'Tiny Bubble' May Gobble Up the Universe

Higgs boson finding supports theory of 'vacuum instability'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2013 4:35 PM CST
This undated image made available by CERN shows a typical candidate event including two high-energy photons whose energy (depicted by red towers) is measured in the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter.    (AP Photo/CERN)

(Newser) – Thanks, Higgs boson: Looks like the particle's tiny mass is proof that the universe will one day be vacuumed up and replaced by another universe, the BBC reports. That is, if the Large Hadron collider really has spotted the Higgs boson. Calling their discovery "Higgs-like" for now, physicists say the particle is linked to an energy field that permeates all space. And when its apparent size is calculated in the Standard Model of particle physics, "it's bad news," says physicist Joseph Lykken.

"What happens is you get just a quantum fluctuation that makes a tiny bubble of the vacuum the Universe really wants to be in," Lykken adds. "And because it's a lower-energy state, this bubble will then expand, basically at the speed of light, and sweep everything before it." But don't worry—this won't happen for billions of years. And physicists still want to perform more experiments after the Large Hadron Collider reopens, to make sure they really have discovered and correctly sized the Higgs boson.

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