In the Higgs mechanism, mediators of the weak force acquire masses by interacting with the Higgs condensate, leading to a vector boson mass matrix. On the other hand, a rigid body accelerated through an inviscid, incompressible and irrotational fluid feels an opposing force linearly related to its acceleration, via an added-mass tensor. We uncover a striking physical analogy between the two effects and propose a dictionary relating them. The correspondence turns the gauge Lie algebra into the space of directions in which the body can move, encodes the pattern of gauge symmetry breaking in the shape of an associated body and relates symmetries of the body to those of the scalar vacuum manifold. The new viewpoint is illustrated with numerous examples, and raises interesting questions, notably on the fluid analogues of the broken symmetry and Higgs particle, and the field-theoretic analogue of the added mass of a composite body.
- Received October 17, 2014.
- Accepted February 6, 2015.
- © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.