In case you’ve been making a list of all the ways our world could end, here’s a new terrifying theory to add to the list along with climate change, international clashes, water scarcity, nuclear war, and downright stupidity.

It's called vacuum decay, and it has nothing to do with vacuums, because scientists. They are bad at naming things. The video above explains everything in alarming detail, but here's the quick version.

All particles and quantum fields are seeking to move from an unstable, high-energy state (sounds familiar?) to a stable, low-energy one. Which is all very well, but it may be the case that the Higgs field – which gives all matter in the universe its mass – is in a false state of stability. It might actually still be unstable and ready to release a lot of energy as it moves to a genuinely stable state.

What will happen if it makes that move? That's easy. Everything in the universe will be wiped out. Can such a thing happen? You bet. In fact, it could have started already, for all we know. Somewhere so far that it will take some time before the catastrophe reaches us.

And it gets worse. At least, for scientists. Because all the laws of physics will break down, and a new physics will have to be discovered. Another matter that there'll be no one around to do it.

The good news, though, is that the whole thing can only move as fast as the speed of light to get to us here on the third rock from the sun. And if the universe may be expanding fast enough to keep it at bay for a much longer time.

And besides, it's only a theory so far. Sadly, there's only one way to prove or disprove this hypothesis. And since that means our destruction, maybe we'll never know one way or the other.