May 1, 2008

The End of the Universe

Since the name of my blog is "Adventures in Space," I've decided to actually write about--what else?--space! I've actually been in love with astronomy since I was a kid. You know how some children go through a dinosaur phase or a robot phase or an airplane phase? Well, I had a space phase and I never really grew out of it.

During my freshman year of college I took an astronomy class and in my free time I read my textbook for fun. I loved learning about the formation of galaxies, the creation of our universe, and all of the wonderful oddities of outer space. If I had more of a knack for physics, then I probably would have majored in astronomy. But alas, my brain didn't inherit the mysterious Chinese gene that inspires genius within the fields of math or physics. Indeed, I am a shame to my mother country and to my heritage! To put it mildly, I am a dunce. I am the equivalent of a male panda who is unable to reproduce--both of us entirely unuseful to China's hopes in taking over the world.



And yet I still have a layman's curiosity when it comes to astronomy. On Tuesday nights I watch a fantastic show on the History Channel called "The Universe," which delves into different topics ranging from the force of gravity to the strange moons of Saturn. The most recent episode focused on the end of the universe--and my mind is still boggled and bewildered by what I watched.

Basically, astronomers have two theories about the end of the universe: either a hot fiery hellhole or a frigid wasteland of darkness and cold. Pretty bleak, eh? The first theory goes like this... One day the universe will stop expanding and will start to shrink. It will get smaller and smaller and hotter and hotter until it collapses back into a pinpoint of mass. Scientists call this the Big Crunch. The second theory is equally distateful. This theory posits that the universe will continue to expand at an accelerated pace. One day all of the stars will lose their light and even the black holes will evaporate. The end of the universe will be black and icy cold. Everything will be dead. (Not exactly a happy ending either.)

Of course, the universe we live in now is vibrant and strong. Stars still form, planets still orbit, and life still finds it way to birth. We will all be long gone before the universe will end in the far distant future (over a 100 trillion years). But my brain has been churning about the end of the universe in the spiritual sense. Once the universe dies a cold or fiery death, does God die too? Or do He and She pack up their bags and find a new place to call home? Or perhaps God exists on a plane that is beyond our physical universe? I really have no idea.

The Bible talks about eternal life and I've taken this to mean that life will never end. That our souls have some sort of immortal quality to them. But what if eternity has an end too? If the universe must die one day, then what will happen to me or you once this end is reached? Mormons tend to believe that God is a powerful being who is constrained (or rather follows) natural laws. Would He or She be able to bend such laws to allow the universe to keep going without end? Or perhaps does God have the power to create some kind of wormhole into a brand new universe where we can all indeed live forever?

I really don't know. I guess I will just have to wait 100 trillion years to find out.

That is, if I make it that far... :o)

1 comment:

  1. stuff like this makes my head hurt because i just don't get some of this stuff. maybe andrew can explain it all to me someday. he loves anything related to planets and space. maybe i should start reading in all those books he has....

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