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The Higgs Boson Should Have Crushed the Universe 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-thing-we-skipped-universe-school-that-day dept.
astroengine writes: This may seem a little far fetched, but if our understanding of the physics behind the recently-discovered Higgs boson (or, more specifically, the Higgs field — the ubiquitous field that endows all stuff with mass) is correct, our Universe shouldn't exist. That is, however, if another cosmological hypothesis is real, a hypothesis that is currently undergoing intense scrutiny in light of the BICEP2 results. "The mathematics to arise from accepted Higgs field theory suggests the universe is currently sitting comfortably in a Higgs field energy 'valley.' To get out of this valley and up the adjacent 'hill,' huge quantities of energy would need to be unleashed inside the field. But, if there were enough energy to push the universe over the hill and into the deeper energy valley next door, the universe would simply, and catastrophically, collapse.

This is where the BICEP2 results come in. If their observations are real and gravitational waves in the CMB prove cosmological inflation, the Higgs field has already been kicked by too much energy, pushing the Higgs field over the energy hill and deep into the neighboring valley’s precipice! For any wannabe universe, this is very bad news — the newborn universe would appear as a Big Bang, the Higgs field would become overloaded with an energetic inflationary period, and the whole lot would vanish in a blink of an eye."
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The Higgs Boson Should Have Crushed the Universe

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  • by someone1234 (830754) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:27AM (#47313361)

    We barely avoided this catastrophe!

    • by TWX (665546)

      We barely avoided this catastrophe!

      Did we?

      Maybe we didn't. Maybe it happened around 14 billion years ago...

    • by stiggle (649614)

      Or we had it and that's what happened to all the anti-matter - they got kicked over the hill and into the valley of oblivion.
      Or just got invited to a wedding by George R.R. Martin.

    • I sure hope the mensa get their math right; looking at the universe and knowing that we shouldn't exist is a little uncomfortable.
    • by BitterOak (537666)

      We barely avoided this catastrophe!

      No thanks to Obama.

    • Better not tell the universe it shouldn't exist. We don't want it to realize that and suddenly stop existing - like when Wile E. Coyote realizes he has already ran off the edge of a cliff and is running in thin air.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:32AM (#47313375)

    our Universe shouldn't exist.

    Maybe it doesn't

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. All this is really just an elaborate intelligence test. Seems to me that most people fail and that includes the particle-physicists...

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      More logically with time just being a relative measure of change and that relative change itself being significant to itself the amount of time it takes is arbitrary. So relative motion with the sub dimensions of rest, constant speed and acceleration from and deceleration to rest, rather than completely arbitrary time which itself is only ever measured against change, is the more logical.

      • I think that time and space aren't relative at all, they are the same thing. I mean the expansion of space and the passage of time are the same thing. The implication is the time travel is impossible because both the future and the past do not exist.

        Matter with mass slows down the expansion of space and so it also slows the passage of time. Time slows near a black hole. The vast emptiness between galaxies allows the space between to expand more and more rapidly.

        Perhaps if space expands too fast it rips

  • False vacuum (Score:4, Interesting)

    by little1973 (467075) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:40AM (#47313413)

    Isn't this the same as false vacuum theory?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's a false vacuum model, yes. Which is both exciting and quietly terrifying.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I found an older article about the Higgs field instability itself; the instability arises because the field can be much stronger, leading to much higher particle masses and thus the big crunch alluded to. Although that's assuming that inertial and gravitational mass are still the same thing in such a domain...

      http://www.livescience.com/273... [livescience.com]

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Actually I got this wrong, the large masses are a consequence of the instability, the instability itself arises because the Higgs self-interaction can, if these results are correct, become attractive at high energy densities (similar to those predicted for inflation). At that point it's all downhill.

    • by ceview (2857765)
      Could we be saved by M-Theory or Brane cosmology then? The Higgs boson energy may get dissipated in someway by leaking into the 'bulk'? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]
  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @05:59AM (#47313467)

    It doesn't seem far fetched at all that we don't fully understand the physics behind the Higgs boson. I'd rather say it's OBVIOUS that we don't understand the physics behind it.

    A non-crushed universe should be proof enough that our current theories are missing something.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:01AM (#47313473)

      Yes, but the interesting and not obvious result is in which ways our theories are incomplete, which guides the search for better ones.

    • Pretty much. When the math says that the universe does not exist, when, from all the other data we have, it clearly does exist, then you must assume you've done the math wrong somewhere.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It doesn't seem far fetched at all that we don't fully understand the physics behind the Higgs boson.

      Indeed, but you miss the mark. What we don't understand is the physics *around* the Higgs. It's existence has implications that still have to be thought about. It will take a considerable amount of brainpower and time.

    • A non-crushed universe should be proof enough that our current theories are missing something.

      IANAP, but this seems easy to explain. We are observing our universe from the inside; To outside observers in other universes, our universe is crushed! We just can't tell because we, too, are crushed.

      Is that how IANAx works?

      • by Nutria (679911)

        To outside observers in other universes, our universe is crushed! We just can't tell because we, too, are crushed.

        Futurama 4ACV15: "The Farnsworth Parabox", especially the last scene.

    • A non-crushed universe should be proof enough that our current theories are missing something.

      It's just further evidence that I am just a brain in a jar somewhere and you and everything else are figments of my (now apparently flawed) imagination. Sorry about all the misery and suffering n' stuff. But on the bright side, it's not really real.

      • That there is /. in it should have been a giveaway that your imagination was flawed from the begining...

    • The most amazing thing about the universe is the smaller something gets the more complex it is. Which is at odds to our general world view, where larger things are more complex then smaller things.

      Just the fact the odds that we are hear thinking about it is such amazingly low probability Infinity/finite is practically 0% chance that we exist.

      • by narcc (412956)

        where larger things are more complex then smaller things

        ... then larger things again?

        (pet peeve)

    • No because the non-sense about crushed universe is just that, non-sense. They're just using the press about the Higgs Boson to push a far fetched idea.
    • we are on the way towards a "Big Crush" and we just haven't figured out the mechanics yet.

  • by meglon (1001833)
    ... and me without my earmuffs, mittens, and scarf.
  • by Max_W (812974) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:02AM (#47313475)
    Later this year the CERN Collider will work for the first time at 100% power:
    http://news.nationalgeographic... [nationalgeographic.com]
    Perhaps, we will meet God at last.

    And then the new, 100 km in diameter, Collider will be constructed at CERN.
  • by johanw (1001493) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:11AM (#47313503)

    The logical conclusion is that, because the current universe clearly exists, there is something wrong with either the BICEP2 measurements, conclusions or the theory of the Higgs field. IMO the first 2 options seems the most likely to contain an error. This kind of measurements is extremely complicated and a lot of assumtions are made to get from the raw data to the conclusions. The Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BICEP2) already states that they are backing down a bit and investigating alternative explainations.

    • See, this is what I thought as well. The Higgs was well predicted and made sense in the standard model, and our measurements at the LHC seem to back up what physicists were speculating. On the other hand, BICEP2 is a much newer result and there's considerable controversy about whether it's a real result or a mistake.

      So why would you automatically jump to the conclusion that the HIGGS was the problem? You've already got the other half of the equation under review. Shouldn't we wait to see if the BICEP2 resul

      • See, this is what I thought as well. The Higgs was well predicted and made sense in the standard model, and our measurements at the LHC seem to back up what physicists were speculating. On the other hand, BICEP2 is a much newer result and there's considerable controversy about whether it's a real result or a mistake.

        So why would you automatically jump to the conclusion that the HIGGS was the problem?

        The last paragraph of the Royal Astronomical Society press release seems to be agreeing with you, suggesting that an error in the BICEP2 result (or, rather, its interpretation) is the most likely explanation:

        "If BICEP2 is shown to be correct, it tells us that there has to be interesting new particle physics beyond the standard model" Hogan said.

        IIRC, the BICEP2 result, if interpreted as resulting from inflation, indicates a surprisingly strong inflation event. The above quote su

  • Hills and valleys, poetic images and wistful metaphors delivered with Shakespeareian bemusement over a cup of Earl Gray in the ready room, near the end of another episode's close shave with some Cosmic Anomaly or other. Perhaps Q is there as well [briandonohue.org], whispering: "the trial never ends, Jean Luc..."
  • If the universe can to be in an instant then we could easily believe that it will end as quickly as it began. It is like a baby at birth with its forst gasp of air and an old man at death with his last gasp of air. Both gasps take about the same amount of time.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Higgs Smash!

  • interesting things herald good science. Uncertainty and a collection of speculative theories are a good thing.
    "Hmm, that is interesting" > "Eureka!"

  • Dammit!

    If they collapse the probability wave function and it results a universe collapse, I'll be seriously depressed.. Practically crushed about it..

  • Okay, so a lower minumum energy exists just past that peak... But even if the early universe reached the peak between the two valleys, why couldn't the Higgs' field have simply fallen back into the current local-but-not-global minimum?

    Do deeper lows actually somehow attract the evolution of the field, or did $Deity flip a coin that, fortunately for us, came out heads instead of tails?
  • I would not mind if it all just went away in an instant. It would sure save a lot of trouble.

    • by narcc (412956)

      There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that. --Albert Camus The Myth Of Sisyphus

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:06AM (#47313685) Journal
    OK, OK, Higgs field is quite dangerous, and right now we seem to be sitting in the just-the-right-value. And if the Higgs field gets more energy the whole universe might collapse. But the most important question is, "Is the lower Higgs field energy anthropogenetic?". Do we have any kind of plans to absorb sudden injection of high energy into Higgs field in Andromeda galaxy? I never trusted the Andromedans and we are just trusting them not to energize the Higgs field? Just bomb them just to be safe.
    • I never trusted the Andromedans and we are just trusting them not to energize the Higgs field?

      I think they are too busy trying to win the Wimbledon.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @07:16AM (#47313715)
    Gee Brain, what do you want to tonight?
    The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to push the universe up the energy hill!
    Egad!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now we know where to build the restaurant!

  • Some awfully nosy guy discovered exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here.
  • Obviously, God siphoned off the excess energy.

  • "There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."
  • He misspelled BICEP5.
  • Pure Bull Shit (Score:4, Informative)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @09:58AM (#47314541)
    No one and I mean no one in the scientific community thinks the existence of the Higgs Boson means the universe should have been crushed. Morons are trying to push crack pot theory. Some jackass is trying to come up with way that something more exotic exists. There is ZERO experimental data that supports this line of thought. The Higgs Boson exists, get over it. Start reconciling gravity with the Standard Model. FYI yes the Standard Model does account for gravity, they're called gravitons. Science reporting is seriously fucked.
    • Re:Pure Bull Shit (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @11:47AM (#47315569)

      1) The higgs field instability is an inherent part of the higgs model; it falls out of the mathematics surprisingly simply and is years-old news at this point. Whether it's a practical concern rather depends on the masses involved, and there's every chance it will go away with improved models
      2) The author isn't claiming that the Higgs doesn't exist. Regardless, we know that something more exotic than the standard model exists, because we general relativity and QM continue to be bitterly incompatible
      3) There's no graviton in the standard model, and no obvious way to add one, nor any experimental evidence of one

    • by dltaylor (7510) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @06:34PM (#47319455)

      Everything he wrote is blatantly false (see previous post).

    • by DeVilla (4563)

      No one and I mean no one in the scientific community thinks the existence of the Higgs Boson means the universe should have been crushed

      There used to be some, but they've somehow ceased to exist.

  • It should read "theory incorrect, must be modified to be compatible with real world"
  • ...is so fat, she has a Higgs Boson field that crushed the universe.

    There seems to be a nerdy joke in there someplace...

  • But, if there were enough energy to push the universe over the hill and into the deeper energy valley next door, the universe would simply, and catastrophically, collapse ... For any wannabe universe, this is very bad news — the newborn universe would appear as a Big Bang, the Higgs field would become overloaded with an energetic inflationary period, and the whole lot would vanish in a blink of an eye.

    "I read somewhere that the sun's getting hotter every year," said Tom genially. "It seems that pretty

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