What fascinates us most about the Universe is how little we know about it. And just as we want to find out what happens to us after we die, scientists are curious about what could happen to the entire Universe when the Grim Reaper comes to visit. The scientific community has produced a plethora of wacky theories, and some of them deserve to be heard.
1. Intelligent destruction
Before the invention of nuclear weapons, no one could have thought that a single bomb could destroy an entire city. However, everything changed after the attack on Hiroshima. This tragedy led to the emergence of the concept of “intelligent destruction”: one day, a person will do or invent something that will destroy the Universe. Of course, even a Moon-sized nuclear bomb won’t make a dent in the fabric of the Universe, so that’s a good thing. On the other hand, who said that we are the only sentient beings in the Universe?
2. The Endgame
One of the most shocking theories regarding our reality is that life is just a computer simulation. According to the philosopher Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, since computers are continually improving, at some point, people will develop computing abilities so powerful that they themselves will be able to simulate virtual worlds. Unless someone terminates the program containing our Universe first.
3. Collision with another universe
What is beyond our Universe? Probably other universes. And if the theory of multiple universes, aka the multiverse, is correct, then one day, a great collision may occur. Another universe with wildly different laws of physics can crash into us at speed close to the speed of light. If we could see the collision in slow motion, it would look like a giant mirror was falling on us.
4. Great compression
Since the Big Bang, which occurred 13.8 billion years ago, the Universe has been expanding. Most physicists believe that the Universe is infinite, but the opposite opinion is just as sound. If it’s not limitless, then at some point, it will begin to shrink – like the waves that roll back into the ocean. The Greater Compression Theory is supported by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. However, do not worry, if something like this happens, it’ll be billions of years in the future.
5. The barrier of death
The Universe will keep growing until it reaches a physical barrier. Imagine a crap-load of water being dumped on a hockey rink and hitting the sides. According to some calculations, the Universe will reach the wall in about 3.7 billion years. And the probability that it even exists is 50%.
6. Thermal death
The scenario is based on the second law of thermodynamics – increasing entropy in closed systems. The Universe will expand, and the objects in it will move away from each other. When entropy reaches its maximum, the energy will be evenly distributed, and everything will stop. The stars will cool down, and the matter will disintegrate. Not the greatest way to go.
7. The Big Rip
Over 68% of the Universe consists of the black nothingness – a mysterious “dark energy.” Before its discovery, scientists believed that the expansion of the Universe either slowed down or stopped. However, observing supernovae, astrophysicists came to the conclusion that the expansion is actually accelerating, and the reason for this is dark energy. It can lead to what is called the Big Rip. This Doomsday scenario is based on the assumption that over time, dark energy will eventually push galaxies and space objects apart, breaking all existing connections and structures. In a word, the Universe will be split into the smallest particles.