Gravity May Have Prevented The Premature Collapse Of All Of Reality
New scientific calculations earlier this year predicted that the Higgs particle should have collapsed the entire universe moments after the big bang. It now seems that did not happen because of the influence of gravity.
The discovery of the Higgs in 2012 was a milestone in physics. This is the particle that….screw it, I’m not even going to say what the Higgs does again. I’ve talked about it so much lately, I don’t want to be accused of repeating myself. Anywho……the fact that we discovered the Higgs (or did we) doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot more to learn about it. And learn about it we have. When scientists combined our latest understanding about this particle with other recent discovery about gravity waves and the inflationary universe (which is itself controversial), an astounding prediction leaped out of the new equations. The Higgs particle, when it was created during the exponential inflationary phase of the early universe, should have caused massive instability; enough to cause the entire universe, and our future existence, to collapse back into itself. That woulda been quite a bummer.
How could this happen? Well, according to theory, the Higgs field which permeates the universe, is like a valley with a specific energy. There is another much deeper valley (energy level) the field could reside in but the universe would need one helluva kick in the pants to push it there. The inflation, or cosmic expansion, during this time however should have been just the kick that was needed to push the baby universe over that precipice. Once that happened, the masses that the Higgs imparts to particles would have changed drastically enough for the universe to collapse back whence it came.
This prediction is obviously bonkers since I am clearly here typing away in a still-expanding universe. Scientists thought that either the foundations of this theory were wrong or perhaps the real reason would require physics beyond the Standard Model of physics which explains most of the known particles and forces. New physics would be nice of course but these 2 options may also be just a false dichotomy. A new theory proposes a third option; perhaps already-known physics can explain-away this premature collapse theory. That’s exactly what is being contended by researchers from the Universities of Copenhagen and Helsinki, and the Imperial College of London.
These gentlemen and lady scientists have been examining the last unknown parameter of the Standard Model; the interaction between the Higgs particle and gravity. They modified the Higgs equations to include the effect gravity could have on the Higgs field and determined that even a very minimal interaction could have been enough to stabilize the inflationary vacuum and allow the rampant expansion happening at that time to continue on its merry way.
So this is interesting news but I’m still a bit bummed that we don’t necessarily need to find new physics to explain all this. Then again, we may find that the controversial gravity wave theory I mentioned earlier (which played a hand in this premature collapse theory) may turn out to be completely wrong. That would mean that we don’t even need to explain-away this whole premature collapse nonsense in the first place.
Assuming it’s correct though, precisely determining what this parameter is which describes the interaction between the Higgs field and gravity would be very difficult. We haven’t even found the graviton yet which is the supposed particle that mediates the force of gravity the way a photon mediates the electromagnetic force. We still may be able to learn what this parameter is however by minutely examining current and future cosmological data to shed some light on how the Higgs and Gravity play together. Once we do that we’ll finally have the last unknown number in the Standard Model of physics.
Maybe then this will finally point the way to new physics to build another new model around.