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Scenario:

The most feared evil scientist in the world, Sinister Norman Van Deathtoyou, is on a mission to destroy everything. Humans, Earth, The Universe, even the very fabric of space and time. But, being the cliche evil scientist that Sinister is, he must do this in a complex fashion that only he needs to understand.

First, he invents time travel. Yes, this is a bit far fetched but Sinister is an extremely intelligent guy with unparalleled motivation (So please blindly accept this as fact). This time travel has rules, and these rules are important and must be followed exactly:

  • Sinister has discovered that the Universe does everything possible to disregard paradoxes. This means that the predestination paradox that is often associated with time travel is completely irrelevant.
  • Also, none of that "uhhh but if he destroys reality in the past then he will never have been born to destroy reality" garbage. Sinister has found that the universe still runs linear even if he goes to a different point in time. If he destroys reality at any point in time then he will still have succeeded in destroying reality.
  • Time travel is extremely intrusive to a human's health and only one single trip can be survived.
  • I don't know all of the actual science behind what the destruction of the universe means in a technical sense and I don't really care all that much. Numbers are great but there are many more important things!

Goal:

Describe a method in which Sinister can make one trip and do the absolute minimum (in terms of the actual action) in order to destroy the very fabric of time and space, effectively annihilating everything.

Bonus points to creativity, thoughtfulness, and uniqueness of responses.

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    $\begingroup$ He sounds more like an evil engineer, or does he have a control group for a universe that's not annihilated? $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 4 '15 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Samuel He intends on destroying everything including himself. He has no intention of anything not being annihilated. He doesn't even care about ego anymore he just wants everything gone. $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 4 '15 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ Right, so he's not much of a scientist. It's just a little joke. Does spacetime need to be destroyed? Or just things like life, stars, planets, and molecules? Literally no one would know the difference. $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 4 '15 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't the anti-paradox principles simply find that the easiest thing to do is break the time machne? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 4 '15 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ Humans can't survive more than one trip, what about robots or other devices? Can we send machines back in time multiple times? $\endgroup$ – Schwern May 5 '15 at 3:26
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How to Destroy the Universe with a Time Machine...

Change the initial conditions which are responsible for the Baryon Asymmetry. All matter and anti-matter should have cancelled out, but it didn't (citation: reality). All our scientist has to do is figure out why (note: this is one of the great unsolved problems in physics), then use the time machine to go back and alter initial conditions to make baryon annihilation symmetrical.

Or, travel to the inflation period (10^-32 seconds after the Big Bang) and make an alteration which would cause the Universe to choose a lower energy state than we currently (apparently) occupy, known as vacuum decay.

Or simply travel to the inflation period. The current large scale structure of the Universe is a result of small, chaotic motions in the very early Universe. Introducing any sort of perturbation during this period, such as a suicidal human and their time machine, would likely radically alter the large scale structure of the present day Universe. You'd still have stars and planets, but different ones in different places, and no Earth.

Look, I didn't say it would be easy.

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  • $\begingroup$ I love this reply I'd just really like some more specifics. Delve deeper!!! For example: "use the time machine to go back to alter initial conditions to make baryon annihilation symmetrical. This is a super cool idea but I'd like it if you'd go into theories on the HOW's and THEN WHAT's ya know? Awesome concepts introduced though!! $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 5 '15 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ @wposeyjr That's beyond my understanding of physics. You might have better luck posting on Physics.SE. $\endgroup$ – Schwern May 6 '15 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ Now I'm just imagining Normal showing up at the inflation period and discovering a half a dozen other alien time machines belonging to villains from previous civilizations who'd had the exact same idea. $\endgroup$ – Admiral Jota Oct 16 '18 at 17:21
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By triggering vacuum decay.

If this were the case [the Universe is in a false vacuum], a bubble of lower-energy vacuum could come to exist by chance or otherwise in our universe, and catalyze the conversion of our universe to a lower energy state in a volume expanding at nearly the speed of light, destroying all of the observable universe without forewarning.

Plotwise it isn't as interesting because once it's triggered, it propagates at or near the speed of light - meaning no information about the event can outrace its effects AND there is absolutely nothing you can do about it after it has been triggered.

If the event is triggered, it will ultimately devastate the entire Universe.

Ironically, the event could have already been triggered and we will never know it. The event is so devastating, it is possible that not even subatomic particles will survive.

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For time travel to work, there must be one of four possibilities- (1) fate as far the time traveller is concerned- nothing changes. You add energy and almost certainly mass to the past and future doesn't change. Its like a physical movie film, damaging or changing the start doesn't change the end. Basically suggested by quantum physicists that the quantum states lose randomness. (2) You cease to exist before you actually interact with the past (3) the whole universe ceases to exist. (4) the laws of physics change to fit with extra mass and energy in the universe.

(3) & probably (4) mean you don't have do anything in the past to destroy everything.

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(All my knowledge of the subject comes from the wiki, so I might just misunderstand it.)

Doc needs to increase the density of the universe, and it would collapse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe#Examples, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_fate_of_the_universe#Density_parameter)

Doing that with a time machines seems feasible, if you are able to send a noticeable part of the universe back in time. If you move matter back in time, it becomes 2x dense (old one + new one on top of it); iterate until you get the desired density.
(I guess it would better be done at the beginning of the universe, while it's relatively small).

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To destroy, Norman Van Deathtoyou must first create. That's right, you heard me, I said create. What must he create? A LOT of Dark Energy. I mean, much, much more. It counteracts gravity and if you somehow stuff enough of it into our universe everything in it will explode. Since our universe has a virtually infinite amount of matter, it will take at least a couple hundred times what already exists. This is really the only way to totally destroy everything, and even then the universe will exist. It will simply be sparsely filled with pure energy.

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    $\begingroup$ Why would dark energy convert all matter into pure energy? $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 4 '15 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ The matter is held together by gravity.... $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat May 4 '15 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ I watched an episode of 'The Universe' on the history channel on the end of everything and I remember something similar. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat May 4 '15 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Are you saying gravity is keeping matter from spontaneously converting to energy? $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 4 '15 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, no, that logic is based on a misunderstanding of physics. Gravity is not the force causing electrons to be attracted to the nucleus and protons and neutrons are held together by another force altogether. Gravity is by far the weakest fundamental force. It's 10^−36 as strong as the force holding electrons to the nucleus. $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 4 '15 at 20:29
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Make The Universe Punch Itself In The Face

The exact answer depends on exactly how this happens:

Sinister has discovered that the Universe does everything possible to immediately resolve paradoxes.

But what you want to do is create a paradox that the universe will resolve in such a way that it ends up destroying itself.

This will take some experimentation with the anti-paradox mechanism, but once you understand how it works there should be some way to set things up so that resolving a paradox requires a universe-ending event - dividing by zero, ripping apart spacetime, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Travel back to time = -1 and let the universe figure that out? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth May 4 '15 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ So you introduced a plausible way to accomplish the goal but you failed to describe any sort of implementation! Sinister would LOVE to punch the universe in the face but you didn't tell him how to do it! $\endgroup$ – wposeyjr May 5 '15 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @wposeyjr: there's not enough details in the question to come up with a specific example. $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske May 5 '15 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ Be careful. The last time someone punched the universe in the face, it resurrected Jason Todd. $\endgroup$ – KSmarts May 5 '15 at 19:50
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Simple!

If we accept either of the two most supported potential ends of the Universe, destroying the Universe is just two simple steps.

  • Travel to last second before Big Rip / Big Freeze
  • Wait one second.

Job done!

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  • $\begingroup$ I really doubt that this can in any way be interpreted as an answer to the question. Most of all since our evil engineer is not doing anything. $\endgroup$ – Burki May 6 '15 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't doing as little as possible the point here? $\endgroup$ – Docteur May 6 '15 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ Well... the OP states: "is on a mission to destroy everything". Imho just waiting until it is destroyed anyway is alt least stretching the intention of the OP very, very far. Beyond recognition, one might say. $\endgroup$ – Burki May 6 '15 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you know, stretching it far was the "unique" part. :-P But OP states that he must do the "absolute minimum in term of actions" $\endgroup$ – Docteur May 6 '15 at 11:35

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