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Don't worry... I won't actually do it, just would like to know how.

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closed as not a real question by David Z Jan 20 '11 at 18:06

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Just wait until LHC starts running at 14TeV: then you'll find all about the destruction of the universe in your local newspapers :-) – Marek Nov 14 '10 at 15:44
@weiqure: energy isn't really conserved in general. Rather, it's a consequence of certain simplifications (assumption of time-translational symmetry of the spacetime), so this requires stationarity of space-time, which isn't consistent with expansion of the universe we are observing. Actually, in general theory of relativity it's hard to even reasonably define the concept of gravitational energy. – Marek Nov 14 '10 at 15:49
Honestly, I don't think this question is well-defined enough. If you're really interested in destroying the universe, a better question would be to think of a way to do it and then ask if it's possible, and if not (which is likely to be the case), why not. That's where the physics really comes in. – David Z Nov 14 '10 at 17:39
@Matt: the problem is that you saved a terrible question with an interesting answer. – Cedric H. Nov 14 '10 at 20:00
Multivac says: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER – Abdullah Jibaly Dec 5 '10 at 5:14

10 Answers 10

The physical process that might best be described as "destroying the universe" would be vacuum decay. Our entire universe might be in a metastable state, much like a supercooled liquid, and at some point quantum or thermal fluctuations could send some region of the universe into a lower ground state. If the region that tunnels to this ground state is large enough, it will expand at the speed of light, swallowing up the rest of the universe and converting it all to the lower state. This type of vacuum decay, in theories involving gravity, was calculated in a famous paper by Coleman and de Luccia. Anyone with the relevant background knowledge should read the paper, which like much of Coleman's work is beautifully clear and comprehensible. One passage in the paper is particularly famous (though it arguably shouldn't be taken too seriously now, given some of the assumptions it involves, including that our vacuum has exactly zero cosmological constant):

"The possibility that we are living in a false vacuum has never been a cheering one to contemplate. Vacuum decay is the ultimate ecological catastrophe; in the new vacuum there are new constants of nature; after vacuum decay, not only is life as we know it impossible, so is chemistry as we know it. However, one could always draw stoic comfort from the possibility that perhaps in the course of time the new vacuum would sustain, if not life as we know it, at least some structures capable of knowing joy. This possibility has now been eliminated."
— Sidney Coleman

If we live in a metastable vacuum (and, due to the observed positive cosmological constant, most physicists working on high-energy physics, cosmology, or gravity believe that we must, though there might be some unknown loopholes), then the universe will eventually decay. Luckily, the production of critical bubbles is quite rare, allowing us the time we needed to evolve and live in this metastable universe before the inevitable catastrophe. [Edited for clarification due to Marek's comment: it's only "inevitable" if our universe really is metastable, which despite strong suggestive arguments we don't definitively know.] You would have to wait around for billions of years to witness the end of the universe. If you're more ambitious (let's hope not), you could try to cause the decay by producing a region of the true vacuum, thus catalyzing the process instead of letting it happen naturally. A number of crackpots have tried to start a panic over accelerator experiments by suggesting that they can do this. However, higher-energy collisions happen in nature, and we're still here, so this is nothing to worry about. (There are more quantitative versions of this argument, of course. The risk really is effectively zero.)

The vacuum decay processes I've mentioned don't necessarily "destroy" the universe, they just radically alter it by leaving it in a completely different state. There is one type of vacuum decay, discovered by Witten and known as the bubble of nothing instability, which is more radical and leaves behind nothing, not even a new vacuum state.

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I'd read about Coleman's vacuum decay before, but never heard about Witten's bubble of nothing. – Raskolnikov Nov 14 '10 at 18:25
Very nice answer. Just perhaps it would be correct to explicitly state that this isn't a prediction based on an accepted physical theory. I.e. this is all based on some hypotheses and not much different from when I tell you that universe will be destroyed by flying spaghetti monster but you would have to wait for it for billions of years. That is, of course, unless you tried to catalyze the process by producing large amount of ketchup :-) – Marek Nov 14 '10 at 19:00
The one part of this that isn't known is whether we really live in a metastable state or not. The Coleman-de Luccia calculation of how the vacuum could decay is based entirely on accepted physical theory (quantum field theory and general relativity). We even almost know that we live in a metastable state: lower vacua can be calculated entirely from known physics (, provided neutrinos are Majorana and there are no new unknown very light fermions. There are many other convincing but not rigorous theoretical arguments that our vacuum is metastable. – Matt Reece Nov 14 '10 at 19:23
(To further clarify, the paper I just linked argues for the existence of lower-dimensional vacua than ours, and the physics that would connect us to such vacua is not precisely Coleman-de Luccia. If we discover supersymmetry at the LHC, other arguments will make it extremely likely that there are four-dimensional supersymmetric vacua that we could tunnel to in the CdL manner.) – Matt Reece Nov 14 '10 at 19:27
This bubble nucleation process is not something you can induce particularly. It seems as uncontrollable as radioactive decay. To be honest I am amazed at the large + scores given for this question and its answers, when the whole question is frankly silly. – Lawrence B. Crowell Jan 20 '11 at 17:31

Kill all the turtles on which it rests.

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One should not take this advice too literally - otherwise, inflector will have a really bad day ;) – Robert Filter Jan 6 '11 at 12:44
Yes, I do have a certain fondness for Turtles ;) – inflector Jan 6 '11 at 17:04

We are only humans. We don't know how to destroy the universe.

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You can't. Anything you do will only have an effect that effects an area that expands (at most) at the speed of light, so it only effects at most a sphere of radius $c t$ after time $t$. Anything else would violate the no-signalling principle which appears fundamental in physics. This means that the photon that just bounced off you into space will outrun the edge of any such an attempt to destroy the universe.

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Find antiuniverse somewhere and annihilate it with what we have here.

Black holes does not work as they evaporate when growing.

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they evaporate? – sova Jan 6 '11 at 6:13

I think that only an Universe can destroy an Universe (there's a lot of energy implied in doing so). If there is enough mass in our Universe, maybe its end could be a Big Crunch.

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At CERN's website, there was - for the time being - a page (which I cannot find now, someone please help?) about how the LHC could possibly "destroy the earth, the solar system or the whole universe altogether" with possible speculations.

These included creating black holes, strange matter that is more stable than the regular one, and a bunch of other ideas which I don't remember. All of this of course rather bogus, because such collisions occur naturally in cosmic radiation at sufficient frequency.

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Inverse the forces in nature is the fastest way to destroy it.

Make "Weak force" strong

Make "Strong force" weak

First one will increase radiation and will decay matter to energy instantaneously and second one will explode atom nucleus.

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This makes no sense. What does it mean to make the "strong force weak"? There are different mechanisms that give rise to either force and you can't simply invert their relative strengths at every point in space. – Joe Fitzsimons Jan 20 '11 at 16:27
does it matter? the question was a joke, hence all answers are the same... no need to get technical... – RolandiXor Jan 20 '11 at 17:18

Dear Splashhit, the easiest way to destroy the Universe is to continue to drive cars for years.

Whether you do it or not, the global mean temperature will increase from 15 °C to 16 °C or so in a century. When the temperature of the materials and organisms increases by as much as one Celsius degree, they will - according to the IPCC - transform into a deadly plasma that will kill all living life forms and evaporate all stars, ending with a complete cataclysm where the vacuum itself (scared by watching the horror on its most important planet) is eaten by nothingness. If you've ever experienced the staggering heat of 16 °C, you must know what terrible thing I am talking about. It's worse than hell.

Just kidding. There is obviously no threat whatsoever that would be linked to "climate change" as this meaningless tautology is often called. The IPCC is not destroying the Universe but it is surely destroying the ability of the people to think rationally about very basic things - and it is trying to destroy the world economy, too.

Cheers LM

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Find a logical inconsistency and use it to prove that the universe does not exist.

You could kill all observers, that would make the existence of the universe an unprovable proposition.

Alternately you can just wait for the Big Crunch.

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Or simply refuse to accept the axioms of logic. Then you can insist whatever you want is true. – Joe Fitzsimons Jan 20 '11 at 16:44

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