This is the essay I have “contributed” to my college magazine. Let’s see what happens:
I will begin by stating my credentials for writing this article on what is an extremely high-level topic in physics. I am a first-year student of Aerospace Engineering. I am not an outstanding genius and I do not know a single equation or have the slightest hint of the mathematics involved in these ideas. I am perhaps the least suited person to give an idea on such topics, yet I do so because I believe that in the garbled rubbish of neologisms and silly views I shall annunciate here, there is a slight quantum of a possibility of something coming out. Besides, we must dare to think.
The eternal quest for a Unified Field Theory, also known by its more “popular” name, the Theory of Everything, is, in the opinion of many physicists, in it’s closing stages. We have a clear understanding of almost all the phenomena that occur in this universe, excluding, of course, the functioning of the mind of a woman. This understanding is built upon the foundation laid by two of the most important theories in science. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and the theory of Quantum Mechanics whose contributors are many and varied. But the problem is, of course, that though these theories work quite excellently in isolation, in cases where they have to combine, pandemonium occurs and scientists are left with nonsensical answers. Thus, the search for a theory that can unite them both is on. Many theories claim to have achieved this goal, but the closest is the famous ‘String Theory’, which claims that the universe is made up a fundamental string on whose vibration, it assumes the characteristics of a particle such as a quark, a photon etc. This theory had some flaws which resulted in it having to be altered to what is now called the ‘M Theory’ which states that the universe is not alone, but is part of a series of membranous universes which float around in space. The collision to such membranes resulted in the formation of our current universe, which is not the first such universe and is definitely not the last.
However, my idea requires a more different approach. It deals with forces and the carriers of these forces. We all know that there are four fundamental forces in the universe. The Strong Nuclear Force, the Weak Nuclear Force, the Electromagnetic Force, and the Gravitational force. Physicists in the 1960s managed to develop a GUT or Grand Unified Theory, which shows that the first three forces can be unified into a single force at very high energies. This implies that at the beginning of the universe, there was a single unified force that split as the universe expanded and cooled. The problem, however is Gravity. In a strange irony, the first force to be discovered is yet to be understood. We know the way it works, but have no idea how and why it works like that! It is here that I wish to present my idea.
However, before I do so, I must explain a few concepts. The first is the Higgs Field. I think we are all aware of what fields are. The area in which the effect of a force can be felt is called its field. Thus, all forces have fields that surround them. Nevertheless, there’s also another field that extends all over the universe, called a Higgs Field.
The Higgs Field is interesting because of the fact that it cannot be detected. The only way we get to know about this field is through what happens when a particle interacts with it, for it is after a particle interacts with the Higgs field that it gets a mass. Particles such as the Top quark interact with it strongly and are hence heavier while particles such as electrons interact with it weakly and are lighter. To get an idea of the mechanism behind the functioning of the Higgs field across more clearly, allow me to use the beautiful analogy given by Prof. David J. Miller of University College, London. Let’s imagine a room full of people chattering quietly. To make this more accurate, let’s impose a dress code on these people: they’re all wearing black and they all look the same. Thus, one person cannot be differentiated from another. This is like space filled with the Higgs field. No one point can be differentiated from another for every point is absolutely the same. This is also known as “Global Invariance.” Now, let a well-known celebrity like Shahrukh Khan walk in, creating a disturbance as he moves across the room and attracting a cluster of admirers with each step. This increases his resistance to movement; in other words, he acquires mass, just like a particle moving through the Higgs field. Now suppose a rumor crosses the room, the people in the room cluster around each other to gossip and talk in more animated voices. In this analogy, these clusters are the Higgs particles.
Now, my idea begins from here. I believe that the Higgs Field is not only responsible for mass, but is also responsible for the other fundamental characteristics such as charge, color (or “quark charge”) etc. This gives rise to two possibilities. Either there are separately independents Higgs Fields, each accounting for a particular characteristic; or, any particle that exists interacts with one Higgs Field, which is now more of a Unified Higgs Field (UHF). Nevertheless, both of these ideas have one similarity, forces and interactions do not occur from particle to particle, but occur between the particle and the field. Meaning that the notion of exchange forces is not inaccurate, but incomplete, as the Higgs Field (/s) are the mediators between the particles. In another leap of faith, I believe that Higgs Fields vibrate and the “amount” of characteristic they impart on a particle is dependent on the phase of the vibration of the string associated with that particle. Taking in each possibility separately, let’s see where my over-active and hyper-imaginative mind has taken me.
In the first possibility, there is a separate Higgs Field for separate characteristics. These fields all occupy the same space but, like electromagnetic waves, are independent of each other or are perhaps multidimensional, with one Higgs field having more dimensions than the other. Each field imparts a particular characteristic and the “amount” of each characteristic as well depending on the vibration of the string of the particle. That is, the string that constitutes the Top quark has a phase of vibration which superimposes with the phase of the vibration of the Higgs Field of mass itself, resulting in it having a large mass while maybe for an up quark, there will be interference resulting in it’s low mass. A similar phenomenon may occur with the Higgs Field of charge and color. If the fields are multi-dimensional, then we may have the possibility of the “amount” of characteristic imparted being dependent additionally on the phase in every dimension, but perhaps the fundamental premise will be sound. Now let’s see how the forces work in this model. A particle interacts with the field, by sending it forces carriers, causing variance in the field and disturbing it’s natural stability. The only way for the field to become invariant again is by getting rid of these force carriers by passing them on to another particle. This results in the particles being attracted or repelled from each other while looking as if the carriers traveled from particle to particle. Such action occurs with every field for every characteristic.
In the second instance, where there is a single UHF, we have the contingency of a unified force acting on the particle in the Higgs field. These occurs as the particle in the UHF causes Variance and the UHF, in order to negate this variance, releases a carrier or a series of carriers to any other particles in the field. If the field has a single carrier, then this implies that the UHF is an extremely high-energy field. This UHF is perhaps inter-related with the very fabric of space-time and our universe. Thus, one may imagine that the curving of space-time due to gravity may be another ploy by the field to remove Variance. The strength and weakness of forces purely depends on the properties of their respective carriers and their equations, of which I know nothing. I can only make a random assumption that the act of imparting mass on a particle is quantified, i.e. the Higgs Boson is the carrier, thus due to the imbalance caused by Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence equation. Thus, after imparting mass to the body, the boson should also act on it, but the energy required to do so while still obeying the second law of thermodynamics is little, resulting in the weak nature of gravity.
In conclusion, I believe that the Higgs Field holds the key to this universe. By attempting to study the possibility of forces acting on the field rather than on the particle itself is a different way of approaching the problem, and I would the person most surprised while also being the person least surprised (something that’s not dissimilar to the state of Schrödinger’s cat!) if any part of the ideas expressed above turn out to be paths to the truth.
In this essay, my attempts are more directed towards expressing the notion of alternative, experimental thought rather than walking on the beaten road. I have to thank Dr. Stephen Hawking for writing ‘A Brief History of Time’, the book which inspired me to take the pursuit of Quantum Astrophysics as my aim in life. I must also express my thanks to all the various authors on whose shoulders I’ve learnt this miniscule knowledge and my parents for allowing me to think that I can dare to formulate ideas in topics that are so far over my present level.
“What does it mean, to understand? … I don’t know.”