So after having eaten all those chocolate Easter eggs you come to realize that the bathroom scales now show your weight to be even further from what it ought to be for your own good, and as a scientifically minded person you decide to blame it all on the Higgs field; after all, as everyone knows from reading the popular press, it's the Higgs field that gives elementary particles their mass.

Well, you're doing the Higgs a severe wrong, because it isn't to blame for your weight problem at all (unless you're a top quark or a B meson, in which case your life expectancy is way to short for you to even read the first line of this post). The real culprit is Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD to its friends).

While it is true that the fundamental particles (like electrons or quarks, or the W and Z bosons that mediate the weak interactions which are responsible, e.g., for beta decays) obtain their masses through their coupling to the Higgs field, the masses of the elementary particles making up all of ordinary matter (the electron and the up and down quarks) are quite tiny. Take for example a hydrogen atom: the electron's mass contributes only about 0.05 percent of its mass, while the remainder is the mass of the proton. And the masses of the up and down quarks are only about 2 percent of the mass of the proton.


I deal with small things, not giant Easter eggs, so your tight pants today are not my fault - Love, Higgs Boson.

So where does the rest of the mass of the proton (and hence of the atom, and hence of that surplus fat) come from? The answer lies in the most famous equation of the world, E=mc2, which asserts that mass is a form of energy, and that conversely all energy has mass. The vastly greater part of the mass of the proton (and hence ... you got it) comes from the energy of the strong interactions that bind the quarks together, and those interactions are described by QCD. Computer simulations of QCD indeed show that the mass of the proton is precisely what QCD predicts it to be.

And even for a hypothetical world where no Higgs field exists and the up and down quarks are therefore massless, QCD predicts that the proton would still have a mass comparable to the one it has in the real world, and hence so would you (well, in fact you wouldn't exist, because the electron would be massless, too, an therefore the Bohr radius would be infinite and there would be no stable atoms at all).

So apologize nicely to the Higgs field (it is apparently quite shy, so don't take offence if your apology is not accepted right away) and heap the blame for your weight problems onto QCD, who is after all the real culprit (although nobody said you absolutely had to eat all those chocolate eggs, did they?).