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Eventual disappearance of rest mass

  1. Oct 28, 2011 #1
    If the universe were expanding very, very rapidly, would rest mass disappear?
    I've been reading "Cycles of Time" by Roger Penrose, which is about his "conformal cyclic cosmology" theory. The gist of it is that in the VERY VERY distant future, like a googol of years from now, when all the black holes have decayed by Hawking radiation, the universe will have only massless particles like photons, it will lose any sense of scale, since particle masses are what provides a scale. So it collapses to a new Big Bang! Neatly connecting the new observation that the universe is open and has a nonzero cosmological constant, with a cyclic universe! A universe that was closed wouldn't work for conformal cyclic cosmology.
    A hitch in this idea is that not all of the mass would be in black holes. So he needs to have rest mass decay somehow, for this to work.
    The universe is open, it seems, and it's going to look more and more like de Sitter spacetime. De Sitter spacetime expands at an (exponentially I think) increasing rate. After a googol of years - or enough time, anyway, any kind of particle interaction is going to be impossible. Even something a planck distance away would be as hard to interact with as a galaxy that's not in the observable universe is now. A signal from a planck distance away would never get there.
    So couldn't this rapid expansion of spacetime tear the Higgs mechanism to pieces, since it's based on interactions?
    Penrose sort of touches on this idea. He says that in time each particle would be isolated inside its own event horizon. But he seems to think that a particle isolated this way would still have mass and charge. I'm wondering if it wouldn't.
    This question probably goes way beyond known physics. But I'm hoping that people who know about particle physics and the Higgs mechanism could shed some light.
    This "Cycles of Time" book is very worth reading -
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011
  2. jcsd
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