How Will the Universe End?

A cosmic detective story about the demise of the world, in three parts. Jim Holt contemplates alternative cosmological notions about the ultimate fate of the universe, a good layman’s roundup. But, more uniquely, he considers the possible ultimate fates of intelligent life at the universe’s demise. These range from Frank Tipler’s seductive notion of “an infinite frolic just before the Big Crunch” to Freeman Dyson’s “vision of a community of increasingly dilute Black Clouds staving off the cold in an eternal Big Chill” to Michio Kaku’s idea of commandeering a cosmic lifeboat through a wormhole to a brand new universe. Kaku, by the way, feels solving superstring theory would be a necessary precursor to this development, and is exhilarated at the impending death of the universe because of the incentives it will provide to do so. Illustrious physicist Steven Weinberg has a more sanguine attitude toward the death of the universe: “For me and you and everyone else around today, the universe will be over in less than 10^2 years.” Holt, ultimately, ponders what if anything is the point of this cosmological speculation at all.