Wednesday, January 31, 2024

First Experimental Test of Process that Might Have Created Universe

One of the most disturbing ideas in physics, or maybe *the most disturbing idea, is that space can fall apart. That’s because it could be what’s called “false” vacuum. A false vacuum can remain in this innocent reliable looking form for billions of years, but eventually a quantum fluctuation could be enough to cause it to decay. This would release enormous amounts of energy and kill all of us. Yes, cheerful thought.

So far, this has all been theory. But a new experiment has now for the first time observed that quantum fluctuations can actually trigger a transition like that, luckily not for the entire universe, but for a small and safe test-setting in the laboratory with ultracold gases.

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