Higgs particle

Carrier of an all-pervading fundamental field (Higgs field) that is hypothesized as a means of endowing mass on some elementary particles through its interactions with them. It was named for Peter W. Higgs

born 1929

of the University of Edinburgh, one of those who first postulated the idea.

The Higgs mechanism explains why the carriers of the weak force are heavy, while the carrier of the electromagnetic force has a mass of zero. There is no direct experimental evidence for the existence of either the Higgs particle or the Higgs field.

* * *

      hypothetical particle that is postulated to be the carrier particle, or boson, of the Higgs field, a theoretical field that permeates space and endows all elementary subatomic particles (subatomic particle) with mass through its interactions with them. The field and the particle—named after Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, one of the physicists who first proposed this mechanism—provide a testable hypothesis for the origin of mass in elementary particles.

      The Higgs field is different from other fundamental fields—such as the electromagnetic field—that underlie the basic forces between particles. First, it is a scalar field—i.e., it has magnitude but no direction. This implies that its carrier, the Higgs boson, has an intrinsic angular momentum, or spin, of 0, unlike the carriers of the force fields, which have spin. Second, the Higgs field has the unusual property that its energy is higher when the field is zero than when it is nonzero. The elementary particles therefore acquired their masses through interactions with a nonzero Higgs field only when the universe cooled and became less energetic in the aftermath of the big bang (big-bang model) (the hypothetical primal explosion in which the universe originated). The variety of masses characterizing the elementary subatomic particles arises because different particles have different strengths of interaction with the Higgs field.

      The Higgs mechanism has a key role in the electroweak theory, which unifies interactions via the weak force and the electromagnetic force (electromagnetism). It explains why the carriers of the weak force, the W particles (W particle) and the Z particles (Z particle), are heavy, while the carrier of the electromagnetic force, the photon, has a mass of zero. However, there is as yet no experimental evidence for the Higgs boson, which would be a direct indication for the existence of the Higgs field. There is little theoretical guidance as to the mass of the particle, except that it should not be much more than one teraelectron volt (trillion electron volts (electron volt); TeV). It is also possible that there is more than one type of Higgs particle. Experiments are conducted to search for the massive Higgs particles in the highest-energy particle-accelerator (particle accelerator) colliders, in particular the Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

Christine Sutton
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • higgs particle — noun see higgs boson …   Useful english dictionary

  • Higgs boson in fiction — The Higgs boson has appeared in several works of fiction in popular culture. These references rarely reflect the expected properties of the hypothetical elementary particle, or do so only vaguely, and often imbue it with fantastic properties.*In… …   Wikipedia

  • higgs boson — ˈhigz noun or higgs particle Usage: usually capitalized H Etymology: after Peter W. Higgs b1929 British physicist : a hypothetical elementary particle that has zero spin and large mass and that is required by some gauge theories to account for… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Higgs — Boson de Higgs Boson de Higgs Propriétés générales Classification Boson Composition Élémentaire Groupe Boson de jauge Propriétés physiques Masse Au moins 115 GeV⋅c 2 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Higgs boson — /hɪgz ˈboʊzɒn/ (say higz bohzon) noun an elementary particle the existence of which would explain the appearance of massive particles of zero spin in the electroweak theory; its existence theoretical until near certain scientific confirmation in… …   Australian English dictionary

  • Higgs — [higz] (also Higgs boson or Higgs particle) n. Physics a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted by the theory that unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions Origin: 1970s: named after Peter W. Higgs (1929 ), English physicist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Higgs boson — /higz/, Physics. a hypothetical type of heavy, electrically neutral particle with zero spin. Also called Higgs particle. [named after Peter W. Higgs (born 1929), English physicist, who hypothesized its existence] * * * …   Universalium

  • Higgs boson — (also Higgs particle) noun Physics a subatomic particle postulated to exist by the theory which unified the weak and electromagnetic interactions. Origin 1970s: named after the English physicist Peter W. Higgs …   English new terms dictionary

  • particle — particled, adj. /pahr ti keuhl/, n. 1. a minute portion, piece, fragment, or amount; a tiny or very small bit: a particle of dust; not a particle of supporting evidence. 2. Physics. a. one of the extremely small constituents of matter, as an atom …   Universalium

  • Particle physics — is a branch of physics that studies the elementary constituents of matter and radiation, and the interactions between them. It is also called high energy physics, because many elementary particles do not occur under normal circumstances in nature …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.