What I've been thinking about...
Those who have been reading know that I’ve been pleading with the tumblr community to offer me some meaty theoretical explanations of what the Higgs field is/why it is necessary, etc.
One tumbrer who mysteriously seems to know everything (you know who you are) pointed me in the general direction of this page from reddit’s askscience. It seems to be at (maybe a little above) the technicality level I’m looking for, but I love a challenge. For those who want some interpretation, I’ll provide a bite-sized piece (probably with more to come):
I’d wondered in my earlier post whether we needed to consider “Mass as receptiveness to gravity” as distinct from “Mass as resistance to accelleration”, with some accompanying confusions about the overlapping (I wondered) roles of gravitons and the Higgs Boson. User B_For_Bandana from reddit had this to say:
It might help to realize that mass and gravity are distinct things: in a universe with no gravity, objects could still have mass. The basic property of mass is that of inertia; that is, the more massive an object, the harder it is to push or pull on it to change its direction or speed. In our universe, mass has the additional property that it creates a gravitational field that attracts other masses, but as far as we know that is not an “inevitable” property of mass like inertia is. So, on a space station, it is much easier to play catch with a baseball than a bowling ball, even though there is no apparent gravity.
So, knowing that inertia and gravity are distinct, it is easy to see the different roles of the Higgs and the graviton. The Higgs gives particles mass (inertia) which would exist even if there was no gravity. The graviton is the hypothetical particle that carries the gravitational interaction between massive particles. These “jobs” are completely distinct from each other, so in answer to your second question, those two particles are not part of competing theories, they could both exist.
So… it seems we have only one “Mass”, but we should consider resistance to accelleration to be it’s defining property. Receptiveness (and generation of) gravity is attached to this same thing we call “Mass”, but should be considered an add on. Hmmmm.
There’s more on the page… so much more! However, I’ll continue reading and (as I am able) interpreting for those with similar confusions to mine. Until then…