The ultimate fate of the universe is a mind-bogglingly thing to think about. So what’s the final outcome for it all?
One of the furthest reaches of time we dare to predict is the end of the universe. As far as we know this is the end of not only life as we know it but everything that’s ever existed. No more matter, no more light, no more particles, no more nothing. It’s a harrowing reality to fathom, but it’s one we need not worry about too much – if the universe does end, it will be in an unfathomable amount of time as it eclipses trillions upon trillions of years. We must be triumphant on the edge of nothingness as we look forth to the fate of the universe.
The end of Earth, on the other hand, could come at any moment. There’s a number of cosmic events that could wipe this planet right off the universal map. Cataclysmic asteroids, gamma-ray bursts, close supernova blasts, a rogue black hole, and so on. There’s no shortage of astounding yet deadly phenomena in space.
One thing we know for certain is that the Sun’s luminosity increases every billion years by 6%. Our planet will most likely be inhospitable to life in the next billion years. Fast forward 6 billion years and the ground beneath your feet will be completely vaporized. The ultimate fate of the universe is a mind-bogglingly thing to think about. So what’s the final outcome for it all?
The science is anything but conclusive. The Universe might be infinite and never end, it might have never started, but have always been. It could be cyclical in nature with Big Bangs and slow burns occurring on universal eons of scales, or it could splatter out into the truest void.
Our best theories of physics have come up with a few ideas throughout the years and suggest a number of options for the great cosmic deluge. Some hopeful technologists and transhumanists believe we could survive these apocalypses and float off into another universe or dimension. It all depends on what theory you subscribe to. Here are a few.
The big crunch
The Big Crunch could be the ending component to the Big Bang. This model of universal death occurs if the expansion of the universe stutters out and stops expanding. If the average density of the universe isn’t enough to stop expansion, then the universe in a sense will revert and then start to collapse onto itself.
Michio Kaku talks about this when discussing dark matter and his view of the ultimate fate of the universe. The eventual state will be all matter and particles coming together into a black hole singularity. Then boom! This could have been the state that the universe was in when the Big Bang came about. Such an event like this could be evidence of a cyclical repetition of the universe and would confirm many ancient theories of the destiny of the universe. Astrophysicists and other scientists call this conformal cyclic cosmology. Once one universe collapses, it rebirths a new one.
The dichotomy of forces would be like a great celestial wave riding on for trillions of years, just to pull back and crash out again into the infinite over and over again. This is also possible if there is a reversal in dark energy (which some scientists speculate is causing the current expansion effects we see.)
Our current universal experience could be an iteration of an infinite many continuing on through the ages ad infinitum. We’ll explore the philosophical ramifications of this later.
The big freeze
Another popular theory of the end of the universe relies on the laws of thermodynamics and also understanding the true nature of dark energy. The Big Freeze or conversely Heat Death of the universe might come about as the universe continues to expand at an increasingly faster speed.
If the universe continues to expand at an ever-increasing interval, there are a few things that are going to happen those concern physicists. Galaxies and all the stars and planets inside of them will be pulled farther from one another. Deep in the future, intelligent civilizations may look up into the night sky and see nothing as the stars have receded so far away from one another that no light can touch them.
So long alien contact! Eventually, all the stars may be pushed so far from one another that there will be no more explosive reactive energy to make future stars and celestial bodies. And the lights go down in the universe, and they’ll never be live again. Epochs of time crash by with no clock to chart the voyage of the final void.
Soon only the flickers of the infinitesimal particles will remain until their solemn death into nothingness. Colder and colder and the dynamic changes that once paved the way for the fiery life of suns and galaxies will come closer to reaching absolute zero. Once this state is reached, all movement stops.
There is no existence at absolute zero and no energy. At this point, the universe has reached a maximum state of entropy and is no more.
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