Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: ideal gas law vs. Higgs?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 09/21/2013
Q:
I remember PV=nRT from highschool physics, and in recently reading some materials on Grand Unified Field Theory regarding the Higgs Ocean as the mechanism that grants mass to objects. These two ideas bumped together in my brain to make me ask: if the temperature of a stellar core undergoing collapse MUST be climbing massively according to the Ideal Gas Law (approaching infinity if it's collapsing to a singularity), how is it that the Higgs Ocean doesn't locally evaporate rendering everything inside the stellar core massless and preventing the creation of the black hole?
- David Lely (age 38)
Mesa, AZ, USA
A:

This is an interesting question about putting together some different pieces of physics. There are several unrelated ways in which it turns out that things don't happen that way.

First, and most important for more routine physics problems, the ideal gas law is a good approximation only under certain special conditions. It requires that there be a fixed number of particles, sparse enough so that there are many free quantum states available per particle and that the average interaction energies of the particles aren't very important. None of these conditions would apply.

Secondly, there is some very high temperature at which the basic Higgs symmetry is restored and the Higgs mechanism for generating rest masses is lost. I don't believe that is relevant to ordinary stellar collapse, but even under conditions under which it was relevant, the process doesn't violate energy conservation. The mass that serves as a source of gravity is not the sum of the rest masses of the particles but rather just the total energy (divided by c2 if you choose to use those units.) Thus the energy driving the gravitation would remain.

Mike W.


(published on 09/21/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.