2 May 2011

Higgs, Hicks or Holy Grail?

Is the Higgs a particle or a brain hiccup? Many people tell us that finding the Higgs would answer several important questions of particle physics. But scanning through the list of open problems in physics shows that the Higgs does not answer any one of them (except its own mass)! I spent some hours on the matter but still cannot believe this.

This means that finding the Higgs has no added value for particle physics! If it is found, no problem of fundamental physics is solved. I think I will now switch from a Higgs believer to an unbeliever.

How can we introduce a concept that solves no problems? Agreed, the Higgs solves the problem of SU(2) breaking. But it does not solve any problem we are really looking for: it will not tell us how its own mass appears, will not tell us the origin of mass values, will not tell us anything about the origin of the particle spectrum, and it does not tell us anything about the origin of the four interactions. The Higgs would not help in the quest to understand the world. We are all looking for it since 40 years, but did we find it, we would not learn anything.

Wait a moment. Why did we invent it in the first place? We wanted to understand the origin of mass and the unitarity of W-W scattering. But we have been brainwashed: maybe we would understand the origin of mass, but we would not understand the origin of any particular mass. And W-W scattering may be unitary for many other reasons.

Wait another moment. Theoretical physicists that won Swedish prizes introduce a concept - "the Higgs boson" - that solves no problem at all? And all people repeat this "problem solution" since 40 years? And thousands of people are searching for it, using billions of franks?  Is this really how we are doing research across the world? We search for something because everybody is doing this, but we have no special reason to believe that this "something" exists?

All this tells: The Higgs is as useful for fundamental physics as the aether is - namely not at all.  

The Higgs is the holy grail of physics: it is something that exists only in myths and Hollywood movies.

We live in a bizarre world. Everybody is allowed to search for the holy grail. But what will happen if it is not found? Will the people that searched for it using taxpayer's money pay back that money? What will they do for society after they cheated on it for 40 years? Will the world call particle physicists "parasites"?


  1. That's true. Higgs is a fix of bad ideas: a gauge idea and electroweak symmetry. It is a way to "introduce" masses as if the phenomenological masses were not sufficient.

    There are some other "inventions" based on the pretext that we cannot be wrong. Such are non existent bare particles in QFT, non existent counter-terms, running couplings, etc. As soon as one proceeds from the idea that our equations are correct, one is bound to accept all consequences, including complete rubbish, patches, and fixes. Instead of searching a better phenomenological description, theorists complicate again and again unnecessarily already complicated constructions.

  2. Vladimir, you are more devilish than me. Not believing in gauge symmetry seems too much for me. The Higgs was invented to understand the breaking of SU(2). To dismiss broken SU(2) altogether is a very radical step.

    But maybe you are right!

  3. I am not devilish at all. I just do not accept wrong things and wrong motivations. By the way, tell me, what do you think of renormalizations? Is it OK with you? I think accepting renormalizations destroyed our advancing in understanding physics.

  4. You know, we have not constructed a simple self-consistent QED yet, so we even do not know what the "real" QED electron is. Generalizations of QED to electroweak and SM models proceed from the same self-inconsistent constructions that need renormalizations (they are not "normal" from the very beginning) and this obscures even more the physics. Tales about vacuum polarization around bare particles are funny but are not based on the experimental data. Nobody implied bare particles in QED at the beginning. It was real particles and equations for real particles originally. If we "discover" that, in order to make sense, we need to repair severely the results of our theory, I suspect that the basics of the original construction are somewhat wrong.

  5. Vladimir, for me renormalization is no a problem, because I do not believe that space is continuous. I am convinced that the Planck length is the minimum length. So I believe that renormalization is an artifact: it only appears if you believe that space is continuous.

    In my view, a minimum length solves all the things that are bizarre about renormalization. For example, there are no infinities and no Landau poles. You probably will not like this, but it seems ok to me.

  6. But the Higgs is not needed because of renormalization. It is needed to break SU(2). The question is: is that the correct solution for this issue?

    By the way, historically, the W and the Z were indeed needed and predicted to ensure renormalization, and they were found ...

    (But as I said, only to ensure the "good" sides of renormalization.)

  7. Nemo, there is no stiff lengths in physics. All lengths are characteristic dimensions but they are not limits to particles. Plank length is a funny combination of different dimensional constants but without physical meaning, in my opinion.

  8. The renormalized electroweak theory is a step forward with respect to the old non renormalizable Fermi or Feynman-Gell-Mann constructions but it is still too far from an ideal construction. In an ideal theoretical construction one has equations describing particle population evolutions without any divergences. It is only possible to achieve if one has correct notions about particles and laws of their interactions (transformations). As soon as our calculations encounter bad perturbative corrections, it is we who are responsible for that, no the mother-nature. If we modify our results so that they fit experimental data, it is not a calculation, it is not not a prediction but cheating and fooling ourselves. No wonder there are many cases when such a prescription fails miserably.

  9. Nemo, I think that you would like what I have alluded to in the past when I referred this link:

    "Einstein didn't know about the real, massive, particle potential of the quantum vacuum, or he never would have abandoned this finite "quasi-static" cosmological model..."

    Of particular interest on this page are these two linked articles that I posted to the research group when it was moderated by Baez, Helbig, and the rest of the old gang of theorists:



  10. The Higgs will not be found, but Einstein will not be vindicated. Time and space are not continuous, and Einstein was never able to get rid of continuity. What he did in the last 20 years was for the rubbish bin, and he knew it.

  11. Vladimir, you say that the Planck length has no physical meaning? Ouch!

    I disagree fully. The Planck length is the smallest measurable length. Imagine that even Motl, the reactionary physicist, says so!

    The Planck length has a deep significance: it is the smallest result you can get. Period. I you do not believe it, try to organize an experiment that measures a smaller length. The big Swedish prize is for you for sure if you succeed.

  12. Any length has some sort of experimental meaning. Let me speak of elastic scattering experiments. Let us consider an atom. It has a length a_0. It's a characteristic size of the negative charge cloud. Does that mean we cannot probe shorter distances? No. There is also another characteristic atomic length equal to a_0(m_e/m_A), for example, in H. It's a characteristic size of the positive charge cloud in an atom. Does that mean we cannot probe shorter distances? No. It is not a hard-core size either. The distances r->0 are reachable. See http://vladimirkalitvianski.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/zoom-in-atom-or-unknown-physics-of-short-distances/ I cannot imagine a "hard-core" particle for elastic scattering. Rather, all things are "soft" and complex (compound). In other sloppy words, particles are "destroyable". I think all distances are reachable like in my atomic example.

  13. What he did in the last 20 years was for the rubbish bin, and he knew it.

    Ah, so you didn't understand the physics that you were referred to. I suggest that you study Ned Wright's page, and then note the ***difference*** that the physics that I referred has on Einstein's model.


  14. Look:

    - The cosmological constant has no relation to the Higgs boson in most models of modern physics.

    - Einstein disregarded quantum effects.

    - Einstein's last published words are about the necessity to abandon space-time continuity.