The false vacuum collapse is about a remote possibility, not just billions of years in the future, so far in the future that all the stars in the night sky have run out of fuel, long before.
There is no realistic possibility at present, or for billions of years, and it is of no concern.
Text: Can’t be here (instability)
Can’t realistically tunnel for billions of years even without new physics (meta-stability)
May be here Could still be absolutely stable with present physics (Absolute stability)
Many ways we may be here (lots of physics still to understand) (Absolute stability)
This another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal about it, by such stories.
Do share this with your friends if you find it useful, as they may be panicking too.
Tommi Markkanenn, an expert on the False Vacuum, gave this endorsement to my analogies:
For anyone concerned about a possible vacuum instability affecting us now or in the future, please read this post carefully. I think it does a fantastic job in explaining why it is absolutely of no concern."
Ignore the sensationalist press and click bait journalism
We get many people come to our group scared of this as a result of click bait journalism. Don't listen to the red top tabloids (the ones that run stories like "Residents TERRIFIED as ‘ALIEN FOOTPRINTS’ found in Indian village" - that is an actual title from the Daily Express). They are not going to report this properly, just as with all their fake asteroid warnings (see Did you know, NASA have NEVER issued any ASTEROID ALERT - most likely future warning: Tiny Asteroid to Splosh Harmlessly in Pacific Ocean)
Text: Click bait titles - no realistic possibility for billions of years into the future
For this sort of story you should avoid the red top tabloids, the “Alien footsteps thud” type ones like
- Daily Star
As you see in that screenshot, the International Business Times also run sensationalist stories and there are a fair few others that do, often just copying them from the Daily Express or other "red top" tabloid
But even the mainstream media like the BBC may have non scientific journalists cover the story who get it wrong.
Also mainstream journalists, when they get it right still often use click bait titles. It’s only if you click through and read to the end that you realize it is not something of imminent near future concern. By that time some of the readers will be panicking already and not paying attention to detail, and many people don’t read to the end of an article.
Good articles on this topic
There are some good articles on the topic, here are a couple::
- Gizmodo The Universe Is Not in Danger of Ending From a Higgs Boson Vacuum Bubble - Good to see someone else explaining the false vacuum collapse properly to the general public :).
- Smithsonian:. If a Cosmic Bubble Destroys the Universe, Scientists Now Know When It'll Happen - Don’t panic yet; the end won’t be for at least 10 octodecillion years, if it happens at all
For a bit more techy detail:
- .Will the Higgs Boson Destroy the Universe??? from: Fermilab Today
- This one by Pauline Gagnon is good: Quantum Diaries
- This video is also good, from 2011, Gian Giudice introduces the idea of the Higgs boson collapse, and why we don’t need to worry about it.
Although some of these are old articles what is said in them still stands today that it is not a realistic possibility now or for trillions of years. They have good explanations of why this is, which are worth reading.
Helping you understand how scientists speak
Short summary - according to the calculations of the theorists, nothing realistically can happen for many trillions of trillions of years. It’s just theorists working with math.
Physicists can calculate almost anything impossible and call it a chance, such as calculating the “chance” that if you leave a ping pong ball in a vault for trillions and trillions of years it would appear on the opposite side, or the vault itself turn into a museum, or a stradivarius violin spontaneously appear from nowhere in the asteroid belt. All these things have a “chance” according to theoreticians but you shouldn’t go off prospecting for violins in the asteroid belt :), because in ordinary language this is not possible. In the same way they can calculate a "chance" for a false vacuum collapse (Higgs vacuum decay) in an instanton. In ordinary non mathematical speech, it is not possible.
In this article I’ll try and give an idea of what the actual numbers mean from the false vacuum paper, and explain why it shows that it is of absolutely no concern. Pease do not worry and take this vacuum decay idea seriously, it is not going to happen for trillions of years.
One of the examples I use is for 24 planes to all accidentally crash at once into your house in the very next second after you read this sentence.
Since 24 planes can't crash into your house in the next second, a false vacuum collapse can't happen anywhere in the universe any time for billions of years (maths is the same)
This is not a real possibility and nor is the false vacuum collapse.
My blog post:
- “Chance” of false vacuum collapse (Higgs vacuum decay) so small - in ordinary language it is not possible - helping you to understand how scientists speak
You are safe even from mythological space cows
Although the maths is very complex for the false vacuum decay, there is a way you can see for yourself that we are safe. Let’s make up a silly idea, that you think the universe could be eaten by a “space cow”.
Except it should be in a vacuum:
(This is an in joke amongst physicists, see Spherical cow)
There is nothing special about our current millenium as regards the universe as a whole. Myriads of stars and planets are born from gas clouds every day; other stars are getting old; myriads of planets are orbiting stars; myriads of galaxies continue turning; the universe is much the same as it has been for billions of years. To someone scared of mythological space cows, you could say:
"No space cow has eaten our universe for 13 million millenia, and there is nothing special about our millenium. It's not like the universe gets especially tasty for mythological space cows at 13 million millenia exactly. So even if it was theoretically possible,there is no realistic possibility of being eaten by a mythological space cow this millenium.
In this way we are safe from anything that could happen to the entire universe, so we are safe from a false vacuum decay.
Remember your ancestors
This is simiilar to the Space Cow argument, but may be a helpful way of looking at it for some people as another way you can see for yourself that it is safe without all the complex maths. Remember that nothing happened to the universe in the lifetime of your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, going back to the first homo sapiens, back to astrolopithecens, homo erectus, back and back to the small mammels scuttling up trees at the time of the dinosuars, back and back to our single cell microbial ancestors and back to before evolution began on Earth, 13 millenia ago.
As for the Space Cows, there is nothing special about our current generation or millenium, so we are safe from a false vacuum decay..
This is about the vast future timescale of our universe, it is still very young, a baby really
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Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears
If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.
If in the middle of a panic attack, see
- Breathe in and out slowly and deeply to calm a panic attack by Robert Walker on Debunking Doomsday
- Tips from CBT - might help some of you to deal with doomsday anxieties
- STOPP skill
Facebook support group
Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by these fake doomsdays.
If you need help
Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help.
There are many others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can also debunk fake Doomsday “news” for you if you get scared of a story and are not sure if it is true. See our debunkers list
If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia