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I've just read about something I had never of before, false vacuums. After reading a couple descriptions of what a drop (or rather, a vacuum metastability event) would imply, I thought of the Big Bang. I realise this might be a very ignorant idea, but is there any chance the Big Bang could have been one such change of state? If not, what do we know about one or the other that would make this a definite no?

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Yes. This is the idea behind some versions of Eternal Inflation. In that model, most of an infinite universe is assumed to be in a higher-energy vacuum state, in which pockets chaotically inflate. Some of those pockets also decay, and the combination produces Big Bangs which make universes like ours embedded in a large surrounding non-decayed, non-inflated multiverse.

Needless to say, that is a major simplification of the real theory (probably to the point of of not actually be strictly true anymore, really), and not all cosmologists agree with it.

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    $\begingroup$ One should probably add, that eternal inflation doesn't even necessitate chaotically inflating pockets in a larger structure. One can use a rescaling argument to "stretch " a singe decay into an endless series of ever lower energy structured epochs (of one universe) with different local "fundamental" constants, which takes care or a number of problems (like initial conditions, homogeneity, the anthropic problem etc.). To me that's quite appealing, really. Let's see if it will stand up to observations. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Sep 8 '14 at 20:20

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