmetry breaking in both the EW model and QCD. Thanks for clarifying the terminology.

  14. “Don’t forget you also have to explain the top quark mass too without generating decays that we don’t observe in nature: this is where almost all alternative theories die.” What are the most promising alternative theories in this context? What is your opinion of the work of Koide and Gerald Rosen?

    1. I don’t know of any successful theory of quark and lepton masses that allows precise calculations to be made, agrees with the thousands of high-precision measurements made at all of our great variety of experiments, and does not have a Higgs field. (There are some that do not have a Higgs particle, however.)

  15. 1. You are saying “there is no known way to make a consistent theory…” and that’s where I was aiming at. We know that the SM is not the real thing, and not only due to the masses of the W and Z bosons. Still, we are trying to fix it by adding something to these bosons, hoping that mother nature will be generous and supply us with the Higgs we are praying for.
    In my view, this is a second instance of a wrong way to do physics. The first was the Renormalization of the QED theory, and I can only quote Feynman’s view about it: “The shell game that we play to find n and j is technically called renormalization. But no matter how clever the word, it is what I would call a dippy process! Having to resort to such hocus-pocus has prevented us from proving the theory of quantum electrodynamics is mathematically self-consistent. …. I suspect that renormalization is not mathematically legitimate.”
    2. Last week we had a huge “Science on Tap” event in Tel Aviv (http://www.weizmann.ac.il/pages/science-on-tap-0) . Scientists, mainly of the Weizmann institute gave lectures in more than 50 bars around the city. I had the pleasure of lecturing on “The things we are (not) made off” and quoted your comment at the end of it (about the ambiguity of the question “what are things made of?”).

    1. 1. We’ve already had our discussions about renormalization (and I told you already that I agree with Feynman about the way it was done when he was young; I, at least, do it differently, and in particular renormalization done properly has nothing to do with infinities.) When dealing with subtle technicalities of a theory still under development, maybe it is time to stop quoting a man — even a great man — who has been dead for 25 years.

      Meanwhile suggesting that we are “hoping that mother nature will… supply us with the Higgs we are praying for” is silly. Actually, most of us are praying we’ll be supplied with something else. We just happen to understand the equations well enough to realize that the Higgs is by far the simplest explanation, and that all of the explanations that have been suggested are either inconsistent with existing data or are very difficult to implement. Don’t forget you also have to explain the top quark mass too without generating decays that we don’t observe in nature; this is where almost all alternative theories die.

      2. Congratulations.

  16. I was (in a way) relieved to listen to the post event MP3 audio to find it was just as bad as my connection during the live event. That relief however is overshadowed by my disappointment that the best available audio record is so badly broken up.

    Despite that it was great to listen to your voice for a change rather than read your blog. Matt, you keep picking up my physics world view and turning it upside down, giving me a fresh new viewpoint and a renewed sense of wonder.

    Sometime it would be great if you could create a better quality audio stream along with synchronised slide changes, this presentation deserves to be preserved as one of the greatest introductions for the non specialist with an enquiring mind. Well done as per usual, I don’t know where you find the time but your time is well spent. Keep it coming!

    1. Yes, it is a shame that the audio wasn’t better. I didn’t have any control over that, unfortunately, and at the time nobody told me there was a problem.

  17. @ Oaktree,
    Your reply has nothing to do with my comment, which was addressed to Prof. Strassler.

      1. Thank you for your reply.
        I know that you are familiar with Higgsless theories and I am also aware that there is disagreement on definitions. My only point in bringing up Higgsless models is to gently remind you that the general public is far less educated on these matters. Presenting all sides of the story helps a great deal when it comes to putting things in proper perspective.

        1. Your criticism is unfair, I think. Not only did I mention this, I emphasized it in the talk, as I have emphasized it many times on this website. Quoting from my Higgs FAQ, http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/the-higgs-particle/360-2/

          Are particle physicists sure there’s a Higgs particle?

          Absolutely not! (Don’t Panic!!!!!!!! Just read on, please, carefully.)

          What we know for sure is that either

          * there is at least one type of Higgs particle, and we will find it (or them) at the LHC, or

          * Higgs particles fall apart too rapidly for us to identify them, but only because they are strongly affected by new particles and forces that we will be able to discover at the LHC instead!

          At a later time I will explain exactly how new particles and forces can make the Higgs unobservable, and why the particles we know so far cannot do so.

          Either way, we learn something about what we want to know: how does the Higgs field work? The LHC was designed to be virtually certain of answering this question.

          So there might not be a Higgs particle, but that is perfectly ok: we will still be able to use the LHC to achieve the real goal, which is understanding the Higgs field. That said, doing so could be quite easy and start happening this year, or it could be very, very difficult and take up to a decade in the worst cases.

          The same statements were made in the public talk; that was the whole point about emphasizing that the LHC is supposed to help us understand the Higgs field, not specifically to find the Higgs particle (which I specifically said might not exist), and that was also the whole point about giving the analogy of a piece of metal which may or may not ring with a nice tone.

    1. If you can explain why any of the quarks or leptons weighs what they do, it’s a Nobel prize for you. In short, it’s a wide-open question; nobody knows.

      1. Prof. Strassler,
        With all due respect, your statement tends to suggest that there are no alternative explanations for mass generation in HEP besides the Higgs mechanism of EWSB. The reality is that there were many Higgsless theories advanced over the years. I am not saying that these models are on the right track but that they simply exist. A Google Scholar search for “Higgsless” brings up more than thousand entries on the topic.

        1. Your question has the following answer.

          On this website I am always very careful to distinguish the Higgs field from the Higgs particle. The Higgs field is associated with giving mass to the W and Z; the Higgs particle would be a ripple in that field, but for some Higgs fields there is no such thing.

          In fact there are many, many theories that predict a Higgs field but no Higgs particle. The first class of these has the name “Technicolor”, and they go back to the late 70s (Dimopoulos and Susskind, and separately Eichten and Lane.) The “Higgsless” models are much more recent, but they too have a Higgs field and no Higgs particle. (I’m very familiar with those models, you don’t need to tell me they exist.) In fact, if you look at my Higgs FAQ, you’ll see I emphasize this point. http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/the-higgs-particle/360-2/

          Some experts might say that they disagree with my definitions and that I shouldn’t call this kind of thing a Higgs field. Well, at that point we get into semantics. In all of the successful theories of the W and Z masses, there’s always an operator that is useful, within limits, to describe as having a condensate. The thing which develops that condensate (similar to but not identical to a Cooper pair condensate in a superconductor) is what I call the Higgs field. If you want to call it something else, that’s up to you. But this is what *I* mean by “Higgs field”.

          The existence of the Higgs field is essentially verified by a combination of the W and Z boson masses and couplings to matter, and most strikingly by the correct prediction of the details of top quark decay.

      2. Ervin,

        I think it is irrelevant what you call it, Higgs or something else, the point is the math the we created, whether it is the field or wave equations, are but one method of formulating Nature. There are no guaranteed ways of verifying that our math will leads us to the fundamental variable(s) that derive everything else. These equations may give solutions to some of the phenomena we measure and observe but a) the number of solutions could be infinite in which case it will put the math in doubt and b) we could and probably are dealing the tip of the iceberg above the water level. Higgs saw something missing so he added a term. Whether the equation was in an appropriate form in the first place is not clear, (my opinion) and whether a simple additional term is sufficient we still don’t know.

        These waves that we see, measure and formulate are effects of causes we have no concept of yet. (i.e. there are too many dependent variables so far to say that we are at the threshold of understanding “mass” and how Nature generates it.)

        If we can explain everything from one variable, one fundamental state of Nature which sparked everything else, then we are talking seriously.

        What is energy?

        PS: Thank you for the link Professor.

  18. P.S.:
    It is a grave mistake to call HIM a creature ..a grave misunderstanding.
    The status of HIM if far above and beyond and transcendental to ANY scientific psuedo-fact…..there are no final facts in science.

  19. I am not talking science , i am talking meta-science and please refer to all our dilalog where you accepted many of what i said….
    you said it is absolute possibility that our description of the world today can be totally changed tomorrow w.r.t ontology ….well…..
    my proof for my stand is a simple , sound ,logical one ; if so many great minds with top consciousness , peak intelligence , cannot reach a final ultimate description of the physical , how can any one imagine that the blind dead physical described and implemented itself ? this is the greatest absurdity that can be conceived ……
    refusing that the FORMAL as a causal power is directing , arranging , guiding , and configurating the physical is the most unreasonable , unscientific stand any one can adopt…….
    reading all of what you wrote on this website , how can you and many else cannot see that beyond all those separate discrete isolated observations it is a fundamental logical fact that there MUST exist a guiding meta-principle that is absolutely above and beyond the isolated islands of phenomena….
    i know that you immersed in equations , graphs , papers ……etc. but you once started to talk to the public it is not fair or nice to let them adopt your personal p.o.v. ……..that is why i wrote all of my comments……..
    Now i am satisfied with what i declared , take it or leave it , my aim is overall goodness , my goal is showing what i believe is the ultimate undeniable truth thru science in a conversation website of science…..
    this is my final exchange of ideas with due respect to every one and sincere thanks to matt . for giving the chance for those conversations.
    aabed shami with full respect.

    1. You are welcome to your way of thinking. It is a free country, and hopefully someday a free world.

      You may draw whatever conclusions from solid scientific research that you are comfortable with; about this we will not argue. It’s up to you.

      But when you declare the inferiority of others who, faced with the same scientific information, do not draw the same conclusions, then you cross a line. And that is what you have done, I feel, with this last message.

      It forces me to respond in kind.

      How can I not see what is obvious to you? Easy. I see more deeply, not less. I see more possibilities — the one you articulated, and others which you refuse to believe can exist.

  20. In M.Y.Han’s book on QFT (“A Story of Light”) he suggests another motivation for the Higgs mechanism, by which avoiding the mass term in the Lagrangian may enable renormalizability of the theory. Namely, without the Higgs mechnism the mass term would cause a too large number of infinities that cannot be renormalized. This “mundane” explanation is not as glamorous as “spontaneous symetry breaking” but makes a lot of sense.
    I would appreciate yopur opinion about it.
    Thx, Eyal

    1. I presume by “mass term” you refer to the masses of the W and Z.

      Our starting point, as theorists, is that we observe massive W and Z particles in nature. The problem is that there is no known way to make a consistent theory of massive W and Z particles alone. If you try, you get equations that fail to predict consistent results at high energy. This is what Han is presumably referring to — though the decision to express it in terms of infinities, rather than in terms of predictivity, is, in my view, overly technical and insufficiently physical… but that’s a matter of taste.

      So you have to add something to the W and Z. What you can add is the Higgs mechanism and some associated particles and forces.

      We imagine there is a Higgs field (some operator, more precisely) that once non-zero on average across the universe causes the W and Z to get a mass. Ripples in this field may or may not be easily-observed Higgs particles, but either the Higgs particle, or in its absence, other particles or forces, will then fix the inconsistencies of the theory of the W and Z alone. Whether you refer to this general class of solutions to the problem, or only a certain subset, as “the Higgs mechanism” is a semantic issue, but I think in the context of your question you would use the more general reference.

      I don’t know why you would assign more or less glamour to this reasoning. I don’t think of spontaneous symmetry breaking as very glamorous, and a subtle argument based on theoretical consistency looks more glamorous to my eye. But in this case it is worse: spontaneous symmetry breaking is not actually correct, for a subtle reason. A gauge “symmetry” is no symmetry at all, so there is no symmetry to break! (It is a symmetry of the equations introduced for convenience; it is not a symmetry of the physics.) That’s another one of those white lies that only gets corrected in quantum field theory class (and only in particularly good ones.) Unfortunately to say things correctly is far more complicated and technical than to give the white lie.

  21. Dear friend :
    Maybe you can explain to me a very strange attitude w.r.t. almost all scientists , in biology they are scared to death to face reality and just say ; apparent design , a void of meaning oxymoron !!! in cosmology and physics it is said that the cosmos appear AS IF it is designed !!!
    Science would serve its cause much much more deeply if it faces reality and confess the obvious …….. ALL ARE SEEMED DESIGNED BECAUSE ALL ARE REALLY DESIGNED
    Facing reality is the greatest honor science can ever achieve , and science lacking truth is the demise of human understanding.
    DESIGN is the ultimate true fact science can ever hope to find and it is already found.
    so it was written , so it shall be done.

    1. This is a science website for a reason.

      The question of how you interpret scientific results is your own business. If you want to see the universe as designed by some intelligent creature, that’s up to you. But it is not a *FACT*.

      A scientific fact is something that can be shown to be false. There is no strategy to falsify this claim; it may be true, but it cannot be shown scientifically.

      You say it is obvious that “ALL ARE SEEMED DESIGNED BECAUSE ALL ARE REALLY DESIGNED”; well, it is not obvious. Many things in nature and in mathematical simulations of nature appear designed even though that are not. In a random set of things, some patterns will arise by accident. In complex dynamical systems without any design whatsoever, structures often form that appear as though designed. Hurricanes, for instance — powerful engines that can live for weeks. Are they designed? And many things in the universe appear NOT to be designed.

      “Facing reality is the greatest honor”; I am sorry, but it is *you* are are not facing reality. Look at ALL the data, not just some of it. You are only looking at those parts of the data that serve your preconceptions. And confusing facts with opinions is a terrible mistake, if you want to face reality with true intellectual integrity.

  22. Great talk, I listened to it last night.

    My only (very minor) complaint was the audio quality. Usually VOIP codecs with a decent bitrate sound excellent.

    Nevertheless, thanks for putting it together – sorry I missed the initial live feed. For some reason I have never seen a drawing of ATLAS with people included for scale. That thing is immense!

    1. Yes, the problem was in the audio feed. I’m not sure why the people running the event didn’t let me know so that we could try to fix it. Maybe it wasn’t audible to everyone even though the recording of the feed was subject to the problem.


  24. Why ” as though it would have been ……..”??
    Why not ( it have been carefully arranged ) ??????

    1. Because to say the latter would not be justified either by data or by theory. Many things that were not arranged look as though they were; have you never seen a rock balanced on another just due to erosion?

  25. The ultimate fact is :
    The cosmos NEEDS a kind of formal information which are beyond / above / extra cosmic and as such it directs / controls properties of the cosmos , i do not mean some thing REALLY un-natural since nothing in the whole existence can be called un-natural , once it exist it is natural even if it is beyond OUR nature as for ex. unseen dimensions.

    1. Do not over-interpret the word `unnatural’; it means just that nature, to the eye of a naive quantum field theories, looks as though it would have to be been carefully arranged in order to behave the way it does. That’s what the hierarchy problem is all about. The term `un-natural’ was introduced more whimsically than seriously.

  26. AWESOME……. i felt a deep feeling of awe and a transcendental sensation of wonder with respect to 2 points in particular :
    1- That the cosmos is a huge ” music” of vibrations.
    2- That the small value of the higgs field needs a mechanism that transcends our cosmos and our knowledge…….you called it UNNATURAL , does this mean extra-natural , meta-natural , super-natural ???

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A decay of a Higgs boson, as reconstructed by the CMS experiment at the LHC


A reminder: tonight (April 3) at 6pm I’ll be giving a public lecture about my book, along with a Q&A in conversation with Greg Kestin,

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 04/03/2024

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 04/01/2024