The movie Solaris pictures an intelligence in the vast dimensions of a star. Solaris has the capability of making people appear out of the void and feeds upon memories. George Clooney plays a guy who has to investigate the phenomenon and falls himself prey (this was of course to be expected). Solaris makes his beautiful wife appear with its consequences. Another guy appears to be a Solaris produced one and there is discussion about using Higgs particles to solve the problem. Maybe the field is used to make persons appear out of the blue (I don't see how though but that's not the question).

The film is based on the eponymous book by Stanisław Lem, first published in 1961. There was no Higgs mechanism yet in 1961 though. How does Lem make memories appear physically?

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    In the book, Solaris made constructs from confined neutrinos.
    – Mithoron
    Aug 5, 2021 at 12:17
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    A serious joke. One might call it "coyote teaching," in which the teacher essentially answers a question with another question. But to use rabbit teaching instead: As I'm sure you're aware, Lem was more interested in the philosophical implications of dealing with an intelligence that was beyond human comprehension than in the scientific basis of creating an illusion. That is, the scientific basis is babble that has no importance to the story. His inclusion of Higgs particles in the story is of some literary interest, though, in showing how Lem worked contemporary discoveries into his novel. Aug 5, 2021 at 15:26
  • @InvisibleTrihedron That might be so indeed but he creates a sense of incomprehensibility by using an incomprehensible mechanism. I think there are in principle no incomprehensible intelligences. Aug 5, 2021 at 15:34
  • @InvisibleTrihedron What has coyote tesching or rabbit teaching to do with the question? I dont get the loke. Aug 5, 2021 at 18:18
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    Just a note: Solaris is a planet, not a star, in the book the main character lands on it briefly (just as many people before). Even before the events described in the book, scientists were believing that the planet is sentient, because it was able to modify its own trajectory around the star.
    – Yasskier
    Aug 5, 2021 at 20:33

1 Answer 1


I have only read Solaris in translation, but in the English translation I have (Berkeley 1982; I believe it's essentially the same as the original 1970 translation) Dr. Kelvin initially hypothesizes that it's a neutrino-based structure:

"Everything looks normal, but it's a camouflage. A cover. In a way, it's a super-copy, a reproduction which is superior to the original. I'll explain what I mean: there exists, in man, an absolute limit — a term to structural divisibility — whereas here, the frontiers have been pushed back. We are dealing with a sub-atomic structure."

"Just a minute, just a minute! Kindly be more precise!" Sartorius interrupted.


"The atom is the ultimate constituent element of our bodies. My guess is that the Phi-beings are constituted of units smaller than ordinary atoms, much smaller."

"Mesons," put in Sartorius. He did not sound in the least surprised.

"No, not mesons... I would have seen them. The power of this instrument here is between a 10th to a 20th of an angstrom, isn't it? But nothing is visible, nothing whatsoever. So it can't be mesons. More likely neutrinos."

"How do you account for that theory? Conglomerations of neutrinos are unstable..."

"I don't know. I'm not a physicist. Perhaps a magnetic field could stabilize them. It's not my province. In any event, if my observations are correct, the structure is made up of particles at least ten thousand times smaller than atoms. Wait a minute, I haven't finished! If the albuminous molecules and the cells were directly constructed from micro-atoms, they would be proportionally even smaller. This applies to the corpuscles, the micro-organisms, everything. Now, the dimensions are those of atomic structures. Consequently, the albumen, the cell and the nucleus of the cell are nothing but camouflage. The real structure, which determines the functions of the visitor, remains concealed."

They do some research and explore the idea of a type of "neutrino field":

I pored over microfilm texts for an hour, and made myself wrestle with the unfamiliar language of neutrino physics. The undertaking seemed hopeless at first: there were no less than five current theories dealing with neutrino fields, an obvious indication that none was definitive.

Even at the end they have hypothesized a "rotating stabilization field" but do not know the way it is constructed or maintained:

"[...] Do you know the necessary conditions for stabilizing a neutrino field?"

"No, nor do you. Nor does anyone."

"Exactly. All we know is that the structure is inherently unstable, and can only be maintained by means of a continuous energy input. Sartorius told me that. This energy creates a rotating stabilization field. Now, does that energy come from outside the 'visitor,' or is it generated internally? You see the difference?"

  • Great answer. I can do nothing other than accept!A pity he wasnt aware of the Higgs. He could have used it to make the neutrino more massive (the problem with the neutrino is that its coupling with the Higgs field is zero while its mass is tiny tiny. Rishons would hae been a better solution. But that asca sidenote. Aug 5, 2021 at 20:40
  • Sorry for taking the accepting back. I like your answer very much but am still curious if the Higgs was used in the movie. Aug 5, 2021 at 21:39

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