How the Higgs gives Mass to the Universe

"This is evidently a discovery of a new particle. If anybody claims otherwise you can tell them they have lost connection with reality." -Tommaso Dorigo

You've probably heard the news by now: the Higgs boson -- the last undiscovered fundamental particle of nature -- has been found.

Higgs Standard Model

The fundamental types of particles in the Universe, now complete.

Indeed the news reports just keep rolling in; this is easily the discovery of the century for physics, so far. I'm not here to recap the scientific discovery itself; I wrote what to expect yesterday, and that prediction was pretty much exactly what happened, with CMS announcing a 4.9-σ discovery and ATLAS announcing a 5.0-σ discovery, of a Higgs boson at 125-126 GeV. You can watch a recording of the press conference announcing the official discovery here, and all observing scientists were thoroughly convinced of both the quality and veracity of the work.

5 sigma annoucement

Screenshot from the original, live webcast of the seminars leading up to the presentation. Taken at the moment the CMS team first said the words "5-sigma," long known as the gold standard for discovery in the field.

So, the Higgs boson has been discovered! That's good news. You may have also heard that the Higgs gives mass to everything in the Universe, and that it's a field.

The odd thing is that all of these things are true, if not intuitive. There are some attempts to explain it simply, but as you can see, even the top ones are not very clear. So let's give you something to sink your teeth into: How do fundamental particles, including the Higgs boson, get their mass?

Cow Moose in a Rain Storm

Image credit: Highway Man of

The Higgs field is like rain, and there is no place you can go to keep dry. Just like there's no way to shield yourself from gravitation, there's no way to hide from the rain that is the Higgs field.

If there were no Higgs field, all the fundamental particles would be like dried-out sponges. Massless, dried-out sponges.

Dried-out sponges

You have to use your imagination, if only slightly, for the massless part.

But you can't keep these sponges out of the rain, and when you can't stop them from getting wet, they carry that water with them. Some sponges can only carry a little bit of water, while others can expand to many times their original size, carrying very large amounts of water with them once they're fully expanded.

Compressed Sponge

Image credit: GNI Phoenix International, via

The most massive fundamental particles are the ones that couple most strongly to the Higgs field, and are like the sponges that expand the most and hold the most water in the rain. Of all the particles I've shown you, atop, there are just two that are truly massless, and hence don't couple to the Higgs at all: the photon and the gluon.

They can be represented by massless sponges, too, except they are water repellent.

Water Repellant

Image credit: CETEX Water Repellent, from Waltar Enterprises; photo by © Gregory Alan Dunbar.

So, the Higgs field is rain, all the particles are like various types of sponges (with various absorbancies), and then... then there's the Higgs Boson. How can the field -- the rain -- be a particle, too?

deflated balloons

Image credit: /

If it weren't raining -- if there were no source of water -- your intended water balloon would be a sad failure. If there were no Higgs field, there wouldn't be a Higgs boson; at least, not one of any interest, and not one with any mass.

But the water comes from the Higgs field, and it also fills the balloon that is the Higgs boson: the Higgs field gives mass to all the particles that couple to the Higgs field, including the Higgs boson itself!

Image credit: Laura Williams from

Without the water, the balloons and the sponges would be far less interesting, and without the Higgs field, the Higgs boson and all the other fundamental particles would have no intrinsic mass to them.

It's only kind of like the Higgs boson

"I've found the Higgs boson! And I'm very, very wet!"

So now you not only know that we've found the Higgs Boson, but how the Higgs field gives mass to all the particles in the Universe, including the newly-discovered boson itself. Just like water can seep its way into almost anything, making it heavier, the Higgs field couples to almost all types of fundamental particles -- some more than others -- giving them mass.

And the great new find? We've been able to create and detect enough Higgs Bosons at the Large Hadron Collider to confidently announce -- for the first time -- that we've discovered it, that we've determined its mass (around 133 times the mass of a proton), and that it agrees perfectly with what our understanding of the Universe currently is.

Higgs Event

Image credit: A Higgs creation, decay and detection event, courtesy of CERN.

Like I told you yesterday, keep up with the latest Particle Physics news here, and if you want to see/hear me on TV talking about the discovery of the Higgs in all its glory, you get to, tonight!

I'll be talking about the discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN later today, July 4th, at 7PM (Pacific Time) live on Portland, OR's own KGW NewsChannel 8 on The Square: Live @ 7! If you missed my last appearance on the show, talking about the Higgs, you can watch it anytime.

But if you want to catch tonight's show? Tune in to channel 8 if you're in Portland, otherwise you can watch the live stream from anywhere in the world at 7PM Pacific at this link. See you then, and enjoy your Higgs-Discovery/Independence Day!

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I love the rain analogy! Would it make sense to think of the Higgs boson as the raindrop and the Higgs field as the rain?

By Gethyn Jones (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

I would say rather than perfectly agrees that it supports the validity. After all, the median expected value for the mass of the Higgs particle was less than the figure we have, but within the range of what concords with the rest of the standard model outcomes.

How this value sets other values that are to some extent free variables in the standard model will be interesting to me (and comprehensible to me too).

Interesting times.

If we build a pizza collider, each resulting fragment will contain less pasta, right? So, why does a proton smasher unveil particles whose mass is 125-126 times that of the whole enchilada? This reminds me of the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fishes, but don't let's change the subject.

By Peido Velho (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

@Peido Velho.

I'm not a physicist so I might be wrong here but;

- In physics mass and matter are different. In your anology you are talking about the total matter of the pizza, each fragment, added back together, must contain the same amount of matter as the two pizzas.

- Since mass is equivallent to energy (the famous E=mc2) I would imagine that the mass of the created particles goes up significantly because the acceleration goes waaaay down when they smuck into each other.

You have two particles, moving at somewhere around 99% of the speed of light, going nearly equal speeds, suddenly slamming into each other. Since they're going in opposite directions they cancel each other out but all that energy has to go SOMEWHERE, so it gets converted to mass.

I think...

@Peido Velho: The energy of the protons involved in the collision also contributes to producing the outgoing particles. With proton-proton collisions, only a fraction of the total energy actually goes toward new particle masses; the rest goes into their kinetic energy.

The CERN accelerator is currently running with 4 TeV proton beams, so there is a total of 8 TeV potentially available to create new particles.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

Also not a physicist, so would appreciate setting me straight if I get this wrong: I thought that the Higgs mechanism for mass involved a 4-component spinor field. 3 of the components couple to other particles, producing mass, and the 4th component is free to do whatever it wants. The 4th component is the "scalar" Higgs boson. But that means that the Higgs boson itself isn't what produces mass. The mass of other particles comes from interaction with the other 3 parts of the spinor.

If I understand correctly, what they have managed to do is create extremely high energies which causes a disturbance in the higgs field. This disturbance is manifested as the higgs boson but since it is unstable it decays. Now what would happen if during the very limited existence of the higgs boson it is exposed to another field like an electron field? Is there any possibility of interaction between the higgs boson and the field it is exposed to?

Considering the early universe had high enough energy to create higgs bosons and perhaps other fields for it to interact with. Could an interaction like this be the basis for dark matter and dark energy?

If photons do not couple with the higgs field, why is their path affected by gravity?

By PhysicsDummy (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

i think this analogy has a couple of major flaws:

1) It doesn't seem to have anything to do with symmetry breaking

2) Your Higgs as the water just gets absorbed to the sponges, so the sponges are then "made out of" higgses. But really, the SM particles are not made out of higgses, they just "bump into it", which is a different idea.

I assume people mean Inertial mass when they say it 'gives mass' as Gravity is and has never been part of standard model.

It is my understanding that non-zero masses of the neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino do not involve the Higgs mechanism.

Generally, the neutrino particle type is quite a source of surprises. For years physicists were convinced the neutrino's had to be massless. As we know, today a non-zero mass is attributed to neutrino's. As I recall, the known case of parity violation involves the neutrino.

By Cleon Teunissen (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

The best analogy I've read Ethan, thank you.

I have a question - if the higgs particle is nothing without the higgs field, what part does the particle play, i.e. in what way are the particle and field connected? Or was the particle just useful in confirming the existence of the field?

Maybe there's a way to shoehorn it into your analogy...

The discussion of the Higgs field giving mass to itself is not right. If the Higgs field were zero, i.e., if the vacuum expectation value were zero, then the Higgs would still have a mass. In fact, the Higgs is the only field in the SM with a fundamental mass.

Hippity Higgs, Hurrah!

Some early reflections:

- They did really well as mentioned here, better than expected.

- What they didn't handle well was the press release. Apparently they put up press videos leaking the result yesterday and press releases before the talks were finished, as well as collaboration members leaking.

- The production rates and the different combinations of observed particles produced by the Higgs, the "channels", are still somewhat rickety statistics. But they are all consistent with a standard Higgs.

What is interesting is that a standard 125-126 GeV Higgs, if that is what it is, immediately points to new physics.

For example, as I understand it several analysis including this update find that there should be supersymmetry at the weak scale, which is where LHC works. And the vacuum should be quasistable, with a lot of indication of an underlying dynamical process (multiverses).

@ david:

4 components, yes, that is what particle physicist Matt Strassler's notes on his blog Of Paricular Significance. They are all from the Higgs field, they are all "higgs" including the Higgs. 3 of them goes into Z&Ws which has mass, one is massless, _the field_ is the mechanism giving mass. (By virtual particles, same as how EM fields give potentials with virtual photons.)

Oh, and while Higgs field gives fundamental particle's mass proportionally to energy, it doesn't do proportionality for its own particles (so it ain't gravity). Something else is required, precisely as neutrinos are SM particles (I think, sort of, it's a kludge) but they get mass elsewhere.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

Oh, I see bob was already there regarding that Higgs's masses are different. And I fumbled the "massless", its the massive Higgs natch. Here is a description.

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

Given that physical reality is awfully non-intuitive, people complicate matters even further by mishandling the instrument of language. 'God particle' is obviously just a bad slogan. But 'hadron collider', 'atom smasher', and the like, when used to refer to the discovery of 'elementary' particles, are expressions that induce innocents like me to believe we're talking about proton debris. The same language problem arises when we say that not even light escapes from a black hole, as if massless photons were newtonian apples. The effect of gravity on space-time is often illustrated by some sort of bowl into which things 'fall'. And so on. Wittgenstein, we have a problem.

Depending on exactly what you mean by "mass", most of the mass of the universe is either Dark Energy or Dark Matter. The former with near certainty does not get its mass from the Higgs, and the latter may or may not, depending on what it is.

As for "everyday" baryonic matter in the universe, the Higgs contribution to baryonic mass is very small, on the order of a percent or less. Most of the universe's bayronic mass is from the confinement energy of the gluon fields inside the nucleon.

Frank Wilczek wrote a nice article on all this recently.

By Andrew Foland (not verified) on 04 Jul 2012 #permalink

Good summary Foland. You are right, there is a lot of misimformation presented here in Ethan's blogs.

So, if some particles acquire their mass through interaction with the Higgs field, then where does the Higgs boson fit in?
Why is the Higgs boson needed?

So, if most particles acquire their mass through interactions with the Higgs field, then why is the Higgs boson important? what does the Higgs boson do here?

Andrew until we know what dark matter and dark energy actually are, your statement is unsupported. Wrong even.

It's like saying invisible pink unicorns are not affected by electric fields (which is why you can't touch them either).

Bob the highs field particles are virtual particles. This means they have no mass (to within the limits of the uncertainty principle, which gives at least one limit to the mass of a free higgs)

Physicsdummy, that is one of the ways we know we don't yet have all the answers.

Higgs gives everything inertial mass. But it doesn't give gravitational mass. And one of the huge questions is "why are they the same value?"

Now I wait for homeopathic light nanowater that sucks up, by means of quantum mechanics, those bosons that make you heavy

But I still don't understand few things. About density of Higgs Field. Is it constans? I mean if some bosoms wet the sponge they will be absent in place without sponge. How about space between bosons? Do bosoms multiply to fill the emptyness? Is the field thinner or fatter? Does ideal vacuum exist or not?

You just rule-34'd homeopathy, Michael.

Have to say that I'm deeply disappointed by this latest post Ethan :( Was expecting some real explanations on the Higg's field and how it interacts with particles. Yet you have said nothing on the subject. Water and sponges.. come on. While basically wrong as someone pointed out here (as given an impression that particles somehow "absorb" the field) I am really sad that you made no attempts to even try to explain it in physics terms. How does work? How do particles interact with it? What's the difference in proton's interaction with it in comparison with photons... etc. etc? Not some kindergarden grade explanation (which makes it even more confusing) about some water baloons and whatnot, but a genuine explanation as we have them today. If we as a society don't know something still, ok, then say.. we don't know how this or that works. But at least try to explain. Your post is "how the higgs gives mass to the universe", and yet there is nothing physics about it :(( Would you please try another go at it, for all of us curious to know more without high-end mathematics. I loved your post about quarks and chromodinamics, I was really hoping that this post about the Higg's would be along those lines, but it's not :(

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

Since we can't see them directly and our monkey-brain doesn't do thinking on the subatomic scale too easy, we have ot use analogies.

You're merely whining that you don't like the analogy.

Touch noogies.


I'm whining because there is nothing scientific or physics related in the post. How does Higgs' field interact with other particles in real terms? Is it through strong or weak interaction or some other "new" force? I.e. we have proton moving through Higgs field... how does it interact with it? What is that "drag" (not rain) that happens to it. What are the forces in play? Is there any emittions, absorptions etc.. If yes, what are day. Then in contrast, what happens to the photon i.e. or some "less" massive particle. There is no explanation here about the mechanism nor even a hint to it. That's what I commented about. I don't care if we use fish in the sea or ping-pong balls sitting on a bed of sugar, or whatever other way popular press is trying to describe it. From Ethan I came to expect real physics and science in his posts. This particular one fell really short for me, and I just commented on that. If someone now has a better understanding about Higgs mechanism by reading about different spunges abosrbing different ammounts of water, great fro you. It brings me no closer to understanding what Higg's bosson is really about and how Higgs field really works.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

I agree here with 'Sinisa Lazarek' although I do not want to point the finger at Ethan specifically.

We have amazing Visual FX technology that can create imagery of just anything imaginable, and what we get here is a sponge and some balloons to explain what's going on. It can't get any more amateurish for "the discovery of the century for physics", knowing that the Standard Model and the Higgs mechanism is nothing new, it is already more than 30 years old. Why can't CERN and all those genius physicists take a more serious approach at educating the general public to explain how this all works. This is some very poor communication.

I have a far better analogy: the Higgs boson is like The Girl from Ipanema permeating all the elevators of the world, so that neither elevators nor the world would fall apart. You just can't get rid of them, I mean, that godforsaken boson and the unstoppable song. The end of the Universe shall consist of a lukewarm soup of Higgs bosons with The Girl from Ipanema as background radiation. I hope I have clarified the matter once and for all.

And BTW Ethan, now have watched you on TV, I would love it to see put little speeches on all kind a things here too.
Would be great to have a little seminar once a month or so.
Not that I´m a lazy reader (far from it) but to see and hear adds so much.


thanx for the video link to newscientist. Is ok, but nowhere informative enough. I mean not to my apetite :) I really want to know what happens to particles in the higgs field and how it "gives" mass to particles.

Guess I'll digg deep into wiki and other resources to find out what really happens and how.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

Higgs boson as water and everything else as sponges rather happily explains why some things are heavy and other things light, SL. The sponge doesn't get bigger, it gets more filled, meaning heavier. And a sponge that is water repellent will not contain water and remain "sponge only" and light.

This explains how the higgs field can make things heavier or lighter by binding to the material that we see as "massive particle".

This neatly explains this aspect of the Higgs field.

There are other aspects that are not covered by this analogy and therefore this analogy for those aspects is invalid.

HOWEVER, this isn't trying to explain those features.

If you want to explain those features, you do it. But don't complain about an analogy to explain one feature doesn't explain another, because it was never meant to.

Make your own analogy. With hookers and blackjack if you want, but you do the damn work if you're so damn cheesed off.

I bet that if Nethan was a gorgious girl who wrote about sponges and balloons they would be more than happy.

@ Wow

"Higgs boson as water and everything else as sponges rather happily explains why some things are heavy and other things light," - my issue was with this in the first place. Why use water and sponges or big fish and small fish etc.. in the first place. Why not talk about the higgs field and particles in the first place?? Why the unnecesary metaphore?

"The sponge doesn’t get bigger, it gets more filled, meaning heavier." - ok.. now let's get back to particles please. What happens to the particles in the higgs field? Do they absorb the field somehow? If so, how, by what process? Does it "suck" the energy from the higgs field and therefore increases it's own energy? Do higgs bossons get somehow coupled to particles? By what process, what energy? What is a carrier of that coupling? Those are my questions, among others.

"And a sponge that is water repellent will not contain water and remain “sponge only” and light." - so this is in reference to photons (or EM fields) not interacting with Higgs field, while other quanta do. Again, how? "How" was never touched in real physical sense and yet it's the first word of the title. How does that interaction take place, not as a metaphore but as a physical process?

"This explains how the higgs field can make things heavier or lighter by binding to the material that we see as “massive particle”. - well, no it doesn't. It explains in a metaphore WHAT happens, but doesn't explain HOW it happens.

"If you want to explain those features, you do it." - I don't want to explain anything, I want to know first.

"Make your own analogy." - one first needs to know what happens in order to make analogies.

If you know what happens, I'm glad for you. If you know how it happens, even better. But we who are not physicists don't know. But some of us would like to know. I just don't understand why it can't be written as is and needs balls, and guests and fish and whatnot. Why not use words like field, potential, charge, vector, scalar, tensor, operator, particle, quanta, etc etc etc....? Why can't it be explain in plain physics language... why these analogies that confuse?

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

So you just found Ethan´s explanation too simple and wanted more.
There are more sources than Ethan alone.
Go search and expand your mind. But now you just sound ungratefull towards someone who does his best to explain something hard to a wider public.
Or maby you just get angry quickly. FYI they are working right now, as we speak, to make the afformentioned homeopathic light nanowater that sucks up, by means of quantum mechanics, those bosons that make you heavy thoughts.


Your Particle Physics TrapIt page is great. I loved the headline on one of the news articles you're collecting there: "God Discovers the Elusive 'Physicist Particle.'" LOL!

Ok think I understand now. Did some wiki digging, and reading and think I have the essence of it. And without any math :)) yeeey. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

this is from wiki and think it gives the best summary possible:

"According to the Standard Model, the W and Z bosons gain mass via the Higgs mechanism. In the Higgs mechanism, the four gauge bosons (of SU(2)×U(1) symmetry) of the unified electroweak interaction couple to a Higgs field. This field undergoes spontaneous symmetry breaking due to the shape of its interaction potential. As a result, the universe is permeated by a nonzero Higgs vacuum expectation value (VEV). This VEV couples to three of the electroweak gauge bosons (the Ws and Z), giving them mass; the remaining gauge boson remains massless (the photon). This theory also predicts the existence of a scalar Higgs boson, which has just been observed[4]."

So it's basically an interaction of one type of field with the other at a fundametal interaction level (W and Z bosons being the carriers of weak interaction, the interactions between quarks i.e. ) those fundamental force carriers interact with a Higgs field which then breaks and gives masss/energy to those very bosons, while others remain intact.

So no mysterious fishes and ping pong balls in sugar :)

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

p.s. another interesting thing that I didn't know before is that symmetry breaking occurred right after the big bang (the energies involved to have em and weak field unifing). So W and Z bosons "got their mass" at that instant. Everything from then on as far as mass goes is just an effect. It's not like we are "swimming" now in the "higgs field" sort of fluid that resists our movement. It;s the mass of W and Z bosons that gives mass to everything else. Is this correct?

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

Sinisa, no, the Higgs gives mass to the other particles, not the W and Z bosons. Did you really think that every single person in the world were all saying it wrong?


Don't want to argue, since it's not my field, but from everything I read, it's the W and Z bosons that are first to get directly "modified" by the interaction with the higgs field. Quarks and leptons are thought to interact via Yukawa mechanism with the higgs, but the whole point of the field being non zero is because of the initial interaction with the unified field which cuased it's symmetry to be broken.

I do not think that every single person is wrong, not did I say that. But would like if you could explain how higgs gives mass since you say it's not the W and Z bosons.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jul 2012 #permalink

"I do not think that every single person is wrong, not did I say that."

Then why are you continually complaining about everyone else?


"why are you continually complaining about everyone...?"

what? everyone who? don't put words in my mouth which i never said or ment

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 06 Jul 2012 #permalink

Because you're weaselling out of your comments against everyone by using the pedantic "absolutely everyone" meaning rather than the colloquial "everyone".

And you're whinging about everyone else, SL.

I really like Ethan's rain analogy, but I am confused about the relationship between the Higgs field ("rain") and Higgs boson.

I am going to try and torture the analogy a little further using the idea that a gauge boson is the minimum-sized "ripple" in a quantum field e.g. a single photon is the smallest enrgy "ripple" in an electromagnetic field

The "sponges" (particles with non-zero rest mass) absorb the "rain" which gives them mass... what happens when you bang two sponges together? Nothing - these are incredibly absorbent sponges we have here. In fact, some Sponge-physicists suggested that it wasn't actually raining at all!

Nevertheless, physicists in Sponge-world went on to build a Large Sponge Collider in order to bang them together really, really hard to see if they were really absorbing water.

And when they did so, the minimum mass of the water droplet released was about 126 GeV. Sponge-physicists now triumphantly concluded that it really is raining....

(Apologies - I know an analogy is only an analogy but just trying to get my non-expert head around the ideas....)

By Gethyn Jones (not verified) on 06 Jul 2012 #permalink

"but I am confused about the relationship between the Higgs field (“rain”) and Higgs boson."

Well, it's not a good bit of the analogy. But mostly because we don't have 100% rain all the time everywhere, even indoors. Since the higgs field is everywhere (even indoors), for the rain to be like it, it has to be everywhere.

Ethan does try to get this across, but if you're spending too much time trying to find the faults, you can easily miss it:

Ethan: "The Higgs field is like rain, and there is no place you can go to keep dry."

But here is another attempt to find fault rather than look for enlightenment from you:

Gethan: "so what happens when you bang two sponges together? Nothing – these are incredibly absorbent sponges we have here."

And when you bang two items that can tough each other (bind together), you lose mass.

So, if some particles acquire their mass through interaction with the Higgs field, then where does the Higgs boson fit in?
Why is the Higgs boson needed?


Actually, far from finding fault with Ethan's analogy, I was attempting to extend it. I was puzzled about why high energies are required to detect the HB, and I was playing with the analogy to see if it could help me picture the relationship between field and boson.

By Gethyn Jones (not verified) on 06 Jul 2012 #permalink

Well, one way to look at it is the be broglie wavelenght. Higher energies mean you see smaller structures. I.e. dimensions that are wrapped up smaller. Dimensions that the higgs field sits in.

Another way is harmonics on a very short tight string. To excite that string you need a certain energy before you het a standing wave that will last. The string theory view.

You can look at it like pair production: you neded at least enough energy to create the mass of the particle, and the higher the energy, the more you'll make and the liklier you get to see one.

None of these views work as water drops because the analogy isn't explaining that bit and attempting to stretch it that far tears it.

Like I said earlier, an analogy is not the thing it analogises, therefore you'll always find a way it doesn't work. Picky pedants who like to pick holes in things for pleasure love analogies from other people for this reason.

@ Sinisa, what are you talking about? Its not the W and Z bosons that gives mass. Its the Higgs. As you said, the Higgs has Yukawa couplings to the fermions and its this interaction that endows the fermions with a mass. What is it you don't get?


From the research I did in the past few days, this is what I have in summary. And seems that we are diverging in something, and would like to understand what it is.

So here it is:

"Actually, there's a significant caveat to "the Higgs field gives all particles mass." Many strongly interacting particles, such as the proton and neutron, would still be massive even if all quarks had zero mass. In fact most of the mass of the proton and neutron comes from strong interaction effects and not the Higgs-produced quark masses. For instance the proton weighs almost 1 GeV, and only a small fraction of this comes from the three up and down quarks that compose it, which weigh only around 5 MeV each. If that 5 MeV was reduced to 0 the proton mass wouldn't change very much."

and this...

"An example of energy contributing to mass occurs in the most familiar kind of matter in the universe--the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei in stars, planets, people and all that we see. These particles amount to 4 to 5 percent of the mass-energy of the universe. The Standard Model tells us that protons and neutrons are composed of elementary particles called quarks that are bound together by massless particles called gluons. Although the constituents are whirling around inside each proton, from outside we see a proton as a coherent object with an intrinsic mass, which is given by adding up the masses and energies of its constituents.

The Standard Model lets us calculate that nearly all the mass of protons and neutrons is from the kinetic energy of their constituent quarks and gluons (the remainder is from the quarks' rest mass). Thus, about 4 to 5 percent of the entire universe--almost all the familiar matter around us--comes from the energy of motion of quarks and gluons in protons and neutrons. "

So yes, compound particles also get a small portion of their mass from Higg's field, but only a small part. The main mass is already there by the process' we already know and understand. What we didn't understand is why some bosons have mass (w and z) while others (photon and gluon) are massless. And this is where higgs mechanism really shows itself. It gives all the mass to those bosons. Or in other words, the interactions of higgs field and boson's gives the terms in lagrangian that corresponds to mass value of those bosons.

If I'm mistaken, please correct me. But please do give some examples and explanations instead of just saying yes or no. I want to learn more, and just saying "this isn;t so" without a follow up isn't helping :)


By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 07 Jul 2012 #permalink

Way out of my depth here, but in case it helps you Sinisa; IIRC kinetic energy is dependent on mass, so if the quarks had no rest mass I assume they would also have no kinetic energy. Of course it could be my school-level physics is not relevant at this scale, not sure.. ;)


Helpful comments - thank you. I agree the analogy as originally presented by Ethan isn't intended to illustrate the relationship between boson and field, and that I'm probably overextending it...but what the heck so here goes nothing

Ethans rain analogy cleverly explains why hadrons and leptons and some bosons have mass: they are "spongy" and absorb "water".

OK but the "rain" is the Higgs field, not the Higgs boson. So can the HB be represented?

One possible way would be to picture a boson as the minimum energy wave in its associated field. I guess for a e-m field this would be a low energy photon, perhaps in the radio frequency region. For a Higgs field, this is a high energy Higgs boson.

Using the analogy, the Higgs field would be a fine mist of rain droplets (what some people call mizzle) while the HB would be a more substantial drop.

If the "sponges" were very, very absorbent then you'd have to squeeze them pretty damn hard to get even the tiniest drop of water...which is one way of picturing why the HB can only be detected at high energies...

However, an analogy is only an analogy as you rightfully point out - but they can be a lot of fun too.

By Gethyn Jones (not verified) on 07 Jul 2012 #permalink

I eould have put it that the higgs field iis the fact that it's rsining and a raindrop is the particle.

It's not about being low energy, it's about being a virtual photon or higgs boson.

Electric fields have the forces transferred by whatever energy photon it needs to do the job, but they're virtual photons, not real ones.


"kinetic energy is dependent on mass, so if the quarks had no rest mass I assume they would also have no kinetic energy."

photons have no rest mass yet they have kinetic energy, actually all of it's energy is kinetic.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 07 Jul 2012 #permalink

Actually we don't know that.

Kinetic energy = mass times velocity squared divided by two.

Mass zero, kinetic energy zero.

Photons do have momentum, though. Or at least can impart momentum or sosk it up. Whether thst's momentum as you get in matter is a little unclear.

But photons could have no kinetic energy, but only energy from existing (at the speed of light), as the equicalent of things at resthaving mass (=energy)

Those infinities are hard to deal with in a language developed to tell other apes whete the bannanas were.

Classical mechanics terms don't really do much better.

sinisa, it is true that the strong interaction provides most of the mass of the proton and neutron. However, the point of the Higgs is to give mass to the "elementary particles". The proton and neutron are NOT elementary, they are made out of the elementary quarks. The quark's masses and the lepton's masses (including the electron), as well as the W and Z bosons, are acquired from interaction with the Higgs field.

Dai and wow, you are both wrong. Even if a particle's mass is zero, the particle can carry kinetic energy. This is the difference between Einsteinian theory and Newtonian theory.

Bob, thanx for the reply.

"The quark’s masses and the lepton’s masses (including the electron), as well as the W and Z bosons, are acquired from interaction with the Higgs field."

with this, we are in total agreement.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 07 Jul 2012 #permalink

Sinisa, the reason for your confusion was that Ethan claimed that the Higgs gives mass to everything in the universe, when in fatc this is competeky wrong. Almost all the mass in the universe cmes from the dark sector and nuclei, whose mass does not come from the Huggs. Instead only a very tiny percentage, less than 0.002% such as electrons, comes from the Higgs.

Bob, kinetic energy is for a photon its energy in and of itself. Try to remobe some snd the photon is reduced in itself. Red shifted.

Something different is going on here.

And note I merely maintained "we don't know that for sure"

If you're goung to say "wrong", you,re saying we ARE sure.

Using a tablet sucks.

Theoritical physicists get the best dope. That's crazy man.

Go Sinisa Lazarek! I'm with you. Though there is a place for providing 'real world' analogies to roughly explain a phenomenon, indulging in the analogy does more harm than good especially where it gives the impression that it has explained anything.
Funny how the posts of those who accuse Sinisa as being 'cheesed off' (Wow) and 'ungrateful' (not ungratefull btw) (Michel) are the ones that sound most agressive - Sinisa is just stating his thoughts in a decent and polite way.

Why do you say that this analogy has explained nothing, dink?

Making it up, yes?

Jeeze. This is like the time someone complained about an analogy to red and black marbles in closed bags to explain why quantum entanglement cannot be used to send information, because the marbles represent hidden variables and the outcome of the experiment would not match the statistical distribution of actual quantum entanglement. Even though neither of those things are relevant to explaining why you can't send information with entanglement.

The only analogy that correctly explains all aspects of a phenomenon is not an analogy, it's the actual phenomenon in question. That doesn't make analogies useless.

If you understood that summary on Wikipedia, then congratulations you're more informed on the subject than the vast majority of people with science degrees. You don't need an analogy. Most do, and this is a good one for explaining what it does.

On a non-analogy note, does this really create a problem with inertial vs gravitational mass? The intrinsic (and hypothetically inertial-only) mass granted by the Higgs is the result of a particle's potential with respect to the Higgs Field. That potential is a form of energy. Energy creates gravity. So is it really any more surprising that the gravity exactly matches the potential energy of the Higgs than it is that it also exactly matches the binding energy of a proton, or water molecule?


"If you understood that summary on Wikipedia, then congratulations you’re more informed on the subject than the vast majority of people with science degrees."

I guess I should say "thank you". But I think you went a bit too far with the "science degrees". If in biology, then ok. But as far as physics goes, there isn't much not to understand. All the terminology is from high-school grade physics (relativity, qm and some math terms). I learned in high-school what leptons and quarks are, what the fundamental forces are, how mass equals energy, what symmetry and symmetry breaking is in math and physics. So it's all there. Just needs some "dot connecting" and perhaps some cross referencing, nothing more. My strong belief is that anyone with a general notion of relativity and qm can understand that quote I took from wiki. If in fact it's not so, especially for science majors, then something is terribly wrong with the educational system. :)

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 10 Jul 2012 #permalink

Sinisa, most of the particles of the Standard Model have an interaction with the Higgs field - it is a new kind of force, a "higgs force" if you like. (Technically, for the fermions it is a type of Yukawa interaction, and for the W bosons it is a gauge interaction). The Higgs field takes on a non-zero value, even in the vacuum. So the interaction is always present. It leads to an effective mass for those particles. What more do you want to know? Did you try opening a book and finding out for yourself?


don't know what this last post of yours to me was about. Couple of days back i posted to you that I agree completely with what you posted then and that the statement that higgs gives mass to everything and anything is not correct. after that I haven't posted any questions about the higgs.

my post to which you now comment was to CB who said that that paragraph from wiki which I quoted is above the understanding of most science majors, which I find hard to believe. It's wasn't in any way connected to anything dealing with higgs directly.

Am sorry if I am hard to understand sometimes. English is not my native language, so something might get lost on the way.

"Did you try opening a book and finding out for yourself?"

... of course.. that's how you I and started discussing higgs.

But again I don't know why this last post from you? And in such a way? Wasn't about higgs or questions about it. Was about understanding the wiki quote

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 11 Jul 2012 #permalink

SL who said that higgs gives mass to everything? Strawman.

@ Wow

what's the title of this post?

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 12 Jul 2012 #permalink

And you only read that???

You did notice there were more words below that, right?

Mass is an inherent property of elementary particles.
The mass of the proton has been calculated from spin, charge and particle radius on pages 3-4 of Belgian patent
BE1002781; see e-Cat Site "Belgian LANR Patents". For the electron mass a similar formula has been used.

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 16 Jul 2012 #permalink

Science discoveries are not patentable.

"Science discoveries are not patentable."

Depends on what you call a discovery. And I suppose that in theory one could see the production/creation of a Higgs-boson by the LHC as a patentable thing, no?

Nope depends on the definition of discovery by patent offices.

And these discoveries are not patentable by ANY patent office.

You csn patent the design of the macine to make the measurement.

But maths and the discoveries of science in nature are not.

In ansewr to your question- no.

I was looking here at the broad sense of science and the controversial gray zone of gene patenting.

But with "these discoveries" you surely mean in the field of physics, here I'm not going to argue with you.

Regarding the Higgs-boson, there are two parts, the collider making them, and the detectors measuring them. I think that you could patent almost everything that CERN makes, and perhaps lots of the parts being used are already patented? So you either can scoop them Higgs for free coming out of a cosmic ray collision, or probably having to pay for an artificially created one.

There's no grey area here, chelle, thankfully enough.

Discovering the electron charge value is not patentable. Inventing a machine to measure the electron charge is, but I can't think of any scientist who does that because there's no market for the singular purpose machine, and they'd rather get on with research.

They'll use patented tools. Like hammers. But they don't purchase a licence to the patent on them any more than you do.

Bogart there was claiming a patent on the theory of how to calculate masses. As maths, this is not patentable.

"There’s no grey area here, chelle, thankfully enough."

You might want to read 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' by Rebecca Skloot, or follow up on some other patent cases.

"Each nation has its own patent law, and what is patentable in some countries is not allowed to be patented in others."

It's all about politics and company's lobbying. Anyway, the way you keep on ignoring facts just amazes me.

Nope, I won't. Guess why? Because discoveries in science and maths are not patentable.

It's not about politics, by the way, it's about money and the capitalist system that equates power with money and allows it to accumulate freely.

Maybe you want to read up on an Aus patent on swinging on a swing.

PS Irony: Chelle saying "the way you keep on ignoring facts just amazes me."

ROFL indeed...

To Mr. Wow,

The patent BE1002781 does not relate to a method of calculating the rest mass of the proton, it relates to a kind of "cold fusion" based on Coulomb explosion of charged deuterated electroconductive particles. Read the patent text in English published on the "e-Cat Site" under the title "Belgian LANR Patents" and have a look to BE1003296 published on the same site under the title "LANR by Coulomb explosion retarded from publication for 2 years by
the Belgian Government of Defense. The calculation of said rest mass is dimensionally correct and does not infringes quantumphysics or mathematics. The rest mass of the proton is intrinsic linked to spin angular momentum, electric charge and particle radius. The product of mass and spin radius is constant and charge is an inverse function of the root value of mass and said radius. the proton is composed of "spinning quarks" . Two of them spinning in the same sense , one having opposite charge spinning in opposite sense being quenched between the the two others attracting each other by the current law of
Ampère. Electric charge comes out of the formula as dualistic, positive and negative, that is correct!

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 26 Jul 2012 #permalink

Then your post earlier was lying.

To Wow,

Have you read already BE1002781 through the e-Cat Site and what do you think of the equation for the rest mass of the proton on pages3-4 of that BE patent relating to lattice assisted nuclear fusion (LANR) by Coulomb explosion?

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 02 Aug 2012 #permalink

I can't even work out what that patent is trying to patent.

Patents are pretty pointless now. They're nothing but lawsuit fodder.

However, in this case it looks more likely that the patent is patenting rubbish, hiding the result in obtuse verbiage and using the PTO as a proxy for publishing in a journal to lend unearned authority to the idea.

That, however, is a conclusion based on likely utility. This patent may be genuinely intended as a patent, in which case, you wasted your money, but hey, who cares?

To Wow,

I still not have comments to the equation on pages 3-4 of BE1002781. I do not like your vocabulary "rubbish". Blogs are developed to have worthful discussions, certainly when it concerns science. Cheers!

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 02 Aug 2012 #permalink

I don't really see why your dislike is my problem.

Does an understanding of the Higgs field provide any hints (perhaps vague hints) about why General Relativity's equivalence of inertial and gravitation mass should be expected?

this will give mass it's matter.

E=mc2 gives an explosion
E/m=c2 gives you fusion
A.E.I.O.U (Absolute Energy equals Input, Output Utilization)

I don't think so, Bernard.

It could do if, for example, Higgs tied to Higgs in short range interactions.

Then again, we don't know WHY vacuum has a permitivity or permeability either. Well, not since I last looked. Not why an electron has one electron's charge (though it may have more: the excess hidden by charged virtual particles hiding some of the electrons' "true" charge).

It may be that these figures are self-correcting to some "most stable local value" and gravitational mass does the same thing.

All this, however, is well beyond my pay grade...

Earth science discovery is exciting work but if your new data goes against the accepted models it can take time for the community to incorporate new data.

Carl Sagan wrote,
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Caral Sagan

A sad truth indeed from someone who carried the burdens of innovation.

This brings us to the big bang dogma today that all elements were created in a singularity event out of nothing, when new data reveals that cosmological processes are creating new elements continuously and on a massive scale. ie, Navy drill cores from ocean rifting, covering massive planet surface areas are only from a few years old to 180 million years old.

Those still wearing the big bang blinders can not appreciate that we indeed have a growing earth with a changing radius (continental mass is growing and ocean bottom surface is growing) from new elements being created at the core and not from space dust accretions.

Maverick scientists at Blue Eagle have now confirmed using LENR Interferometry Microsmelt Technology Processes (basically mimicking nature’s elemental bloom conditions) and are now making new precious elements. Not the wispy Hadron atomic scale elements but visible gold beads measured on a gram scale.

Our team of credentialed scientists and entrepreneurial engineers have accomplished more science in the last 18 months than the legions of those labouring over bosons in billion dollars budgets. For their efforts they are labelled as Crackpots when they should be recipients of the highest awards for progressing science.

To see a video of a modern day alchemist makng real gold in an LENR Interferometry Microsmelt low budget lab go to:

By Martin Burger (not verified) on 15 Oct 2013 #permalink

"Earth science discovery is exciting work but if your new data goes against the accepted models it can take time for the community to incorporate new data. "

Well, of course.

For a start you'd need to find a new model if it is going to be refuted by the new data and that takes time UNLESS you've gone looking for data to fit a preconceived model. Which may be correct (e.g. looking for how the photoelectric effect disproves the wave theory of light and proves the quantisation of same). Or completely anti-science (e.g. looking at the time of diagnosis of autism and the similar time you can first be immunised against deadly childhood diseases so you can push your own "miracle cure" and rubbish the vaccine).

Either case does DEMAND you state a priori what model you did your measurements to fit so that others can check for confirmation bias. Much as Carl Sagan constantly exhorts guarding against, but almost never quoted by cranks and quacks.

Martin Burger,

Please educate yourself about what the big bang theory actually says before you try to criticize it. The big bang theory does NOT say that all the elements were created "in a singularity event". In fact, in the earliest moments (ie fractions of a second) after the BB, there was nothing that could conceivably be called an element. The universe was too energetic for atomic nuclei to remain intact. Nuclei only formed later as the universe cooled. Furthermore, not all elements formed at this time. The BB theory does quite well at predicting the abundance of elements formed at this time, and it consisted mainly of hydrogen, with a smaller amount of helium formed and trace amounts of other light nuclei such as lithium. Heavier elements (up to iron) formed via nuclear fusion in stars. Elements heavier than iron formed in supernovae.

Short story: formation of new elements today in no way invalidates the big bang theory.

I love when people call the Big Bang "dogma", ignorant of the fact that the Big Bang suffered all the resistance one could imagine but eventually won everyone over by its overwhelming predictive success.

In the same way, even if scientists are obstinately opposed, if you can do as you say and produce gold from silicon dioxide, then they will be forced to accept the evidence.

It's the E-Cat all over again:
- If the goal is to convince science of the new theory behind this invention, it would be easy to produce the necessary evidence. But how much do you want to be that a proper test that controls for any possible source of fraud will NEVER be done. Maybe sham "demonstrations", but never the kind of test you would design if you really wanted to prove the device worked. Just the kind you would design if you wanted to sucker in gullible investors.

- Screw those dogmatic scientists! You have a device that makes GOLD from SAND. Much like a simple cold fusion reactor, this is a project that, if real, would have zero problem funding itself. Once deployed at industrial scale it would drop the bottom out of the gold market, but in the meantime you'd be raking in the cash. In fact to prevent speculation, you'd probably keep really quiet, just slowly selling enough gold on the market to keep going (and getting rich) until one day you open your factory and reveal you're now the world's gold supplier.

Instead, you have a kickstarter page.


there is probably a good reason for your "scientists" to be called crackpots. You website indicates that.

Cb, it isn't quite a kick starter page, given this disclaimer at the top
This is not a live project. This is a draft shared by martin burger for feedback.

@ Martin Burger

hahha... OMG... hahaha...

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 16 Oct 2013 #permalink

Dean: Wouldn't the purpose of the draft be to eventually set up a proper kickstarter based on the feedback? Seems like otherwise there's no reason for it to be on kickstarter (with sponsorship prizes and all); it could just be a facebook post. Or am I missing something?

Sinisa: Once again you find a way to summarize my own thoughts in far fewer words.

"Wouldn’t the purpose of the draft be to eventually set up a proper kickstarter based on the feedback? "

It seems that this was a feeler to get a sense of interest - my take away that whoever put it there hasn't done the hoop jumping to get it okayed to get to the point of taking money. It seems that there has not been any interest in it at all. That could be because
* there is little interest for certain science items, or
* people skim over it because of what this particular item is

Or, I could be missing a bigger piece of the puzzle. My wife tells me that happens quite often.

I'm just trying to infer the intention to eventually, should interest be sufficient etc. etc., fund the miraculous alchemical gold-making machine (which supposedly already works and can make significant amounts of gold!) using kickstarter.

Because that's hilarious to me.

Gravity waves are the result of the product of mass of an elementary particle (fermion) and its spin radius.
Said product is constant but results in zitterbewegung.
Longitudinal waves are produced by the trembling motion of the particles. The spin radius is fluctuating inversionally proportional to the value of the mass. Mass fluctuations are gravity fluctuations. Interference of gravity waves inbetween massive objects is at the origin of attraction (pushing from the other side).
Photons have no rest mass but are composed of matter and antimatter particles in equal strength with curvature infinite. Their traject curvature (bending) is influenced by the permittivity and permeability of the vacuum in the neighbourhood of massive objects such as the sun.

By Joannes Van de… (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

@Joannes #112: [citation needed]

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 05 Mar 2014 #permalink

In connection with the preceding blog of mine have look at the equation for the mass of the proton in the Belgian patent BE1002781 available in English on the blog site ; "e-Cat Site" in the article "Belgian LANR Patents" Have a look also at the article of Rockenbauer concerning the cause of mass formation through spin of the elementary particle.

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

@Joannes #114: Thanks. So no published journal papers, then. Just blog posts, patents (which are neither reviewed for, nor required to meet, conditions of reality), and vanity-press papers.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 13 Mar 2014 #permalink

To Mr. Michael Kelsey

Dear Sir,

You are right about the non-existence of publications of mine in journal papers. Being a self-teached person in quantum physics I read some books about it, e.g. "101 Quantum Questions" from Kenneth Ford and was impressed by the statement that nowone knows the real nature of "electric charge" (je ne sais quoi) statement in the book. I like to draw your attention to the Bohr-atom formulae of the electron (Essentials of Physics from Borowitz-Beiser wherein you will find how to calculate electric charge in function of the product mass and (spin)radius of a fermiparticle such as an electron. See also BE1002781 PAGES 3 AND 4 for the proton restmass and its connection with electric charge.
Further I like to draw your attention to my Belgian patent BE904719 (in Dutch) for calculating the spin radius of the electron using a time independent Schrödinger equation for a "Standing wave" and have a look at the BE-patent referenced therein (Fig. 2 and 3).
It has been a pleasure to me to hear from you. Have a look at my article "Cold Fusion Catalyst" on the E-Cat Site and have a comment thereto if possible . Thanks!

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2014 #permalink

The Figures 2 and 3 are in the Belgian patent BE895572 (abstract in English available through ESPACENET.
My e-mail address is :
Do not hesitate to ask questions about my patents(12) no longer in force.

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 19 Mar 2014 #permalink

The frequency of the gravity waves emitted by the trembling in the ground state of the electron "f" is 0.000008717 cycles/sec. This value has been obtained starting with the pendulum equation of Huygens (Dutch scientist) . In that equation L has been put equal to the spin radius calculated according to my Belgian patent BE904719 viz. 2.64X10^-11 m. The period (T) is consequently 114715.2798 seconds and the energy E being h.f = 5.7758842x10^39 joule.
For calculating the acceleration factor (a) in the Newton formula of gravity force( (F) I had to divide through the restmass of the electron being 9.108x10^31 kg.
For calculating the electromagnetic trembling being origin of electromagnetic attraction or repulsion I started with the Coulomb formula for electrostatic force giving (a) by dividing through the restmass of the electron . The force relationship of 10^42 of electromagnetic force to gravity force comes out. Comments are welcome.

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 19 Mar 2014 #permalink

The rest maas of the electron is 9.108x10^-31 kg and the outcome of h.f = 5.7758842x10^-39 joule . Sorry for the typist error.

By Van den Bogaer… (not verified) on 22 Mar 2014 #permalink

When an electron in an atom goes from a higher state to lower state the mass of the atom decreases.This is explained by electromagnetism and quantum mechanics.
The "Higgs Field" is not needed. The Higgs theory is incomplete and the predicted mass of the "Higgs particle"
kept changing to higher and higher values used to justify
to the European politicians to fund the Hadron Collider.
Peoples jobs depended on the Hadron Collider finding the "Higgs boson". I tried to ask Steven Weinberg about this and he wouldn't look me in the eyes, I suspect there is something very incomplete about this even to the people who created it.

By S Kennnedy (not verified) on 08 Jul 2014 #permalink

Different levels of sponginess,indeed a good anology. But the concept can be deemed to be fully explained only after establishing why and different levels of sponginess? If this picture too is clear to the dedicated scintists it may merit a similar clarification and explanations .

By lakshminarayan… (not verified) on 09 Aug 2014 #permalink

Similar to Higgs Particle and its field can there be say "Kiggs"particle and field for force fields?-

By lakshminarayan… (not verified) on 09 Aug 2014 #permalink

Further would like to be enlightened on
1-is Higgs field eneergy into mass converting factory?
2-any conceivable relationship between Vedic and Ervin László Akashic field ?

By lakshminarayan… (not verified) on 06 Jun 2015 #permalink

2-any conceivable relationship between Vedic and Ervin László Akashic field ?-- i meant between Higgs and Akashic field

By lakshminarayan… (not verified) on 06 Jun 2015 #permalink