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Q & A: Higgs boson properties

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Most recent answer: 07/23/2012
Q:
I understand the the Higgs Field needs the existense of particles to explain its existencw but Googling for properties of the Higgs Boson and consulting dozens of web pages I have found nothing but conflicting answers. These are related questions and condradictions which need clarification. 1) What is the weight of the Higgs Boson? Some say it is very heavy without providing a number. Others claim it is massless. 2) What is the lifetime of the Higgs Boson. CERN claims it decays in a fraction of a nanosecond? Is this true for all Bosons or just to those generated by the Large Hadron Collider? 3) If the Higgs field and its Bosons inhabit all of space as claimed, what is replenishing them if they decay so quickly? 4) For the same reason if they are everywhere, why can't we just catch one and avoid the expense of this great machine?
- Barrie Lawson (age 70)
Chester, Cheshire, UK
A:
1. The rest mass of the proton is 0.932 GeV/c2.  The rest mass of the recently discovered Higgs-like boson is about 135 times that of the proton weighing in at 126 GeV/c2.  The most massive particle we know of  is the top quark at 173 GeV/c2 .

2. So far as we can tell now, there is only one type of Higgs boson and hence only one characteristic decay time in the particle's rest frame. The source of the boson doesn't matter. The decay time in other rest frames depends on the particle speed, following special relativity, just like any other process.

3. The space-filling static field is different from the propagating boson. The difference is sort of like the difference between the water level in a pond and the traveling ripples on it. The ripples decay while the level stays constant.

4. See (3).

Mike W..



(published on 07/22/2012)

Follow-Up #1: Higgs particles and waves

Q:
Is it true to say that the answers to questions 2 and 3 represent an example of wave-particle duality?
- Barrie
A:
I'm not sure how wave-particle duality would be involved. In fact, in modern quantum mechanics that whole concept has been essentially dropped. We are left only with wavelike quantum states, decohering into components which are more or less localized.

Mike W.

(published on 07/23/2012)

Follow-up on this answer.