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 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>