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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126059 - 10/08/13 11:00 PM

I think you provided the answer to the "makes no sense in everyday human speech" already in your post, Greg. They aren't two different issues. They both refer back to intuition. Analogy appeals to intuition, and much of physics is counterintuitive. Human speech has a lot of difficulty conveying counterintuitive concepts -- those usually require some sort of physical demostration rather than explanation.

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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: llanitedave]
      #6126081 - 10/08/13 11:15 PM

Quote:

Human speech has a lot of difficulty conveying counterintuitive concepts -- those usually require some sort of physical demostration rather than explanation.



Could you tell me please what humans' difficulty with counterintuitive concepts has to do with their speech? Doesn't "counterintuitive" refer to a conceptual difficulty rather than a linguistic one? When one of your physical demonstrations successfully conveys a concept, do you think it produced a language change? If so, what?

I really am baffled here by what seems to me to be a confusion of language and thought. Do you think those two are the same?


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126104 - 10/08/13 11:25 PM

language conveys thought

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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126106 - 10/08/13 11:25 PM

otherwise you have to read minds

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derangedhermit
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Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126117 - 10/08/13 11:31 PM

math is a language

a human one


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derangedhermit
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Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6126122 - 10/08/13 11:34 PM

humans cannot apply math to political (or, by extension, other "emotionally invested") issues

recent study proving it


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PeterR280
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #6126131 - 10/08/13 11:43 PM

There are two issues here:

1) quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. You can't come up with quantum mechanics just by thinking about physical events. The mathematics gave results about reality at the atomic level that were shocking.

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.


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GregLee1
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/21/13

Loc: Waimanalo, HI
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126178 - 10/09/13 12:20 AM

Quote:

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.



Yes, you need to understand the mathematics to understand the concept. That's obvious. So if you don't understand the mathematics, we don't have to appeal to some issue with spoken language to explain why you won't understand the concept. No maths -- no get it.

Now, what does spoken language have to do with it? Do you mean to be saying that even if you do understand the mathematics, you will still not be able to understand the concept unless you can see a mathematical form written down? A spoken explanation will not work. That's what you seem to be saying.

Edited by GregLee1 (10/09/13 08:27 AM)


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PeterR280
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: GregLee1]
      #6126196 - 10/09/13 12:32 AM

In the case of quantum mechanics, even though you understand the mathematics, what the equations tell you does not make sense.

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6126394 - 10/09/13 06:09 AM

Quote:

There are two issues here:

1) quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive. You can't come up with quantum mechanics just by thinking about physical events. The mathematics gave results about reality at the atomic level that were shocking.

2) quantum and classical physics, even theories that are intuitive cannot be completely explained by spoken language alone. One needs to understand the mathematic to truly understand the concepts.




The ideas behind the Higgs mechanism and the requisite particle state are neither counter-intuitive nor unspeakable. I just spoke about them as clearly as I possibly could, in a way that cannot be misunderstood. Here it is again as numerated statements:

1) Conservation laws and interactions between pieces of matter are not optional. They are the fundamental building blocks of our picture of physical reality.

2) Distant action is not possible. All interaction is caused by local fields that propagate according to the laws of special relativity.

3 There is one and only one way to ensure that conservation laws are always satisfied in any given interaction in a way that is compatible with locality and relativity - they must be described by gauge fields having certain fixed mathematical properties (they must structured by Lie groups, in technical language).

4) Gauge fields are, by their very nature, long-range in action. There is no gauge invariant field that is not long-range. Any restriction to its range must originate in a separate type of interaction, mediated by a "guest" field that is not part of the original interaction schemata.

5) The weak interaction is, observationally, short-range. It does not operate from galaxy to galaxy, or from star to star, or from wall to wall, or from hair to hair. It operates from nucleon to nucleon.

6) Thus, there MUST be a additional participant in the interaction, whose only purpose is to shorten the range of the interaction through a mechanism that itself is not part of the original idea of conservation laws supported by gauge invariance.

7) That participant is the Higgs field, the mechanism is called the Higgs mechanism, and the overall idea is known as "spontaneous symmetry breaking". The prototype for this sort of scheme is the expelling of the magnetic field from a superconductor, which phenomenologically, amounts to the photon acquiring a mass inside the superconductor, and so becoming effectively short-range. The missing, expelled magnetic field is the physical consequence of the now-short-range photon.

If one wishes to make an analogy, then the proper one is - the vacuum itself behaves in many ways as does a superconductor.

The Higgs field itself is, in a well-defined sense, a quasi-particle. It has no independent existence outside its role in symmetry breaking. There are other quasi-particles that show up all the time in physics and have real, measurable effects - the most common being the phonons of condensed matter physics. "Quasi" does not mean unreal. It means the idea of "particle" itself is reaching the limit of its expressive and explanatory content.

It is unfortunate that mystics and obfuscators have encouraged everyone to hide behind blanket statements such as "no one understands quantum mechanics" or "relativity and quantum theory are unintuitive". To Ogg in the year 1, a falling apple described by Newton's law would be unintuitive. A thing becomes intuitive when you learn how to use it. A bicycle is not intuitive until one learns how not to fall off it. None of what is involved in the Higgs mechanism and the field theory it is a part of is unintuitive. If anything, it is TOO intuitive, and encourages people to think in terms of macroscopic pictures that are simply not valid on the small level.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126420 - 10/09/13 06:47 AM

I'd be curious if any person without any knowledge of physics understood what the Higgs Field is from what you said above,

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Charlie B
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 03/22/08

Loc: Sterling, Virginia
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126763 - 10/09/13 11:01 AM

Nice Danny!

Charlie B


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AstroGabe
sage


Reged: 01/10/10

Loc: SE Wisconsin
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6126967 - 10/09/13 01:09 PM

Good summary Danny. I have minor exception with one thing though - that there is no gauge invariant field that is not long range. The electroweak gauge bosons (W and Z) still satisfy the U(1)_EM gauge invariance since that gauge symmetry still persists. I would ammend it to say that gauge bosons that are responsible for short range forces still satisfy gauge invariance as long as those gauge symmetries are not broken.

Also, the Higgs field does have existence outside the role of symmetry breaking. It existed before symmetry breaking in the early universe and its behavior before and after symmetry breaking can explain the baryon asymmetry of the universe (why there are more particles than anti-particles in the present day).

Gabe


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6126983 - 10/09/13 01:16 PM

Gauge invariance is absolutely, fundamentally long range. Said otherwise, any Yang-Mills field in necessarily massless. And no, the Higgs field does not exist in any context at all outside symmetry breaking. We don't live in the early universe, we live now, and phenomenological ideas cannot be pushed into realms where they cannot be expected to operate.

-drl


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AstroGabe
sage


Reged: 01/10/10

Loc: SE Wisconsin
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127003 - 10/09/13 01:29 PM

I see your point on the gauge invariance. I think it was a misunderstanding of what you meant on my part.

But you can expect the description to operate just as well in the early universe at temperatures of O(100 GeV) or so. That's what is being probed directly at the LHC, and what we find is well described.

Gabe


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Otto Piechowski
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 09/20/05

Loc: Lexington, KY
Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6127016 - 10/09/13 01:35 PM

Thank you, each and everyone of your for talking physics and the math behind the physics here. Please continue doing so on this topic on which you are now engaged.

Please allow me to encourage you to focus your attention, also, on the opening article to which I referred in the NYT. I would, very much like to hear and appreciate hearing, your response to these questions about that article and its contents:

Does the Higgs Boson article using a snow covered field as an analogy for describing the nature and function of the Higgs Boson in a manner in which readers who know no or little physics and math...
1. Is this article accurate in what it says?
2. Does the article address the central aspects of what the Higgs Boson is?
3. Does the article allow the reader to better understand what the Higgs Boson is?

Thank you.

Otto


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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: AstroGabe]
      #6127061 - 10/09/13 01:53 PM

Quote:

I see your point on the gauge invariance. I think it was a misunderstanding of what you meant on my part.

But you can expect the description to operate just as well in the early universe at temperatures of O(100 GeV) or so. That's what is being probed directly at the LHC, and what we find is well described.

Gabe




I don't expect that. In fact when energy density is high enough, ALL interactions have the same range, and mix together, even in our limited phenomenological view. That range is hard to define, because the entire world becomes a teeming maelstrom of things changing into each other in a roiling soup. In such a world, the Higgs mechanism is irrelevant, and the Higgs field would sit glumly on the bench like a klutzy infielder whose presence on the team is mandated by nepotism.

But in fact it is almost certain that the tidy picture of strict conservation laws mediated by gauge fields on a flat spacetime background is wildly inapplicable in such situations. What we have works in our calm modern universe, where most of spacetime is empty, and the action is confined to the interior of stars and the centers of galaxies.

Attempts to bring Higgs machinery into cosmology are, in my opinion, rather pathetic.

-drl


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PeterR280
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127156 - 10/09/13 02:32 PM

How would you reconcile it with General Relativity and the principle of equivalence?

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: PeterR280]
      #6127396 - 10/09/13 04:35 PM

I wouldn't - such a program is hopeless for reasons on both sides of the fence. New ideas are needed.

=drl


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PeterR280
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 05/27/13

Re: The Higgs Boson as a field of snow new [Re: deSitter]
      #6127444 - 10/09/13 05:02 PM

You would think the same mechanism is at play giving rise to the metric.

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