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Higgs Boson predicts the end, optism is still viable

Staff Reporter

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 01:02

Taylor Likens | The Houstonian

Taylor Likens | The Houstonian

Science has brought us many fine things. Among them: nuclear weapons, sexual enhancement, and the Umbrella Corporation. Even if we don’t always understand what they’re getting at, the general public at least tries to act excited when our best and brightest churns out some new knowledge. Last year when the Higgs Boson was discovered, Science gave itself a well-earned pat on the back, despite the fact that this was most certainly one of those moments.

So why is it important? Abridged, the Higgs Boson basically proves the existence of the Higgs Field, a sort of invisible net that gives particles mass. Recently, however, in a complicated way that can probably only be explained with lots of numbers and five dollar words, physicists skimming through some of the math behind the Higgs Boson have stumbled upon some interesting fine print. Very predictably this has something to do with the end of the universe.

As physicist Joseph Lykken explains it, "many tens of billions of years from now, there’ll be a catastrophe. A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative’ universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us."

It has been brought to my attention that the threat of cosmic destruction may make some of you uncomfortable. Most of you, even. Funny, because this is hands down one of the least terrifying things Science has ever told us.

Since the dawn of man, people have speculated about the end of the world. Thus far none of them have been correct- as anyone who has walked into a pole within the past few months can testify- but that never took away the fun of guessing. Revelations ranted about it, the Mayan calendar had its take on it, and REM wrote a horrific, repetitive song about it. Modern science is no exception, and has a handful of commonly accepted ideas about how things will inevitably come crashing down on us.

If you happen to have a moment, and nothing better to ruin your day with, pull up a chair and enjoy a few of them.

The Big Crunch: Insecure about its increasing size, the universe adopts a new diet plan. All matter in the universe crunches down into a single dense space. Forever and ever. The end.

The Big Rip: The increasing density of dark matter accelerates universal expansion to the breaking point, destroying the universe in a manner that is in no way intended to sound racist.

Heat Death: All stars in the universe inevitably die out, with all warmth and energy slowly fading from existence as the universe gradually lulls into its ultimate fate- an infinite era of cold, lifeless darkness. Forever and ever. The end.

You’ve probably already noticed the common denominator; these sound less like scientific predictions and more like HP Lovecraft’s personal collection of bedtime stories. But therein lays the point.

Compared to pretty much every other prediction for the end-all fate of the universe, these newest findings might as well suggest that the universe will eventually transform into Candyland. Though perhaps not the most convincing argument against your species’ worries about annihilation, consider that in this particular endgame there is at least a universe to be had. If there were ever a more annoying time to adopt a "well, at least the glass is half full" policy, this would be it, but at the very least you might lose a little bit less sleep at night.

Frankly, I couldn’t care less about the destruction of our own universe so long as something else gets to take its place. Beats the hell out of Heat Death.

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