科技头条20131216

The universe could be about to collapse and everything in it - including us - will be compressed into a small, hard ball.

The process may already have started somewhere in our cosmos and is eating away at the rest of the universe, according to theoretical physicists.

The mind-bending concept has been around for a while, but now researchers in Denmark claim they have proven it is possible with mathematical equations.

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According to something known as the Higgs theory, a phase transition such as this took place one tenth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, causing a shift in the fabric of space-time.

During this transition, empty space became filled with an invisible substance that we now call the Higgs field.

Some elementary particles interact with this field, gaining energy in the process, and this intrinsic energy is known as the mass of a particle.

By using mathematical equations, researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have discovered that the Higgs field could exist in two states, just like matter can exist as a liquid or a solid.

In the second state, the Higgs field is billions of times denser than what scientists have already observed.

If this ultra-dense Higgs field exists, then a 'bubble' of this state could suddenly appear in a certain place of the universe at anytime, similar to when you boil water.

The bubble would then expand at the speed of light, entering all space, and turning the Higgs field from the state it is in now into a new one.

All elementary particles inside the bubble will reach a mass much heavier than if they were outside the bubble, and they would be pulled together to form supermassive centres.

‘Many theories and calculations predict such a phase transition– but there have been some uncertainties in the previous calculations,’ said Jens Krog, PhD student at University of Southern Denmark.

‘Now we have performed more precise calculations, and we see two things: Yes, the universe will probably collapse, and: A collapse is even more likely than the old calculations predicted.’

 

‘The phase transition will start somewhere in the universe and spread from there. Maybe the collapse has already started somewhere in the universe and right now it is eating its way into the rest of the universe.

'Maybe a collapse is starting right now right here. Or maybe it will start far away from here in a billion years. We do not know.’

The researchers looked at three main equations that underlie the prediction of a phase transition and showed how these equations can be worked out together and interact with each other.

Although the new calculations predict that a collapse is now more likely than ever before, it is also possible, that it will not happen at all.

It is a prerequisite for the phase change that the universe consists of the elementary particles that we know today, including the Higgs particle.

If the universe contains undiscovered particles, the whole basis for the prediction of phase change would prove false.


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