University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

High Energy Theory Lunchtime Seminar

Thursday, March 12th 2015
Speaker: Marc Sher, College of William & Mary
Subject: The Instability of the Standard Model Vacuum

With the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, the basic parameters of the Standard Model are known. At large scales of O(10^11 GeV), the quartic coupling constant of the Higgs potential becomes negative, leading to the Standard Model vacuum being metastable. Calculations of the decay rate show that the present vacuum will live much longer than the age of the Universe. I will review the features of the effective Higgs potential that lead to the instability and describe how to calculate the decay rate. I will then show that Planck scale operators, which one might naively expect to be negligible given that the instability scale is of factor of 10^8 below the Planck scale, in fact can have dramatic changes on the decay rate.

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