End of the Universe Poll

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How will the Universe end?

Big Freeze
39
39%
Big Crunch
6
6%
Big Rip
5
5%
Something no human as though of
10
10%
It won't end
16
16%
We have no idea, but it will involve the man in a hat
16
16%
Other theory not listed
9
9%
 
Total votes: 101

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Ixtellor
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End of the Universe Poll

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Sep 09, 2009 2:37 pm UTC

How do you think the Universe will end. I heard about the Big freeze many years ago, and it has stuck with me, and for unlogical reasons, its sounds logical to me.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby QwertyKey » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:01 pm UTC

Sorry, but it troubles me...
Is the 4th option "Something no human has thought of?"
Unlogical should be non-logical(No logic or simply not logical) or illogical(poor logic or bad logic)

On-topic: You also have to define the 'End' of the universe.

Does the universe end if there is no universe? If Space were to shrink, and time somehow go awry, do you call it the end of the universe?
Does the universe end if there is such a long period of time has passed such that it has reached maximum entropy? Big Freeze is exactly this, but there still is space-time, just that there is no longer any possibility of work(I think).

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:37 pm UTC

My personal theory is that it will be impossible for us to tell how the universe ends until we have a flawless model for physics and flawless measurements of various constants. Of course, both of these are unobtainable in practice and so for us to predict is doomed to failure.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

My laymans understanding is that in the big freeze, eventually all matter decays into electrons with no activity, and that the universe reaches absolute or infinatly close to absolute zero. And due to maximum entropy, it just stays that way forever, because space-time and entropy mean it can't go back... or recreate the universe as it once was.

Does space-time still exist in a big freeze universe? Does space time continue to expand for infinity? Or do you need matter for universal expansion?

I think it is impossible to predict, but that it will most closely resemble the big freeze.

Is there a counter argument that matter is ultimately doomed to decay and increase entropy?

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:07 pm UTC

I'm a fan of the fractal universe thought experiment, as well as Stephen Baxter's photino bird universe.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:11 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm not sure how "Big Freeze" and "Big Rip" rule out "It won't end"...
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:29 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yeah, I'm not sure how "Big Freeze" and "Big Rip" rule out "It won't end"...


I guess I assumed that if it doesn't end... that you have a big freeze type phenom, but that because of ultra-mega-near-infinite-rare random fluctuations the universe recreates itself, that you didn't technically have a big freeze.

But this doesn't answer my previous question of, if you have a universe with a density of zero spread out beyond the cosmological horizon, does it still exist? Does a universe like that still have space time?

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:02 pm UTC

Controversially, I chose "it will never end". Because in my opinion, as all other observed systems are circular I hope the universe is too. However not sure if big crunch -> new big bang counts as the end of the universe? And red shift proves more wrong. And entropy is a pain. Oh, think I lost there.
But the current increase in expansion seems to defy the know laws of physics. So hopefully enough people are looking into it to give us a better idea of what's going to happen.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Josephine » Wed Sep 09, 2009 5:35 pm UTC

Technical Ben wrote:Controversially, I chose "it will never end". Because in my opinion, as all other observed systems are circular I hope the universe is too. However not sure if big crunch -> new big bang counts as the end of the universe? And red shift proves more wrong. And entropy is a pain. Oh, think I lost there.
But the current increase in expansion seems to defy the know laws of physics. So hopefully enough people are looking into it to give us a better idea of what's going to happen.


If the universe does go through crunch-bang cycles, we can only detect the most recent event. For all purposes, the most recent Big Bang is the beginning of the universe. Thus, the next Big Crunch is the effective end of the universe.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby justaman » Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

In the words of Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I have tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Replacing world with universe obviously.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby You, sir, name? » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:27 pm UTC

My nickle is on a vacuum metastability event.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby derick » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:14 am UTC

I wish I knew enough about physics to have an informed opinion on this, but my amateur guess from idle thought and reading laymans physics books (like Bill Bryson, Carl Sagan, and Bryan Greene) is that it's cyclical. My imagined oversimplification is that, if the universe is physically finite, then there has to be a finite number of combinations all the subatomic particles can be in, and that so long as change is taking place it will eventually lead to one that it's been in before - this is a massive eventually, but eventually - and that one will necessarily lead to the same that followed the previous. Of course, in this state, there is no first second and third cycle. When a moment "repeats" it's the same moment as happened before, just as much as if we had binoculars that went all the way around the world and showed us our house it would be the same house we see around us without looking through them.

This is assuming there is no free will. I currently am not sure if there is free will. If there is, though, this above still applies essentially, just with multiple paths. Each state involving humans would have multiple possible "next moments", but they'd be the same as the "last" time we were in that state. It'd be less like a circle and more like a bunch of marbles in a hollow sphere.

I'm looking at this from the perspective of a static 4d universe though. I know relativity and quantum mechanics play in. But I think my theory can be applied to account this if someone understands them. I think.

Now, all these alternative endings simply mean that change would "cease," but scientists can't even decide which direction the end is happening in, so seeing as how cycles are how everything seems to work on other scales, both spatially and temporarily, it's probably the safest hypothesis. Really the idea that the universe is "expanding" or "contracting" is meaningless considering there's nothing external to measure it by. Everything is moving away from everything else, so it seems to me like this could best be described as the ratio of empty space to matter changing. Which suggests to me that there's another "level" below empty space, matter, and energy, another plane on which these elements are acting, because I don't imagine primary constituents would just disappear.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Diadem » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:19 am UTC

I'm missing the Heat Death in the list. It's one of the most popular explanations, it should be in there. Also the Big Bounce is missing.

Personally I voted for a Big Rip. Not because I have some unknown evidence for that. But I just think Phantom Dark Energy is very cool. And a Big Rip is awesome.

Another cool possibility is an infinitely repeating cycle of normal phases and inflatory spaces. So our current universe would somehow end up in an inflatory epoch again, basically inflating everything in it away completely, and then be reheated again. A cool idea. No proof for it though, of course.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Diadem » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:40 am UTC

derick wrote:I wish I knew enough about physics to have an informed opinion on this, but my amateur guess from idle thought and reading laymans physics books (like Bill Bryson, Carl Sagan, and Bryan Greene) is that it's cyclical. My imagined oversimplification is that, if the universe is physically finite, then there has to be a finite number of combinations all the subatomic particles can be in

But it's not finite. At least we have absolutely no reason to think that it would be.

and that so long as change is taking place it will eventually lead to one that it's been in before - this is a massive eventually, but eventually - and that one will necessarily lead to the same that followed the previous.

You're talking about Poincaré recurrence? But we don't know if this holds for the real world. It does not, for example, in a universe dominated by dark energy.

This is assuming there is no free will. I currently am not sure if there is free will.

Huh? What does that have to do with anything? Please don't tell me you're equating determinism with not having a free will?

Now, all these alternative endings simply mean that change would "cease," but scientists can't even decide which direction the end is happening in, so seeing as how cycles are how everything seems to work on other scales, both spatially and temporarily, it's probably the safest hypothesis.

Again, huh? What do you mean everything goes in cycles? Sorry but most processes in the universe seem to be very linear.

Really the idea that the universe is "expanding" or "contracting" is meaningless considering there's nothing external to measure it by.

I'm so glad we have you, who admitted to having never studied cosmology, to tell all the cosmologists in the world that they are wrong. I'm sure they'll see the error of their ways now.

Everything is moving away from everything else, so it seems to me like this could best be described as the ratio of empty space to matter changing.

I think we have a term for that. Wait... yes! I got it.... Density!

Which suggests to me that there's another "level" below empty space, matter, and energy, another plane on which these elements are acting, because I don't imagine primary constituents would just disappear.

yet again: Huh?
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby LTK » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:40 am UTC

It would be cool if it imploded.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby zug » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:44 am UTC

There wasn't a "Who cares?" option, so I chose that it won't. Even if it does, humans will have been long extinct by then.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby derick » Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:49 am UTC

zug wrote:There wasn't a "Who cares?" option, so I chose that it won't. Even if it does, humans will have been long extinct by then.


Are you sure that's the case? I know the Wikipedia article for "Ultimate fate of the universe" (awesome title) lists some people who think otherwise, but I don't know if they're all crack pots or not. Are there respected physicists or biologists or whatever who believe humans could last that long? This Tipler guy seems pretty informed and interesting.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Diadem » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:14 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:My nickle is on a vacuum metastability event.

I wrote story once in which humanity accidently created a vacuum metastability event with their newest particle accelerator :) Cool theme for a book.

But unlikely to be realistic.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:32 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:My nickle is on a vacuum metastability event.

I wrote story once in which humanity accidently created a vacuum metastability event with their newest particle accelerator :) Cool theme for a book.

But unlikely to be realistic.


Yeah. There's a bunch of books with a similar theme. Schild's ladder, notably.

It's hard to make statements as to how likely it is, though. Half of the universe could already be gone, and we wouldn't be able to tell.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby derick » Thu Sep 10, 2009 1:33 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
You, sir, name? wrote:My nickle is on a vacuum metastability event.

I wrote story once in which humanity accidently created a vacuum metastability event with their newest particle accelerator :) Cool theme for a book.

But unlikely to be realistic.


This sort of thing used to keep me up at night.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby andrewxc » Thu Sep 10, 2009 3:16 am UTC

Assuming that "universe" is meant to mean our local universe, rather than the 12-space (or larger) thought of by physicists as the region which spawned our "bubble universe" due to colliding membranes, the Big Freeze theory is the one that takes the prize. After all the stars in the universe go nova, releasing their last bits of matter and energy into space, after black holes have been starved and release their last gamma rays, matter in the universe will decay: neutrons becoming protons, electrons, and anti-neutrinos, and protons eventually breaking down into quarks, as they have no more energy to hold them together.
I'm going to guess the energy level in the universe will reach the same level as the "space" behind it. After all internal energy is used, even space-time itself may break down, who knows... We may end up popping like a bubble and becoming one with the larger "space" that is beyond our little universe.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Diadem » Fri Sep 11, 2009 1:36 am UTC

andrewxc wrote:Assuming that "universe" is meant to mean our local universe, rather than the 12-space (or larger) thought of by physicists as the region which spawned our "bubble universe" due to colliding membranes, the Big Freeze theory is the one that takes the prize. After all the stars in the universe go nova, releasing their last bits of matter and energy into space, after black holes have been starved and release their last gamma rays, matter in the universe will decay: neutrons becoming protons, electrons, and anti-neutrinos, and protons eventually breaking down into quarks, as they have no more energy to hold them together.

Yes, that is certainly an explanation. And probably the most popular one. But certainly not the only one. Even under the assumptions you mentioned. Heat Death and Big Rip are still possibilities. So is a Big Bounce if the universe is closed. And who can say about a vacuum metastability event?
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Tass » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:03 am UTC

andrewxc wrote:neutrons becoming protons, electrons, and anti-neutrinos, and protons eventually breaking down into quarks, as they have no more energy to hold them together.


Slight nitpick: The protons wont become quarks, free quarks are not allowed; and the won't "run out of energy". They will however decay to leptons and electromagnetic radiation. Eventually then most leptons will also annihilate with their antiparticles, leaving only cold photons.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby BlackSails » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:35 am UTC

Tass wrote:
andrewxc wrote:neutrons becoming protons, electrons, and anti-neutrinos, and protons eventually breaking down into quarks, as they have no more energy to hold them together.


Slight nitpick: The protons wont become quarks, free quarks are not allowed; and the won't "run out of energy". They will however decay to leptons and electromagnetic radiation. Eventually then most leptons will also annihilate with their antiparticles, leaving only cold photons.


Not in the standard model though. In the standard model the stability of the proton is absolute. Some models beyond the standard model allow protons to decay though its worth nothing that experiments have not detected any proton decay events.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Mr. Freeman » Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:58 am UTC

There will be a restaurant it will travel through the end of the universe and back every couple hours. Grab a table and watch the ride.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby whereswalden90 » Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:57 pm UTC

I'm in support of the Heat Death theory, which is close to the Big Freeze, but not quite. Evidence from Wikipedia:
Temperature of the universe (heat death v. cold death)

In a "heat death", the temperature of the entire universe would be very close to absolute zero. Heat death is, however, not quite the same as "cold death", or the "Big Freeze", in which the universe simply becomes too cold to sustain life due to continued expansion, though the result is quite similar.[6]

Basically, there's a finite amount of energy in the universe and if expansion continues, eventually there won't be enough in any one place to do anything with.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby PM 2Ring » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:49 pm UTC

andrewxc wrote:I'm going to guess the energy level in the universe will reach the same level as the "space" behind it.
There might be some kind of "space" behind the universe. But there doesn't need to be one.

andrewxc wrote:After all internal energy is used, even space-time itself may break down, who knows... We may end up popping like a bubble and becoming one with the larger "space" that is beyond our little universe.
Yes, space-time itself may decay in some way. One possibility is false vacuum decay, as has already been mentioned in this thread. But energy doesn't get used up - it's conserved. The problem is that eventually it gets too evenly distributed. And you need energy differences to do work. The killer isn't lack of energy, it's too much entropy.


BlackSails wrote:Not in the standard model though. In the standard model the stability of
the proton is absolute. Some models beyond the standard model allow
protons to decay though its worth nothing that experiments have not
detected any proton decay events.

I hates proton decay. :) Different flavours of GUT predict different proton half-lives, starting around 10^32 years.
Wiki says: "Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan give a lower limit of the proton half-life of 6.6x1033 years".
Ref:"Search for Proton Decay via p -> e^+ pi^0 and p -> mu^+ pi^0 in a Large Water Cherenkov Detector", March 2009.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby zug » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:45 pm UTC

Mr. Freeman wrote:There will be a restaurant it will travel through the end of the universe and back every couple hours. Grab a table and watch the ride.

I would totally have chosen that option.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby CombustibleLemons » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:18 am UTC

i believe that the universe's time consist of a ray going from start to forever. Or a new big bang will happen, when our universe collides with another.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby whereswalden90 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:22 am UTC

Amishdemon wrote:i believe that the universe's time consist of a ray going from start to forever. Or a new big bang will happen, when our universe collides with another.

Uh, can you elaborate?
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SummerGlauFan wrote:How about the entire movie 10,000 BC?

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Diadem » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:54 am UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:I hates proton decay. :) Different flavours of GUT predict different proton half-lives, starting around 10^32 years.
Wiki says: "Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan give a lower limit of the proton half-life of 6.6x1033 years".
Ref:"Search for Proton Decay via p -> e^+ pi^0 and p -> mu^+ pi^0 in a Large Water Cherenkov Detector", March 2009.

Yep, and that's an experimental lower bound. We've also got theoretical upper bounds, and it looks like within a few years the experimental lower bound will be above the theoretical upper bound.

That's probably bad news :)
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby lu6cifer » Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:03 am UTC

What? Where the hell is otter/duck?
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Mokele » Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:07 am UTC

I can only half-remember this quote, and can't recall what book it's from (maybe someone here knows?)

"The sound that most immediately precedes the end of the universe will not be a bang or a whimper, but someone saying "I wonder what happens if I do this...?"" - Terry Pratchett

As I said above, corrections and book citation would be much appreciated.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:23 am UTC

Diadem wrote:
PM 2Ring wrote:I hates proton decay. :) Different flavours of GUT predict different proton half-lives, starting around 10^32 years.
Wiki says: "Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan give a lower limit of the proton half-life of 6.6x1033 years".
Ref:"Search for Proton Decay via p -> e^+ pi^0 and p -> mu^+ pi^0 in a Large Water Cherenkov Detector", March 2009.

Yep, and that's an experimental lower bound. We've also got theoretical upper bounds, and it looks like within a few years the experimental lower bound will be above the theoretical upper bound.

That's probably bad news :)

Bad news for those crazy SUSY people who think protons ought to decay. Me, I'm quite happy for them to be stable, thanks very much. :)

Seriously though, I would be a little surprised if there were no link at all between leptons & baryons (or quarks), given the fundamental weak interaction between them, but the whole super-symmetry thing has always seemed more than a little contrived to me and disturbs my physics intuition. But I Am Not A Particle Physicist.

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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby CombustibleLemons » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:08 pm UTC

whereswalden90 wrote:
Amishdemon wrote:i believe that the universe's time consist of a ray going from start to forever. Or a new big bang will happen, when our universe collides with another.

Uh, can you elaborate?

you know how people speculate about parallel universes well what if their are universes that aren't parallel and they collide. I believe the big bang was just two universes colliding.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:19 pm UTC

My universe already ended when Amanda Palmer got engaged.

As regards the objective universe, I say it will approach but never reach the Big Freeze, because the idea of an ever more lazy and pointless universe reflects my subjective experience.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby thoughtfully » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:58 pm UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:Seriously though, I would be a little surprised if there were no link at all between leptons & baryons (or quarks), given the fundamental weak interaction between them, but the whole super-symmetry thing has always seemed more than a little contrived to me and disturbs my physics intuition. But I Am Not A Particle Physicist.

It's kindof required for baryogenesis. You know, us actually being here. Or at least it helps a lot.
B-L symmetry

Anyway, supersymmetrty has nothing to say about leptons/baryons. Its a symmetry between fermions and bosons. B-L symmetry (and proton decay) is a feature of GUTs.
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Gelsamel
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:15 pm UTC

I think we'll purposely recreate our Universe with better parameters.
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Sep 13, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

Just because I like your comments Gelsamel... do you care to suggest how we improve on them? I quite think its more like "doing better with what you have" that is our problem, not changing what we have.

Just ask any physicist what would happen if you change a parameter of the laws of physics by <1%?
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Re: End of the Universe Poll

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Sep 13, 2009 2:52 pm UTC

Yeah, but to suggest that our combination of parameters is the -only- one in which a stable universe can exist is a pretty heavy handed claim.

It's a pretty wild idea I admit and probably impossible. But if it was, it would be great if we could recreate the universe so that it is better. And by "better" I tend to shy away from qualitative assessments because everyone's opinion of what is "good" is pretty subjective. So I'll stick to one or two definite and those are (1) a longer existence (or perhaps infinite existence), by that I mean longer time than what we had till the Universe's 'End' and (2) Support for more abundant/varied life.

Also, I'm a physicist :o.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No


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