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Science & Technology

God particle could destroy the universe

By T.K. Randall
September 7, 2014 · Comment icon 83 comments

Professor Hawking speaking at NASA in 2008. Image Credit: NASA
Stephen Hawking has suggested that the Higgs particle has the potential to collapse space and time.
The Large Hadron Collider caused something of a panic among members of the public during its hunt for the Higgs Boson due to speculation that a sufficiently high-energy collision could produce a black hole that would swallow up the whole planet.

Now Professor Stephen Hawking's new book "Starmus", which is due out next month, may have the potential to raise similar concerns due to its preface in which the celebrated physicist suggests that the Higgs Boson could destroy the entire universe.
While he stresses that such an eventuality is extremely unlikely, the possibility exists that should the particle become unstable at high energy levels it could collapse the whole of space and time.

"The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts," he wrote. "This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light."

"This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming."

Source: The Australian | Comments (83)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #74 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
I agree, his work intended for a lay audience is sometimes speculative, although he carefully labels these things as such and is good about describing the problems with his speculations and talking about alternative views. I very much think anything he says has to be taken seriously, and he is not alone in what he has said. By the way, as someone a few days ago pointed out, there is considerable misunderstanding about what he actually did say. At the time I was not familiar with the story, but he did not worry about modern technology but only similar technology of the future. At least that was... [More]
Comment icon #75 Posted by Perceptivum 9 years ago
I disagree strongly. His work on black holes, for example, put the field ahead twenty years. I think maybe when he is doing popularized physics for the general public the can't follow and therefore dismiss, but it isn't easy stuff. You’re kidding, right? His work on black holes is vague, at-best. In 2004 he quashed his own 1974 theory that matter and energy can escape a black hole, admitting he was wrong. Then comes up with the idea that event horizons are really apparent horizons allowing information to escape the black hole. However, this theory doesn’t seem to address the firewall paradox. ... [More]
Comment icon #76 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
That a good theory is changed by its author is a good sign. If he had been deteriorating he would have let his ego get in the way. Look I don't know the man and don't follow what he does in detail, but I see no sign his reputation is at all tarnished in the community.
Comment icon #77 Posted by John Wesley Boyd 9 years ago
The guy creeps me out. A cross between Dr Strangelove and the original Star Trek's Christopher Pike. He was a brilliant man in his youth, but I don't know now if he is even in there anymore. He went from human communication facilitators, to that eerie electronic voice box, and I don't know if he's actually said anything since last he spoke on his own. Some of the things he's said lately seem so un Stephen Hawking, like sensationalist fodder for media attention, with no real scientific purpose. Like someone is behind the curtain, pulling the strings.
Comment icon #78 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
That is a surface impression; he does pretty well all things considered.
Comment icon #79 Posted by DieChecker 9 years ago
I think I found exactly what Hawking did say here.... “This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming,”Hawking explained, acidly noting that “A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV would be larger than Earth, and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate.” So....... We'd need a particle accelerator bigger then the Earth.... Looks like the immediate threat is GONE!! This would be an ... [More]
Comment icon #80 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago Seems it might be possible with our present understanding, but about as likely as running into a brick wall and all your matter tunneling to the other side.
Comment icon #81 Posted by Dracona15 9 years ago
This fascinates me. If only I was able to see this happening from the outside if it ever did occur. I imagine it would be extremely beautiful.
Comment icon #82 Posted by Harte 9 years ago
We're probably more likely to see the Godzilla particle destroy the universe than the God particle. Harte
Comment icon #83 Posted by Wickian 9 years ago
For some reason this topic reminds me of this(couldn't find a youtube to embed): http://www.dailymoti...r-3d_shortfilms

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