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February 20, 2013

Good News: If a Planet-Killing Asteroid Doesn't Get Us, a Subatomic Viral Universe Will

I don't understand the science here but if I understand this right (and I probably don't), the Higgs-Boson, which imparts mass to particles (it's believed), could impart mass to completely different particles. This would in turn create a different "universe" with a different set of rules, which could then infect our own (like a virus) and wipe us all out.

Rather like subatomic Ice-IX.

This idea of mass transference suggests that the universe is not completely stable -- it's actually in a "metastable" state.

"If you use all the physics that we know now, and we do what we think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news," Lykken said, according to NBC. "The universe wants to be in a different state, so eventually to realize that, a little bubble of what you might think of as an alternate universe will appear somewhere, and it will spread out and destroy us."

To be honest, I'm totally guessing on this "Viral Propagation" notion, but the article is way to thin and way too 100,000 foot view for me to do more than guess.

The good news is, that's more than "tens of billions of years off" ... probably.

The bad news is, the emperor of this viral new universe is also Barack Obama, and he's got a plan to insure the everyone in the Thousand Galaxies that he'd like to talk to you about. Turns out, you get to keep your doctor. Now how 'bout that.

Incidentally, you should also fear extremely high velocity cosmic rays.

On October 15, 1991, a high-energy proton from deep space struck Earth's upper atmosphere. Known as the "Oh My God Particle", this proton was by far the highest energy cosmic ray ever seen. This one proton's energy was equivalent to a regulation soccer ball traveling at 15 meters per second (34 miles per hour). In the two decades following, observers spotted several similarly energetic cosmic rays, which left a big question: what was accelerating these protons to higher speeds than anything we can achieve in on Earth?

They think they've proven what they'd hypothesized -- the shockwaves from supernovas (massive stars collapsing and then blowing out their outer layers) sends shockwaves out into the ether (I know there's no ether, shut up) and accelerates hydrogen atoms floating around in interstellar gas.

I don't understand how there are shockwaves in a vacuum but I think what they mean is that the ejected shell of the star becomes the very medium of the "shockwave" and this causes a shock-front when it hits something else (like interstellar gas).

But what I really think is that science is not my strong suit and one of the Commenter-Astronomers will have to sort this out for you below.

via @johnekdahl


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posted by Ace at 11:43 AM

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