Scientists may have found a subatomic particle that explains why all things have mass, and it could spell doom for the universe.
Researchers spent years searching for the elusive particle, known as the Higgs boson
, which some theorize is one variable in a complex equation that could destroy the universe billions of years from now.
"This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now there'll be a catastrophe," Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, told Live Science
. "It may be the universe we live in is inherently unstable, and at some point it's all going to get wiped out."
The Higgs boson particle is a physical manifestation of an energy field in the universe, called the Higgs field, which is thought to be the reason why all particles have mass. Some call it "The God Particle."
Though researchers at the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator in Geneva
, have yet to prove the particle they discovered in July of last year is actually the Higgs boson, it exhibits properties of the elusive particle.
If the particle is in fact the Higgs boson, scientists will be able to make calculations they were never able to before, including proving the existence of other dimensions.
The mass of the supposed Higgs boson is estimated to be 126 times more than a proton, the right size to make the universe fundamentally unstable. If the particle weighs slightly less, the fate of the universe could be different.
If the universe ceases to exist as a result of the particle, there's one bright spot.
"You won't actually see it, because it will come at you at the speed of light," Lykken said. "So in that sense don't worry."
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