5th July 2012
Congratulations to science on validation of the Higgs boson – but a question still remains
The widely discussed confirmation of the Standard Model of particle physics will take me time to digest. One can only marvel about this scientific achievement, and be thrilled that it is taking place in one's lifetime. The time, expense, and expertise involved in this endeavour has been mind-boggling. This is in league with the very best cooperative intellectual achievements of mankind.
However, I'm still not sure I've understood exactly how mass arises. To me (and this is purely intuitive!) mass appears to be – at its heart – a strong distortion of space, with other forces explained by the interaction of a range of curvatures.
My first intuition is that the Big Bang generated PURE energy. And energy ALWAYS travels in a straight line (subject to the general curvature of space according to the special theory) at the speed of light.
The idea that energy can "condense" into a particle (no matter a quantum), is implausible UNLESS that energy is travelling at speeds faster than light, which forces space to sharply curve. Therefore in my intuitive model, mass should comprise something like a "photon" that is travelling faster than the speed of light – creating so much energy that space is forced to curve into a little "ball" at the ultra-microscopic level.
That would perhaps be the Higgs boson.
Those in the know about such things may be surprised (even amused) at my "strange" intuitive conception, but without a clear pathway between the EXPLOSION of massless energy (photons) at the moment of Big Bang and its condensation into mass, I don't think we can claim to have understood the answer to the basic problem of formation of mass.
I look forward to being enlightened over the coming years.