Forget asteroids and global warming, because new findings from Europe's Large Hadron Collider suggest that the end of the world may be more abrupt than you'd think.
As NBC News reports, the proposed doomsday scenario rests upon a particle believed to be the Higgs boson — the so-called "God particle" that CERN scientists discovered last summer. Scientists are still reluctant to confirm that the particle is indeed the elusive Higgs boson, a particle believed to give other subatomic particles their mass, though early results show that it fits all the requirements. According to a theoretician at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, these findings may also provide clues about how the universe will meet its end.
"an alternate universe will appear somewhere, and it will spread out and destroy us."
Speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston yesterday, theoretical physicist Joseph Lykken said that the mass of the Higgs-like particle, when coupled with existing data on other subatomic particles, suggest that our universe is currently in an unstable state, and that it will eventually be swallowed by another alternate universe.
"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."
"The universe wants to be in a different state, so eventually to realize that, a little bubble of what you might think of as an alternate universe will appear somewhere, and it will spread out and destroy us."
"We are still safe for billions of years."
This scenario has long been a subject of scientific debate, though the Higgs boson's mass (about 126 billion electron volts) lends the theory new weight. The good news, however, is that such a catastrophe would unfold at the speed of light, meaning that any life forms still around at that time won't even see it coming. And although theory suggests that the event could happen at any moment, it would likely unfurl far away from us, giving the universe plenty of breathing room.
"The bubble forms through an unlikely quantum fluctuation, at a random time and place," Lykken told NPR. "So in principle it could happen tomorrow, but then most likely in a very distant galaxy, so we are still safe for billions of years before it gets to us."