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  • Keisha D'Souza

Everywhere at the End of Time

The universe is a strange place. For eons, humans have glanced at the stars and contemplated their place in the grand scheme of things, in the universe itself. We’ve yearned to explicate the inexplicable, yet so many mysteries remain. Cosmology, a branch of astrophysics, explores the cosmic questions of the universe, questions that keep philosophers up at night. When was the universe born? Has it always been expanding? Is there another you reading this article in an alternate universe? Here’s a question that has perplexed humanity since the beginning of time; what is the ultimate fate of the universe?

It’s an intricate question alright (one that certainly fills me with existential dread too), however, we’ve made astonishing progress towards possible theories.

The first theory claims our universe will end in something coined the Big Rip. The pull of the universe's expansion gets stronger than the gravity it contains, tearing apart galaxies, black holes, our planet, and in total summation: everything that exists.

The Big Crunch is another classic scenario elucidating the demise of our universe. The universe may cease its expansion due to the gravitational pull of the matter inside of it, and collapse into itself resulting in it reaching a tiny singularity, a dark reflection of the Big Bang.

One of the cosmos’ final fates is something astronomers call the Big Freeze; the heat death of the universe. The universe would cool as it expands and all heat and energy would be evenly spread over incomprehensibly vast distances resulting in the final temperature hovering above absolute zero.

The Goldilocks case is one where the expansion asymptotes to zero. One more proton in the universe, we’d recollapse, one less and we’d expand forever. This theory walks a fine line between eternal expansion and recollapse, where the universe expands forever, but at the slowest rate possible.

We don't live in a static, unchanging universe, but a dynamic one that has existed for a finite amount of time and is ever-evolving. Amidst lingering uncertainties, one thing is certain: the universe is much stranger and more complex than we could have ever imagined.

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