The discovery of what scientists believe to be the Higgs boson was announced on July 4, 2012. The long-elusive particle, which may help explain why objects in our universe have mass, was heralded as one of the greatest scientific discoveries in recent years. Peter Higgs and Francois Englert even won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013 for their work on the Higgs boson. But not everyone sees the promise of the so-called God particle.
Famous physicist Stephen Hawking has some grave warnings about the Higgs boson in the preface to his new book "Starmus." The God particle has the potential to become unstable and destroy the universe, Hawking wrote.
"The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV)," Hawking wrote. "This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming."
Well that's downright terrifying, don't you think? Does that mean we should all just hide under our desks in a fetal position and wait for the end to come? Probably not.
Hawking also noted that a particle accelerator that could produce 100 billion GeV would have to be larger than Earth, which "is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate." Phew, that's a relief. This is probably the only time you actually want governments to be stingy, am I right?
Although he wasn't involved in the discovery, Hawking has some history with the Higgs boson. He lost a $100 bet with physicist Gordon Kane at the University of Michigan when the news of the Higgs boson's discovery was announced. He had bet against the particle being found, telling the BBC, "it is a pity in a way because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn't expect."
The legendary physicist will continue to make headlines this fall as his biopic "The Theory of Everything" opens on Nov. 7. Based on the memoir "Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen" by Hawking's ex-wife Jane Hawking, the film is already getting a lot of positive buzz after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7. Eddie Redmayne, who portrays Hawking in the film, has also emerged as a frontrunner for a "Best Actor" nomination at this year's Academy Awards.
Well at least there's a bright side to all of this: We've got a good movie to watch before the world ends.