A Philosophical Look at the Higgs Mechanism
- 249 Downloads
On the occasion of the recent experimental detection of a Higgs-type particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the paper reviews philosophical aspects of the Higgs mechanism as the presently preferred account of the generation of particle masses in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics and its most discussed extensions. The paper serves a twofold purpose: on the one hand, it offers an introduction to the Higgs mechanism and its most interesting philosophical aspects to readers not familiar with it; on the other hand, it clarifies widespread misunderstandings related to the role of gauge symmetries and their breaking in it.
KeywordsHiggs mechanism Gauge symmetries Quantum field theory Symmetry breaking
- Achenbach, J. (2008). At the heart of all matter: The hunt for the god particle. National Geographic. Available online at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/god-particle/achenbach-text.
- Friederich, S. (2014). Symmetry, empirical significance, and identity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, doi:10.1093/bjps/axt046.
- Jackson, J. D. (1998). Classical electrodynamics (3rd ed.). Wiley: New York.Google Scholar
- Noether, E. (1918). Invariante Variationsprobleme, Nachrichten der königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Mathematisch-physikalische Klasse Book 2:235–57, English translation by M. A. Tavel. Available at http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0503066v1.
- Perez, A., & Sudarsky, D. (2008). On the symmetry of the vacuum in theories with spontaneous symmetry breaking. http://arxiv.org/abs/0811.3181.