False Vacuum Definition I need help....
Posted 12 August 2012 - 06:41 AM
Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:12 AM
First, an explanation of what a vacuum is, in quantum mechanical terms:
The quantum vacuum consists of particles that are virtual, rather than actual, meaning that they can be shown to exist using quantum mechanical calculations, but these calculation show that, except in extraordinary situations (such as Casimir effect measuring experiment), they can never be detected.
Next, what a false quantum vacuum is:
If these QM calculations show that these virtual particles can change state from one of higher to lower energy, they’re called a false vacuum. Such a transition is called a vacuum perturbation.
Though theories abound, there’s no one clearly supported by experimental evidence that gives a definitive answer to how true or false the quantum vacuum in our vicinity, or the universe a whole, is, or what a transition from a higher energy false vacuum to a lower, or lowest energy true vacuum, would be like.
Some theories hypothesize that the transition would be nearly undetectable, and/or is happening right now. Others hypothesize that it would be a universe-as-we-know-it ending catastrophe. Both of these kinds also hypothesize that the universe-as-we-know-it is the result of an ancient (likely about 13 billion years ago) vacuum perturbation.
This is all very speculative, and the mathematical physics involved, hard, much harder than I can manage. IMHO, good hard SF is as useful for imagining a catastrophic vacuum perturbation. My favorite is Greg Egan’s 2002 novel Schild's Ladder.
The quantum false vacuum, like the classical vacuum known to physicists since the 17th century, is empty of actual particles. There are no atoms in it.