Stephen Hawking: "God particle" could demolish the universe

The physicist warned that under high energy levels, the Higgs boson could collapse space and time

Published September 8, 2014 8:22PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Kimberly White)
(Reuters/Kimberly White)

Professor Stephen Hawking warned that the Higgs boson -- or so-called God particle -- has the potential to destroy the universe, the Sunday Times reported.

In the foreword to the book "Starmus, 50 Years of Man in Space," the theoretical physicist wrote that if accelerated to high energy levels, the Higgs boson could cause space and time to collapse -- and we'd be caught unawares. From the preface:

"The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become megastable at energies above 100bn giga-electron-volts (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."

However, Hawking does not believe that this event will happen in the near future. "A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV would be larger than Earth," Hawking wrote, "and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate."

The Higgs boson was theorized by Dr. Peter Higgs in 1964. In 2012, evidence of Higgs boson was discovered by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Below Dr. Higgs explains the "God particle":

And this video, via the Daily Mail, explains the importance of the 2012 breakthrough. Watch here.



By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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