(ORDO NEWS) — From a physical point of view, our universe seems surprisingly perfect. It is logical to assume that if this were not so, then life as we know it – and planets, and atoms, and everything else – would not exist.
For some reason, the amount of energy – or rather, the mass it equals – and the accelerating expansion of the universe are so well balanced that over the past 13 billion years or so there has been enough room for several interesting processes to develop.
A few magnitudes in any direction , and irresistible gravity would have glued together the expansion of space-time better than toffee in your mouth… or so weak that the rapidly expanding universe would have left nothing of interest behind.
This seemingly near- perfect balance may be due to so-called fine-tuning , a process in physics where the characteristics of a system necessarily match or cancel with such precision. If it wasn’t, the system simply wouldn’t look the way it does.
For example, our Universe has a neutral charge. For some reason, it has an almost equal number of protons to balance the charge of each electron; add a few more electrons and the charge becomes negative, causing the clumps of matter to repel each other.
On the other hand, it may be a consequence of what is called “naturalness”. For example, the almost perfect occultation of the Sun by the Moon during a solar eclipse is not due to the rigid laws of astronomy.
The dimensions of the Moon and Sun and our perspective on them need no further explanation to make sense.
Physicists generally do not like to appeal to obscure coincidences when observing the universe. If two characteristics of a system seem to fit incredibly well, there is a strong urge to dig through the rulebook for a deeper explanation.
For electrons and protons, the solution may come with an explanation of why there is an imbalance of matter over antimatter.
When it comes to the incredible reflection of energy and the expansion of the universe, there is no shortage of smart and creative ideas. However, most of them tend to fall into two categories.
The first is based on the so-called anthropic principle, which says that only a universe capable of producing a thinking brain like ours can ask philosophical questions such as “why am I here?”.
This could mean that there are other universes as well. Perhaps there are an infinite number of them, most of which either collapse at the moment of birth or explode from endless boredom.
Ours just turned out to be one of the good ones! While it’s funny to think about it, without some way to establish the existence of multiverses, this is not a proposal that could bear scientific fruit.
As for the second category, there is a possibility that we are missing some important piece of the physical puzzle, such as new fields or symmetries, which can collapse under certain conditions.
The fact that the rest mass of the Higgs boson – the particle that represents the field that gives mass to many fundamental particles – turned out to be unexpectedly light may indicate a gap in our understanding of forces and particles.
It is itself the result of yet another mystery of fine tuning , being the result of a strangely precise cancellation of other physical phenomena.
For example, there seems to be some mysterious fine tuning between the mass of the Higgs boson and the cosmological constant, the energy density in the vacuum of space.
The latter suggestion combines the idea of an unknown physics behind the Higgs boson’s shockingly tiny mass with a kind of quantum multiverse effect that can be tested this time.
Their model puts the Higgs particle at the center of the fine-tuning explanation. By pairing the boson with other particles in such a way that its small mass effectively “sets off” the events we observe in physics, it provides a link between forces and mass.
Further, the authors show how weakly interacting variables in the field can affect various types of empty space, in particular, areas of non-existence with varying degrees of expansion. This potentially demonstrates the relationship between the Higgs bosons and the cosmological constant.
It is, in a sense, a multiverse , since triggers from different parts of the infinite expanding space can lead to the emergence of a well-balanced universe like ours.
Their math suggests that these triggers will be limited to a few possibilities, and there’s even room for dark matter to be explained.
Even better, it also predicts the existence of many Higgs particles of various masses, all of which are smaller than the one we have already observed. This gives the hypothesis at least something to test.
Until then, this will remain one of many interesting ideas that could one day explain the eerily well-coordinated tug-of-war that allowed complex space to unfold. The place we have come to love as our universe.
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