'God Particle' May Spell Doom For Universe - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'God Particle' May Spell Doom For Universe

YAHOO.COM - A subatomic particle discovered last year that may be the long-sought Higgs boson might doom our universe to an unfortunate end, researchers say.

The mass of the particle, which was uncovered at the world's largest particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva — is a key ingredient in a calculation that portends the future of space and time.

"This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now there'll be a catastrophe," Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., said Monday (Feb. 18) here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"It may be 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," added Lykken, a collaborator on one of the LHC's experiments. [Gallery: Search for the Higgs Boson]

The Higgs boson particle is a manifestation of an energy field pervading the universe called the Higgs field, which is thought to explain why particles have mass. After searching for decades for proof that this field and particle existed, physicists at the LHC announced in July 2012 that they'd discovered a new particle whose properties strongly suggest it is the Higgs boson.

To confirm the particle's identity for sure, more data are needed. But many scientists say they're betting it's the Higgs.

"This discovery to me was personally astounding," said I. Joseph Kroll, a University of Pennsylvania physicist who also works at the LHC. "To me, the Higgs was sort of, it might be there, it might not. The fact that it's there is really a tremendous accomplishment."

And finding the Higgs, if it's truly been found, not only confirms the theory about how particles get mass, but it allows scientists to make new calculations that weren't possible before the particle's properties were known.

For example, the mass of the new particle is about 126 billion electron volts, or about 126 times the mass of the proton. If that particle really is the Higgs, its mass turns out to be just about what's needed to make the universe fundamentally unstable, in a way that would cause it to end catastrophically in the far future.

That's because the Higgs field is thought to be everywhere, so it affects the vacuum of empty space-time in the universe.

"The mass of the Higgs is related to how stable the vacuum is," explained Christopher Hill, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. "It's right along the critical line. That could either be a cosmic coincidence, or it could be that there's some physics that's causing that. That's something new, which we didn't know before."

Strikingly, if the Higgs mass were just a few percent different, the universe wouldn't be doomed, the scientists said.

But even if the universe is in for an unfortunate end, there is at least one reason for consolation.

"You won't actually see it, because it will come at you at the speed of light," Lykken said. "So in that sense don't worry."

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • FIRST ON KHQ: Former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal facing felony theft charges for welfare fraud

    FIRST ON KHQ: Former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal facing felony theft charges for welfare fraud

    Friday, May 25 2018 2:09 AM EDT2018-05-25 06:09:50 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance. Her potential punishment under RCW 74.08.331 could include up to 15 years in prison.

    >>
  • Mysterious wolf-like creature shot in Montana

    Mysterious wolf-like creature shot in Montana

    Thursday, May 24 2018 7:58 PM EDT2018-05-24 23:58:21 GMT
    Image Courtesy KXLO via KFBBImage Courtesy KXLO via KFBB
    Image Courtesy KXLO via KFBBImage Courtesy KXLO via KFBB

    DENTON, Mont. - A large wolf-like animal was shot and killed May 16 by a rancher near Denton, Montana. It now has wildlife officials and the public wondering what it was, according to KFBB. The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher’s livestock. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said in a statement the rancher shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a 

    >>

    DENTON, Mont. - A large wolf-like animal was shot and killed May 16 by a rancher near Denton, Montana. It now has wildlife officials and the public wondering what it was, according to KFBB. The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher’s livestock. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said in a statement the rancher shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a 

    >>
  • Three men arrested for rape of 14-year-old girl in downtown Spokane apartments

    Three men arrested for rape of 14-year-old girl in downtown Spokane apartments

    Thursday, May 24 2018 6:03 PM EDT2018-05-24 22:03:25 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Three men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of raping a 14-year old girl in a downtown Spokane apartment building. According to court documents obtained by KHQ, the girl ran away from home on April 1 because her parents were fighting. She took the bus to downtown and went to Riverpark Square. That's where she was approached by a man she'd never met before. The girl said he appeared to be high 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Three men were arrested on Wednesday, accused of raping a 14-year old girl in a downtown Spokane apartment building. According to court documents obtained by KHQ, the girl ran away from home on April 1 because her parents were fighting. She took the bus to downtown and went to Riverpark Square. That's where she was approached by a man she'd never met before. The girl said he appeared to be high 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • The Latest: Shooting survivors want more armed security

    The Latest: Shooting survivors want more armed security

    Thursday, May 24 2018 11:42 PM EDT2018-05-25 03:42:37 GMT
    MSNBCMSNBC
    MSNBCMSNBC

    AUSTIN, Tex. (AP) - The Latest on meetings being held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott following the mass shooting at a high school near Houston (all times local): 6:50 p.m. Several students who survived last week's school shooting at a Texas high school told Gov. Greg Abbott they want more armed security and armed teachers to help prevent future attacks. Metal detectors outside schools and better mental health services and counseling were also brought up during the...

    >>

    AUSTIN, Tex. (AP) - The Latest on meetings being held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott following the mass shooting at a high school near Houston (all times local): 6:50 p.m. Several students who survived last week's school shooting at a Texas high school told Gov. Greg Abbott they want more armed security and armed teachers to help prevent future attacks. Metal detectors outside schools and better mental health services and counseling were also brought up during the...

    >>
  • 30-year-old man evicted from parents' New York home must leave by June 1

    30-year-old man evicted from parents' New York home must leave by June 1

    Thursday, May 24 2018 7:37 PM EDT2018-05-24 23:37:51 GMT
    NBC NewsNBC News
    NBC NewsNBC News

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A court order says a 30-year-old upstate New York man who was evicted from his parents' house must move out by noon on June 1. State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood signed the order on Thursday. It sets a hard deadline for Michael Rotondo to peacefully leave his parents' home in Camillus (kuh-MIHL'-us) before county sheriffs can be called in to forcibly remove him. Rotondo had asked for at least 30 days to leave, arguing for a full ...

    >>

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A court order says a 30-year-old upstate New York man who was evicted from his parents' house must move out by noon on June 1. State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood signed the order on Thursday. It sets a hard deadline for Michael Rotondo to peacefully leave his parents' home in Camillus (kuh-MIHL'-us) before county sheriffs can be called in to forcibly remove him. Rotondo had asked for at least 30 days to leave, arguing for a full ...

    >>
  • Missouri teen barred from graduation after school sale prank

    Missouri teen barred from graduation after school sale prank

    Thursday, May 24 2018 7:31 PM EDT2018-05-24 23:31:38 GMT

    INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - An 18-year-old who put his suburban Kansas City high school for sale on Craigslist has been banned from graduation after the senior prank went awry.  The Kansas City Star reports Kylan Scheele listed Truman High School in Independence, Missouri, for the bargain price of $12,275 last week. Problems arose when someone reported the posting as a possible threat because of Scheele's choice of wording.  He wrote that the reason for the sale 

    >>

    INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) - An 18-year-old who put his suburban Kansas City high school for sale on Craigslist has been banned from graduation after the senior prank went awry.  The Kansas City Star reports Kylan Scheele listed Truman High School in Independence, Missouri, for the bargain price of $12,275 last week. Problems arose when someone reported the posting as a possible threat because of Scheele's choice of wording.  He wrote that the reason for the sale 

    >>