China to destroy universe

China is working on a laser system called “Station of Extreme Light”, capable of creating pulses of 10 million billion watts. It is expected to concentrate enough energy in a small area to generate electron-positron pairs from the vacuum.

This will of course lead to a collapse of the false vacuum, destroying the universe.

Just giving a heads-up.

From the cite:

Yeah – the Laboratory for Laser Energetics’ Omega laser system was the first thing I thought of when reading that. The Omega system at the LLE was the East Coast laser fusion facility (pictured in the article) which was building an ultrafast ultrapowerful laser system in order to generate inertial confinement fusion. If I wanted to scale up a US facility in a hurry to compete with other groups, I’d go to them or to Livermore. I used to live behind that lab, in Whipple Park.

I have to admit that I’m not entirely clear on what this is to accomplish, aside from Going Where No One Has Ever Gone Before and seeing what happens.

if you want to agonize over powerful Chinese lasers, by the way, you might want to consider the Silent Hunter laser they demonstrated at an arms show in Dubai last year.

It produces a measley (by comparison) 70-100 kW of output, but it has a demonstrated capability of cutting up missiles, and it’s field-deployable. Its claimed output is greater than the declared output of US military lasers.

Is it protected by a series of walls?

Nope. Just trees. Lotsa trees

I’ve never understood the “accelerators are going to destroy the…” as there are more powerful events going on all the time than anything we can hope to replicate.

If I were to be nervous about something man made destroying the universe, it would be our quest to get ever colder and closer to absolute zero. Removing that much energy from a system seems more likely to cause it to fall to a lower energy state than adding a bunch of energy to a system. There is also the fact that there are not many place in the universe that would reach those temperatures, so you can’t use the same reasoning about high energy events.

Note: I am not saying that I think it is likely that the universe will be destroyed because someone turned down the thermostat a bit too far, but if I had to pick one to be concerned about, it would not be accelerators.

Ultra…fast? Isn’t there, like, a speed limit on lasers?

At last! After two thousand years of work, the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator!

Fast as in short pulses. The limit (femtoseconds? attoseconds?) should depend on exactly how you construct the laser.

A power limit. The proposed one uses a thousand times more power than all the world’s power grids combined, but the pulse last less than a trillionth of a second. Let’s say that it makes one pulse per second–it would have only to store one billionth of the world’s power capacity for that one second and then fire it. So it has to run for an extremely short time for the whole world to have enough energy to power it. (Plus, even if there was miraculously enough energy to power it, it’d probably melt in an eyeblink.)

Of all the movie plots I’d like to see come true…Real Genius wasn’t on the top of my list.

Looking forward to Dr Hathaway’s house being full of Popcorn again.

From Cal Meacham:


You can’t scare me. I’ve read enough Spider Robinson to know that the collapse of the false vacuum can be thwarted by a crusty old piano player, a lanky practical joker, a talking dog, the immortal Tesla, the spirit of the Internet, a bar-tender, a bass player and a genius toddler, all in telepathic communion. But first, some puns!

Okay, then go read Greg Egan’s Schild’s Ladder. Then I can scare you.

Sensible people already existing in computational form can easily evade a 1/2-c collapse, and recreate their whole planet at their leisure somewhere else, and who knows, the post-false-vacuum-collapse universe might be absolutely full of intelligent life, not just on a few planets, but actually throughout the whole volume, composed of new kinds of physical structures that the collapse has made possible (Greg Egan is awesome!).

Don’t worry, the aliens won’t let it happen. :rolleyes:

Dude, is there some reason we can’t just say “10 quadrillion watts”?

Wait – now here’s the good news. This is strong evidence, if not proof, that there is no significantly higher intellect anywhere in the universe. If there were, they would have reached this point and destroyed the false vacuum and reduced to universe to a whimpering sop…

You’d think so, wouldn’t you? However, since the vacuum collapse propogates at the speed of light, it’s entirely possible that it’s already happened, but just hasn’t reached us yet. Perhaps there is (was) a hyper-intelligent race of beings 10,000,000 light years away, who destroyed the false vacuum 9,999,999.95 years ago…

From Restaurant at the end of the Universe

Perhaps we should consult with the Tralfamadorans as to whether this is the correct time to destroy the universe or should we just wait for them to do it.