What gives matter mass?

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What gives matter mass? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

What gives matter mass?. Mass is a measure of how much matter there is in an object Matter is made of fundamental particles which have a range of very particular masses, but why? And what about photons, which don’t have any mass? In other words, what gives stuff stuff?. [CERN].

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Presentation Transcript
Mass is a measure of how much matter there is in an object
• Matter is made of fundamental particles which have a range of very particular masses, but why?
• And what about photons, which don’t have any mass?
• In other words, what gives stuff stuff?

[CERN]

You can tell something has mass because it resists changes in its motion – that’s Newton’s 1st law of motion
• Mass also gives things weight, the force that acts on anything in a gravitational field
• Einstein noticed that you can’t tell the difference between these two effects
• But that still doesn’t explain what actually causes mass

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Albert_Einstein_1947.jpg

Physicists have a theoretical model that accounts for all the fundamental particles that matter is made from
• And the forces that act between them (except gravity, which is another story)
• The theory predicts the existence of a particle that has the job of giving other particles their mass
• It’s called the Higgs boson, after the Scottish scientist Peter Higgs who proposed its existence over 40 years ago…and scientists are still looking for it!

[CERN]

Here’s the idea:
• The universe is full of an invisible field called the Higgs field
• When matter moves, the field “drags” on it – a bit like a celebrity being slowed down by loads of photographers
• Particles with bigger mass are affected more than ones with little mass, or to put it another way a particle’s mass is determined by how strongly it interacts with the Higgs field
• The “dragging” is caused by Higgs bosons

[CERN]

If the Higgs exists, the LHC experiments should find it
• We know the range of possible masses for the Higgs, around 200 times the mass of a proton
• The LHC is the first accelerator that can collide protons with enough energy to create particles this heavy
• If we don’t find it, it’s back to the drawing board…

[CERN]