December 13, 2013

Don't fear the vacuum reaper

Fireworks 4A new paper argues that the current best version of the standard model predicts a metastable vacuum: Oleg Antipin, Marc Gillioz, Jens Krog, Esben Mølgaard, Francesco Sannino, Standard Model Vacuum Stability and Weyl Consistency Conditions. arXiv:1306.3234.

I have no clue whether this analysis is any good or not. I have no clue about marginal operators or what quartic couplings do. But I still feel reassured by Max Tegmark, Nick Bostrom. How unlikely is a doomsday catastrophe? Nature, 438, 754 (8 December 2005) . That paper is still totally applicable, and puts an upper bound on the probability as one in a billion per year (at 99.9% confidence level). The awesome thing is that the analysis is totally independent on the exact details of the catastrophe, just its general characteristics.

Incidentally, the recent suggestion that there was a habitable early epoch of the universe makes the safety even bigger: if there is a population of planets with potential observers super-early in history, then in a risky universe (high probability of vacuum decay) one should expect oneself to be on such an early planet rather than a late planet like Earth. So the more planets we find in the early universe, the more stable the vacuum looks.

Posted by Anders3 at December 13, 2013 11:22 PM