Cosmos may be ‘inherently unstable’

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Scientists say they may be able to determine the eventual fate of the cosmos as they probe the properties of the Higgs boson.

A concept known as vacuum instability could result, billions of years from now, in a new universe opening up in the present one and replacing it.

It all depends on some precise numbers related to the Higgs that researchers are currently trying to pin down.

A “Higgs-like” particle was first seen at the Large Hadron Collider last year.

Associated with an energy field that pervades all space, the boson helps explain the existence of mass in the cosmos. In other words, it underpins the workings of all the matter we see around us.

Since detecting the particle in their accelerator experiments, researchers at the Geneva lab and at related institutions around the world have begun to theorise on the Higgs’ implications for physics.

One idea that it throws up is the possibility of a cyclical universe, in which every so often all of space is renewed.

“It turns out there’s a calculation you can do in our Standard Model of particle physics, once you know the mass of the Higgs boson,” explained Dr Joseph Lykken.

Written By: Jonathan Amos
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

10 COMMENTS

  1. This article is a classic example of the problem with journalistic coverage of difficult science. Sure, we need to know the mass more accurately to say how long the universe has (technically, how long on average it does); but we could have a table of lifetimes with masses, could we? 126.3 GeV/c^2 = … But no. No link to the calculations either. The journalists instead basically said this: “There’s this thing. We mentioned it before – you know the thing! The thing the scientists found. You know, the one they knew they’d find. Well, they know how heavy it is. Whatever that means for particles. Whatever particles are. They call it a boson, BTW. For some reason. Anyway, its mass kills the universe if it’s the wrong number. Eventually.”

  2. In recent years the heat death of an expanding universe has been presented to the general public as fact. All our theories on this subject are speculative in the extreme, and should never be presented in any other way. Once again, all bets are off.

    • In reply to #4 by BroughtyBoy:

      In recent years the heat death of an expanding universe has been presented to the general public as fact. All our theories on this subject are speculative in the extreme, and should never be presented in any other way. Once again, all bets are off.

      If you categorise the third law of thermodynamics as ‘speculative in the extreme’ what do you think of the proposition that I am god?

  3. In reply to #4 by BroughtyBoy:

    In recent years the heat death of an expanding universe has been presented to the general public as fact. All our theories on this subject are speculative in the extreme, and should never be presented in any other way. Once again, all bets are off.

    One aspect of the “heat-death” hypothesis, is that all sorts of weird effects, like super-conductivity, come into play as absolute zero (0 Kelvin) is approached.

  4. In reply to #2 by Jos Gibbons:
    “There’s this thing. We mentioned it before – you know the thing! The thing the scientists found. You know, the one they knew they’d find. Well, they know how heavy it is. Whatever that means for particles. Whatever particles are. They call it a boson, BTW. For some reason. Anyway, its mass kills the universe if it’s the wrong number. Eventually.”

    BBC science journalism at it’s best

  5. In reply to #4 by BroughtyBoy:

    In recent years the heat death of an expanding universe has been presented to the general public as fact. All our theories on this subject are speculative in the extreme, and should never be presented in any other way. Once again, all bets are off.

    There is such a thing as evidence, such as that the expansion is accelerating (evidence for a heat death), or the fact that My Parents Are Aliens acted as if a Big Crunch was fact instead (evidence against your summary of what line the public was sold). The truth is people have heard all the possibilities, and some people mistakenly emphasized one of them, but none were emphasized widely, and the facts are now a lot clearer anyway.

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