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Does the Higgs Mechanism Exist?

Lyre, Holger (2008) Does the Higgs Mechanism Exist? [Preprint]


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This paper explores the argument structure of the concept of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the electroweak gauge theory of the Standard Model: the so-called Higgs mechanism. As commonly understood, the Higgs argument is designed to introduce the masses of the gauge bosons by a spontaneous breaking of the gauge symmetry of an additional field, the Higgs field. The technical derivation of the Higgs mechanism, however, consists in a mere re-shuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian in a gauge-invariant manner. This already raises serious doubts about the adequacy of the entire manoeuvre. It will be shown that no straightforward ontic interpretation of the Higgs mechanism is tenable since gauge transformations possess no real instantiations. In addition, the explanatory value of the Higgs argument will be critically examined.

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Item Type: Preprint
Lyre, Holger
Additional Information: Penultimate version, forthcoming in "International Studies in the Philosophy of Science"
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Specific Sciences > Physics > Fields and Particles
Depositing User: Holger Lyre
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2008
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:16
Item ID: 4073

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