Sunday, November 6, 2016

Step Aside, SMOD

The discovery a couple of years ago of the Higgs Boson, a particle predicted back in 1964 but not detected until much later, has led to some neat confirmations that help support the Standard Model of physics. This is good.

On the other hand, it's also led to confirmation of some potential dangers associated with what the Higgs Field, created by the boson, might do. One of them is collapse and destroy the entire universe. This is bad.

That said, the headline on Big Think's article on the matter is kind of misleading -- thank goodness. The headline refers to the field's collapse and the subsequent destruction, which is called "vacuum decay" as a "self-destruct button for the universe." This label implies we could actually do something to bring about the catastrophe, when in fact we not only can't, we wouldn't even know it happened.

The reason I say thank goodness is that if this collapse really were a "self-destruct" button we could somehow access, there would be people who might consider triggering it before Tuesday. While most of us, er, them would probably reconsider and figure that neither a Clinton 2.0 or Trump administration actually justified destroying the universe, that light might dawn too late for some and endanger us all.

(The "SMOD" in the title is the acronym for Sweet Meteor of Death, a more limited version of the same concept that merely involves wiping out life or civilization on just our planet, instead of the entire cosmos.)


fillyjonk said...

I'm going to try to be hopeful that there is only one Being that has access to that self-destruct button, and despite everything we've done, He's not used it yet. (My standard comment for these past few years every time some event of Massive Human Selfishness happens is "It's a good thing I'm not God because....")

Friar said...

I have found it to always have been a good thing I am not God ;-)