Ms. S. Sodhi
Millfield School, Street, Somerset County, England, UK
The Higgs Field is an invisible energy field present throughout the universe which gives mass to particles that interact with it . And the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012 signals the existence of this field which is very important to the Standard Model Of Physics (known rules of particle physics that scientists believe govern the basic building blocks of matter) .
Now that scientists have measured the mass of this particle, they can make many calculations, including the calculation for the end of the universe .
The Higgs Boson is approximately 126 billion electron volts – this is the precise mass needed to keep the universe on the brink of instability . Indicating that the Higgs Field (created at the birth of the universe and acting as its own source of energy ) is at a metaphysical state , one that is at a low potential energy state but not the lowest potential energy state therefore not completely stable but jut stable for now . It is stuck in a false vacuum state of energy but has not yet reached its actual vacuum state . Theoretical physicists are worried that when it does drop down to its actual vacuum state its potential might become metastable at energies above 100 billion GeV which could cause the universe to undergo Vacuum Decay . Vacuum decay will be a ‘bubble’ of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light throughout the universe . The Higgs Field inside this bubble will be stronger and have a lower energy level than its surroundings and it will shrink atoms , disintegrate atomic nuclei , and turn everything into hydrogen .
However , huge amount of energy is required to push the Higgs Field from its false vacuum state to its real vacuum state . But quantum fluctuations or black hole fluctuations that occasionally take place in our universe and are known to create particle mass can provide an energy change and trigger a process called ‘quantum tunnelling’ . This will allow the Higgs Field to drop down to its vacuum state with requiring much lower energy push than it did creating a bubble and ending our existence.
The calculations using the Standard Physics we know about tells us that we are at the edge between a stable universe and an unstable universe . But our calculations do not take Dark Matter and Supersymmetry into account .
The existence of invisible Dark Matter that makes up 27% of the universe might be the answer to our problems . Maybe due to Dark Matter the mass of the boson is fluctuated creating a complete stable state for the Higgs Field , actually creating this false vacuum its real vacuum state . How it interacts with the boson and the field might change their stable energy state by either fluctuating the mass of the boson or creating a different mass of its own effecting the mass of the boson or by bringing the Higgs field real vacuum state at a higher energy level . Discovering how Dark Matter interacts with the rest of the universe could reveal the rules of physics we have yet to unfold . Unfortunately some believe that it does not exist . But Dark energy is felt in the universe with its gravitational effects of interaction with other particles that have been detected . In the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) the mass of these particles is too low to be actually detected by its effect on particles with larger masses.
The other superhero – Supersymmetry may be the protector of the universe . It is a theory that suggests that every particle has its own supersymmetric partner particle . Maybe the Higgs Boson has a twin and its existence may help stabilise the universe . Maybe due to annihilation of the Higgs Boson by its supersymmetric partner particle helps produce energy which interacts with the Higgs Field , again bringing its real vacuum state to the field rather the other way around , creating a new stable minimum real vacuum state . Or because of the existence of them both creates a higher or lower energy state for the Higgs Field keeping it longer at its current stability by producing an optimal balance of field strength and energy required to maintain that strength – maybe permanently . However , supersymmetry has failed us time and time again . If it does exist, then the lightest super-partners should definitely be accessible by the LHC. The fact that it hasn’t found any, thus far, is enough to eliminate virtually all models of it that solve the very problem it was designed to solve. For this reason and for many others including about how strong forces may not unify with other forces , this has been discovered on a log-log scale and its claim that Dark Matter is made up of the lowest mass super-symmetrical particles should have been proved by detection and annihilation of each other in every way . Supersymmetry is still very improperly understood in the physics we know today .
In another theory, after discovering the Higgs boson’s mass, physicists calculated that the Higgs Boson could have destroyed the universe shortly after it was born which could have caused the universe to collapse right after the Big Bang . But gravity, a force of attraction that exists between any two masses, any two bodies, any two particles, might have prevented this from taking place .
This is because the Higgs particles attract each other at high energies , these energies have to be extremely high . Right after the Big Bang, there was easily enough energy for the Higgs Bosons to attract each other which could have led the early universe to contract not expand . The existing theories could not explain how the universe did not contact back again except for gravity . The early universe was extremely dense because it was still expanding . Hence space and time was greatly curved then. And calculations revealed that when space and time are greatly curved then the Higgs Boson increases in mass. Raising the amount of energy needed to make the Higgs particles attract each other , preventing any instability causing the death of the universe . Using the cosmic microwave background radiation left over from the Big Bang revealed that interaction between the Higgs Field and gravity played a major role in the early universe . Hence, maybe again when the Higgs field is considered to be at a brink of instability, its interaction with gravity can perhaps slow its ‘roll down’ to its real vacuum state , preventing the bubble to exist .
But the process of this ‘Vacuum Decay’ by getting into a new lower state of energy requires an immense amount of energy and if the universe was going to fall to that lower energy state it would have done that in the very early universe which was the most energetic time and the Higgs Field would have no reason to be in that metaphysical state . The energy from the inflation of the Big Bang should have pushed the Higgs Field into the other vacuum in a fraction of a second . Further experiments might show that the universe is more stable than previously thought .
In conclusion , the Higgs field potential is what governs the vacuum state we are in and we can transition and drop down further but there are many factors at play which we either know incompletely about or do not know exist at all . Maybe supersymmetry or dark matter or gravity may save us from the wrath of the vacuum decay . Or perhaps the ‘vacuum decay’ we are all dreading will never take place. Either way , a complete lack of understanding often precedes a scientific revolution.