Spontaneous symmetry breaking

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Spontaneous symmetry breaking is a way that scientists start off with something completely symmetrical and end up (without creating an outside force) with something non-symmetrical. Spontaneous means sudden or unexpected. Symmetry (Latin sym- meaning united, metric- meaning measure) refers to the fact that rules (known as symmetries) of physics that are changed. Breaking refers to the change of the symmetry. Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking commonly happens in the theoretical Higgs effect.

Uses for Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking[change | edit source]

Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking can create a theoretical particle called a Higgs Boson. This is a particle which is predicted to be able to give mass to certain particles called bosons, like a photon. Also, many scientists believe in the Higgs Effect (which is very similar to Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking) to answer questions that are not answered in the Standard model of physics. The Standard model predicts that certain types of quarks should have a mass of zero, while in reality they have a non-zero mass value. Some scientists believe that Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking is the answer.

Method of Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking[change | edit source]

For Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking to happen, you need an environment which is completely symmetrical, and has at least two outcomes that are equally likely. Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking starts with two particles that are completely equal; their spin is equal, too. Mathematically, Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking can be extremely puzzling, since you start out with two identical things and end up with two non-identical things. However, in practice, it is not so puzzling. If you have two particles moving at each other with equal speed, it would seem impossible for either of them to do anything but be symmetrical. However, if each particle has an equal 50-50 chance to be spinning one way or another, it is possible–in theory and in practice–to have this symmetry broken. It begins with symmetry to start with because the particles have an equal and symmetrical 50-50 chance of spinning one way or another.

Scientists have been able to use Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking. However, it has not proven (or disproven) the theory of the Higgs Boson. The energy required to generate a Higgs Boson is simply too powerful for the particle accelerators that we have available. However, the future will probably reveal the existence or nonexistence of the Higgs Boson.

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