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The beginning of the universe is exciting and as Ive read about it I’ve come across a paper that talks about quantum mechanics and how quantum fluctuations can cause space to be created from a meta stable false vacuum into a true vacuum.

Could you guys help me understand what some of this means.

What does it mean for these fluctuations to create space and for this shift from a false to real vacuum?

what is a false and real vacuum?

How can a false vacuum or quantum fluctuations even exist if there is no universe, space, or time for it to exist in?

Thanks for the help!

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The real vacuum is the lowest energy state... a global minimum. A false vacuum is a local minimum like pure liquid water below $0^o C$. Some impurities are needed for crystals to form which gets water over the potential barrier and into the frozen state.

When the system is the whole universe instead of water, these global and local minima are probably such that only one of them allows life and large scale structure to exist. Hence a transition from one to the other can be viewed as "creating a universe" even though we don't mean that in the literal sense that space-time and fields ceased to exist before the transition.

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