**Sep 4, 2024 06:45 PM**

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https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-the-h...-20240903/

EXCERPT: Quantum field theory, the powerful framework of modern particle physics, says the universe is filled with fields. Examples include the electromagnetic field, the gravitational field and the Higgs field itself.

For each field, there’s a corresponding type of particle, best understood as a little ripple in that field. The electromagnetic field’s ripples are light waves, and its gentlest ripples are the particles of light, which we call photons. Similarly, electrons are ripples in the electron field, and the Higgs boson is a minimal ripple in the Higgs field.

A stationary electron, much like the vibration of a guitar string, is a standing wave that vibrates with a preferred frequency, known as its resonant frequency. Such resonant vibration is common and familiar. Because a plucked guitar string consistently rings at its resonant frequency, it always makes the same tone. Likewise, the fixed frequency of a swinging pendulum is what makes it an effective clock. On the same principle, every stationary electron vibrates with the resonant frequency of the electron field.

Most of the universe’s fields have resonant frequencies. In a sense, the cosmos loosely resembles a musical instrument; both have characteristic frequencies at which they most readily vibrate.

For me personally, the fact that resonance lies at the foundation of reality is a source of delight and amazement. As a lifelong amateur musician and composer, I’ve long understood the inner workings of pianos, clarinets and guitars. But I was completely astonished to learn, back when I was a graduate student, that the structures of the universe, even within my own body, operate on similar principles.

Yet, this secret musicality of our cosmos would be impossible were it not for the Higgs field.

In quantum field theory, a combination of quantum physics and Einstein’s relativity leads to a crucial relationship between a resonant frequency and the mass of an elementary particle: The more rapidly a stationary particle vibrates, the greater its mass. Fields lacking a resonant frequency correspond to particles that have no mass; such particles, including the photons of the electromagnetic field, can never be stationary.

While the Higgs tall tales suggest that mass arises from the slowing of elementary particles by a molasses-like substance, the truth is that a stronger Higgs field makes the elementary particles vibrate at higher frequencies, thus raising their masses. One might therefore view the Higgs field as a sort of cosmic stiffening agent, whose role is to increase the resonant frequencies of other fields.

How is it possible for one field to change the frequency of another? The humble pendulum gives us a simple example... (MORE - missing details)

EXCERPT: Quantum field theory, the powerful framework of modern particle physics, says the universe is filled with fields. Examples include the electromagnetic field, the gravitational field and the Higgs field itself.

For each field, there’s a corresponding type of particle, best understood as a little ripple in that field. The electromagnetic field’s ripples are light waves, and its gentlest ripples are the particles of light, which we call photons. Similarly, electrons are ripples in the electron field, and the Higgs boson is a minimal ripple in the Higgs field.

A stationary electron, much like the vibration of a guitar string, is a standing wave that vibrates with a preferred frequency, known as its resonant frequency. Such resonant vibration is common and familiar. Because a plucked guitar string consistently rings at its resonant frequency, it always makes the same tone. Likewise, the fixed frequency of a swinging pendulum is what makes it an effective clock. On the same principle, every stationary electron vibrates with the resonant frequency of the electron field.

Most of the universe’s fields have resonant frequencies. In a sense, the cosmos loosely resembles a musical instrument; both have characteristic frequencies at which they most readily vibrate.

For me personally, the fact that resonance lies at the foundation of reality is a source of delight and amazement. As a lifelong amateur musician and composer, I’ve long understood the inner workings of pianos, clarinets and guitars. But I was completely astonished to learn, back when I was a graduate student, that the structures of the universe, even within my own body, operate on similar principles.

Yet, this secret musicality of our cosmos would be impossible were it not for the Higgs field.

In quantum field theory, a combination of quantum physics and Einstein’s relativity leads to a crucial relationship between a resonant frequency and the mass of an elementary particle: The more rapidly a stationary particle vibrates, the greater its mass. Fields lacking a resonant frequency correspond to particles that have no mass; such particles, including the photons of the electromagnetic field, can never be stationary.

While the Higgs tall tales suggest that mass arises from the slowing of elementary particles by a molasses-like substance, the truth is that a stronger Higgs field makes the elementary particles vibrate at higher frequencies, thus raising their masses. One might therefore view the Higgs field as a sort of cosmic stiffening agent, whose role is to increase the resonant frequencies of other fields.

How is it possible for one field to change the frequency of another? The humble pendulum gives us a simple example... (MORE - missing details)