Electrical conductivity of absolute vacuum


Joined Aug 27, 2009
Cause and effect. ;)
Measurements of the Higgs boson and top quark masses indicate that the Standard Model Higgs potential becomes unstable around ΛI∼1011 GeV. This instability is cosmologically relevant since quantum fluctuations during inflation can easily destabilize the electroweak vacuum if the Hubble parameter during inflation is larger than ΛI (as preferred by the recent BICEP2 measurement). We perform a careful study of the evolution of the Higgs field during inflation, obtaining different results from those currently in the literature. We consider both tunneling via a Coleman-de Luccia or Hawking-Moss instanton, valid when the scale of inflation is below the instability scale, as well as a statistical treatment via the Fokker-Planck equation appropriate in the opposite regime. We show that a better understanding of the post-inflation evolution of the unstable AdS vacuum regions is crucial for determining the eventual fate of the universe. If these AdS regions devour all of space, a universe like ours is indeed extremely unlikely without new physics to stabilize the Higgs potential; however, if these regions crunch, our universe survives, but inflation must last a few e-folds longer to compensate for the lost AdS regions. Lastly, we examine the effects of generic Planck-suppressed corrections to the Higgs potential, which can be sufficient to stabilize the electroweak vacuum during inflation.