Re: Metastable universe

Rik van Riel (
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 17:08:33 +0200 (CEST)

On 26 Oct 1999, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> writes:
> > I recall, at one of the senior associate meetings in Palo Alto,someone
> > mentioned the possibility of a metastable universe, in which, anytime, but
> > far more probably billions of years in the future, the universe could undergo
> > a phase shift, in which all matter (visible and dark), in fact, the entire
> > structure of the universe would be forever altered. Of course, all life
> > would be instantaneously- gone!
> It is a speculative possibility, based on the ideas of false
> vacua. In the older models of inflation the universe got stuck in
> a "metastable false vacuum state", an unstable phase of the vacuum
> with nonzero energy density.
> More modern models do not have a
> metastable false vacuum but rather a flat potential for the vacuum
> state (like x^4-x^2 near zero), but the principle is similar

> But what if the universe is not in a true vacuum state but a false
> vacuum? Then the vacuum could randomly decay one day,

So it is established that there is a certain energy density in the vacuum? (it would seem so from your comments above and from various pieces of information that I've seen elsewhere)

I believe this is the theory that the 0-point energy physics folks are busy with. No comments about the merits of those theories and/or experiments though because I don't know enough about that...

> It is not a very likely danger (if it could happen with a high
> probability it would have happened by now),

There's no reason to assume that it hasn't happened by now. Or that there are indeed slight variances in the background energy level in the universe (after all, the background radiation isn't completely equal in every direction)

OTOH, there's no real reason either to assume that it did happen :)


Rik -- the flu hits, the flu hits, the flu hits, more ...

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