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wundayatta's avatar

What's the latest on the future of the universe?

Asked by wundayatta (58357 points ) February 20th, 2013

It seems that new research on the Higgs Boson indicates that they now have a good approximation of what it weighs. 125 Billion electron volts. The significance of that is that the universe may get somewhat unstable in several billion years, and at some point, a new universe will erupt, destroying the existing one at the speed of light.

Could that be how we came into existence from an instability in a prior universe?

Anyway, what do you know about it? What is your speculation about it? What is your reaction?

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21 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Isn’t an electron volt a measure of energy and not mass (even though it can be converted)?

And I can’t believe that the Higgs boson can weigh 125 billion anything.

filmfann's avatar

The expansion of the universe is actually speeding up, and physicists can’t explain it.
The reason is that dark matter is moving through those galaxies, and they are surfing on the dark matter, speeding them up.
I just need about 20 years of school to be able to explain that.

ETpro's avatar

I saw that. It will be sometime after 2015 when the definitive answer is in. The LHC is down till then for major upgrades, and they need to run tens of thousands of additional experiments to nail down that the “Higgs like” boson they have observed really is the Higgs Boson, and then what its exact mass is. But if the initial observations are anywhere near correct, they do lead to the big bounce you mentioned. Refining the numbers just lets us calculate how many billion years we have till the curtain call.

Some form of cyclical Universe seems more likely than the idea that, in the beginning, there was nothing; then it exploded.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@ETpro I don’t really like that way of thinking in regards to our origins. Like yea I can accept our universe being the products of an older universe but then where did that one come from or the one before that and so on. There has to be a first one somewhere doesnt there? Or do you believe the products of our universe or rather the ones that matured to become our universe always existed with no point of creation?

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman It’s an imponderable we are all confounded by. Most of us choose to make believe it doesn’t exist by grasping an even greater imponderable and claiming it fully resolves our conflict.

The “logic” runs like this. “We know all things have a beginning. Therefore the Universe had a beginning, and that beginning was the work of God.”

Well I am sorry, but if all things have to have a beginning, then so does God. Who made Him? Who made his maker, and down the rabbit hole of infinite regression we go.

Or we can take the course, “First there was nothing, then it exploded.”

Where did explosive nothing come from? Who designed this explosive nothing, and the rules of what happens when it blows up? Who made that designer? Who made the guy who made Him? Right back down the rabbit hole of infinite regression we go.

So it we’re going down a rabbit hole anyway, why not pick the one that seems most logical? The Universe is infinitely old and cyclical. It’s no more ridiculous than the absurd things most humans accept with equanimity in order to make the wicked, evil imponderable go away.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Good point I just see most arguements as a cop out. That’s my problem with god arguements as well, ok fine god made this,ok who made god “well he just always was.” Bad answer.

Like I said I have no problem accepting our Universe came from another it’s just the infinite part I have a problem with. But it may be as you said we see everything else as having a begining and end so we assume the same of the universe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kK1YgR7J0g

The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know anything…

ETpro's avatar

@uberbatman I totally love the Douglas Adams clip. How true

It not only may be that “we see everything else as having a begining and end so we assume the same of the universe” but it HAS to be. If the Universe came into existence at some point in time (Time that itself did not exist without a Universe to define it) then there had to be either something or nothing before it, and it (or something that made it) had to be there forever… That’s how our partial understanding runs. It is, simply put, imponderable. It has to work by rules that are beyond our current ability to comprehend. You come to that no matter which cosmology you posit.

Pachy's avatar

I love what @ETpro says, but myself, I’ve mostly given up pondering such imponderables, or at least debating them with others. A waste of my remaining time. What did accomplish today for myself or someone else and what shall I cook for dinner tonight?—now those are questions I can get my teeth into.

ucme's avatar

Uranus is going to expand at an alarming rate, I suggest a good quality buttplug as a matter of urgency.

ETpro's avatar

@ucme That’s because we now know Uranus is a gas giant.

ucme's avatar

@ETpro With a highly volatile/explosive atmosphere…particularly after a curry :-(

Dutchess_III's avatar

Did you know 64 Earths can fit in Uranus? It’s true. My 7 year old grandson told my daughter that. She was hugely pg with twins at the time, and it just left her speechless.

flutherother's avatar

The way I heard it described was that our universe is as unstable as a pencil balancing on its tip. It wouldn’t take much for it to begin to collapse and once started it would be impossible to stop. Maybe we should all start walking on tip toes and talking in whispers.

CWOTUS's avatar

Phew, I’m glad I reread. I thought you said the universe would get unstable within several million years.

ETpro's avatar

@Dutchess_III I did not know that. And I’m not going to test. I’m just going to take your grandson’s word on that.

gasman's avatar

@gailcalled Ever since Einstein’s E=mc^2 (equivalence of mass & energy), we’ve been expressing particle masses in terms of energy units, usually electron-volts (eV). The electron has a mass of half a million eV. The proton has a mass of nearly 1 billion eV.. So it’s not surprising that the Higgs, which is quite massive in relation to other particles, has billions of electron volts of rest mass.

gailcalled's avatar

@gasman: Thanks for the clarification. Doesn’t using a unit that allows for billions of electron volts become cumbersome?

Like continuing to use “light year” units for huge astronomical distances or Astronomical Units when a “parsec” works better?

gasman's avatar

@gailcalled Your point is valid, but evidently we’re stuck with it. I think they just say “GEV” (giga-electron-volts), which is only 3 syllables.

gailcalled's avatar

@gasman: How many EV’s in a Giga?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Enough to get her pregnant I suppose, @gailcalled.

gasman's avatar

giga = 1 billion = 10^9.

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