Macroscopic Length Scales, the Higgs Boson, and Cosmological Evolution of Fundamental Parameters

Speaker: 
David Kaplan (Johns Hopkins)
Event Date and Time: 
Thu, 2017-12-07 16:00 - 17:00
Location: 
Hennings 201
Local Contact: 
Douglas Scott
Intended Audience: 
Undergraduate

In this talk, I present the Higgs Boson's Compton wavelength (proportional to its inverse mass), as currently one of the few fundamental length-scales in physics, from which much of macroscopic physics is derived.  The Standard Model of particle physics predicts a direct relationship between the Higgs mass and the mass of all other fundamental particles, but it fails to predict the mass of the Higgs itself.  In fact, the Higgs mass is a conundrum in the Standard Model, as simple (and very reasonable) scaling arguments predict it to be sixteen orders of magnitude bigger!  I will summarize many of the approaches to this problem (dubbed the "hierarchy problem") and show that they all represent a single class of ideas.  I will also summarize a second type of idea that relies on anthropic arguments and the existence of a multiverse.  Finally, I will present a new approach that explains the smallness of the Higgs mass (and thus the largeness of atoms) as a result of cosmological evolution of parameters, and suggest that this fundamental scale in physics may have been a result of self-organized criticality in the early universe.

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