Higgs Field Technology


Higgs technology deals with manipulation of the Higgs scalar field and related forces within the Standard Model of particle physics. All particles get their mass from the interaction between the Higgs field, particles and the background vacuum; if this is modified apparent mass can be changed, particles transmuted and gravity modified. The great discovery was that this can be done without using extreme energy levels by exploiting the so-called "Abdela Mechanism". Currently higgstech is the cutting edge (together with nanotechnology) - several of the colonies race to develop and apply it to everything from space travel to microsurgery.

The simplest application of higgsfield technology is force production and antigravity. A force unit can produce a repulsive or attractive mechanical force acting against the space-time background. Antigravity, or rather mass nullification, makes an object more or less massive. This field is still much in its infancy, but investors are scrambling for agrav shares.

The "first law of antigravity" says that higgstech cannot produce a perpetual motion device; the amount of work done by a force unit has to be less than the amount of energy put in, and lifting an object by antigravity will require more energy than is gained in potential energy. Antigravity plates for example have reasonable power consumption when the object is at rest, but will consume more energy if it rises (proportional to its mass and height). If the object falls, then a reverse surge may occur, damaging the unit if it cannot neutralise or dissipate it. In general antigravity units are more useful for moving things around at the same height than lifting them (antigravity support for shuttles still remains useful, since the amount of reaction mass that has to be kept onboard can be decreased).

On Atlantis, antigravity is sometimes used in buildings, making it possible to move them. Since making the whole building weightless would cause the interior to become weightless, such movable buildings (often called drifthouses) usually just give the foundations a strong negative acceleration and let them hold up the whole building. Drifthouses have revolutionised the otherwise quite movable cities; many city locations are little more than parking lots for buildings to land on and the population can change very quickly depending on local events, the climate or fads. Most buildings are not intended to stay aloft for long, and tend to follow the ground (just like their non-antigravity counterparts, which move using add-on wheels or air). One notable exception is the famous "Magritte’s Revenge" (and its successor "Falling Concrete") by Eduard Weber 4, a villa deliberately built to hover at 300 meters above the sea on the east coast of Heinlein. Needless to say, the antigravity systems are triply failsafe.

Theoretically it should be possible to increase or decrease momentum, but Geodesic Systems haven’t figured that one out yet; their systems tend to misbehave wildly. The Mothers seem to have discovered how to do it, but realise the trade advantage of not simply explaining it. Instead they sell pre-packaged units. In general human gravity and force manipulation is somewhat rickety, even if it is getting better and changing society at a fast rate.

Confused matter is another possibility. When the Higgs-field fluctuates enough matter becomes unstable on the quantum level: particles "forget" their properties, and spontaneously decay. This causes partial conversion of matter into energy, but also confuses nearby matter. The first experiments almost ended in disaster, and Geodesic Systems have built a special laboratory in orbit around Aristotle where a runaway confusion would be safe. The promise of total or partial matter-energy conversion drives further research, but the only results so far have been devices that can cause enormous detonations or set up "confusion fields" in space that makes incoming matter to decay energetically. The military applications are frightening and fascinating.

Complex Higgs fields can form solitons and topological defects, producing very strange results. This is currently beyond human technology (the mothers have some simpler developments and the filigrees are suspected of being very advanced). Among the theoretically postulated possibilities are soliton packets that can send information, disrupt another Higgs field or induce confusion from afar; the production of magnetic monopoles that make matter-energy conversion possible; possibly the construction of "fake matter" that behaves like matter but actually is just a complex field process. Another fascinating possibility is to give neutrinos mass. According to theory, a certain kind of very high energy field can give neutrinos a high mass, making the background blaze of neutrinos interact with matter or perhaps even crystallise into some kind of solid. The creation of small, very unstable black holes is also plausible with this technology. So far this remains theoretical physics.