https://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4686 says that the time till false vacuum collapse is just about the age of the universe:

ΛCDM ... can be achieved if the top quark pole mass is approximately 178 GeV

That seems right because


top-quark mass is measured to be 173.72 ± 0.55 (stat.) ± 1.01 (syst.) GeV.

Moreover, Wikipedia says: "False vacuum decay may occur in 20 to 30 billion years if the Higgs boson field is metastable." (It's also unclear whether Wikipedia is about the yearly probability in the entire metagalaxy or the probability of this to hit the Earth per year.) It refers to https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929333-200-death-by-higgs-rids-cosmos-of-space-brain-threat/ for this number.

So, the above seems to be correct.

But many other sources give much longer time till vacuum decay:

  1. https://arxiv.org/abs/1408.5302 Eq. (21) gives the lifetime of the false vacuum in the Standard Model as $10^{655}$ times of the age of our Universe. (The age of our Universe is 13 billion years.

  2. https://arxiv.org/abs/1707.08124 Eq. (8.1) gives the lifetime as $10^{161}$ years. (the unit is year in that equation as can be confirmed from the abstract of this article)

So, is https://arxiv.org/abs/1308.4686 an error? Which kind of error may it be?

Or don't the other articles I mentioned take into account top quark and are therefore in error? (Or is this difference in mass changing it that much?)

Or ΛCDM is much different that Standard Model? Or small difference quark mass is enough to break the computations? Which model is more near to experiment results?


1 Answer 1


The New Scientist article and the paper are from 2013. That was before they did new measurements of the top quark mass etc.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1707.08124.pdf is the most recent AFAIK, it's had four updates, most recent in 2018.


The latest version of the Wikipedia article removes those cites - probably because a later author looked at the page and realized it was out of date. Wikipedia articles often have mistakes in them and they sometimes get corrected quickly and some are not corrected for years.

  • $\begingroup$ The difference in top quark mass is not very big: 178GeV vs 173.72 ± 0.55 (stat.) ± 1.01 (syst.) GeV. Or is this difference so much important? $\endgroup$
    – porton
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 20:08

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