After everything, the Higgs boson still dooms us all. In a few billion years.

Scientific American crunches the numbers that show how the mass of the Higgs boson spells the end of the universe… eventually:

“If you use all the physics that we know now and you do what you think is a straightforward calculation, it is bad news,” says Joseph Lykken, a theorist who works at the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. “It may be that the universe we live in is inherently unstable.”

The Standard Model also says, as Lykken puts it, that “for the vacuum of empty space to be stable, we should be living at a minimum of potential energy.” In other words, most things end up resting in a place of lowest energy. A ball rolls downhill and settles in a low point; getting it to move away from this point requires a kick of energy. In the case of the universe it would be like living at the bottom of a valley bordered by hills: the value of the Higgs potential would be lowest point of the valley.

Our universe might end if our valley really isn’t the lowest one around. Physicist Benjamin Allanach of the University of Cambridge explains: “The shape of the Higgs potential is determined precisely by the Higgs mass.” The observed 126 GeV mass seems to imply the universe does not exist in the lowest possible energy state but is in fact positioned in a slightly unusual place. “It turns out that for a Higgs boson of 126 GeV, we might be in the gray area where the universe is at a local minimum that is not the global minimum,” says physicist Matthew Strassler of Rutgers University.

It is sort of like being in a valley whose floor is higher than that of an adjoining valley.

This situation would normally not pose a problem, as you couldn’t travel between valleys—except in quantum mechanics, which allows particles to tunnel through hills unpredictably. As a result, “in the future our universe could spontaneously and randomly tunnel through to the deeper one, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” Allanach says.

In more than a few billion years, he says.

Eons. Billions of eons. Little tiny particle, great big periods of time.