It’s the end of the world, and we blow it

Mucking around with mystery particles might well be the first step toward The End®, they say:

[F]inding the Higgs [boson], if it’s truly been found, not only confirms the theory about how particles get mass, but it allows scientists to make new calculations that weren’t possible before the particle’s properties were known.

For example, the mass of the new particle is about 126 billion electron volts, or about 126 times the mass of the proton. If that particle really is the Higgs, its mass turns out to be just about what’s needed to make the universe fundamentally unstable, in a way that would cause it to end catastrophically in the far future.

That’s because the Higgs field is thought to be everywhere, so it affects the vacuum of empty space-time in the universe.

And we probably shouldn’t count on saving ourselves with the inevitable anti-Higgs particle. (“Boson’s mate?”) Instead, we should adopt a stance that will stress us less in the long-ish run:

[T]here’s really no reason to worry about this event either. Wherever it started — if it hasn’t already — it would come at you at the speed of light, meaning it would literally be over before we knew it.

Assuming it started nearby, anyway. If the Big Debang should start at the surface of the sun, though, we’d have eight whole minutes to panic.







4 comments

  1. McGehee »

    5 March 2013 · 1:36 pm

    Ford Prefect was right: there is something fundamentally wrong with the universe.

    Discworld may actually exist.

  2. fillyjonk »

    5 March 2013 · 2:26 pm

    I keep expecting to wake up one of these days, walk out my front door, and see a giant Blue Screen Of Death in the sky. (“The program has become unstable. Rebooting in 23….22…21 seconds”)

    Some current events (Dennis Rodman as diplomat?????) make me expect it even more.

  3. McGehee »

    5 March 2013 · 10:39 pm

    I’m thinking the weirder we think the world is, the more stable the universe actually is.

  4. Brett »

    6 March 2013 · 12:54 pm

    Does make one question a commitment to pure materialist determinism, doesn’t it?

    And thanks for the link, Charles.

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