Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Is the Vacuum Empty? – the Higgs Field and the Dark Energy

The problems in understanding the true nature of the “vacuum” of space were discussed by theoretical physicist Alvaro de Rújula from CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, and a professor of physics at Boston University at the EPL symposium, “Physics In Our Times” held today (10 May) at the Fondation Del Duca de l’Institut de France, Paris.

“As it turns out, the vacuum is not empty - there is a difference between the vacuum and nothingness,” he stated. “Surprisingly, of all known ‘substances’, the vacuum is the least well understood.”

From the point of view of cosmology, the vacuum appears to have an energy density, which is sometimes called “dark energy” or the “cosmological constant”, responsible for the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. From a particle physics viewpoint, the vacuum is permeated by a “Higgs Field” - named after physicist Peter Higgs. In the Standard Model of particle physics (which has mapped the subatomic world with remarkable success for over 30 years), the masses of all particles are generated as a result of their interactions with this field.

It should also be possible to detect excitations of the Higgs field in the form of a particle known as the “Higgs boson”. Detecting the Higgs - the only particle in the Standard Model that has not been observed experimentally - is therefore one of the outstanding challenges in particle physics today. Scientists hope to detect the Higgs using CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), due to come online in November this year. The LHC will be the world’s largest particle accelerator, colliding protons on protons at a total energy of 16 TeV (16x1012 eV) to generate what physicists hope will be a slew of new particles, including the Higgs.

The LHC will also search for many hypothetical particles other than the Higgs boson in what is called “physics beyond the Standard Model”, with “supersymmetry” being a promising candidate idea. Supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model predict that all fundamental particles - such as quarks, photons and electrons - have ‘cousins’: their so-called `superpartners’, yet to be discovered.

Dr. de Rújula’s favourite achievement to date, in collaboration with Sheldon Glashow and Howard Georgi, has been understanding the masses of particles made of quarks. “My colleagues Arnon Dar and Shlomo Dado and I also believe we have recently solved the two main problems of high-energy astrophysics, gamma ray bursts and cosmic rays, but astrophysicists do not (yet) agree with this,” explained Dr. de Rújula.

Looking to the future, Dr. de Rújula believes that the LHC will teach us “something fundamental”. Apart from finding the Higgs, it is possible that the collider will produce the “dark matter” particles indirectly observed in the universe. “However, even if the LHC finds nothing this would also be very interesting because it would tell us that we haven’t understood anything about the vacuum. A complete lack of understanding often precedes a scientific revolution” he said.

Dianne Stilwell | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>