Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking as a Basis of Particle Mass

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Electroweak theory joins electromagnetism with the weak force in a single quantum field theory, ascribing the two fundamental interactions--so different in their manifestations--to a common symmetry principle. How the electroweak gauge symmetry is hidden is one of the most urgent and challenging questions facing particle physics. The provisional answer incorporated in the ''standard model'' of particle physics was formulated in the 1960s by Higgs, by Brout & Englert, and by Guralnik, Hagen, & Kibble: The agent of electroweak symmetry breaking is an elementary scalar field whose self-interactions select a vacuum state in which the full electroweak symmetry is hidden, leaving ... continued below

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43 pages

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Quigg, Chris April 1, 2007.

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Electroweak theory joins electromagnetism with the weak force in a single quantum field theory, ascribing the two fundamental interactions--so different in their manifestations--to a common symmetry principle. How the electroweak gauge symmetry is hidden is one of the most urgent and challenging questions facing particle physics. The provisional answer incorporated in the ''standard model'' of particle physics was formulated in the 1960s by Higgs, by Brout & Englert, and by Guralnik, Hagen, & Kibble: The agent of electroweak symmetry breaking is an elementary scalar field whose self-interactions select a vacuum state in which the full electroweak symmetry is hidden, leaving a residual phase symmetry of electromagnetism. By analogy with the Meissner effect of the superconducting phase transition, the Higgs mechanism, as it is commonly known, confers masses on the weak force carriers W{sup {+-}} and Z. It also opens the door to masses for the quarks and leptons, and shapes the world around us. It is a good story--though an incomplete story--and we do not know how much of the story is true. Experiments that explore the Fermi scale (the energy regime around 1 TeV) during the next decade will put the electroweak theory to decisive test, and may uncover new elements needed to construct a more satisfying completion of the electroweak theory. The aim of this article is to set the stage by reporting what we know and what we need to know, and to set some ''Big Questions'' that will guide our explorations.

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43 pages

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  • Journal Name: Rept.Prog.Phys.70:1019-1054,2007

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  • Report No.: FERMILAB-PUB-07-030-T
  • Grant Number: AC02-07CH11359
  • DOI: 10.1088/0034-4885/70/7/R01 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 902541
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc882039

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • April 1, 2007

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • July 26, 2017, 10:05 a.m.

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Quigg, Chris. Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking as a Basis of Particle Mass, article, April 1, 2007; Batavia, Illinois. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc882039/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.