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How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

17 December 2011

Grokking the Higgs Boson

by metavalent

via Matt Riddley, WSJ:

"The most memorable metaphor was offered by David Miller of University College, London. Since Mr. Waldegrave had been a colleague of Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Miller chose to portray the Higgs field thus: "Imagine a cocktail party of political-party workers who are uniformly distributed across the floor, all talking to their nearest neighbors. The ex-prime minister enters and crosses the room. All of the workers in her neighborhood are strongly attracted to her and cluster round her. As she moves, she attracts the people she comes close to, while the ones she has left return to their even spacing."

The party-goers are the Higgs field, which gives mass to particles like electrons (Lady Thatcher) by viscously impeding their progress. "Once moving, she is harder to stop, and once stopped, she is harder to get moving again because the clustering process has to be restarted." The Higgs boson itself he compared to a rumor spreading through the party, causing a wave of local clustering in the Higgs field."