Date
18 December 2017
Stephen Hawking has some dire predictions about the end of the universe but he also offers hope for mankind. Photo: Bloomberg
Stephen Hawking has some dire predictions about the end of the universe but he also offers hope for mankind. Photo: Bloomberg

What keeps Stephen Hawking up at night

This is rocket science.

And if you’re a big fan of physics or Stephen Hawking, it’s well to remember that this is still in the realm of the unknowable or improbable.

But read on. At least we will know what’s keeping him up at night.

Hawking, the English professor also known as a rock star in quantum physics, is worried that a recently discovered minute particle called Higgs boson will create a field so big it will gobble up the universe.

Also known as God particle (for some unknown reason), it was discovered by scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory on the French-Swiss border, after 40 years of research.

Hawking isn’t waving a cardboard sign proclaiming the end of the world is near.

Instead, he put down the warning in the preface of a new book called Starmus, a collection of lectures by famous scientists and astronomers, according to CNET, a technology and consumer website.  

He wrote: “The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV).”

“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.”

Now, before you, too, start losing sleep over this, Hawking did offer some hope for mankind.

“A particle accelerator that reaches such speeds would be larger than Earth and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate,” he said.

That’s like us traveling to Mars in our lifetime or getting lost in our own home on Google Map.

You’ve been warned.

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RA

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