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Higgs boson could help explain the evolution of Universe

September 22, 2011 - Washington

A group of EPFL physicists has said that Higgs boson would help scientists understand the evolution of the Universe from the moment of its birth.

The Universe, which today extends over billions of light-years, was incredibly minuscule at its birth.

In its first moments, the Universe was unimaginably dense. Under these conditions, why wouldn't gravity have slowed down its initial expansion?

Here's where the Higgs boson enters the game - it can explain the speed and magnitude of the expansion, said Mikhail Shaposhnikov and his team from EPFL's Laboratory of Particle Physics and Cosmology.

In this infant Universe, the Higgs, in a condensate phase, would have behaved in a very special way - and in so doing changed the laws of physics.

The force of gravity would have been reduced. In this way, physicists can explain how the Universe expanded at such an incredible rate.

"We have determined that when the Higgs condensate disappeared to make way for the particles that exist today, the equations permitted the existence of a new, massless particle, the dilaton," explained EPFL physicist Daniel Zenhausern.

To arrive at this conclusion, the physicists applied a mathematical principle known as scale invariance - starting with the Higgs boson, they were able to determine the existence of the dilaton, a close cousin, as well as its properties.

And it turns out that this new and as yet purely theoretical particle happens to have the exact characteristics to explain the existence of dark energy.

This energy explains why the expansion of the current Universe is once again accelerating, but its origins are not understood.

This theoretical advance - a completely unexpected result - is reassuring the scientists that they may be on the right track.


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