‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ The No-W…

‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ The No-Win Situation, And The Cause Of All Life: Season 1, Episode 13 Review

“One of the most puzzling features of the Universe is that the zero-point energy of some systems isn’t actually zero. The lowest energy state of an electron in an atom is some positive value rather than zero; so it goes for empty space itself. In our Universe today, this manifests itself as dark energy: energy inherent to the fabric of space, causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate. There is always the possibility, though, that we’re not in the lowest-energy state at all, but in a false vacuum. That at any moment, it can decay. And if it does, this ends the Universe as we know it.”

There are many times in life where we have to face a no-win situation: where whatever we do, we suffer a terrible loss in some form or another. In those situations, the incredibly difficult decision has got to be to make the least bad decision possible. In Star Trek, however, in an episode filled with no-win situations, characters routinely refuse to accept it. In the case of the mycelium network going down, it was necessary; if the network dies, all life in all Universes dies. This might sound like the most fiction-y element in a series that’s already stretching the limits of science. But there’s a real worry to back this one up: the problem of vacuum decay.

If our Universe isn’t in the true vacuum state, the lowest-energy configuration, it’s only a matter of time before we go down. Here’s the science behind this episode of Star Trek!