The End of the Universe

Scientists are often a breed of their own whose imagination tends to run havoc when viewing the universe, not in its current state but billions of years ahead.

For the common man or woman, even those of exceptional vision and intelligence, a prediction as to what would happen to the universe in exactly twenty-two billion years sounds a very good topic for filmmaking, rather than serious scientific research that spells doom by claiming evidence supporting the Big Rip theory, explaining how the universe will end.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, discovered a mathematical formula for the theory, which states that, as the universe expands, it will eventually be ripped apart.

‘The idea of the Big Rip is that eventually even the constituents of matter would start separating from each other. You’d be seeing all the atoms being ripped apart… It’s fair to say that it’s a dramatic scenario,’ Dr Marcelo Disconzi told the Guardian.

Scientists observed distant supernovae to examine if the Big Rip theory, first suggested in 2003, was possible. ‘We know what this means, but what it actually means in physical terms is hard to fathom,’ said Dr Disconzi.

Conflicting theories for how the universe will end include the Big Crunch, whereby the Big Bang reverses and everything contracts, and the Big Freeze where, as the universe expands, it becomes too cold to sustain life.

With the Big Rip theory, scientists have previously queried how sticky fluids could travel faster than the speed of light, defying the laws of physics. However, the Vanderbilt team combined a series of equations, including some dating back to 1955, to show that viscosity may not be a barrier to a rapidly expanding universe.

‘What is known from current observational data is that a Big Rip scenario is possible, although the available data is far from conclusive,’ Dr Disconzi told the New Statesman. The research was published in the journal Physical Review.

This mumbo-jumbo research is much too flimsy and, to some extent, depends largely on supposition and the fertility of imaginative prowess. To Hollywood, at least, this is the stuff of dreams. For us mortals, we need not worry unless we expect to live for eternity – in which case we have a problem…

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