Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bad News on the 'God Particle'

....In the meantime, physicists have tightened their estimates of the particle's mass: Hill said the current estimate from the Compact Muon Solenoid is 125.8 billion electron volts, or 125.8 GeV, plus or minus 0.6 GeV. The figure from the LHC's other Higgs-boson detector, known as ATLAS, is 125.2 GeV, plus or minus 0.7 GeV.

Those figures can be factored into equations that point to the long-term fate of the universe, said Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab.

So what's the outlook?

"If you use all the physics that we know now, and we do what we think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news," Lykken said. "It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable. At some point, billions of years from now, it's all going to be wiped out."

He said the parameters for our universe, including the Higgs mass value as well as the mass of another subatomic particle known as the top quark, suggest that we're just at the edge of stability, in a "metastable" state. Physicists have been contemplating such a possibility for more than 30 years. Back in 1982, physicists Michael Turner and Frank Wilczek wrote in Nature that "without warning, a bubble of true vacuum could nucleate somewhere in the universe and move outwards at the speed of light, and before we realized what swept by us our protons would decay away."
My guess is the universe is poised on the unstable edge because that was required for it to come into existence in it's current form in the first place. 

So, while we can build rockets to shoot down or nudge asteroids, what can we do about the decay of the universe?
Lykken emphasized that it would be at least tens of billions of years before vacuum instability took hold.

"To get the exact number, we need more funding," he joked.
It's good to see that something is constant in this universe.

1 comment:

  1. LoL - got's to do this

    will the circle be unbroken?...