Based on a new cosmological theory, we-our planet, our solar system, our entire universe-should not exist.
Researchers are trying to understand what some astronomical theories mean in light of the latest Higgs-boson discovery. The conclusion they drew is that, if all the theories proved to be true, we are a massive impossibility according to the present models of particle physics and the beginnings of our universe. While not a comforting thought, it's certainly intriguing one.
Cosmologists from King's College London (KCL) coupled recent observations made with a telescope at the South Pole called the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, or BICEP2, to the current understanding of the Higgs particle.
As per the Higgs model, our universe is in an evenly distributed energy valley called the Higgs field, which is responsible for allowing particles to have mass. This theory became quite real when, in 2012, scientists discovered the Higgs-boson particle with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Measuring the particle gave physicists evidence of the Higgs field.
There is another valley besides our Higgs field, however, that is deeper and darker and threatens the very existence of our universe. According to the standard cosmological model, our universe doesn't fall into this valley because of a large energy barrier.
Latest observations made by the BICEP2 telescope produced strong evidence in support of another theory, cosmic inflation. This theory states that when the universe was exploded into being during the Big Bang, it rapidly expanded at an accelerating rate, and is still expanding today. Such accelerated inflation would create fluctuations in the background microwave radiation produced by the Big Bang. The BICEP2 collaboration reported seeing these fluctuations, thereby confirming cosmic inflation. Sounds like good news.
Apparently not, says Robert Hogan, PhD candidate at KCL and lead author of the study published in Physical Review Letters. Recreating a scenario with cosmic inflation and Higgs boson mass, Hogan and his colleague Malcolm Fairbairn found that the young universe would have undergone a tremendous amount of quantum fluctuation, or jolts in the energy field. These jolts would have been so strong that they would have pushed the universe into the other valley, where it would have been consumed in its entirety and ceased to exist.
Clearly that didn't happen.
"This is an unacceptable prediction of the theory because if this had happened we wouldn't be around to discuss it," says Hogan in a press release by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). He announced his findings at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting on June 24.
Researchers in the BICEP2 collaboration reported possible noise in their data, as the fluctuations they saw could have also been the result of cosmic dust clouding the images. The collaboration admitted that their results might be misleading. If so, Hogan's predictions and the resulting confusion is nothing to lose sweat over. If the BICEP2's observations were accurate though, physicists will have to find some new form of particle physics to explain, well, us.