How will the Universe end? And when? It's been speculation in religion and philosophy since man realized he was special. Can physics offer anything new?
Let's go to the Dark Energy hypotheses and see. 1998 really messed us up, theoretically. Until then, we knew the Universe had to slow down - well, theoretically. But then the Hubble showed us truly distant supernovae and we got the uncomfortable reality that the Universe was actually expanding more slowly in the past than it is now. That meant gravity has not been slowing Universal expansion, it has been accelerating.
What could cause that? No one knew but theorists were on the case and all of the explanations (Einstein's cosmological constant, ether, Einstein's theory of gravity is wrong) became a blanket dark energy hypothesis.
It also meant we don't even know what we don't know. Dark energy (unknown) became 70% of existence, dark matter (unknown) another 25% and what we know as matter is about 5%. Sounds like matter doesn't matter, right? Maybe, though it is actually kind of cool to have space be special. For instance, matter can't travel fast than light, not even in Italy, but space can. That explains how the age of the Universe and the size of the Universe are not correlated - if you're limited to light years.
Rate of expansion since the birth of the universe 15 billion years ago. The more shallow the curve, the faster the rate of expansion. At about 7.5 billion years ago, objects in the universe legally separated and did it fast. Why? I don't know. Trust issues, or maybe they met a younger universe. Or dark energy. Credit: Ann Feild (STScI)
So there are lots more questions now but that big one has remained constant and no one in the history of human introspection has gotten close; namely, when and how will it end?
The Big Rip is one hypothetical possibility for our Cosmic Doomsday, proposed by a group at the the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dark energy has given them the means to end the Universe the same way a Hot Big Bang and inflation began it.
There's a tiny bit of equation-ing in this piece but I will leave the nuts and bolts ("divergence-free parametrization for dark energy w(z)=w0+wa[ln(2+z)/(1-z)-ln2]") to those who want to read their article (citation below - it's free to read). You have to essentially accept the equation-of-state parameter w, the ratio of pressure and density of dark energy, and if w<-1 then dark energy density will grow to infinity in finite time (you like that one??) and gravitational repulsion will tear us all to smithereens.
Well, the Norse missed Ragnarok in 2010, Christianity did not get us last year and our cosmological Nibiru destruction has already passed. Mayan calendars are looking shaky too. What do Chinese theoretical physicists say?
These guys pants the Teutonic pretensions of Chevallier-Polarski-Linder parameterization because w will diverge when the redshift parameter approaches -1 and opt for the Asian divergence-free Ma-Zhang parameterization to foretell the Apocalypse. After doing a Monte Carlo analysis (spare me - of you read this far there is no point in noting the flaws of doing a Monte Carlo) they came up with a 95.4% confidence level of having the Big Rip at...16.7 billion years.
What does that all mean? 16 billion years is a lot of time so it feels pretty safe. But it's nice to have a number and if they are wrong, no one will be able to tell them.
Citation: LI XiaoDong, WANG Shuang, HUANG QingGuo, ZHANG Xin4, LI Miao, 'Dark energy and fate of the Universe', Sci China-Phys Mech Astron, 2012, 55(7): 1330-1334 DOI: 10.1007/s11433-012-4748-z
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- How A Former Naturopath Can Help Unravel The Trickery of Alternative Medicine
- Can A New Rule Trigger A Second EU Referendum? Petition Signatures Over 11% Of Total Votes Cast
- A Billion Years Ago, What Did Earth's Ancient Magnetic Field Look Like?
- Finding All-Hadronic Top - Again
- Insects Were Already Using Camouflage 100 Million Years Ago
- Heading To The Hospital? Even With Insurance, It May Cost $1,000 Or More, Study Finds
- The Magic Number 3? Maybe Not.
- "Sentence makes perfect sense. Has it been fixed?..."
- "If its based on signature on rocks, then the hypothesis is wrong. Because rocks form from molten..."
- "You should proof read. The very first sentence makes no sense. Didn't bother reading the rest. ..."
- "Thanks for your understanding!Cheers,T...."
- "As for comparing America and Europe, I am reminded of “Pyramid” by Robert Abernathy.  ..."
- IARC is controversial – because they put ideology over science
- Congressman Bob Gibbs: Biotechnology is feeding millions
- Science For The Win: Pepsi Does The Walk Of Shame Back To Aspartame
- Help! My Smartwatch Is Nagging Me!
- Coke Agrees To Comply With VT GMO Law – By Removing Coke From VT
- There’s Been Some Movement on GMO Labeling — Maybe
- Antibodies to dengue may alter course of Zika virus infection
- UH researchers discover a new method to boost oil recovery
- Epigenetics: New tool for precision medicine
- Researchers uncover global, evolving, and historic make-up of malaria species
- 'Rule-breaker' forests in Andes and Amazon revealed by remote spectral sensing
About Us |