TIL If our universe is in a false vacuum state rather than a true vacuum state, then the decay from the less stable false vacuum to the more stable true vacuum could have dramatic consequences including the end of biological life and immediate gravitational collapse of the universe.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_vacuum_decay

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  1. Another way to envision false vacuum decay with a crude but helpful metaphor:

    Imagine there is a giant mountain (like we’re talking a really big mountain here: one with a peak that goes past the clouds!), and there’s a rock slide at the top of that massive mountain, and let’s say for dramatic effect: part of the mountain peak itself breaks off.

    And then this HUGE massive boulder (like the biggest friggin boulder you’ve ever seen in your life!) that is part of the wayward tumbling peak, comes tumbling down the mountain, and just so happens to STOP in the middle, as it gets caught in a tangle of trees, and a ledge on a cliff.

    And for further fictional fun with this metaphor: let’s also say there’s a town directly below that cliff ledge!

    ——————————–

    Anyways… so there that massive boulder/peak sits for years and years… and the town soon forgets about it.

    And as it sits there not doing much, let’s say a colony of ants moves onto the boulder and builds their multigenerational blissful home there. And life goes on and on for the ants, and the humans in the town below, and everything and everyone seems just fine and stable from their perspective.

    But then… SUDDENLY! It was a dark and stormy night!

    And suddenly there’s a bit of cracking sounds now… nothing the ants nor humans happen to notice… and a bit of shifting… still nothing they notice… and the cracks are slowly growing bigger…

    And then BAM!

    The stability they thought was rock solid, wasn’t so rock solid afterall.

    The cliff gives way immediately with a sharp and loud energetic crack (releasing so much pent up energy in that moment that the decibels are at the level of a sonic boom) and that rock goes tumbling down, killing and scattering all the ants and humans alike. 🙁

    ——————————–

    In that metaphor, the boulder was in a state of “false stability” that tricked the inhabitants.

    And that tenuous stability decayed in a single unpredictable instant, and then very dramatic and bad things happened.

    So to could be the state of our Universe: we think it is currently physically stable… rock solid in terms of the laws of physics that maintain it… but maybe that stability is an illusion, and our Universe is like that boulder sitting on a ledge…

    That is about to crack at an unpredictable moment.

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