AW_from_EB wrote:I was following the cartoon up until he said that the question about the Higgs field translates into a search for the Higgs particle. What does this mean? If everything with mass is interacting with the Higgs field at all times, and the existence of the field implies the existence of the particle, then why do you need such high energies to see it? The photon carries the electromagnetic force, which we also experience all the time, and we don't need esoteric equipment to detect photons. Gravity is just as ordinary, so why does detecting the Higgs particle require thousands of scientists and billions of dollars?
Thank you in advance for your help!
Maybe the following analogy helps: Think of the Higgs field as some kind of "sirup", penetrating all of space. When particles are swimming (traveling) through this sirup, some are more influenced (or "slowed down") than others. Since their propagation is hindered, they gain "inertial" mass; the more so the more they are affected by the "sirup". Particles like the photon down feel the effect at all and are massless. The Higgs field interacts with itself, and therefore also has a mass.
The Higgs field as a constant value throughout space. Like you can create waves on a quiet lake by throwing a stone into the lake, you can also locally excite the Higgs field "sirup". Now, since the Higgs field has mass, the energy needed to "dent" the "sirup" and create such a "wave" must at least be the same as the mass of the Higgs field. The resulting "wave" is what we see as the Higgs particle. The "stones" correspond to the protons in the LHC.
It is the acceleration of particles to such high energies that requires all these huge expansive machines.
The source of gravity, on the other hand, is not mass but energy density (plus some other things). In fact, most of the "gravitational" mass of Earth is NOT due to the Higgs masses of electrons and quarks (the fundamental constituents of atoms), but comes from the energy that bind the quarks to the proton. Since the gravitational force is tiny in particle physics experiments, it is save to neglect it. However, truly combining particle physics and gravity is an open problem.