back to article Higgs data shows alternate reality will SWALLOW UNIVERSE

That Higgs Boson we all got excited about last year because it would reveal the mysteries of the universe? One boffin now says his analysis of the data suggests the Higgs is, in fact, an obituary for the universe. Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston yesterday, Joseph Lykken of …

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  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Alert

    If it takes place at the speed of light, we won't see it coming.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      And I don't see why the hell we wouldn't just step over into the oncoming alternate universe when the time comes. Like passing between the passenger car and the dining car on the train?

      "Oh good, look - the dessert universe is here. Let's everyone step on over and get some cake and cookies and a cup of tea now."

      1. g e
        Joke

        @Andy 'step over' Prough

        Have you actually played Half-Life???

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon

        " Let's everyone step on over and get some cake and cookies and a cup of tea now."

        Except it's a Universe where the common basis for life is lead, not carbon :)

        1. TheRealRoland
          Thumb Up

          lead-based life forms

          That will make the gun-crazies happy :-)

      3. Adam Nealis

        The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

        I think.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

          cool, maybe pi will be an integer! so much neater :-)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

            You could always try working on a different number base that would make pi expressible in just a few digits.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

              "You could always try working on a different number base that would make pi expressible in just a few digits."

              Pi is an irrational number (i.e. a real number that cannot be expressed as a fraction), so the only way to do that would be a base-pi number system, which would make every single other number irrational instead. Not an improvement...

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. relpy

                Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                "Pi is an irrational number..."

                How quaintly Euclidean...

                1. Frumious Bandersnatch
                  Black Helicopters

                  Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                  re: How quaintly Euclidean...

                  I see what you're trying to do, but any of these "alternative universe" theories are rooted in maths. Even if they exist, there will be no universe where 2+2 = 4.1 or Pi isn't both a constant and an irrational number. The fundamental rules describing the geometry of alternative universes has to be the same as ours according to all the theories. The most likely scenario is that physical constants like ratios of fundamental forces or binding energies needed for chemical bonds or decay rates or the like could be subtly different, though it's vaguely possible (in a mathematical sense) that if a particular string theory happens to describe the Whole Sort of General Mishmash that is the multiverse, and the alternative universe has slightly different parameters, then we might actually be able to see extra dimensions there on a macroscopic scale. That would probably be the weirdest possibility. Even so, the metric spaces of our universe would also apply there, so Euclidean distance would still apply on some scales while a Minkowski space metric (which still requires Pi!) would be more natural in others.

                  I see that a previous poster got a downvote for suggesting alternative lead-based lifeforms. You'd have to tweak the fundamental physical constants by a massive amount before that would even be a remote possibility. Before you'd even managed to get there, you'd find that the stars had gone out due to not being able to self-sustain their fusion reaction. Then we'd have a lot more to worry about than alien invaders. Something like Ice-9 would be a lot more plausible than Pb-based life.

                  1. relpy
                    Pint

                    Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                    @ Frumious Bandersnatch

                    There's no requirement for any universe that the ratio of the circumference of the diamter of a circle to its radius will be either irrational, transcendental, or constant. In fact we live in one where this is not the case. But yeah okay, I'm trying to be cute and possibly not doing it very well.

                    As an aside I'm not sure any of these theories "require" "Pi" as such. In fact I think that may ultimately be a circular argument. Rather I suggest that the formulation of mathematics that we have chosen happens to use Pi amongst other values as a fundamental constant. There are other, equally valid, mathematics - some axiomatically different, others possibly merely different formulations of the same underlying maths. No doubt each of these would have an equivalent value in the place of Pi - possibly to re-inject the irrationality as it were - but you hopefully get the point. Essentially, if we lived in a less locally Euclidean space would our trigonometry use Pi = 3.14... and then what would our maths look like? But does it matter or make an actual difference - not really no!

                    As another aside - ref your comment on the Pb based life forms - if the universe was so structured we'd have nothing whatsoever to worry about. This is not why the universe is structure the way it is, but it is one of the reasons we get to make fatuous comments on it :-)

                    Beer, it's a half. And it's cute. Even if I'm not.

                    1. Frumious Bandersnatch

                      Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                      Don't get me wrong... it was a fine attempt at making a joke, and I'm all for that, but the part of me that holds maths in such amazement(*) just flat out refuses to even consider Pi being some other value, even in an alternative universe. I literally just doesn't compute. A universe where e**(pi*i) isn't -1 is as unimaginable as one in which effects precede their causes or don't have causes at all, or where entropy doesn't grind everything down. Besides, even "non-Euclidean" geometries (eg, geometries without the parallel postulate) don't mean that they don't use and need Pi. If you take a plane journey through three points on the globe, the triangle you trace out has >180 degrees, so it's non-Euclidean, but it's obvious that if you go up a dimension from the 2-D Cartesian representation to the earth as a 3d sphere that everything still works and revolves around Pi ...

                      (*) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unreasonable_Effectiveness_of_Mathematics_in_the_Natural_Sciences

                      1. relpy
                        Pint

                        Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                        okay so you're right in as much as if you choose to base your maths on a euclidean geometry then euclidean rules apply. the point is that yu don't need to do that. that however comes with repercussions.

                        I can't imagine a formuation of geometry / maths in general that doesn't require irrational numbers - in fact I don't think the idea makes sense, so ultimately all I'm really doing is arguing over whether we call the the fudge factor that converts our non-euclidean view to euclidean and back "Pi" - and this is a possible conversion even if we might choose not to do it.

                        sadly i lost my love and wonder of maths somewhere in my first year :-(

                        unlike beer :-)

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                      As it happens we don't live in Euclidean space ... we just live in a universe that can be (mostly) explained by Euclidean mathematics. Maths as you might not have guessed isn't real, it doesn't actually exist.

                      That aside, alternative universes are all very mind games and fun, but we really have no reliable evidence to suggest that the universe we know isn't the only possible universe ... sure the next one doesn't have to be carbon based ... but that doesn't make a circle any different than the circle we know!

                      More likely, this bubble will look like to those on the inside, some 13 billion years later, to be very much like what we call the big bang. The possibility of surviving the moving will be zero.

              3. gromm

                Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                "the only way to do that would be a base-pi number system, which would make every single other number irrational instead. Not an improvement..."

                Yes, I remember that bit of Pre-calculus class. A royal pain, if you ask me.

                1. sisk
                  Joke

                  Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                  the only way to do that would be a base-pi number system

                  I took a class in base pi systems once. I gained 10lbs.

              4. scarshapedstar
                Boffin

                Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

                To your limited perception.

            2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

              Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

              "You could always try working on a different number base that would make pi expressible in just a few digits."

              Radians?

          2. beep54
            Facepalm

            Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

            "cool, maybe pi will be an integer! so much neater :-)"

            Damn! Now you've got me wondering if there is some topological space where that is true.

        2. Alex C
          Thumb Up

          Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

          One school of thought says that this happened on 21st Dec last year, and that nobody has noticed. Yet.

          I'm quite looking forward to the game...

          http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/shadowrun-returns

        3. Shaha Alam

          Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

          or the alternative universe may not be different enough that it matters in day to day life.

          alternative universes don't have to be completely different. they can be mildly different as well.

        4. sisk

          Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

          Neat idea from a sci-fi/fantasy novel I read once (Starshield or some such....I forget exactly):

          The (very unrealistic) setting in that novel has laws of physics that aren't constant across the universe. Earth had, about 10,000 years ago, drifted from one physics zone (which was based on magic) to another (with the laws of physics as we know them) and humanity's days of living in a different set of the laws of physics are the basis for many legends of powerful wizards and dragons and such. What I found most interesting about it was that a species leaving their home planet for the first time will invariably assume that the laws of physics are constant right up until their engines stop working because the laws of physics have suddenly changed.

          Of course it's all fiction, but it makes for a fun thought experiment, especially in light of this 'alternate universe is going to eat us' thing.

        5. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

          You mean there may be an alternate universe where Eadon is an MS fanboi?

          Surely that's impossible!

          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

              Have an upvote for a change, for... well, being a sport :-)

          2. RyokuMas Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

            SENSE OF HUMOUR FAIL!!!

      4. Naughtyhorse
        Happy

        :-D

        And we can practice this by standing in a falling elevator and stepping off _just_ before it hits the ground!

        1. larokus

          Re: :-D

          technically elevators do not 'fall' as you and Hollywood have proposed unless the many multiple safety factored cables were to be cut, as the counter weight is in fact considerably heavier than the elevator itself. If the brakes and stopping systems were to completely fail the elevator would in fact shoot upwards at breakneck speed. I admit though that jumping out to the alternate universe of steady ground would still prove hazardous.

          as an aside and back to topic, sounds like I have plenty of time to buy more sweet sweet tech devices and bust plenty of nuts all over my hot girlfriend before we are completely wiped out so frankly dear i don't give a damn

      5. SirDigalot

        however, as we all know

        the cake is a lie...

        1. cordwainer 1
          Unhappy

          Re: however, as we all know

          No, the cake WAS true.

          But someone left it out in the rain. Now we'll never have the recipe again. Hélas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The end will be nigh when Linux on the desktop is successful....

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Coat

        The end will be nigh...

        When the Cubs win the World Series.

        (I expect Linux to have taken over the desktop long before then...)

      2. Wzrd1

        Not quite true. Linux on the desktop for the masses, perhaps. Though, I suspect it'll have a critical mass effect that builds until the majority accept it.

    3. Ged T
      Coat

      but then....

      "...[the] event won't happen for billions of years and will take place at the speed of light, giving those of us far away from the event some time in which to put our affairs in order."

      Did any of you notice that weird LHC sig...

    4. Wzrd1

      I'd have said, it wasn't worth seeing.

      Yet another false vacuum metastability argument. Fallibly provided in the extreme.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Billions of years

      Given that the universe is billions of light years large then chances are it's already happened. It'll just take time to get here.

    6. Gav
      Boffin

      why not now?

      And even if we could see it coming, what would we do? The article suggest we'd "put our affairs in order", I more expect that our affairs would go it quite the opposite direction.

      What isn't explained here is why he is so confident it won't happen for billions of years. What's stopping it happen now?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moot

    Humanity won't last another millenium, let alone a billion (or several) years.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Moot

      Why troll? Your comment will last even less.

      1. cordwainer 1
        Thumb Down

        Re: Moot

        How is a statement of probable fact "trolling"? Humanity, sadly, doesn't seem to be overcoming its tendency toward mass violence, or the bigotry inherent in the "us vs. them" fear-based struggle for survival. I certainly hope DAM is wrong, but he's hardly the first to point out we're rapidly running out of sufficient resources for an ever-increasing population. . . and, as a species, unwilling to work together to share those we have.

    2. P. Lee
      Mushroom

      Re: Moot

      > Humanity won't last another millenium, let alone a billion (or several) years.

      Most of us won't last another 70 years.

      And this is a potential problem with a particle we made up because our laws of physics don't appear to apply to what we can observe, right?

      1. cortland

        Re: Moot

        Hey; we used epicycles until something better came along. With rubber [tyres].

    3. mike2R

      Re: Moot

      [citation needed]

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Moot

      "Humanity won't last another millenium, let alone a billion (or several) years"

      Name me a millenium gone by when people have not generally thought that and been wrong, proven by our ability to make this observation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moot

        "Ultimately, all human endevour is wasted" - Yogi Berra?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moot

        I'd suggest that for the majority of mankind's existence they didn't even think in such 'global' terms and on a localised scale more than enough 'tribes/cultures/societies' really have been wiped from the face of the earth ... however in relatively modern times where humanity has been dominated by linear religions that welcome the end of the world ... such idiots have been proven wrong time and time again ... however, they weren't looking for the rational end of the world they were of course expecting God to step in and end it! Hence they were looking in all the wrong places for the end!

  3. Ketlan
    Meh

    Oh, well...

    'It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable and at some point billions of years from now it's all going to get wiped out'

    Time for a cup of tea first, then.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Oh, well...

      And perhaps another bath.

      You're never alone with a rubber duck.

      1. Skizz

        Re: Oh, well...

        And just enough time to sanitize your telephone too. Or make a documentary about the trials of living with impending doom!

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Oh, well...

          it could be that this is the adequate explaination for the thing with the moon

          1. Frumious Bandersnatch

            Re: Oh, well...

            re: it could be that this is the adequate explaination for the thing with the moon

            Been reading 1Q84 then?

    2. scrubber
      Pint

      Re: Oh, well...

      Or 3 pints of bitter and 2 packets of peanuts?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: Oh, well...

        I feel a poem about snot coming on...

      2. I think so I am?
        Thumb Up

        Re: Oh, well...

        Must not forget your towel as well.

  4. Rampant Spaniel

    Will the bubble have rounded corners? Only Apple's lawyers can save us!

    1. Pypes
      Angel

      Like all none apple products it will have an infinite number of perfectly flat corners.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        iUniverse 2.0?

        1. larokus

          ---> @ iuniverse2.0

          filled with uppity girls drinking flavoured water and walking staring at their chick iphones omg'ing all over twittbook and faceter to prove their worth and great knowledge of hollyworld while professing right from wrong and how killing animals is wrong while eating fish sushi. (urrgh my ex-gf comes exactly to mind, completely itarded oh and SO tech savvy, like.. come on, cause like, all these apps I have), and men's jeans only coming in 'skinny' where men are longer men but we should all just be 'metro' (isn't that ironic)

          -- just fkn shoot me since the hipsters refuse to all die

  5. Kelley Johnston

    Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

    One of his main characters - Nikola Tesla - described this possibility, and the entire book revolved around its prevention. I believe the book was "Callihan's Key", and one of his better ones.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

      James Blish also examined this "bubble universe" topic in 1959 with his Cities In Flight saga. In the final book, A Clash of Cymbals, he describes a collision between two universes (this one of matter and another of antimatter, since the Higgs wasn't known about back then) and how this entire universe would be engulfed as a result.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. FartingHippo
        Thumb Up

        Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

        Or Greg Egan's Schild's Ladder. Course in that case the new universe was expanding at 0.5c, so you could zip along in front of the boundary and poke it from a suitably equipped ship.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

      There's something like it in Greg Egan's Disapora, too, although his bubble isn't advancing at c. [[WARNING: he spends half the book is more than 3 spatial dimensions.]]

      I think A Clash of Cymbals is stretching a bit. (But why hasn't Hollywood made any of them into movies?)

      1. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

        Stephen Baxter has also played with this idea in the "Malifant" series of stories (Space, Time, Origin and Phase Space - especially Phase Space).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

        Not dumb and stupid enough for Hollywood. I watched the last Batman film with the family, over 2 hours of my life I won't get back again (guys, you could disable any fusion bomb with small arms, you just need to disrupt the trigger. More holes in the plot than in a tonne of P-doped silicon). By comparison, Blish's wildest fantasy is close to sober fact.

  6. Magani
    Happy

    When?

    "...at some point billions of years from now..."

    Ummm, if they're unsure of their calculations, what's to stop it happening next wee...<carrier lost>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: When?

      The alternative reality universe will probably pop into existence in Cupertino next week, to fill the alternative reality void created by the death of Steve Jobs.

      tags: troll, Apple, James Blish.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When?

      I'm more concerned about how. Like a supercollider?

      Would it get cancelled out if they made a mini black hole at the same point in space?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: When?

        It might *start* the alternate universe. Irony, eh?! In an attempt to understand the soap bubble, we invent the pin.

  7. Local G
    Happy

    "A little bubble of... an ‘alternative' universe will appear"

    You say yes, I say no.

    You say stop and I say go go go, oh no.

    You say goodbye and I say hello

    Hello hello

    I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello

    Hello hello

    I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello

    1. Ancient Oracle funkie
      Happy

      Re: "A little bubble of... an ‘alternative' universe will appear"

      Any Beatle reference, no matter how irrelevant, is always worth an upvote!

      1. Local G
        Happy

        Re: "A little bubble of... an ‘alternative' universe will appear"

        Thank you, Sir. The road to irrelevancy is paved with good intention.

  8. asdf
    Alien

    yawn

    The string theorists have been saying this for years. Susskind covered this quite well in The Cosmic Landscape (recommended largely math free high level overview of the largely current state of the art of cosmology). I guess the experimental physicists are once again surprising the theorists by starting to prove the theory empirically already.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: yawn

      How can you have a maths free overview of cosmology? Other than the one that starts "it's big, it's very big..." and that has been done already.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: yawn

        How can you have a maths free overview of cosmology? Other than the one that starts "it's big, it's very big..." and that has been done already.

        You have obviously not read Stephen Hawkins' "A Brief History of Time". Go and pick yourself up a copy from your nearest charity / second-hand book shop. IIRC, the book has one equation in it, which just goes to show you can give quite a comprehensive overview of cosmology entirely empirically, and make quite a lot of money from selling it in book form.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: yawn

          I have read it. Twice. My comment stands.

          1. asdf

            Re: yawn

            Yes to truly understand cosmology you have to be a math nerd. I have never seen anybody able to explain non mathematically in but the vaguest terms for example why string theory needs a certain number of dimensions (just the math breaks down, the strings vibrate too much, etc). For the other %99.9 of humans though Susskind, Hawkings, and Brian Greene do a good job of at least giving a taste of what the Ed Witten of the world are working on and what a wonderfully weird reality we live in.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. asdf
        Headmaster

        Re: yawn

        >It goes back well before the string theorists ... Linde *always* claims to have done something in the 1970s.

        String theory has been around since the early 70s as far as concerning bosons. So its probably more apt to treat them as contemporaries but yes you are correct that it came out of the inflation studies. I only said string because I learned it from a book by a leading string theorist and misspoke.

        1. Britt Johnston

          Re: galactic sized accelerator mechanism

          I think you have touched on the cause - at the rate accelerators are getting bigger, in a billion years or so, one will fill the known universe, so forcing an alternate universe to bubble into existence.

          An alternative could be to stop Moore's law for accelerators.

    3. Psyx
      Holmes

      Re: yawn

      "I guess the experimental physicists are once again surprising the theorists by starting to prove the theory empirically already."

      That's kind of the entire point of experimental physics, dude!

      1. asdf

        Re: yawn

        >That's kind of the entire point of experimental physics, dude!

        A slight inside joke that the one thing seemingly consistent in modern physics is the theorists underestimating the ingenuity of the experimentalists. You don't necessarily need a particle accelerator as big as a galaxy to continue to push the boundaries of what we can prove.

  9. southpacificpom
    Windows

    A universe without Microsoft, never...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Alternative view

    To put it another way... A huge handkerchief is coming.

    Please book me a table.

    1. Lallabalalla

      Re: Alternative view

      Could be a rampant star-goat, of course.

    2. Frank Bitterlich
      Alien

      Some people think it has happened already...

      ... or are there other explanations for the fact that I actually had to browse to the _second_ page of comments to find the first Hitchhiker reference?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Some people think it has happened already...

        Other explanations being that you missed the references on page 1?

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    When bubbles collide!

    Are we alluding to the fact here that the mass of the Higgs is "low" and so the vacuum may "decay" to a lower-state energy with high probability (because not stabilized by a high Higgs mass?) I can only say... HIGHLY speculative. Let's talk about angles on pins instead.

    Additionally. with some luck, the universe will be expanding so quickly by then that any of the multicolored bubbles will never see each other....

    Also: http://blog.vixra.org/2011/12/04/what-would-a-higgs-at-125-gev-tell-us/

    1. frank ly
      Happy

      Re: When bubbles collide!

      "Let's talk about angles on pins instead."

      How many angles can subtend on the head of a pin? That would be a trigonometrical matter.

    2. Pete the not so great
      Go

      Re: When bubbles collide!

      I quite like a nice 45° myself.

      1. P. Lee
        Coat

        Re: When bubbles collide!

        45° is ugly.

        I'm fond of acute angle that the other end!

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Coat

          Re: When bubbles collide!

          I'm fond of acute angle...

          You have a point there.

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: When bubbles collide!

            I am glad no-one is being obtuse

    3. ian 22

      Re: When bubbles collide!

      Angles? I'm sure the Saxons will have something to say about that.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: When bubbles collide!

        I've heard that weeping angles are very dangerous.

    4. asdf

      Re: When bubbles collide!

      >Additionally. with some luck, the universe will be expanding so quickly by then that any of the multicolored bubbles will never see each other....

      They may never contact each other but any given point in space will be eventually enclosed in a new bubble if a bubble forms (and continues to grow) anywhere in that point's event horizon.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    My table is booked

    at Milliways....

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Androgynous Crackwhore
    Headmaster

    Alternative

    It's alternative.

    You mean to employ an adjective there but have erroneously deployed a verb.

    The source managed to get it right in the quotation... but El Reg just couldn't quite manage to transcribe a snippet into a title without completely buggering up the grammar.

    Tut, tut.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Re: Alternative

      No, alternate can definitely be used as a noun or an adjective in American according to Webster and is found in older English writers, e.g. Pope ("alternate passions fall and rise").

      1. GreggS

        Re: Alternative

        You see that's the wonder of English prose, even when it's wrong, it's write.

        1. markw:

          Re: Alternative

          It's either 'alternating' or 'alternative'.

          Alternate is incorrect.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Peladon

            Re: Alternative

            Well, I'veonly got my Pocket Fowler (Oxford Fowler's Modern English Usage) here with me at work, but:

            p37-38:

            alternate, alternative

            1 Both words are adjectives and nouns and come from Latin alternus meaning 'every second' and have had closely related meanings over several centuries of use.

            Fowler does say that these days alternate as a noun is much less common, though more common in American English, though alternate as a noun meaning a variant was in use in the 18c.

            Garner (Garner's Modern American Usage) is also OK with 'alternate' as both noun and adjective. For use as a noun:

            alternate; alternative. A. As Nouns. Alternative is needed far more often than alternate.

            .

            .

            Alternate = (1) something that proceeds by turns with another; or (2) one that substitutes for another.

            The Chicago Manual of Style recognises bothuses as well:

            "alternate, adj. & n.; alternative, adj. & n. Alternate implies (1) substitute for another {we took the alternate route} or (2) taking turns with another {her alternate chaired the meeting}. Alternative implies a choice between two or more things {I prefer the second alternative}."

            OK. I'll shut up now. I've probably been doing too much editing :-). I'd better stop before we get into whether it's OK to start sentences with conjunctions (er - yes. It is. According to Garner, Fowler and Chicago anyway, and that's good enough for me and my Editors :-P).

      2. P. Lee

        Re: Alternative

        Alternative: another exclusive option

        Alternating: changing between two or more options with some sort of pattern.

        Hence, "I never wanted to grow old, but I disliked the alternative more." "The colour test consisted of alternating blocks of red, green and blue."

        Dunno what the dictionary says, but that's my definition.

    2. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Alternative

      Alternative?

      You mean lots of leather and bad guitars?

      It could be a nirvana for some, I suppose.

  16. Richard Wharram
    Devil

    Not a big deal

    Won't this mean some of us grow goatie-beards, wear leather and plot to murder our boss? (not all changed then)

    And Apple will be a charity for the homeless and abandoned kittens.

  17. Trainee grumpy old ****
    Trollface

    Obligatory Daily Fail angle

    It will drive down house prices!!

    1. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory Daily Fail angle

      You forgot the "...coming over here from an alternative universe and taking all our reality..." bit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Daily Fail angle

      And from the Daily Express "complete eradication of cancer predicted" and "would Diana have saved the Universe?"

      And in the Sun "Lisa, 19 from Cardiff, says 'now I know that the universe is going to implode there's no point in putting my top on'"

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Obligatory Daily Fail angle

      It will drive down house prices!!

      Bubbles always drive prices UP!

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    2. M.D.
      Joke

      Re: You can't bake a universe without breaking Higgs

      I want a Unicorn - should save on fuel ....which could save the Planet long enough for a Unicorn to come play with it!

      Result!

      Pass the Teapot (and BTW, you definitely get a Nobel vote from me, your theory is at least as probable as some schmuck claiming that (maybe, he's not TOO sure of his numbers) we will all die ...someday!

      <drinks Tea, as his Coffee limit for the day already reached>

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: You can't bake a universe without breaking Higgs

        Unicorns? A source of cheap filler for burgers...

  19. Carpetsmoker

    Bad news? I think not

    In the current state of things as we understand them, everything will continue forever. At some point the stars run out of fuel though, and the universe will become a rather dull place.

    This seems a much nicer alternative.

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              2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Vacuum state of the universe

                To put the whole 120 orders of magnitude thing in context, it is worth remembering that the difference between the shortest lengh in the universe (if we accept that this is what the Planck lenth is) and the (postulated) size of the universe itself is only around 61 orders. Being out by 40 orders of magnitude is ridiculously bad, 120 orders just doesn't compute.

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        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vacuum state of the universe

          The dodgiest thing of all is how big the Universe was supposed to be at the end of inflation - about a centimetre across. The period of inflation has to be extremely small to expand to that size while exceeding the speed of light at the moving boundary.

          I get the feeling that most journalists who refer to "inflation" think of the Universe as being quite big at the time.

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    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Vacuum state of the universe

      Is that anything to do with a Dyson sphere?

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        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vacuum state of the universe

          No, a Dyson sphere is an all too real construct designed to frustrate people who just wanted to get the dust off the floor. Personally I prefer VAX, simply because it shares a name with a minicomputer that also blew a lot of hot air out of a hole round the back,

  21. Dave 62

    Expanding bubble of doom? Milla Jovovich will save us.

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  22. Erix
    Boffin

    Well that's a relief!

    Granted, that's the worst-case scenario. The destruction however might be limited merely to our own galaxy

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  23. rogue-Element
    Alert

    We need Donnie Darko

    The rules of the tangent universe were documented by Roberta Sparrow (Grandma Death); we need water to form the portal between the two universes and be on the lookout for an unusual metal object that is the transitional artifact vessel.

    Oh and we need Maggie and Jake Gyllenhall to tell each other to "Go s*ck a f*ck"

  24. JDX Gold badge

    A little bubble of an ‘alternative' universe will appear and then expand out and destroy us

    Isn't that at least 2 episodes of StarTrek TNG/DS9?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: A little bubble of an ‘alternative' universe will appear and then expand out and destroy us

      No, that was anti-time. Completely different bubble of death.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: A little bubble of an ‘alternative' universe will appear and then expand out and destroy us

        S2E17 "Playing God"

        While Dax mentors her first Trill initiate, a proto-universe threatens to destroy the station and Bajor.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: A little bubble of an ‘alternative' universe will appear and then expand out and destroy us

          OK, so there are *two* bubbles of death In Star Trek. My one was the last two episodes of TNG, All Good Things. My apologies for doubting your Trekkiness.

  25. Zetta
    WTF?

    Wow

    wow

  26. Blue eyed boy
    Boffin

    @ Change an input and “you get a different end of the universe.

    The current uncertainty bounds straddle the bang/whimper boundary.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: @ Change an input and “you get a different end of the universe.

      Step through that door and the anomaly will be corrected...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @ Change an input and “you get a different end of the universe.

      Upvoted for sneaking T S Eliot into a thread on cosmology.

      Perhaps there is another universe out there that consists entirely of dark matter. Then it could have begun, not with a bang, but a WIMPer.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relax.....

    By that time, the ever expanding big bang remmnants (i.e. us) would have dissipated into nothingness anyway.

  28. FutureShock999

    Expansion in an expansion...

    So, haven't read my Susskind (but will be), but if you consider that OUR universe is supposedly expanding, and we don't know what into, isn't it very possible that OUR universe is busy inflating inside an alternative universe and destroying it? And that the whole concept of universes is merely an endless set of alternative reality/physics models popping into existence from instabilities within each other?

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Expansion in an expansion...

      My thoughts too.

      Comparable to a file of infinite length being overwritten by a subsequent update.

      Maybe the new universe having been created in this universe will improve on the current model, to the point it is stable?

      ..and by that reasoning in a few years time it might be proven we are living in an alpha release and not a beta.

      Here's hoping "God" is happy with the revenue flow from this release and isn't pursuing greater profits by constantly releasing new versions, with rounder corners and a more bling.

  29. bag o' spanners

    *ploop!*

    They've been watching Fringe and sampling the space cakes again.

    I'd love to be around to blink and miss the end of everything, but I have a more pressing appointment with dw00m.

    1. jason 7
      Happy

      Re: *ploop!*

      Yeah I'll leave it to Walter Bishop to sort out.

  30. ginger_tosser
    Go

    you never know...

    ... but who is to say that the universe we inhabit at present wasn't formed this way? It may spell the end of our universe although a new one will spring up in it's place.

    It's all part of the great circle of life...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phew!

    "Many tens of billions of years from now, there'll be a catastrophe. A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative' universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us".

    How lucky that in tens of billions of years us won't be here any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Phew!

      Speak for yourself, Tom Welsh!

  32. Spoonsinger
    Coat

    It's not PC, but...

    that alternate universe needs a slap. It's a very bad universe.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not the other way around?

    The Higgs particle didn't quite survive long in our reality or universe. So why can't it be the other way around instead; our universe taking the place of another ?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've thought this for years.

    If the universe can spring into existence from nothing, where the existence of matter, is balanced exactly by the negative energy that is gravity, then what's to stop it happening again, in Grimsby high street?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I've thought this for years.

      Any self-respecting universe wouldn't be seen dead in Grimsby high street.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: I've thought this for years.

        Nothing wrong with Grimsby High Street, that an expanding Universe couldn't fix.

        PS. I seam to have discovered a door behind which there appears to be an infinite number of Monkeys trying to sell me a script for a play called Hamlot they've just worked out.

        1. Spoonsinger

          Re: those infinite number of Monkeys also...

          just tried to patent something with round corners, so I'd just ignore them if I were you.

  35. Dr. G. Freeman
    Pint

    Nothing to worry about

    Meh, not another encroaching universe. that's why there's a hole in the middle of this one.

    Oh well, only a few billion years of beer left.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give it a name

    Well we started out with the Big Bang, and previous theories said it would all end in a Big Crunch.

    So what's this one going to be? The Big Fart?

    1. TRT Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Give it a name

      The Big Bopper.

  37. sisk

    I, for one, welcome our new Higgs Boson powered alternate universe overlord.

  38. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    Really? three pages of comments and I'm the first?!?

    "There is a theory which states that if anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

    ~Douglas Adams~

  39. Chandy
    Thumb Up

    Excellent news

    This is fundamentally fantastic news, as it can be used to explain an infinite lifecycle of universes, answering what will happen at 'the end', and giving a potential answer to 'what was before?'.

    I'm interested to know if this can be made to fit within the current 'big bang' theory. I find it very hard to believe that we just so happen to be in universe v 1.0, so some re-imagining of the bang into 'pop into other existing universe and take over' may be needed. Presumably we should also start looking towards the edges of our own universe for a boundary with the old universe (n-1) that we haven't expanded into yet?

    Altogether, an horizon-expanding bit of work. Well done chaps, and chapesses.

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  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good piece of short fiction:

    Although it's about a big rip rather than a vacuum instability event, this short story is worth a read:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080725045740/http://www.solarisbooks.com/books/newbookscifi/last-contact.asp

  41. Domino
    Facepalm

    Like a cat in a box...

    Are they sure that data isn't just an echo of the previous reality that ended when they first detected the Higgs?

  42. Robert E A Harvey

    There's a bloke here

    ...in a box with a flashing light on the top.

    Says he can stop it with a blue led

  43. mfritz0
    Alien

    The key word is "Alternate" reality

    The original "Big Bang" had the universe expanding until it reached a maximum size then collapsing back to nothing. Now the newest theory says it will keep expanding forever, until all matter cools to the temperature of absolute zero. This theory creates an "Alternate" universe and it could be exactly identical to this one. Who knows? If you could control the Higgs field (the absolute vacuum of space) you could conceivably produce any reality you so desire. By the time this takes place, if man is still around and we all haven't ascended into "energy beings" where we all exist as pure energy, perhaps those left in the physical realm will be intelligent enough to realize how to control all the dimensions of this multi-verse, and they will be able to go back in time (perhaps) to where they will never have to worry about this approaching change. There are after all, 10 dimensions (with respect to time) in this reality, and I'm sure at least one of those dimensions leads away from this disaster.

  44. Kleykenb

    If this were true ...

    Meh.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting concept

    Sort of a variant of the "ekpyrotic" Universe theory, but with bubbles replacing colliding branes.

    Re. Higgs. I am convinced that the Higgs effect is not the only gravitational interaction, there's still the other 9something percent which is theoretically caused by curved spacetime.

    I would speculate that the Higgs effect is Gravity A and the H2 (aka MetaGod) particle is Gravity B which acts over cosmological distances and has a net repulsive effect responsible for inflation.

    At smaller scales it isnt observed because the "block size" is too large, if you imagine Gravity B as a low level format on a hard disk (ie sector level) and Gravity A as the actual data...

    Q.E.D.

    AC/DC 6EQUJ5

  46. Anomalous Cowshed

    Trolling boffins

    See title

  47. Richie 1

    Isn't this the plot of Greg Egan's Schild's Ladder?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schild%27s_Ladder

  48. Dragon Leaves
    Megaphone

    Off the chart bullshitting

    Modern physics is so full of bullshit.

    Miles Mathis to the rescue.

  49. Nameless Faceless Computer User
    Joke

    I found the alternate universe. It's in New Jersey.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All we think we know about the Universe...

    ...came from 3 guys, one that used to be a plumber, another can only move 3 fingers (if that much), and the other threw in an equation based on mathematics, which if tortured enough (by a 10 year old, no less) can prove that X = Y for any X and any Y, if you hide a division by zero on the finite induction.

    I'm not downgrading them, or what they have done, just pointing out that anybody coming from anywhere could have an insight at how the Universe works, even if they can't mathematically prove it, or even if the math fails to help at some point.

    All else is empirical evidence that falls apart and don't apply anymore if you reach the speed of light, look at things too small , or too large, or things that happen in a really small amount of time.

    Hell, I'm off for a beer, and just admit that we know SQUAT about the Universe just sitting here, looking up, and scratching a piece of paper... preferably under a star-filled sky, and basking at its beauty.

  51. Suburban Inmate
    Terminator

    Seeing it coming and going.

    Is it worth me booking my table yet?

    Android: paranoid.

  52. jukejoint
    Childcatcher

    @ frumious bandersnatch

    the magic and wonder of math is all I have left ... switching math 'methods' on schoolchildren who had already studied it for a few years (mid-elementary school) tossed a lot of us to the curb. One Friday we went home loving math. Monday we were to continue on using a new method - completely baffling - and at the same time efficiently giving us a round sense of failure.

  53. jukejoint

    Robert Burns foresaw this already!

    Ye Pow'rs wha mak auld space your care,

    And dish out frights as bill o 'fare,

    Auld Earth wants nae skinking ware

    That jaups in wiggies;

    But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,

    Gie her a Higgis!

  54. Local G
    Trollface

    "I could of been an astrophysicist, but I didn't have the Latin."

    Still, you might be interested in my "flat universe' theory.

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