Journal of High Energy Physics

, 2015:146 | Cite as

Spontaneously broken mass

  • Solomon Endlich
  • Alberto Nicolis
  • Riccardo Penco
Open Access
Regular Article - Theoretical Physics


The Galilei group involves mass as a central charge. We show that the associated superselection rule is incompatible with the observed phenomenology of superfluid helium 4: this is recovered only under the assumption that mass is spontaneously broken. This remark is somewhat immaterial for the real world, where the correct space-time symmetries are encoded by the Poincaré group, which has no central charge. Yet it provides an explicit example of how superselection rules can be experimentally tested. We elaborate on what conditions must be met for our ideas to be generalizable to the relativistic case of the integer/half-integer angular momentum superselection rule.


Space-Time Symmetries Global Symmetries 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solomon Endlich
    • 1
  • Alberto Nicolis
    • 2
  • Riccardo Penco
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut de Théorie des Phénomènes Physiques, EPFLLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Physics Department and Institute for Strings, Cosmology and Astroparticle PhysicsColumbia UniversityNew YorkU.S.A.

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