Asbo Zaprudder wrote:
Wasn't the mostly execrable film Supernova (2000) based on a similar premise, where the state change was triggered by an alien artifact and a supernova?
Not a clue. Never saw it.
Well it seems that they are saying that the universe just recycles itself every couple of billion years. Which means we weren't the first universe, or the last and this might have happened lots of times already.
No, I don't think that's what they're saying. This wouldn't be an alternate reality with stars and planets like ours. It would be a change of state in the nature of the universe, an alteration of its laws of physics that would make stars and planets and life unable to exist. They're just calling it an "alternate universe" because it would be a radically different type of universe after the change.
That false vacuum article at Wikipedia, linked above, mentions some of the other science fiction works that have used the idea of a vacuum metastability event as a cosmic doomsday scenario, including the story "Vacuum States" by Geoffrey A. Landis and the novels Time
by Stephen Baxter and Schild's Ladder
by Greg Egan.