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Is this even scientifically possible?

  1. Nov 14, 2009 #1
    I've always wondered if it is actually possible for the universe, and all of known reality and space-time to suddenly collapse, or cease to exist. Modern theoretical physics points to multiple universes, other dimensions, etc... Is it actually scientifically possible for all of space-time and all reality to suddenly cease to exist?

    I don't know if this thread fits into this particular forum, sorry if this appears to be controversial.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 14, 2009 #2

    atyy

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    Conjectures along these lines:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.1656
    The Arrow Of Time In The Landscape
    Brett McInnes
    "Indeed, string theory does seem to have such scales. The known ways of constructing string vacua resembling our Universe [25] (in that they have a positive cosmological constant) certainly do not lead to universes that endure for arbitrarily long periods of time;
    one says that the vacuum is “metastable”."

    http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0301240
    de Sitter Vacua in String Theory
    Shamit Kachru, Renata Kallosh, Andrei Linde, Sandip P. Trivedi
    "The lifetime of our metastable de Sitter vacua is much greater than the cosmological timescale of 10^10 years."
     
  4. Nov 15, 2009 #3

    Chalnoth

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    Well, not all at once. But it is conceivable that, if the laws of physics are a certain way, then there could be a tunneling event somewhere within our universe to a lower-energy vacuum state. If this were to occur, then it would essentially spread at the speed of light, destroying everything as it spread (as the laws of physics as we know them would be different in a different vacuum state).

    Of course, we know that if this sort of thing can occur, it must be exceedingly rare, as it hasn't happened in our observable universe just yet.
     
  5. Nov 15, 2009 #4
    It's highly conjectural, but not really controversial. Serious cosmologists have tried to quantify possible "sudden singularities" which might end the Universe in a hurry due to changing cosmological constants and metastable string vacua suddenly tipping into a new state. Lots of room for imagining the "Ultimate Catastrophe", but not a lot of data to work with. So, I'll go out on a limb and say a "sudden end" is possible but presently very unlikely.
     
  6. Nov 15, 2009 #5
    This is an interesting topic and is related to the three ideas of the dark energy (cosmological constant):

    1. The cosmological constant is due to the universe being in a true minimum of scalar field energy. Then, the consmological constant is really constant.

    2. The cosmological constant is changing with time since the scalar field is decaying with time.

    3. We are in a false vacuum metastable local minimum state subject to quantuum tunneling to a true vacuum state. This is kind of the theme of this thread.

    It would be interesting to know which one of these three applies to our universe.
     
  7. Nov 19, 2009 #6
    If the universe is made from nothing (as first mused by Edward Tryon circa 1973) then it should collapse to nothing. In a null universe, the positive energy is always equal to the negative potential energy.
     
  8. Nov 19, 2009 #7

    Chalnoth

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    Why?
     
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