'Hey Bill Nye, What is Our Place in the Future of the Universe?'

Television Host and Science Educator

This week's question is a big one. Perhaps the biggest one, considering there's nothing we know of that's bigger than the universe. So what's our role in this rapidly expanding chasm of space and time? The Science Guy explains that it's not an easily answerable query because there's still so much we don't yet understand. Why is the universe accelerating? What makes up dark matter? What does it all mean?

One thing we can be fairly sure of is that the universe is going to keep going with or without us. All we can control is how much we learn and explore. Bill has often advocated for humanity to become a spacefaring species and get off this rock before we inadvertently get ourselves killed. Perhaps when that happens, we'll be able to better understand where we fit within the broader universe.

  • Transcript


Meg Kelmendi: Hi. I’m Megi and I wanted to know what the future of the universe is and what is our place in it according to physics and engineering. Thank you.

Bill Nye: Maggie, the future of the universe. That's literally a big question. First of all the universe is accelerating and when I was your age, everybody thought that the universe was slowing down. Everybody thought that the universe was going slower and slower, but it turns out it's going faster and faster and nobody knows why. So when it comes to predicting the future of the universe, there's just got to be an enormous amount of information that we don't know anything about and that will help us figure out what the future might be. But I got to tell you I think the universe will keep going whether or not we're here. I mean that just is what it seems like. I've watched a lot of people come and go and it just seems like the world keeps spinning and the universe keeps circulating ever so slowly, actually at enormous speeds; perceptively it looks very slow to us.

With that said, it's a cool thing to think about and it's also reasonable Maggie that you will, in trying to find out what happens in the future of the universe, you will discover something amazing, something astonishing and it's very reasonable to me that you'll find some source of energy that we haven't thought about. Ninety four percent, depends who you talk to, 96 percent of the universe is dark matter and dark energy and nobody really knows what that is and it's very reasonable if somebody could figure out what that is — way out in deep space that same stuff is here somewhere, and if you can figure out what that is, you could, dare I say it, change the world. And I'm glad you're pondering this, but also think about your future. It's coming up a lot quicker than the next time the sun becomes a red giant, for example, but that's billions of years away.