Universe May Rip Apart Well Before Anyone Expected

New calculations based on the mysterious nature of dark energy suggest the Universe will end by ripping itself apart 6 billion years before the infamous heat death is expected. 

What's the Latest Development?


Based on calculations of dark energy, a pair of Chinese researchers believe the Universe could end 6 billion years earlier than previously estimated, meeting its untimely death in 16.7 billion years from now rather than 20-22 billion. The calculations are based on a constant 'w' assigned to dark energy, representing a way to mathematically depict the ratio of pressure and density of the mysterious force. If the value of 'w' is less than -1, "their calculations reveal that dark energy will eventually grow to infinity—a regrettable turn of events that will cause everything in the universe to fly apart from each other—including tiny particles and any other building block of the Universe."

What's the Big Idea?

This end to the Universe is known as the big rip and based on the Chinese scientists' calculations, the violent ripping will occur before the infamous heat death. "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. Nothing will be immune to this cataclysmic event—including those atomic-scale objects that are more tightly bound (they'll be the last to go)." There is not too much cause for concern, however, since scientists do not expect our solar system to exist in its current form when the Universe begins to end.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

Four philosophers who realized they were completely wrong about things

Philosophers like to present their works as if everything before it was wrong. Sometimes, they even say they have ended the need for more philosophy. So, what happens when somebody realizes they were mistaken?

Sartre and Wittgenstein realize they were mistaken. (Getty Images)
Culture & Religion

Sometimes philosophers are wrong and admitting that you could be wrong is a big part of being a real philosopher. While most philosophers make minor adjustments to their arguments to correct for mistakes, others make large shifts in their thinking. Here, we have four philosophers who went back on what they said earlier in often radical ways. 

Keep reading Show less

5 charts reveal key racial inequality gaps in the US

The inequalities impact everything from education to health.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs

America is experiencing some of its most widespread civil unrest in years following the death of George Floyd.

Keep reading Show less

Ask an astronomer: What makes neutron stars so special?

Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller talks ISS and why NICER is so important.

Michelle Thaller - Ask A Scientist - Nasa's NICER Mission FULL SCREENER
Videos
  • Being outside of Earth's atmosphere while also being able to look down on the planet is both a challenge and a unique benefit for astronauts conducting important and innovative experiments aboard the International Space Station.
  • NASA astrophysicist Michelle Thaller explains why one such project, known as NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer), is "one of the most amazing discoveries of the last year."
  • Researchers used x-ray light data from NICER to map the surface of neutrons (the spinning remnants of dead stars 10-50 times the mass of our sun). Thaller explains how this data can be used to create a clock more accurate than any on Earth, as well as a GPS device that can be used anywhere in the galaxy.
Scroll down to load more…