fundamental? The modern atom model The scale of the atom What are we looking for? The standard model The standard model quiz
Where does most of the mass of the universe come from?
In ordinary matter, most of the mass is contained in atoms, and the majority of the mass of an atom resides in the nucleus, made of protons and neutrons.
Protons and neutrons are each made of three quarks. It is the quarks that get their mass by interacting with the Higgs field.
BUT... the quarks' masses only add up to about 10 MeV, roughly 1% the mass of the proton and neutron. So where does the remaining mass of a proton or neutron come from?
It turns out that the mass of a proton is mostly due to the kinetic energy of its constituent quarks. As you'll remember by now, mass and energy are related by the equation E=mc2.
So, only a very small portion of the mass of ordinary matter in the universe is due to the Higgs mechanism. But, as we'll see in the next section, without the mass from the Higgs mechanism, the universe would be completely uninhabitable, and there'd be no people to discover the Higgs mechanism!