A collision in the LHC’s CMS detector. Research.gov

Finding the Higgs? Good news. Finding its mass? Not so good.

“Fireballs of doom” from a quantum phase change would wipe out present Universe.

by John Timmer – Feb 19 2013, 6:55pm EST

Ohio State’s Christopher Hill joked he was showing scenes of an impending i-Product launch, and it was easy to believe him: young people were setting up mats in a hallway, ready to spend the night to secure a space in line for the big reveal. Except the date was July 3 and the location was CERN—where the discovery of the Higgs boson would be announced the next day.

It’s clear the LHC worked as intended and has definitively identified a Higgs-like particle. Hill put the chance of the ATLAS detector having registered a statistical fluke at less than 10^-11, and he noted that wasn’t even considering the data generated by its partner, the CMS detector. But is it really the one-and-only Higgs and, if so, what does that mean? Hill was part of a panel that discussed those questions at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As theorist Joe Lykken of Fermilab pointed out, the answers matter. If current results hold up, they indicate the Universe is currently inhabiting what’s called a false quantum vacuum. If it were ever to reach the real one, its existing structures (including us), would go away in what Lykken called “fireballs of doom.”

We’ll look at the less depressing stuff first, shall we?

Read more: Finding the Higgs? Good news. Finding its mass? Not so good. | Ars Technica.

Home           Top of page