The Treacle Well

Imagine the three little sisters in the Dormouse’s tale – Elsie, Lacie and Tillie – who lived in a Universe permeated with treacle instead of gravity. Tillie who wore Mary-Janes on her feet, the typical shoes of Victorian children, and a frilly pinafore dress, and she struggled to move through the treacle. Lacie, who saw her sister’s difficulty in moving through the treacle, decided to remove her clothes and put a pair galoshes over her shoes; she moved easier than Tillie through the treacle. As for Elsie the magical child, she sprouted a pair of wings and glided effortlessly over the treacle. The three sisters who lived in the treacle well experienced treacle with different degrees of difficulty.

Thanks to the Dormouse, she understood that Elsie, Lacie and Tillie actually represent different types of particles of our world and our relationshp with the Higgs field. We are all living in a treacle-well, it is not just a fancy told by a sleepy mouse at the Mad Hatter’s tea party where the clock never moved. Tillie, who had the most difficulty moving through the treacle, is the one with most mass, whilst Elsie, who did not interact with the treacle at all, is massless.

We don’t think ‘mass’, instead we think ‘weight’, simply because weight is what we experience in our ‘real’ life. Thus we are unable to make the leap and think of mass is as a consequence of particles reacting differently to the Higgs field; rather, we choose to believe that the more massive a particle is, the more ‘stuff’ it contains. This inability to think in terms of a new dimension traps us and limits us because we are never be able to contemplate zero-dimensional particles which do not take up any space but which nonetheless possess mass. Like the beautiful distant stars that stud the endless Universe, Alice thought with a smile for PW. He, who talked so passionately about stars yet made no mention of the Higgs field.

Curiouser and curiouser, was what she used to say when she was a little girl. It was her curiosity that damned her.


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