Could These 2 Dangerous Numbers Indicate The End Of Theoretical Physics?

The 2 dangerous numbers could roil physics

Image credit: ESO/Illustris collaboration


Within the world of physics has emerged a line of thinking which says we may have reached the limit of what we can understand about the Universe through science. The core of this thinking lies in the values of 2 things that are responsible for all the matter and all we know about the Universe. The Universe is diverse and interesting, but according to theoretical physics, there should be nothing.

“The next few years may tell us whether we’ll be able to continue to increase our understanding of nature or whether maybe, for the first time in the history of science, we could be facing questions that we cannot answer,” Says CERN particle physicist Harry Cliff during a recent interesting TED talk in Geneva, which you can view at the end of this article.

If either of these 2 numbers were different, our Universe would be a total void.

The first is a value that represents the strength of what physicists call the Higgs field, an invisible energy field not entirely unlike other magnetic fields that permeates everything all around us. Without it, none of the particles that make up atoms could form.

According to both the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics, which drive our understanding of the cosmos on incredibly large and extremely small scales, the Higgs field should be performing one of two tasks, says Cliff.

Either it should be turned off, meaning it would have a strength value of zero and wouldn’t be working to give particles mass, or it should be turned on, and, as the theory goes, this “on value” is “absolutely enormous,” Cliff says. But neither of those two scenarios are what physicists observe.

“In reality, the Higgs field is just slightly on,” says Cliff. “It’s not zero, but it’s ten thousand trillion times weaker than its fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position. And this value is crucial. If it were a tiny bit different, then there would be no physical structure in the universe.”

Why the strength of the Higgs field is so ridiculously weak defies understanding. Physicists hope to find an answer to this question by detecting brand new particles at the newly-upgraded particle accelerator at CERN.

Source: Business Insider

The  second dangerous number is also as what physicists have called “the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics.”

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  1. Justin Nave said:

    It takes energy to produce energy, at the beginning of our universe the Higgs field you describe was probably more towards full strength, over time that energy has been put into our universes atoms, therefor depleting the higgs field.
    Or much like earths ozone layer being depleted by our harmeful ways, what if the Higgs field is being depleted by bad atoms and particles in the universe.

  2. Beelzebub Jones said:

    There is also the idea that being untestable and relying on assumptions that quasars’ redshift is wholly relativistic, dark energy, unlike the Higgs, remains steadfastly in the realm of uns; unknown, unproven, undiscovered. That so much funding has gone into Lamda-CDM hypothesis, that so many doctorates are invested in this one possibility of the origins and workings of the universe does not make it so. Certainly the Big Bang, inflation and the cold dark spectral sisters present a compelling case but all cosmology is reliant on mathematic abstractions, limited observation and belief, unlike the hard scientific fact; predicted, tested and observed of the Higgs. Cosmologists rely on Particle Physicist for their hypothesis and should be held to some standard of scientific method when touting ideas as Scientific Theory. A current event, the healthy debate regarding Inflation seems to back that up. Discovery of the Higgs and its weakness is truly interesting, like the crazy jumps in the power of the forces each being 10^39 more weak or powerful than the next but these facts do not prove the existence of Dark Energy by association and comparison. There are many parallels between Gandhi and the story of Jesus but we know for certain Gandhi was real. History and science are based on evidence and fact which at best is circumstantial and only implicit regarding Dark Energy. I don’t think we have come to the limit or end of what we can know or discover in science about the universe but that might be the case with the Lamda-CDM hypothesis.