Breaking Symmetries

Gian Francesco Giudice

in A Zeptospace Odyssey: A Journey into the Physics of the LHC

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199581917
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723001 | DOI:
Breaking Symmetries

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Symmetries play a fundamental role in modern physics. This chapter introduces this concept by discussing the meaning of symmetries in mathematics and in physics, explaining the significance of Lie groups. With the help of some analogies, the principle of gauge symmetry is illustrated. This principle is the basis for the construction of the Standard Model and determines the structure of the fundamental forces. However, the masses of the W and Z particles are in conflict with the gauge principle. The solution to this problem requires the introduction of new concepts such as spontaneous symmetry breaking and the Higgs mechanism. The chapter also describes the experimental strategies in the search for the Higgs boson, the significance of the possible discovery of this particle, and the remaining open problems.

Keywords: symmetry; Lie groups; gauge symmetry; electroweak symmetry breaking; spontaneous symmetry breaking; Higgs mechanism; Higgs boson; vacuum

Chapter.  12390 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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