The Standard Model, and current measurements of the Higgs mass, suggest that our universe is in a metastable state, which may catastrophically collapse into a false vacuum.


In a study posted on the arXiv in March 2015,[17] it was pointed out that the vacuum decay rate could be vastly increased in the vicinity of black holes, which would serve as a nucleation seed.[18] According to this study a potentially catastrophic vacuum decay would certainly be triggered any time by primordial black holes, should they exist.


the presence of any micro-black hole would prove lethal to our universe.

This means that the universe should have collapsed by now. Why hasn't it?

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    $\begingroup$ I think the key part is the last line of your first text, namely the part "..should they exist." This hasn't been shown yet as far as I know. $\endgroup$
    – Triatticus
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ You say "collapse into a false vacuum". I think you mean "collapse from a false vacuum into the true vacuum". $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ The universe could be collapsing into true vacuum and the collapse, which expands at the speed of light, might reach our solar system tomorrow and destroy it. We wouldn’t have any advance warning. Don’t worry, it won’t be painful. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Jan 29, 2020 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ There is of course the additional possibility of undiscovered fields/particles between the electroweak scale and the Planck scale that simply stabilizes everything, and there is in fact no issue with the false vacuum. $\endgroup$
    – QuantumDot
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 5:30

2 Answers 2

1) The universe isn’t old enough yet

There are a number of calculations of the decay rate or lifetime of the electroweak vacuum, like Chigusa, 2018 and Andreassen, 2018, and they conclude that the Universe is not old enough to have decayed, i.e. predicted lifetime around 10^161 years compared to current lifetime of around $10^9$ years.

There is also a paper by Khoury, 2019 that posits this lifetime is no coincidence, rather an indicator of near criticality. System near criticality usually has some kind of selection pressure, or can be modelled that way

2) The Standard Model is not valid all the way to the Planck scale

The papers in (1) above all make this point, as does the answer by @Mitchell Porter. Basically, the OP's paper on BH's is in this same category, although what that paper actually says is:

The importance of these results lies in the fact that a single primordial black hole in the observable universe would cause the decay of the Standard Model Higgs vacuum, and therefore would contradict the Standard Model.

i.e. maybe there are no primordial BH's, or the SM is not valid all the way to the Planck scale.

3) The vacuum is stable, but right on the critical boundary 

The Higgs and/or the top quark pole masses are slightly different to the current PDG running averages, and the Universe is actually stable, but right on the boundary of metastability, i.e. near criticality.


The masses of the Higgs and the top show that the parameters of the standard model are tuned such that the vacuum is on the edge of decay anyway. The reason for this is not at all known, and suggests that there are processes at work, perhaps at the quantum gravity scale, which are not accounted for in models like the one you cite.


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