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Higgs Force: Unity is Strength

“It is a wonderful feeling to recognize the unity of a complex of phenomena which appear to direct sense observation as totally separate things.”
                                                                               Albert Einstein

There have been several great leaps in understanding the structure of the universe with the realisation that a number of apparently independent phenomena have the same root cause. In particular, this has occurred when seemingly different forces have been recognised as various aspects of a single unified force. Since Einstein, the target of modern physicists has been to produce a theory that explains the universe through the workings of a single force. This is the prime motivation for the study of string theory, but the roots of this approach to physics stretch back to Isaac Newton in the 17th century. Newton was the first person to demonstrate that the force that causes an apple to fall from a tree has exactly the same origin as the force that holds the moon in its orbit around the Earth.

The unification of the electromagnetic force is the inspiration for the ongoing attempts to unify all the forces of Nature. In recent decades, physicists have discovered a way to unite the electromagnetic force with another one of the fundamental forces of Nature. This is the weak force. It is one of the two forces that play an important role in nuclear physics. An explanation of the unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces is one of the main objectives of this book.

Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee

Our main focus in this chapter will be the unification of the electric and magnetic forces that came to fruition in the middle years of the 19th century with the work of Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. Before discussing their work, it is necessary to set the scene by looking at the history of the separate electric and magnetic forces. The first scientific analysis of the magnetic force was made by William Gilbert in the 16th century. Several researchers played an important role in the development of a scientific understanding of the electric force. These include interesting characters such as Benjamin Franklin and Humphry Davy, as well as Faraday himself.

Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee

Faraday was possibly the greatest ever experimental physicist, but he didn’t have a very good facility for mathematics, so he expressed his results visually drawing pictures of electric and magnetic fields. We will take advantage of Faraday’s approach and use similar drawings to explain the operation of these forces.

Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee

Maxwell, who was a very good mathematician, took Faraday’s findings and encapsulated them in a succinct set of equations that captured the workings of the now unified electromagnetic force. One of the results of Maxwell’s theory was a new understanding of the nature of light and the prediction that it formed part of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. This prediction was confirmed in the laboratory with the discovery of radio waves.

Higgs Force by Nicholas Mee

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