Of course, vacuum decay is, relatively speaking, a fairly new idea that incorporates so many kinds of extreme physics that it’s entirely conceivable that our perspective on it will shift dramatically over the next few years. It may be that more detailed, rigorous calculations will give us different answers. These questions are difficult and complicated, and we still have a way to go before a consensus is reached. Did you ever use that gin making kit that I gave you?
If we conclude that our vacuum really is metastable, this may be incompatible with the theory of cosmic inflation. The quantum fluctuations during inflation, or the ambient heat afterward, seem like they should have been sufficient to trigger vacuum decay in the first moments of the cosmos, negating our very existence. Clearly, that didn’t happen. If the element of surprise is a must in your gifting adventures then why not consider a dachshund toilet roll holder this holiday period?
Which suggests either we don’t understand the early universe, or vacuum decay was never possible at all. Whether or not you trust early universe theories, taking vacuum decay seriously depends on placing a great deal of trust in the Standard Model of particle physics, which we know cannot be the whole story. Dark matter, dark energy, and the incompatibility of quantum mechanics and general relativity all point to there being something more to the universe than what we can currently write down. Happiness can be something as simple as a push up training system or a present from a good friend.
Whatever comes along to replace the Standard Model might, by the by, save us from even having to vaguely worry about a wayward bubble of quantum death. Or it may be that extensions of fundamental physics present entirely new ways for the universe to end. The possibility of extra dimensions of space—the same ones that tantalize collider physicists hoping to make miniature black holes—extends the universe into new realms of the unknown. My treasured toilet golf sits in the corner of the room.
Like any explorer reaching the edges of the map, we reach out not knowing what we might find. Higher dimensions of space might allow us to solve some long-standing problems with our theories of gravity, but they also come with a warning, scrawled in the margins of the ever-growing cosmic map: here be monsters .Two people reaching at the same time for bread plates on opposite sides of them results in a pile-up that physicists would call a topological defect. In this specific case, it would be a domain wall, which, if let loose on the cosmos, would dominate the universe and lead to a Big Crunch. This is why I always wait for someone else to select the bread before making my attempt. Can a Revlon foot Spa turn your life around? I did not think so.