Recommended Blogs – Matt Strassler – Will the Higgs Boson Destroy the Universe???

This weeks recommended blog is called  ‘Of Particular Significance – Conversations About Science with Theoretical Physicist Matt Strassler’. Matt until recently was a professor at Rugers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His blog is amazing and you could spend all day on there clicking on the different posts. If you are interested in physics, especially particle physics you will love this blog. The post we have chosen asks the question ‘will the Higgs Boson destroy the Universe? – Deskarati

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No.       The Higgs boson is not dangerous and will not destroy the universe.

The Higgs boson is a type of particle, a little ripple in the Higgs field. This lowly particle, if you’re lucky enough to make one (and at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, only one in a trillion proton-proton collisions actually does so) has a brief life, disintegrating to other particles in less than the time that it takes light to cross from one side of an atom to another. (Recall that light can travel from the Earth to the Moon in under two seconds.) Such a fragile creature is hardly more dangerous than a mayfly.

If a Higgs particle is produced in a proton-proton collision, an LHC detector might infer what you see here. The two red blobs indicate deposits of energy left by particles of light (photons) that are the remnants of the disintegrating Higgs.

If a Higgs particle is produced in a proton-proton collision, an LHC detector might infer what you see here. The two red blobs indicate deposits of energy left by particles of light (photons) that are the remnants of the disintegrating Higgs.

Anyone who says otherwise probably read Hawking’s book (or read about it in the press) but didn’t understand what he or she was reading, perhaps because he or she had not read the Higgs FAQ.

If you want to worry about something Higgs-related, you can try to worry about the Higgs field, which is “ON” in our universe, though not nearly as “on” as it could be. If someone were to turn the Higgs field OFF, let’s say as a practical joke, that would be a disaster: all ordinary matter across the universe would explode, because the electrons on the outskirts of atoms would lose their mass and fly off into space. This is not something to worry about, however. We know it would require an input of energy and can’t happen spontaneously.  Moreover, the amount of energy required to artificially turn the Higgs field off is immense; to do so even in a small room would require energy comparable to that of a typical supernova, an explosion of a star that can outshine an entire galaxy and releases the vast majority of its energy in unseen neutrinos. No one, fortunately, has a supernova in his or her back pocket. And if someone did, we’d have more immediate problems than worrying about someone wasting a supernova trying to turn off the Higgs field in a basement somewhere. Edited from Will the Higgs Boson Destroy the Universe??? | Of Particular Significance.

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