End of the Universe
September 9, 2004 6:43 PM   Subscribe

End of the universe scenarios. I'm familiar with the concepts of "heat death" as well as the universe contracting unto another Big Bang. How else might the universe someday become a completely un-survivable place?
posted by scarabic to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Big Rip, maybe? I love this topic.
posted by Hypharse at 6:53 PM on September 9, 2004

vacuum collapse
brane collision
posted by sfenders at 7:16 PM on September 9, 2004

They used to talk about a Big Crunch but it's passé.
posted by Songdog at 7:25 PM on September 9, 2004

End Times.
Omega Point.

There's some great stuff on the end of the universe on Wikipedia, and don't miss Jim Holt's Slate article on the importance of questions like yours.
posted by Songdog at 7:33 PM on September 9, 2004

Gotta love that Wikipedia! Stupid reporters.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:46 PM on September 9, 2004

Asimov defined end-of-the-universe scenarios as Class I catastrophes in his book A Choice of Catastrophes. He listed 4 categories of Class I catastrophes: Judgment Day (ex., Ragnarok), Increase of Entropy (ex., heat death), Closing of the Universe (ex., Big Crunch), and Collapse of Stars (ex., black holes).
posted by joaquim at 8:52 PM on September 9, 2004

Given that it's not likely we'll ever travel beyond the solar system, a gamma/cosmic ray burst. But this is merely temporary un-survivability.
posted by shoos at 8:58 PM on September 9, 2004

Well yeah, a gamma ray burst could wipe out our little party here. But one thing or another is certain to do that long before the end of the universe. I bet we won't even last long enough to see the sun burn out. This page illustrates some of the many amusing possibilities. Something as mundane as a "supervolcano" could do it. Collisions with asteroids, kuiper belt objects, and the various stars that are even now headed straight for us are also likely candidates.
posted by sfenders at 9:31 PM on September 9, 2004

At any moment an unusual flux in spatial expansion could cause a new Big Bang to erupt in your livingroom or your little toe. You might survive the former, probably not the latter. But then maybe our local area of this universe will become a deadzone.

Some clever scientist somewhere will manage to unscrew the inscrutible, and those tiny extra dimensions we aren't sure exist will switch places with the ones we know, and everything will be inside out and dead.

What keswick said.
posted by Goofyy at 11:06 PM on September 9, 2004

If what we inductively conclude are laws of science simply cease to function in the ways we have come to expect.
posted by ed\26h at 2:00 AM on September 10, 2004

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