How the Universe Will End

Ultimately, space could collapse back in on itself, destroying all stars and galaxies in existence, or it could expand into essentially an endless void.

What's the Latest Development?


Based on currently observable data, scientists agree that the universe will end in one of three ways: The Big Freeze, the Big Rip or the Big Crunch. All scenarios depend on the behavior of dark energy, that mysterious force which is counteracting the pull of gravity, causing the universe to expand rather than contract. If dark energy remains stable, galaxies will spread further and further apart. If dark energy increases in intensity, the universe will expand at an ever inreasing rate, destroying entire galaxies. 

What's the Big Idea?

Thanks to its revolutionary implications, the discovery of dark energy was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics. Previously, scientists believed that the force of gravity—the attraction of matter to other matter relative to mass—would cause the universe to contract, bringing all matter back to where it began "before" the big bang. That scenario is the Big Crunch. Within the next decade, scientists expect to be able to measure the rate of the universe's expansion at distances far from our galaxy, shining light on the true nature of dark energy. 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
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Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

Videos
  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.