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Higgs Boson Suggests Universe has Limited Lifespan

While the discovery of the Higgs boson particle was positive news, some negative news might have come along with it.

Though scientists are still trying to figure out the details of the particle, they know that it means the universe is finite and unstable, and likely to be “wiped out” in the future.

“If you use all the physics that we know now and you do what you think is a straightforward calculation, it’s bad news,” Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist said.

“It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable and at some point billions of years from now it’s all going to get wiped out,” he said.

Last year, the elusive Higgs boson was discovered, a particle thought to give matter its mass. Scientists are still working to uncover particles related to the Higgs.

If Lykken’s predictions are correct, it could help us discover how the universe was born 13.7 billion years ago, and how it might end.

“This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now, there’ll be a catastrophe,” Lykken said. “A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative’ universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us.” He said this event will happen very quickly, likely at the speed of light.

Predicting the end of the universe requires that they know the mass of the Higgs to within one percent, and they also must know the precise mass of other related particles.

“You change any of these parameters to the Standard Model (of particle physics) by a tiny bit and you get a different end of the universe,” Lykken said.

Not to worry, though, the world will surely be gone by the time the universe expires. Physicists expect the sun to burn out in 4.5 billion years, and as it expands in its death, it will likely engulf our blue planet.



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