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The Higgs Boson Re-Explained By the Mick Jagger of Physics

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the just-before-he-turned-into-a-cup-of-oj dept.

Science 94

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jorge Cham, author of the comic strip Ph.D. comics, recently found himself on a bus crossing the Israel-Jordan border sitting next to Eilam Gross, head of the Atlas Higgs Group, one of the two groups that found the famous particle. When Cham asked Gross for feedback on the Higgs Boson animation he had done last year, Gross told Cham 'It's all wrong' and noted that he had yet to see a truly correct explanation of what the the Higgs Boson is. For the next three hours Gross, also known as the 'Mick Jagger of physics,' told Cham the story of the Higgs Boson and asked him to put it into a new comic strip. The result is a new comic re-explaining the Higgs Boson. 'So how does this explain things like inertia?' 'That's another bus ride.' As an interesting side note Gross was once asked what Higgs was good for and replied that when [J.J.] Thomson discovered the electron, in 1895, he raised a glass of champagne and proposed a toast 'to the useless electron.'"

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Stil waiting. (3, Funny)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 8 months ago | (#46331249)

I've been waiting years for a good explanation of Higgs!
Too bad. Still waiting.

Buckaroo Bonzai? (2)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#46331311)

I'd rather hear the Neil De Gras Tyson of Rock and Roll.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 8 months ago | (#46332487)

Yeah that would be something. Rock and roll and physics are certainly not mutually exclusive. So for example Feynman sure pounded a mean bongo. And Brian Cox [wikipedia.org] actually was a professional musician.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335485)

Well, Rock and Roll and astrophysics are not mutually exclusive.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332529)

or watch the Jenny McCarthy of particle physics.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332587)

Yes I hear her lecture on Schodinger's Penis in a box which could be erect and not erect at the same time.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332831)

"or watch the Jenny McCarthy of particle physics."

Everybody knows the Higgs-Boson causes autism.

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (3, Insightful)

Muros (1167213) | about 8 months ago | (#46332941)

Would that be Brian May [wikipedia.org] ?

The Brian Brigade [Re:Buckaroo Bonzai?] (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 8 months ago | (#46333757)

Yeah that would be something. Rock and roll and physics are certainly not mutually exclusive. So for example Feynman sure pounded a mean bongo. And Brian Cox [wikipedia.org] actually was a professional musician.

Would that be Brian May [wikipedia.org] ?

Both.

From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Cox_%28physicist%29 [wikipedia.org] : "In the 1980s he was keyboard player with the rock band Dare [ref: http://women.timesonline.co.uk... [timesonline.co.uk] newspaper= The Times 24 February 2008]

Apparently something about naming English blokes "Brian".

Re:Buckaroo Bonzai? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46333687)

Buckaroo BOnzai?

Is that some sort of suicidal attack of small, very precisely pruned trees?

Maybe Peter Jackson can film it! "Last march of the baby Ents!"

Re:Stil waiting. (5, Informative)

PacoSuarez (530275) | about 8 months ago | (#46331327)

This is the best I've found so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:Stil waiting. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 8 months ago | (#46331393)

Yes! Absolutely. Let me second that recommendation. Best explanation of the Higgs I've ever come across as well. It is rather long (about an hour), but if you at all interested in what the Higgs is really all about, it more than repays your investment in time.

Re:Stil waiting. (1)

ivano (584883) | about 8 months ago | (#46332653)

But if you don't understand something how can you judge if it's a good explanation?

Re:Stil waiting. (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 8 months ago | (#46333385)

You have to listen to it, and other things, and then ponder.

After a while you may "get it".

If you do, you just might be a physicist. Otherwise, don't quit your day job.

Re:Stil waiting. (1)

gnalre (323830) | about 8 months ago | (#46332531)

I would recommend the particle at the end of the universe [amazon.com] by Sean Carroll.
It covers a lot of the same material as the comic but in more detail and also puts it in historical context.

The only bad thing about it is that when you realise that what we call matter is nothing more than the manipulation of energy fields it do end up worrying about your personal concept of reality.

Nigger jagger (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331253)

Of physics

Beta

For the love of god (0)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 8 months ago | (#46331257)

Make sure this guy never has sticks his head out of a car window when driving, the case of Liplash would rob of from his talent!

(Thank yew, Thank yew, I'm here till next tuesday, don't forget to tip the waitresses!)

Re:For the love of god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332725)

Keep your day job. Oh, and when you're making an attempt at being funny, you actually do need to get the grammar correct.

Still not quite correct. (5, Informative)

BitterOak (537666) | about 8 months ago | (#46331307)

This explanation and comic are very good, but it makes the same fundamental mistake that so many physicists have made in trying to explain the Higgs field. It compares the field to molasses, slowing down particles by "sticking" to them, or providing some sort of friction to slow them down to sub-light speeds. This is fundamentally incorrect as molasses, or any other frictional medium, opposes the motion of particles, slowing them down until they eventually come to rest with respect to the frictional medium (molasses in this analogy). This is not at all how the Higgs field works. It doesn't oppose the motion of particles at all. In fact, Newton's law of inertia states that a body in motion will continue in motion at the same velocity until acted upon by an external force, and this is still true even in the presence of the Higgs field. There's nothing molasses-like about it at all. In fact, as a relativistic field the Higgs field has no rest frame. Put in other words, the Higgs field has no velocity of its own, zero or otherwise. If it did, it would break a fundamental symmetry law of special relativity: namely that all inertial frames of reference are equivalent. No field that behaves anything like molasses would be consistent with that principle.

Re:Still not quite correct. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331465)

+1
Higgs field doesn't "give" particles mass in any special way.
It gives them mass just like, say, electric field or gravitational field might: through their potential energy in that field. Many particles, in order to exist, have potential energy in some field(s), and that energy is their mass (see Einstein) and that's all there is to it.

For example protons and neutrons also have mass, but 99% of that mass is the energy of quarks holding themselves together. They don't need (and I think don't have at all) any energy in Higgs field and yet have mass perfectly fine.

Re: Still not quite correct. (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 8 months ago | (#46333793)

Umm.... If protons, neutrons and electrons all get their mass from particles that in turn get their mass from the Higgs field then the protron, neutron and electron get their mass from the Higgs field by the transitive property.

Re: Still not quite correct. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46339129)

Nope, quarks do not get their mass from the Higgs field. Another reason why the comic is still not quite right.

Re: Still not quite correct. (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 8 months ago | (#46369435)

where do they get their mass from?

Re:Still not quite correct. (3, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | about 8 months ago | (#46331467)

I can see where you're coming from, but I read it as comparing the early universe to molasses, not the effect of the Higgs field as such. Soupy and homogeneous (mostly).

Re:Still not quite correct. (2)

aybiss (876862) | about 8 months ago | (#46331493)

Overanalyse analogies much?

I see your point, but if anyone trying to understand physics is under the impression that there's a molasses-like 'ether' filling the subatomic interstices then no amount of explaining the creation of scalar fields to maintain symmetry in other equations is going to help them. I think you're being too picky in the interest of talking down to people. Nothing in that comic came as a surprise to me (I already understood the principle of the conjecture, just not the maths behind it), but I can assure you that even if my grasp were much more limited I would not walk away from that comic thinking there is molasses in a vacuum.

Re:Still not quite correct. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about 8 months ago | (#46331569)

I think you're being too picky in the interest of talking down to people.

Actually, I think the people that are "talking down to people" are those that give incorrect explanations of things because they think they're simpler. Pointing out the problem with the molasses analogy is not fussing about a picky little detail, it is pointing out the analogy is wrong on a very fundamental level. It paints a picture of the pre-Michelson-Morley days of a stationary ether that permeates all space and defines a preferred frame of reference. As Einstein said, you should make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.

Re:Still not quite correct. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332419)

Pointing out the problem with the molasses analogy is not fussing about a picky little detail, it is pointing out the analogy is wrong on a very fundamental level.

The analogy is reasonable. It's not an analogy to the Higgs field itself, but rather the effect of mass, which made things slow down and start clumping.

Re:Still not quite correct. (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 8 months ago | (#46331617)

It wasn't molasses, honest. If it appeared slow, then perhaps we were just ramping distance at the time. Up or down? Dunno, check the sign.

Re:Still not quite correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46333061)

I see your point, but if anyone trying to understand physics is under the impression that there's a molasses-like 'ether' filling the subatomic interstices then no amount of explaining the creation of scalar fields to maintain symmetry in other equations is going to help them.

Except that it is all too common of a misconception, and people trying to act like it is the luminiferoous ether. It comes up quite frequently as a question when doing physics outreach activities, and seems to be some sort of launching point about how older and/or ignored theories are better and right in the first place. Or worse, I've seen used as a way to try to convince non-scientists some crackpot theories in some sort of parallel to the the "they laughed at Galileo..." reasoning.

Re:Still not quite correct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46337387)

I can assure you that even if my grasp were much more limited I would not walk away from that comic thinking there is molasses in a vacuum.

That's because you're of the old slashdot. The new slashdot's "audience" is barely literate.

Re:Still not quite correct. (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 8 months ago | (#46332191)

No field that behaves anything like molasses would be consistent with that principle.

see ether.

Re:Still not quite correct. (2)

hweimer (709734) | about 8 months ago | (#46332285)

Further issues:

1. The claim that theories should contain certain symmetries because of aesthetic perceptions is misguided. The standard model, the most successful physical theory ever written down by mankind, is ugly as shit.

2. Symmetry does not protect reality from divergence.

3. It is wrong that without the Higgs, there would be no mass and we all would die. For the gauge bosons of the weak force, this would be true, but all leptons and quarks surrounding us can simply be described by a conventional mass term, as this doesn't break local gauge invariance.

Maybe the problem isn't molasses (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#46333771)

Maybe the problem isn't molasses but the notion of symmetry. As even the comic states, without symmetry, the equations become infinite to describe the universe. The reality we know is that we have to keep adding more equations (or particles or plains, all of which are defined by equations), to try and explain the universe. Some postulate that we will never have enough equations to fully explain the universe, which by definition implies that the sought after symmetry doesn't exist. An added benefit to not having symmetry is that one doesn't have to explain how the physics changed in the very early universe.

What is easier to grasp, the lack of symmetry or some external force had to cause the early particles to change? Theists probably like that notion, but for many it is unacceptable.

For fucks sake, (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331323)

please stop using the word “god” when you’re talking about the god damn thing! Mkay?

Re:For fucks sake, (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46332375)

Why are high-tech physics so much surrounded by the god theme anyway?

In YouTube, I see the professional guys like Lawrence Krauss sitting and debating for hours against religions.

Why do theoretical physicists (but not computer scientists, for example) waste their time like this, instead of using that time to present a cool science keynote?

Re:For fucks sake, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46333109)

Why do theoretical physicists (but not computer scientists, for example) waste their time like this, instead of using that time to present a cool science keynote?

Because it is much more rare for someone with a religious background to come up to a computer scientist and tell them their research contradicts a major religion, or that their research is morally wrong, or that their research can be misunderstood in a major way to support various religious claims. Not every field of physics has to deal with this as much, although you can still occasionally get someone who hears your a physicists and steers the topic from say, a basic demonstration of electricity, to more fundamental and "controversial" topics, whether because they are honestly curious or because some people want to start an argument any chance given.

Re:For fucks sake, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46338377)

In the case of the Higgs, it's how it got its name that was the problem. A newspaper reporter asked what the were looking for. He replied in exasperation "that GOD DAMNED PARTICLE!" Since the "family" newspaper couldn't use the word "damn" it was shortened to "the God particle" which confused a hell of a lot of people into thinking the Higgs was supernatural.

Symmetry is beautiful (3, Insightful)

blue trane (110704) | about 8 months ago | (#46331413)

Just like planets had to orbit in circles because circles are beautiful?

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331957)

The Wheels on the bus go round-and-round until "BIg Bang" Bus joke queue HERE.
So theres a busload of illegal Israeli nuclear program scientists in transit somewhere in the dark middle-east:
A scruffy arab lad waives his armaments, right, yellen "Stop the Train, stop the gravy-train!",
The super-conducter of the vehicle carrying the illegal israeli-nuclear and peripheral scientists depresses the accelerator, shouting " We are not stopping! It`s not a train, it`s a VAN U NU nce!"

Que illegal Israeli phalse-phlag nuclear terror leakstopper attack HERE

fuck beta, and phuk phorm!

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332065)

Symmetry is very important in physics and math.
1. It helps us solve equations. Nearly all algebraic equations that are solvable, are solvable because of symmetry. For example: linear equations have a specific symmetry that makes them easy. So the main reason we look for symmetrical equations, is that these are the only equations we can handle.

2. Symmetry is an observed property of physics. The laws of physics don't change over time(time shift symmetry), they don't change by changing location(translational symmetry) and don't change by changing orientation(rotational symmetry). Newtonian physics doesn't change under acceleration(Galilean boost). However, Maxwell laws of EM aren't symmetrical under Galilean boost. Instead, Lorentz showed that they are symmetrical under Lorentz boost. Einstein determined that the Galilean boost is only an approximate symmetry, and that the Lorentz transformations were the real symmetry of physics. This is what led him to special relativity. A generalization of the Lorentz transformations to a local symmetry led to general relativity.

3. A theorem by Emmy Noether, says that continuous symmetries of the Lagrangian create conservation laws:
Time shift = Conservation of energy.
Translation = Conservation of momentum.
Rotation = Conservation of angular momentum.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 8 months ago | (#46333923)

3. A theorem by Emmy Noether, says that continuous symmetries of the Lagrangian create conservation laws:
Time shift = Conservation of energy.
Translation = Conservation of momentum.
Rotation = Conservation of angular momentum.

I've always felt a little uncomfortable with this "direction", from the symmetry to the conservation.

We wouldn't have conservation of momentum if one side of the universe was heavier than the other. There's no "law" that says it has to be so. This is an observational fact, not an absolute truth.

So I've always felt more comfortable saying that *because* we *observe* a symmetry, we can conclude there will be a conservation law.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 8 months ago | (#46332977)

Ovals are also symmetric... Just not in every direction.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

JWW (79176) | about 8 months ago | (#46334759)

To reference the initial post in this thread: Just like the orbit of planets.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 8 months ago | (#46342541)

OP was a sarcastic callback to the older solar system models. I know they didn't use the sarcasm tag, but I thought it was pretty obvious.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 months ago | (#46334835)

Just like planets had to orbit in circles because circles are beautiful?

That's just 3D confusion. Planets' orbits are 'beautiful' straight lines in 4D spacetime.

We can forgive previous generations for not seeing that part of the universe for its true nature. Future generations will say the same about us.

Re:Symmetry is beautiful (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 months ago | (#46336851)

Symmetries in physics are tied with conserved quantities. Whatever your feelings on the matter, being able to point to a conserved quantity with which you can construct equations is beautiful in my book.

The symmetries themselves however -- personally I've seen better looking mathematics.

Ken Hamm (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 8 months ago | (#46331447)

Does the (Higgs) Field exist or did we invent it to make our equations work? Who knows? That's the genius of mankind!

Did we just pull all this out of our ass to make our theories work? Who knows, that's the GENIUS!
FFS -- Having this guy debate Ken Hamm would result in a devision by zero error.

Re: Ken Hamm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331997)

At least he admits they might have just invented it. Was starting to read like church of the Higgs. Unfortunately, no explanation as to how they indisputably found the higgs boson

I'm curious why they insist on using "fields" when things could be equally explained as simply being particles.

Re: Ken Hamm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46335605)

I'm curious why they insist on using "fields" when things could be equally explained as simply being particles.

Perhaps because particles would result in an incorrect description?

Weird Al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331469)

So who's the Weird Al of Physics?

Re:Weird Al (1)

synaptik (125) | about 8 months ago | (#46331563)

So who's the Weird Al of Physics?

My vote is Zach Weinersmith [smbc-comics.com]

Re:Wierd AI (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331725)

isn`t that the goy that wrote about the River Stux?

The publishers and literary critics didn't like that goy very much, less-than-or-equal-to fair publishing standards, don`t yew think?

Re:Wierd AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331763)

computer says "yes"
paid pundits, shills, and feds say "what the fuck is this AC talking about?"
AlternatingCurrent/DirectCurrent is not a music group, although the AC/DC "current" (River by some definitions) can be used to access your computer, keeping tabs on your hot-mic recording of you singing Michael Jackson in the shower, to make sure it "complies" with ACTA/SOPA.....
  -Squeeky Clean

Convenience... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331593)

While symmetry may be beautiful, if not convenient, I have a haunting suspicion when we 'figure out' all things gravity, things will turn assymetrical very fast.

Re:Convenience... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331697)

Darkness falls faster than light, and in the WestBank and Gaza there is a distinct lack of Convenience-stores.
Perhaps the cement needed for building is prevented from crossing the "border" by the Israelis.
A bit of a "scatter" effect, but perhaps more relative to the article is the question "Why have the Israelis not been sanctioned regarding their ILLEGAL NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARSENAL?"...
guess /. prefers to extoll the side-effects of israeli nukes, promoting their nuclear scientists.
Marie Curie would turn on a stuxswitch.

Re:Re:Convenience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331775)

wtf dude are you on drugs?

what the heckle is a "stuxswitch"? if you are trying to suggest that the Israelis in Hollywood have been using stuxnet-type systems under the auspices of "enforcement" of ACTA/SOPA to spy on people, youre write.

take two, and "action"!

Cow Particle (3, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 8 months ago | (#46331597)

The Higgs should be renamed the Cow Particle, because it's outstanding in its field.

Re:Cow Particle (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332035)

What does this mean for fertility treatment?
Free VANUNU, free Manning, dismiss charges against Assange and Snowdon!

"resistence is fertile"

-A student stuxed up by legal and school-fees, hot-mic`ed via the River Stux (AC/DC-AlternatingCurrent/DirectCurrent) austensibly seeking violations of droppings of ACTA/SOPA while singing Michael Jackson in the shower

beta, get da phuk outta HERE, phuk phorm!

That is actually a rather good explanation. (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 8 months ago | (#46331773)

I mean: good enough for me, a software engineer, who does not have to toy around with the actual equations and who does neither have to set up nor perform the actual experiments...

Bad Bus jokes queue HERE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331831)

So theres a group of illegal Israeli nuclear weapon and peripheral scientist traveling in the middle-east on a bus.
The arab teenager quietly approaches and suddenly waives his armaments, right, saying, "stop the bus, stop the bus!"
The super-conductor of the vehicle refuses to stop for the scruffy teenager, saying, "it`s a VAN U NU nce!
Que israeli false-flag terror attack leakstopper HERE

Where was Stephen Hawkin at the time? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46331923)

He was supporting boycott, divest and sanction Israel, like a principled human being.

This is what you get when an experimetalist ... (3, Interesting)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 8 months ago | (#46332033)

tries to explain theory.

There are lots of misconceptions Symmetry, for example, does not prevent divergences.Divergences are still present although in a controllable way. That's what renormalization and the renormalization group is all about. If a symmetry is broken through quantum mechanical processes then the breaking can lead to new divergences which turn out to be uncontrollable if they do not follow a certain patterns. The symmetry leads to a conserved quantity and a current following the basic rule that the amount of current goes in determines the change in the conserved quantity ( charge ). In the case of QCD, for example, the charge is color ( red,blue.green. The pattern need to control the divergences caused by quantum color violations is that the sum of the current leakage has to equal zero.

This essentially says that quarks have to appear in pairs to cancel charge violations. So once a bottom quark was seen, there had to be a top quark.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the Higgs mechanism though.

The Higgs mechanism is based on the fact symmetry depends on two things. The laws of motion and the initial conditions. I can take a puck on a smooth surface and push in any direction and the motion will look the same. That's because the laws of motion and the initial conditions both obey a symmetry. If I replace the smooth surface with one with random bumps the motion will not look the same in all directions. The laws of motion are still the same in each direction, but the inital conditions no longer are. That's the Higgs mechanism at it's crudest.

Re:This is what you get when an experimetalist ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46337121)

Honest question: How does this mesh with weak force asymmetry?

Re:This is what you get when an experimetalist ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46339285)

This essentially says that quarks have to appear in pairs to cancel charge violations

Or triplets with one of each color.

So once a bottom quark was seen, there had to be a top quark.

No, it has to be an anti-quark with charge e.g. anti-red if the bottom quark's charge was red.

Mick Jagger of physics (5, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | about 8 months ago | (#46332061)

What the fuck does that even mean?

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 8 months ago | (#46332293)

I still can’t figure out the hierarchy. What are you, exactly? Are you the Mick Jagger of physics?

Nice the Mick Jagger of physics. But it’s like, let’s say, the minister in charge of the search for the Higgs particle in the accelerator government. Okay?

So he's actually the one man in the world who we categorically cannot describe as the Mick Jagger of physics.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332315)

I think it is the new codeword for fuck beta.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46332389)

At least I don't hate the Beta that much anymore. In the beginning it made me want to kill myself, but now it looks just fine after a couple of beers. But seriously speaking... Sure, there are parts missing which must be fixed, but the user experience is already quite bearable.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 8 months ago | (#46337767)

The problem with experiencing things after a few beers is waking up in the morning.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

rvw (755107) | about 8 months ago | (#46332403)

What the fuck does that even mean?

Mick Jagger is the degree of freedom needed to give this article some mass. And if this confuses you - see the comic! ;-)

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 8 months ago | (#46332813)

Still beats being the Justin Bieber of Physics ;-)

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332955)

It's like the the Rod Stewart of chemistry, duh!

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (2)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 8 months ago | (#46333467)

I'm not sure either. I suppose it might be because he can't get no satisfaction. Or perhaps he is a man of wealth and taste. Maybe he wants it painted black. Or all of the above.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46333997)

It's because the Higgs boson is under his thumb.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 8 months ago | (#46333839)

His best years are about 50 years behind him?

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46337197)

They didn't have a -1 low-blow mod, so I gave you Funny instead.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334591)

He keeps on rolling along and gathers no moss, that is, he is a spherical, frictionless type of person.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 8 months ago | (#46334863)

I was expecting Brian May.

Re:Mick Jagger of physics (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 8 months ago | (#46341651)

I'm guessing it means he has big lips and is quite old...

Philosophical questions (3, Insightful)

m.alessandrini (1587467) | about 8 months ago | (#46332063)

"Does this field really exist... or did we invent it to make our equations work?"

I think that at those ultimate levels, this distinction is quite fuzzy for all the reality in general.

Re:Philosophical questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332161)

I think the point in the comic was that it was that prior to the experimental discovery of the Higgs Boson, people were uneasy about having this extra field interacting with so many others.

The Standard Model works extremely well for what it describes. Even if it isn't a correct description of reality, it's a useful way of modeling it (in the realm of particle physics), and the apparent discovery of the Higgs Boson confirms that the earlier hypothesized Higgs field is a genuine field within the model rather than a fudge factor for the equations.

Great... or not so... (2)

advid.net (595837) | about 8 months ago | (#46332255)

I first read the comic strip, found it great, I thought I gained a deep understanding, and then I read the informative /. comments here and now I do not find it so great and I'm almost as confused as before....

PHD, not Ph.D. (1)

kav2k (1545689) | about 8 months ago | (#46332393)

Being pedantic here, but the summary is slightly wrong. The comic strip's name is "PHD comics", where PHD = Piled Higher and Deeper. It's obviously a play on Ph.D., but facts are facts.

What is this I don't even (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332629)

Does HB even exist? Or are they trying to justify the billions wasted, sorry I mean spent, on CERN? The latter I think. Higgs-Boson and the emperor's new clothes together forever while stocks last.

Call this a comic strip? (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | about 8 months ago | (#46332787)

A comic strip about sub-atomic particles and not one POW! or KERRRR-SPLAT!!! And no one developed any superpowers at all. Colour me disappointed.

higgs vs electrons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46332953)

The comic is a nice attempt to communicate complex theories. But the comparison of the usefulness of the Higgs boson and the electron is a bit of propoganda from high energy physics that is very very unlikely to be true. The electron has a rich variety of quantum states that allow bonding between atoms which is the basis of materials, biology, and information processing. Energy scales of these bonds are in the eV range, just a little above room temperature so their dynamics are very accessible in ordinary situations. As far as we know, electrons don't decay. Contrast with the Higgs. The only known excitation of the Higgs field is the recently detected particle which can only be detected using a massive particle collider, lives for 10^-22 seconds, and is at an energy scale billions of times room temperature. The only use of the Higgs (beyond providing theoretical consistency) is to allow calculation of the masses of some particles...which is nice, but for practical purposes we could just use the known measured masses of the approximately 15 particles just as well. In short, there is no rational reason to expect technology based on our knowledge about the Higgs boson. There is a metaphysical belief out there that all science leads to technology. Some clearly has. But the claim that all science leads to technology requires some reasons beyond propaganda. If anyone has an idea what to do with a Higgs, please suggest it. Or if you know of an application where knowledge of the properties of the Higgs is required for engineering calculations, please let us know. I suspect it will matter in a tiny way eventually. Eventually, someone will be measuring quantum states to 20 digits and the Higgs corrections might come in to matter in a tiny way...but it will be nothing like the practical relevance of the electron.

Re:higgs vs electrons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46333163)

Funny thing is, I see much more of the "we don't know what use might be found for it in the near future, so we should study it" on the internet from random people. Yet talking to near anyone in particle physics research, they openly admit that there is no likely direct application, and likely won't be for a long, long time if ever. It is kind of hard to call it propaganda in that sense, as the people doing the research know the difference between applied and fundamental research, and that the latter is for discovery of knowledge more than applications (although some applications and benefits result from developing equipment to be used).

Re:higgs vs electrons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46334567)

Yes, you are right. In this case, it was a high energy physicist who was making the analogy to the usefulness of the electron, but most high energy physicists do indeed know it is fundamental research without likely applications.

ultra-heavy proton (1)

lkcl (517947) | about 8 months ago | (#46333299)

ok, for what it's worth, my take on what the higgs is, is that it's a [virtual] ultra-heavy proton, made up of the same [previously undiscovered] ultra-heavy quarks that make up the [virtual] W and Z Bosons. it takes a bit of explaining, but i've been looking into this... a lot.... and i surmise that the W and Z Bosons are just flavours of pions (2-quark particles) whilst the Higgs is just a flavour of the proton (3 quark particles). they don't appear "in the wild" so to speak because a) they're incredibly large b) they're hugely unstable, *but* in "virtual" form they're actually very easy to create (universe-speaking)

what's interesting is that there _should_ also be a "neutral" Higgs as well - based on an ultra-heavy neutron. hey look! there's two mass figures for the Higgs, and one of them was gamma ray decay particles only! and what's the difference between the 126.0 / 125.3 and mass of neutron divided by mass of proton? exactly the same to within 0.05%. funny that. .... the only problem is: i now need about 10 years worth of full-time maths training in order to catch up with the level of mathematics that's gone into QED in order to *prove* the above to the satisfaction of the rest of the particle physics community.... and that, essentially, is the whole problem with particle physics. the direction it's taken is so immensely complex that the number of people who can contribute successfully is vastly limited: thus, progress in this field isn't limited by computers or people's enthusiasm for the subject but by the direction that it's taken.

from a software engineering and reverse-engineering perspective, pure maths like this simply doesn't have the kind of "rapid prototyping" loop that allows progress to be efficiently made. each mathematical construct is an "ivory tower", where the smallest theoretical modification or tweak can require the entire edifice to be redesigned from the ground up (taking man-decades of intense thought in the process).

so - think of this: considered as a computer program, how could anyone "debug" the process by which particle physics has evolved?

Re:ultra-heavy proton (2)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 8 months ago | (#46333527)

> made up of the same [previously undiscovered] ultra-heavy quarks

It's relatively easy to demonstrate that there are no ultra-heavy quarks. This was a key development in the 1970s (80s?)

http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/2051/why-do-we-think-there-are-only-three-generations-of-fundamental-particles

Arg! (2)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 8 months ago | (#46333421)

"without the higgs field, there would be no mass terms in the equations"

*sigh*

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technicolor_(physics)

or any one of dozens of other theories that likewise generate mass using alternate methods. Yes, I am aware that none of them have been terribly successful, but they haven't been terribly popular either - and that's often the difference.

Higgs field value and the Appearent speed of light (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 8 months ago | (#46333969)

The comic seems to hint at a relationship between he two. Is that correct? Do different values of the higgs field make for different speeds of light?

Read "Mick Jagger of Physics"... (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about 8 months ago | (#46336865)

... expected Brian May.

Said it 7 years ago (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 8 months ago | (#46339011)

The next step is figuring out the dimensions of the field and how the three or four fields interact. I will give you a clue. When matter moves through the fields it needs to be in 2.6 fields at one time. Understanding TIME is the key to it. Nothing to see here, move along.
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