It seems that Dr. Hawking has a lot to say about the scientific discovery of Higgs Boson. His statement that this discovery made physics more boring, has been followed by a rather ominous statement that this discovery in the wrong hands could prove fatal and destroy the universe.
Hawking explains his statement in his new book labeled “Starmus”. He depicts that the energy potential of the boson is vital at such a level as the one needed for the cosmos to collide. The particle is suspected to be unstable and capable of decay. As he puts it, the potential of Higgs Boson may become metastable at energies above 100bn GeV. That much power potential presents an imminent danger of ending time at any time which will be sooner rather than later.
The positive side of his statement is that the particle accelerator required to reach the 100bn GeV mark, would be bigger in size than Earth itself, and he could not see such a project funded for the near future.
His thoughts continue to say that at that power potential, the universe could undergo a catastrophic vacuum decay. This would happen in the form of a vacuum bubble that would expand at the speed of light and the world would not be able to see it coming. He concluded his statement by saying that the danger is too great to be overlooked.
The response to this statement came by theoretical physicist Matt Strassler, who says that Hawking makes a lot of assumptions about things that at this stage are actually impossible.
According to Dr. Strassler, Higgs boson:
a) Is difficult to even create (it takes a trillion proton-proton collisions at the Hadron Collider to produce one).
b) Has a very brief period of life as it breaks down to other particles before the light travels from one side of an atom to the other.
c) There would be only one very remote chance of a problem to occur, if and only if the Higgs field, which governs this entire proposition, is somehow turned off. If this ever happens, then the electrons would become massless and disappear into space. But the energy required to turn a Higgs field off is equivalent to a supernova, and, as Dr. Strassler puts it, there is no one that has a supernova in their back pockets, and if someone did, the world would have to worry about other problems than the destabilization of the universe.
d) Hawking’s theory is valid if instead of turning the Higgs field off, someone would turn it up, much in the same way as someone turns up the volume of a stereo, blowing up the speakers. Atoms would then violently collapse. But the energy requirement to do that is as staggering as the energy required to turn the Higgs field off.
Dr. Strassler confronts Hawking on the following assumptions:
a) The Higgs boson is the only boson that affect the Higgs field. Recently there have been news that a “cousin” boson was also discovered.
b) There are no other forces that could influence the Higgs field
c) The entire process would happen in such a speed that the world would not be able to react. In order for the vacuum bubble to expand and consume everything in its path, it would require two steps. First the formation of an amplified Higgs field and the creation of the bubble, and then the expansion of the bubble.
If these assumptions are even slightly off, meaning that there do exist similar bosons, and there are other forces in action, then the calculations are also off and the result could be entirely different. It is also possible that Hawking may not be wrong if the method he used for his calculations is not accurate enough to provide an accurate answer. Dr. Strassler concludes that the possibility of things happening as Hawking predicted is, as he put it, ridiculously tiny.
Observing closely Dr Strassler’s response, it does not categorically deny the possibility that what Stephen Hawking says can happen. It gives reasons of why it is improbable. Not that it is impossible. As other scientists have repeatedly put it, impossible just takes a little longer. And no one can discredit and dismiss that easily, a scientific observation made by someone who singlehandedly has taken our entire science to different levels.
Dr. Hawking may be wrong now. That does not mean that there is no one trying to do what he says. History is full of proof that even the most extreme of science fiction movies, is not even close to reality. So who is to say that there is not a deranged scientist somewhere who tries to generate the necessary power requirements to achieve a power potential that would bring the entire world to his knees? Who is to say that miniaturization has not produced the necessary technology to construct smaller and more powerful particle accelerators than the Hadron Collider?
It is easy to dismiss an ominous warning based on today’s facts. Can you dismiss it based on tomorrow’s? Wasn’t it an explosive’s expert that said that the atom bomb would never go off? (Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project). The last comment Hawking made is not to be disregarded. The danger is too great to be overlooked.
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