The interview continues with the following questions.
William: Can you give examples of other possible situations in which the Higgs bosons might reveal their existence?
Stig: 'I guess there might be many instances where particle physicists and astrophysicists will detect the signature of the flyweight Higgs boson once they begin to look for it.'
'One effect that I think might be attributable to Higgs bosons is the so-called 'Pioneer anomaly,' which has puzzled physicists for more than a decade. According to the article of John D. Anderson et al., Study of the anomalous acceleration of Pioneer 10 and 11 (50 pages in Phys. Rev. D 65, 082004 (2002) or 55 pages in http://arxiv.org/pdf/gr-qc/0104064 including Errata dated February 4, 2008 that, incidentally, point wrong in a couple of cases: 57 should be 56 and 20 should be 10), signals with frequencies of about 2.11 GHz and 2.29 GHz (see beginning of section II D in the article) were used to measure the position of the two spacecraft. Since these frequencies lie near the predicted 2.9018 GHz threshold frequency for Higgs production, it is natural to ask if the appearance of Higgs bosons affected the signal speed.'
'Interplanetary space is not empty, but filled with molecules (ignoring for simplicity of reasoning other particle states) which form a thin gas that decreases in density with increasing distance from the sun. This thin gas cloud is transparent to photons, but slightly reduces the signal speed as electrons in the gas molecules absorb and'”after a brief time delay'”re-emit photons in a process similar to when visible light is slowed down in glass or water. Now, a microwave photon of energy below 2.9018 GHz would occasionally be re-emitted as a Higgs boson. However, being 'off mass-shell' (that is, too light to appear as a free real particle able to forward the microwave signal), the Higgs boson would be a short-lived virtual particle confined to the molecule in which it is created. Only after the Higgs has been re-absorbed and again emitted as a massless photon, would the signal continue its journey.'
'In short, the existence of the Higgs boson should mean that sometimes absorption and re-emission of a photon is replaced by absorption of a photon, emission of a virtual Higgs particle, re-absorption of the Higgs, and emission of a photon. This process implies an additional reduction in the speed of the microwave signal. It remains to be investigated if this extra slowing down of the signal is sufficient to explain the Pioneer anomaly. (Because of the thinning out of the interplanetary gas far away from the sun, the slowing-down effect decreases with distance, which means that distant spacecraft that are constantly monitored via 2-GHz microwaves seem to be subject to an anomalous acceleration toward the sun.)'
'In general, one might expect that the existence of virtual flyweight Higgs bosons should cause an anomalous decrease in signal speed for microwaves in the 2.9 GHz region. The effect would depend upon the type and density of the medium through which the signal travels.'
William: If that is so, shouldn't it be easy to observe the Higgs effect by measuring and comparing the velocities of microwaves of two or three different frequencies when they propagate through the earth's atmosphere?
Stig: 'Possibly, but I wouldn't bet on it. To my understanding it might well be that no noticeable slowing down occurs in ordinary gas molecules. Maybe the effect is only possible to observe for photons traveling through plasma (like the thin interplanetary solar plasma containing only a few protons and electrons per cubic centimeter) when Higgs bosons that are slightly off mass-shell jump between protons passing sufficiently close to each other.'
William: So, the Pioneer anomaly might be caused by the slowing down of the radio signal because the massless photons that carry it occasionally transform into massive Higgs bosons that jump with speeds less than c between the particles in the interplanetary plasma. Evidently these jumps may be quite long when the microwave frequency is near the threshold frequency for production of free Higgs particles. But why do you mention Higgs jumps between protons and not between electrons?
Stig: 'Since the proton contains one d quark and two u quarks with a total mass of about 16 + 8 + 8 = 32 times the electron mass, the probabilities for electron-type Higgs exchange between, respectively, two electrons, an electron and a proton, and two protons should relate to each other approximately as 1:30:1000. However, the probability for Higgs exchange between two particles also depends on how near each other the particles are. How close two particles approach each other, in turn, depends on their charge (same or opposite), temperature (or speed v), and mass (or momentum mv). Also, the total time delay experienced by the signal depends on the density of the plasma; that is, on how often photons hit a particle and how long the Higgs bosons jump on average.'
'Note, finally, that not only microwaves, but also UV light and X-rays of frequencies corresponding to the respective masses of the muon-type and tauon-type Higgs boson should experience an anomalous reduction in speed when they travel through plasma and interact with its positively charged nuclei.'
Page ten concludes Part 3 of a three-part interview about the xSM theory.