The universe is made up of the basic building blocks of all matter, the elementary particles – electrons, quarks etc. Each particle pops into existence as a result of fluctuations in their respective fields. All these fields that permeate the universe exist in their most stable state (lowest energy level – the lower the energy of a body in the universe, the more stable it is). But, physicists have discovered an exception that might risk the existence of the universe as we know it.
Something, the laws of physics tell us is possible that might change the face of the universe! Let’s take a look at the Higgs Field.
The Higgs Field is responsible for the creation of the Higgs Boson, the particle that gives matter its mass. But this field, unlike other fields, as shown by calculations is not entirely stable. The Higgs field is Metastable – meaning that it appears to be at its most stable state but it can still drop to an even more stable state. This means the Higgs Field is in a false vacuum state – it is not in its most stable state. When its energy level drops to the lowest possible level – the most stable or the true vacuum state – it will cause an apocalypse. This can happen in two ways. One is via random quantum fluctuations and the other can happen if an extremely high energy event is produced (unlike anything the universe has ever seen). When this energy drop occurs, a bubble-like structure containing the true vacuum state will form at the point of energy drop and expand outwards in all directions at the speed of light. In this process, the bubble converts the vacuum of the surrounding regions into the true vacuum state. All the laws of physics inside this bubble will be different and it will spread until it engulfs the whole universe. It might also be the case that we are living inside one of these bubbles!
It is possible that one or maybe more of these events are happening right now. But, why hasn’t it destroyed the universe yet? This is because the speed of light is too slow on the cosmic scale. If one of these apocalyptic bubbles has already formed but, is a bit far away, it might never reach us. In time, the expansion rate of the universe will overwhelm the expansion speed of one of these bubbles.
Now that is some relieving news. We all can sleep tight at night not worrying about some bubble annihilating the universe.