Leonard Susskind on Fields, Particles, Mass and the Higgs Boson


Great video – 1.5 hours.

High points:

  • 34:46 A dipole in an electric field has more energy if it is oriented pointed upstream than pointed downstream. Because it is a dipole it is not moved by the field. But it has more mass (via E=mc2)
  • 35:35-36:50  The Higgs field is not like molasses (as the pop science has it); it does not slow particles down.
  • 38:00 “The electric field is another way of talking about a condensate of photons.” The photons are polarized, which en masse allows the field to have an orientation. A condensate means there are an indefinite number of photons. It is so uncertain how many photons are in any given location that you can remove (or add) as many photons as you like without changing the field.
  • 38:30 charged particles in a field emit and absorb photons to and from the field in a constant exchange. He seems headed here for saying this is how a field could give – by way of E=mc2 – a particle mass.
  • 40:00 A mirrored box full of light bouncing off the walls would have energy and therefore by E=mc2 would have mass. Shrink this box down to make, say, a proton. A proton has 3 quarks in it which bounce around inside with kinetic energy. Even if the quarks are massless the proton will have mass because the kinetic energy by E=mc2 gives them mass.
  • 43:57 Something moving at the speed of light has time infinitely slowed down and nothing can happen to it internally; for example the polarization of a photon cannot change.
  • 44:00 Dirac mass is the rate at which an electron flips from right-handed to left-handed. Electrons jump from left to right.
  • 45:00 z-bosons carry weak hypercharge – Susskind calls it zilch – right and left handed electrons do not emit the same zilch. Left-handed +1 hypercharge; right-handed 0 hypercharge.

 

One thought on “Leonard Susskind on Fields, Particles, Mass and the Higgs Boson

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About Peter Freed, M.D.

I am a psychiatrist (psychopharmacology and psychotherapy) specializing in the so-called "personality disorders," particularly narcissistic and borderline personality disorders. I was a Fellow and then an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia from 2004- 2011. I am currently in private practice in NYC.