Most physicists thought, if it happened, the “Big Rip” would occur in about 20 billion years.
That’s when they predicted our constantly expanding universe would tear itself apart, driven by a mysterious force known as dark energy.
But now Chinese cosmologists claim, with a “95.5% confidence level,” that we may only have about 16.7 billion years left.
If this turns out to be true, that means no universal heat death. Instead, planets and stars will witness their very atomic structures ripped apart. And any intelligent beings alive when it happens? They probably won’t have a very good day, either.
It all sounds comparable to being surrounded in every direction by an infinite number of black holes. In other words: very, very bad.
“The cosmologists suggest that dark energy’s gravitational repulsion will continually increase until it overcomes all forces holding objects together, causing every structure in the Universe to be torn apart.” – The Universe Could Tear Itself Apart Sooner Than Anyone Believed, io9
You know, the passage of time has a lot to do with perception, at least as far as humans are concerned. Think about it: before you were born, 14 billion years seemingly passed in an instant, and then you became conscious.
I sometimes wonder if we’re still taking part in some kind of cosmic flash-bang — the big bang — and we’re just experiencing it in slow motion.
And when it’s over? The universe becomes nothing more than bits of shrapnel shooting out into oblivion.
We can escape Earth. We can colonize other planets, and maybe even survive asteroids. But the death of the universe? That one might take a bit more work…