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false vacuum

(apparent QM vacuum)

Quantum mechanics includes the concept of a false vacuum: vacuum in quantum mechanics indicates the lowest possible state of energy, and a false vacuum is a state of energy that "seems" lowest (i.e., metastable) in that there is no lower state within "interaction" reach. (This technical definition of vacuum relates to the common definition because the emptiest possible space does include some quantum activity, but the least possible amount.)

If the false vacuum has the opportunity to interact with a true vacuum (the truly lowest state of excitation, the ground state), the false vacuum exhibits a negative pressure in relation to the true vacuum, causing it to rapidly shrink. Some (cosmological) theories of inflation, including the original one, suppose it to be such an interaction involving a false vacuum present just after the Big Bang.

(physics,quantum mechanics,cosmology)
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