View Full Version : After the Higgs Boson...

2009-Mar-14, 01:33 PM
So suppose we discover the fabled Higgs Boson. Then what?

Can we actually harness it for some practical purpose?

I've read that muon-colliders could be built, which could serve as "Higgs factories", able to generate large amounts of Higgs bosons on demand, presumably for more detailed study.

But could Higgs factories ever serve any practical purpose? Could they one day be used to generate artificial Higgs fields, to manipulate fundamental properties like inertia, apparent mass, etc?

How could we harness the Higgs boson for practical benefit?

Even muons, as briefly-lived exotic particles, were once thought to be mere objects of curiosity, only useful for validating our understanding of physics.
But the idea that they could be used to generate Higgs bosons on demand makes even the exotic muons objects of practical exploitation.

So for what practical benefit then could the Higgs bosons themselves in turn be used for?

2009-Mar-14, 07:45 PM
One Higgs hunter, CERN chief scientific officer Jos Engelen, thought about it hard and appears to have come up empty.

Guardian: In the beginning: scientists get ready to hunt for God particle (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2006/nov/20/topstories3.science)

Valuable spin-offs from past research include the world wide web and the most advanced medical scanners found in hospitals. Professor Engelen admits there is no practical benefit in finding the Higgs Boson. "Even in my wildest imagination I can't think of this discovery having a practical application, but setting ourselves that goal, doing something so exceptionally difficult, has required us to be innovative technology-wise. I can very easily sell the idea of new and fundamental science using that argument, even though the Higgs itself is not going to let you make a better toothpaste," he said.

2009-Mar-14, 08:47 PM
Well, maybe there'll be no 21st century application, but there could very well be a 22nd century application for the Higgs boson.

After the detection of the Higgs boson, what further analyses can be done to characterize it?

2009-Mar-15, 02:41 AM
There may be something about the conservation attributes of the Higgs Boson that could make a difference such that it may be imprudent to generate more than we can control. If we willy nilly dump large amounts of energy into the Higgs field, we may affect mass ratios of fundamental particles thus affecting each of the fundamental physical constants that currently allow us to exist.

2009-Mar-15, 04:24 AM
I thought these particles like the Top Quark or the Higgs Boson are extremely short-lived.
Mind you, even if lone quarks are short-lived, we still claim there is a quark sea from which they become readily available. Likewise, I've read there is supposed to be a Higgs Ocean which makes Higgs available as required. In which case, I'd hardly think that a few more or less Higgs are going to add upto even a drop in that ocean.

But just as we've learned to harvest nuclear energy from the breaking of the Strong Force which binds quarks (or rather the Residual Strong Force which binds their nucleon triplet-forms), likewise I'd wonder if we could harness the properties of the Higgs field for some practical benefit.

Could we learn to oscillate/perturb the Higgs field, to transmit waves through it?
Would such mass-oscillation waves then cause apparent mass to fluctuate?
We talk about being able to make a signal component move faster than light as long as the group velocity doesn't move faster than light. Could mass-oscillation allow us to move a mass in similar fashion?

2009-Mar-15, 05:43 AM
Oh don't you worry, I already capitalize on the Higgs mechanism in fictional settings for all kinds of magic.

Higgs is the new quantum!

EDIT: Also, Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space books do something similar with inertia-magic, though I'm not sure if they mention the Higgs field by name.

Ivan Viehoff
2009-Mar-15, 10:54 AM
The neutrino hasn't been of particular direct use to humanity either. Nor the gluon nor the W boson. But a clear understanding of the process of radioactive decay, which we couldn't really understand properly without knowing about the neutrino, is clearly of great interest. So it will be with things like the Higgs boson. It may not be of direct use, but the better understanding of the laws of the universe its discovery, or exclusion, may allow, could lead on to interesting things.

2009-Mar-15, 12:09 PM
I feel the physics community should come up with newer and grander goals, as the Higgs Boson search may be about to come to an end fairly soon. Sure, there will be the more detailed characterization required for the Higgs. But beyond this, there need to be newer and bigger goals, and new milestones for achieving them. The physics community shouldn't end up in a situation where they claim they have all the info they need, and big exploration comes to an end.

So what is the next big project after defining the Higgs Boson? What other big things are there to reach for, requiring major experimental effort?

2009-Mar-15, 10:02 PM
So what is the next big project after defining the Higgs Boson?
The next project is going to be answering the many new questions brought up by LHC results for every one that they answer. The days of claiming a "theory of everything" is around the corner are over.

2009-Mar-15, 10:03 PM
Well, can someone give some examples of what such questions might be? I'd really be interested in knowing what the next big quests are, which might lie around the corner.

2009-Mar-16, 05:41 AM
What about supersymmetry? What about evidence for string theory or extra dimensions? What about dark matter particles? What about things we can't even imagine right now but will be hinted at by unexpected LHC experimental results? I think the LHC will keep physicists' plates full for decades to come.

2009-Mar-16, 07:18 AM
I say we get to work on that Zevatron.

LHC just can't compare to a multi-AU collider built around the sun :D

2009-Mar-16, 08:29 AM
I just like saying it... H I G G S B O S O N...

2009-Mar-25, 03:26 AM
I just like saying it... H I G G S B O S O N...

I like saying ANTI HIGGS BOSON.

2009-Mar-25, 04:42 AM
Well, can someone give some examples of what such questions might be?

From last week: What is Y(4140)? See Universe Today: New Particle Throws Monkeywrench in Particle Physics (http://www.universetoday.com/2009/03/18/new-particle-throws-monkeywrench-in-particle-physics/)

Physics FAQ: Open Questions in Physics (http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/open_questions.html) offers dozens of prickly questions.

2009-Mar-30, 08:20 PM
I say we get to work on that Zevatron.

LHC just can't compare to a multi-AU collider built around the sun :D

Now you're nuking with gas...