The most efficient way to Destroy the Universe – FALSE VACUUM

Of all the ways the Universe might die, Vacuum Decay is the most efficient.

Every once in a while, physicists come up with a new way to destroy the Universe. There’s the Big Rip (a rending of spacetime), the Heat Death (expansion to a cold and empty Universe), the Big Crunch (the reversal of cosmic expansion) and Vacuum Decay.

To understand Vacuum Decay, you need to consider the Higgs field that permeates our Universe. Like an electric field, the Higgs field varies in strength, based on its potential. Think of the potential as a track on which a ball is rolling. The higher it is on the track, the more energy the ball has.

The Higgs potential determines whether the Universe is in one of two states: a true vacuum, or a false vacuum.

A true vacuum is the stable, lowest-energy state, like sitting still on a valley floor and a false vacuum is like being nestled in a divot in the valley wall – a little push could easily send you tumbling.

A universe in a false vacuum state is called “metastable”, because it’s not actively decaying (rolling), but it’s not exactly stable either.

If the Universe is indeed metastable, then, technically, the transition could occur through quantum processes at any time. But it probably won’t – the lifetime of a metastable universe is predicted to be much longer than the current age of the Universe.

So we don’t need to worry. But…

What would happen if the vacuum did decay?

The walls of the true vacuum bubble would expand in all directions at the speed of light. You wouldn’t see it coming. The walls can contain a huge amount of energy.

The possibility that we are living in a false vacuum has never been a cheering one to contemplate.

Vacuum decay is the ultimate ecological catastrophe; in a new vacuum there are new constants of nature; after vacuum decay, not only is life as we know it impossible, so is chemistry as we know it.

However, one could always draw stoic comfort from the possibility that perhaps in the course of time the new vacuum would sustain, if not life as we know it, at least some creatures capable of knowing joy.

This possibility has now been eliminated.

The False Vacuum is here explained:

Credits: Cosmomagazine


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