The Epistemology of the
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

An ontological and epistemological analysis of the Higgs-mechanism

One of the most important goals of the LHC is to understand the mechanism of mass generation. Among the various candidates, most physicists are favoring the Higgs mechanism. Still, in recent years there have been concerns within the scientific community as to whether the Higgs mechanism is based on cogent arguments and without serious alternatives. Furthermore, the Higgs mechanism is commonly referred to as "spontaneously broken gauge symmetry". This clearly involves foundational issues of gauge theories, for instance about the interpretation of gauge symmetries and the meaning of spontaneous symmetry breaking in general. It turns out, however, that the role of spontaneously broken gauge symmetry in the Higgs mechanism is much more subtle and complicated than according to standard textbook accounts. The project intends a comprehensive analysis of the Higgs mechanism's ontological and epistemic characteristics and implications, taking into account precise interpretations of the notions involved.


Principal Investigators:
Holger Lyre
Robert Harlander

Principal Collaborator:
Michael Krämer
Michael Stöltzner
Simon Friederich