Nigel Lockyer’s comments on the Higgs field

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Nigel Lockyer is the director of Fermilab. He was the head of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, between 2007-2013. He spent 22 years as a researcher on the CDF experiment at the Tevatron particle collider at Fermilab, starting in 1984. He was the co-leader of the 600-member CDF experiment from 2002 to 2004.

I was pleasantly surprised when I read his comments in the Symmetry magazine.

“According to the Standard Model, many particles come in left-handed and right-handed versions (in the former, the particle’s direction of spin matches its direction of motion, while in the latter, they are opposite).”

“Keeping this fact in mind, let’s look at the mass of the familiar electron as an example. When we say that the mass of the electron is created by interactions with the Higgs field, we can think of this as the Higgs field rapidly changing a left-handed electron into a right-handed electron, and vice versa. This switching back and forth is energy and, through E=mc2energy is mass. A heavier particle like the top quark would experience this flipping at a much higher frequency than a lighter particle like the electron. As we learn more about how this process works, I encourage physicists to also seek applications of that knowledge.”

This is new way of thinking (the frequency comments). I have never heard any physicist explaining the Higgs mechanism in this manner before. The excellent tutorial article by F. Tanedo comes close in terms of clarity but Nigel Lockyer is hard to beat in terms of plain-spokenness. I guess being the director of the only particle physics laboratory in the United States gives someone the courage to speak boldly and plainly. I congratulate Nigel Lockyer. The approach he is suggesting may turn out to be too simplistic but that’s all right. From now on, it will be more difficult for my arrogant ex-colleagues to dismiss the simplistic ideas anymore.

You can read Nigel Lockyer’s full commentary at the following link

http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/april-2014/massive-thoughts

If you are interested you can read my “Matter (mass) is not bottled-up energy” article as well. I think that the rest-mass is as mysterious as the energy. There is more to the “mass” story than E=mc^2.

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About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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