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The New York Times had an article yesterday.  Latest:



In December 2012, shortly after CERN teams first declared that they had seen signs of the famous boson with a mass of 125 billion electron volts, Gian Giudice, a CERN theorist, and his colleagues ran the numbers and concluded that the universe was in a precarious condition and could be prone to collapse in the far, far future.

The reason lies in the Higgs field, the medium of which the Higgs boson is the messenger and which determines the structure of empty space, i.e., the vacuum.

It works like this. The Higgs field, like everything else in nature, is lazy, and, like water running downhill, always seeks to be in the state of lowest energy. Physicists assume that the Higgs field today is in the lowest state possible, but Dr. Giudice found that was not the case. What counts as rock bottom in today’s universe could turn out to be just a plateau.

Our universe is like a rock perched precariously on a mountaintop, he explained, in what physicists call a metastable state. The Higgs field could drop to a lower value by a process known as quantum tunneling, although it is not imminent.

Dr. Giudice’s calculations suggest that it would take much longer than the age of the universe; the whole Milky Way galaxy could disappear into a black hole long before then. Which is good.

If that should happen — tomorrow or billions of years from now — a bubble would sweep out through the universe at the speed of light, obliterating the laws of nature as we know them.

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screwtape good post March 07, 2013, 09:53:40 AM