How Is It Possible That False Vacuum Can Destroy the Universe?


The very hypothesis of the existence of two types of vacuum arose in the 70s but was developed much later in the works of Stephen Hawking. Usually, by the word “vacuum,” people understand a space in which there is no substance or it is extremely small, but, from the point of view of physics, this is not so.

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A vacuum in physics means the absence of not only ordinary matter but, in general, of anything: fields, neutrinos, etc. If we take the container and pump out all the air particles from it, then it will still contain electromagnetic fields from radio towers, distant stars, and relict radiation; trillions of neutrinos and particles of galactic rays will flash it, but let’s say that we were able to remove all these and get an empty container.

It would seem that it is a vacuum in which there is nothing and the energy in this space should be zero, but there it was. The fact is that in the Universe, there are so many things that it is fundamentally impossible to remove everything from our container. These include quantum fluctuations, at the micro-level, the vacuum constantly boils, particles are born and annihilate there, such boiling is a property of the vacuum itself and cannot be stopped.

The energy of a false vacuum is different from zero. With any deviation from the minimum energy, the system tends to return to it.
Dark energy, apparently, is a property of space itself and cannot be hidden from it, the Higgs field pervades the entire Universe and does not protect itself from it. In addition to this, there may be other fields in the Universe about the existence of which we probably do not even know. As a result, the energy inside the container will be non-zero, this state was once called a true vacuum.

But almost immediately, the scientists thought better of it, because what if there is less dark energy somewhere or the Higgs field has other properties, or does the vacuum boil weaker and the vacuum energy there will be less? This means that our vacuum is false (Vacuum A), and somewhere there may be a true vacuum (Vacuum B) with a lower energy value.

False Vacuum
False Vacuum

We could live in peace and not even suspect the existence of another vacuum, if not for one small problem. In the Universe, everything tends to a minimum of energy, which means a false vacuum tends to go into the true one. Under ordinary conditions, this can happen only through quantum toning, however, such a scenario has an extremely low probability, because the vacuums are separated by energy, but if you charge a lot of energy to a point in space, about 100 million TEB according to Hawking’s calculations, the false vacuum at this point can jump to the true one.

And it will not jump by itself but will pull neighbors along with itself, and at the speed of light, this transition will spread throughout the Universe. As soon as the vacuum becomes true, its properties will change in an unknown way, and the laws of physics will change with them. It is possible that when it comes into contact with a true vacuum, it will crumble into quarks or instantly annihilate, it may harden and become solid immediately. The exact scenario is unknown to science, but it is clear that the Universe will not be the same as before. In any case, such an end of the world will be neither terrible nor painful, we will not be able to find out about it in advance, and when it arrives, we will not even have time to feel anything and instantly disappear.

Such a transition will propagate at a speed not exceeding the light, which means that if it happens only at one point in the Universe, then it will not be able to absorb it all, this is due to the accelerated expansion of the Universe. The transition of a false vacuum into the true one will destroy only a part of the Universe, to which it can reach during its existence.


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