Cosmology 101: The End


Welcome back to the third, and last, installment of Cosmology 101. So far, we’ve covered the history of the universe up to the present moment. But what happens next? How will our universe end? And how can we be so sure that this is how the story unfolded?

Robert Frost once wrote, “Some say the world will end in fire; some say in ice.” Likewise, some scientists have postulated that the universe could die either a dramatic, cataclysmic death – either a “Big Rip” or a “Big Crunch” – or a slower, more gradual “Big Freeze.” The ultimate fate of our cosmos has a lot to do with its shape. If the universe were open, like a saddle, and the energy density of dark energy increased without bound, the expansion rate of the cosmos would eventually become so great that even atoms would be torn apart – a Big Rip. Conversely, if the universe were closed, like a sphere, and gravity’s strength trumped the influence of dark energy, the outward expansion of the cosmos would eventually come to a halt and reverse, collapsing on itself in a Big Crunch.

Despite the poetic beauty of fire, however, current observations favor an icy end to our universe – a Big Freeze. Scientists believe that we live in a spatially flat universe whose expansion is accelerating due to the presence of dark energy; however, the total energy density of the cosmos is most likely less than or equal to the so-called “critical density,” so there will be no Big Rip. Instead, the contents of the universe will eventually drift prohibitively far away from each other and heat and energy exchange will cease. The cosmos will have reached a state of maximum entropy, and no life will be able to survive. Depressing and a bit anti-climactic? Perhaps. But it probably won’t be perceptible until the universe is at least twice its current age.

At this point you might be screaming, “How do we know all this? Isn’t it all just rampant speculation?” Well, first of all, we know without a doubt that the universe is expanding. Astronomical observations consistently demonstrate that light from distant stars is always redshifted relative to us; that is, its wavelength has been stretched due to the expansion of the cosmos. This leads to two possibilities when you wind back the clock: either the expanding universe has always existed and is infinite in age, or it began expanding from a smaller version of itself at a specific time in the past and thus has a fixed age. For a long time, proponents of the Steady State Theory endorsed the former explanation. It wasn’t until Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background in 1965 that the big bang theory became the most accepted explanation for the origin of the universe.

Why? Something as large as our cosmos takes quite a while to cool completely. If the universe did, in fact, began with the kind of blistering energies that the big bang theory predicts, astronomers should still see some leftover heat today. And they do: a uniform 3K glow evenly dispersed at every point in the sky. Not only that – but WMAP and other satellites have observed tiny inhomogeneities in the CMB that precisely match the initial spectrum of quantum fluctuations predicted by the big bang theory.

What else? Take a look at the relative abundances of light elements in the universe. Remember that during the first few minutes of the cosmos’ young life, the ambient temperature was high enough for nuclear fusion to occur. The laws of thermodynamics and the relative density of baryons (i.e. protons and neutrons) together determine exactly how much deuterium (heavy hydrogen), helium and lithium could be formed at this time. As it turns out, there is far more helium (25%!) in our current universe than could be created by nucleosynthesis in the center of stars. Meanwhile, a hot early universe – like the one postulated by the big bang theory – gives rise to the exact proportions of light elements that scientists observe in the universe today.

But wait, there’s more. The distribution of large-scale structure in the universe can be mapped extremely well based solely on observed anisotropies in the CMB. Moreover, today’s large-scale structure looks very different from that at high redshift, implying a dynamic and evolving universe. Additionally, the age of the oldest stars appears to be consistent with the age of the cosmos given by the big bang theory. Like any theory, it has its weaknesses – for instance, the horizon problem or the flatness problem or the problems of dark energy and dark matter; but overall, astronomical observations match the predictions of the big bang theory far more closely than any rival idea. Until that changes, it seems as though the big bang theory is here to stay.

61 Replies to “Cosmology 101: The End”

  1. Hi Vanessa,

    The standard model is widely accepted but it is not a certainty. Your quote “At this point you might be screaming, How do we know all this? Isn’t it all just rampant speculation?” Well, first of all, we know without a doubt that the universe is expanding.” This is an invalid statement. We have much evidence to support the idea that redshifts of galaxies are related to their distances. It is only a presumption, however, that redshifts are related to the expansion of the universe. It is only the prevailing hypothesis. Other than the redshifts themselves and the BB theory, there is no other evidence that the universe is expanding. In fact in time I believe it will become very apparent that the universe is not expanding. The primary evidence for my assertion is that for the most distant observations, as well as all those in between, galaxies appear to be the same distance apart, completely contrary to the BB model.

    I am implying a type of Steady State model unlike Hoyle’s model, whereby the universe would have both a finite extension and age.

    I am not “screaming” but I do carry a big stick, as Teddy Roosevelt said, in this case the big stick is observed reality 🙂

    In such a model as I am suggesting there is nothing complicated in the entire universe. The universe would accordingly be entirely flat and have a boundary beyond which matter would not exist and space would have no meaning at all beyond this matter when space is properly defined such as the distance between matter.

    Another statement you made is also just a presumption”…..a hot early universe – like the one postulated by the big bang theory – gives rise to the exact proportions of light elements that scientists observe in the universe today.” When one knows the outcome before creating the theory you have a very big advantage but in time it was realized that the abundances of Lithium isotopes do not match the BB model. When you have thousands of theorists working on one model and less than a handful on any other single model, then theoretical details will always be biased toward the mainstream model because these theorist receive all the funding.

    As you implied, all the other speculation is just that. This does not mean that there is evidence to presently replace the BB theory with all of its implications, but I believe that within less than a quarter of a century that the BB will be either in serious trouble, or will have been already replaced by a theory “infinitely simpler.”

    Here is another false statement, “If the universe did, in fact, begin with the kind of blistering energies that the big bang theory predicts, astronomers should still see some leftover heat today. And they do: a uniform 3K glow evenly dispersed at every point in the sky. Not only that – but WMAP and other satellites have observed tiny inhomogeneities in the CMB that precisely match the initial spectrum of quantum fluctuations predicted by the big bang theory.”

    Although some of the logic in this statement above is valid, the statement above is just a matter of theory which can be otherwise equally explained by alternative theory. We know that inter-galactic matter should not have a temperature of zero whether the BB is valid or not. The light/ heat from galaxies will always be less than zero. This radiation accordingly heats the intergalactic medium as predicted by many dozens of famous astronomers and theorists over the last century. This is by far the simplest explanation of “background radiation.”

    The rest of your article is well written but solely based upon the BB model which itself, I think. is entirely based upon misguided logic. In truth I think the future of the universe will be the same as its present state.

    Bottom line is that the universe is vastly simpler than our current perceptions based upon the BB model could allow. My only criticism of this article is that regardless of the theory, I think all assertions should be qualified by statements such as, “according to present theory.”

    1. “It is only a presumption, however, that redshifts are related to the expansion of the universe.”

      Oh please. If you want to say that, you should have said so in the earlier stories in this series. If I was you I’d seriously reconsider your opinion before making such sweeping and unfounded statements. There are so many wrong premises here, that we could spend most of the day tearing them apart.

      My perception here is that you are either a religious or certainly a EU/PC nutter, whose crazy views are not at all based on science on scientific method or but mostly on specious motives.

      Needless to say, most of what you write here is dead-set wrong. As I don’t know you from any previous post, so I’ll take this only as a general comment.

    2. “…it seems as though the big bang theory is here to stay.”

      Tough luck, forrest noble (or should I call you Peter Pan?)

      According to you “Pan Theory” or your written work “The Pan and Ipan Theories A Wholly Unified Model of Cosmology and Physics” (a personal theory if I’ve ever heard of one), “The galactic red-shift: is not an expansion of space or a Doppler-shift.” Eh? You are kidding aren’t you?

      Your Pan Theory is truly hilarious! Wow, you even profess and have the audacity of your own version of Relativity!!!!

      I mean, among to many to mention, according to you,

      “Background Radiation – the Microwave background radiation that has been observed to be radiating generally from all directions at about 2.7 degrees
      Kelvin. In the Pan Theory the original heat, which is the souce of this radiation, was star light.”

      or the even more silly “Listing of the Concepts” No.2.;

      “The beginning of the universe would have been much simpler and therefore easier to explain if atoms were becoming smaller in size and greater in number as time progresses. Projecting backwards in time to a beginning could result in a simple fundamental particle starting the entire universe.”

      (You even say; This Concept No.2. is “…a principal of logic few would argue against given the included definitions.” What!!!!)

      or even No. 12. “The time to create the observable universe by the accretion method from a single elementary particle has been calculated to be trillions of years rather than billions of years for the age of the observable universe.”

      …and elsewhere you still believe in the aether!!!

      Oh my. It is the 21st Century, man, not the 19th!! I’m laughing so much my sides now actually hurt! (You make the PC/EU guys seem mainstream science!)

      Thank you so much. You made my bleakish day so much bright! Hilarious!

      Peter Pan : “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.”

      NOTE: I think you only make this UT statement to publicise your own book (UT BTW has a policy not to advertise stuff, mind you.)

      1. I love the introduction entitled “Alternative to Mainstream.” You say;

        “The Pan Theory is a new scientific theory of materialism which would fundamentally change Cosmology and Physics. It is being offered as an alternative to several mainstream theories including the Big Bang Theory, General Relativity, and String Theory. It proposes a new fundamental theory of relativity, as well as changes to Special Relativity, Quantum Theory, Quark Theory, as well as a number of other presently accepted theories. It proposes the mechanical structure of matter, gravity, magnetism, and the fundamental forces, and defines space, and time. It proposes simple non-philosophical answers for all the well-known “Why” questions. Alternative mathematical formulations are also proposed herein.”

        …Not one aspect, but the whole shebang!

        Wow! You put us mere mortals in our place!
        (Be kind guys, be really kind to this poor sap!)

        (I really wonder why your “Forum” section is still “under construction.” If it wasn’t, I tell you, you be absolutely torn to shreds! )

      2. Ah! The “Tinkerbell Personal Theory of Cosmology”

        It follows Disney’s ; “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme.”

        It seems some take this as fact, and want to believe their own personal cosmological theory is better than the scientists and cosmologists across many generations, who have far more brilliance and intelligence than they.

        In the end it is very sad that guys like this live in their little dream world. They want to make their mark on the world, so that they are somehow remembered when thy die rather than be an insignificant nothing when all is said and done. They search desperately for kudos and some Eureka! moment; when the truth is that the billions that presently are alive on our insignificant planet couldn’t careless of their opinion or glory seeking.
        In the hopelessness of their world the pop-up in stories like this one, wanting to give a glimmer of hope against the demise of the universe.

        Perhaps the tinkering of Tinkerbell’s wand might make this eventually all go away. As she says you need “Faith, trust and pixie dust.” It hardly makes a personal cosmological theory valid or justified though, now does it?

        Perhaps too, old “doctorsteve” below is the sanest of all when he saying in his drunken stupor. He says “I am insignificant, in the universal sense, so why pay attention to my meanderings?”, then concludes “It just makes no sense.” He’s absolutely on the money!

      3. The movies are all pretty good, but you should read James M. Barrie (1860-1937) book “Peter Pan”.

        My other favourite quotes is found at the end of Chapter 2 and early in Chapter 3;

        “No. 27 was only a few yards distant, but there had been a slight fall of snow, and Father and Mother Darling picked their way over it deftly not to soil their shoes. They were already the only persons in the street, and all the stars were watching them. Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on for ever. It is a punishment put on them for something they did so long ago that no star now knows what it was. So the older ones have become glassy-eyed and seldom speak (winking is the star language), but the little ones still wonder. They are not really friendly to Peter, who had a mischievous way of stealing up behind them and trying to blow them out; but they are so fond of fun that they were on his side to-night, and anxious to get the grown-ups out of the way. So as soon as the door of 27 closed on Mr. and Mrs. Darling there was a commotion in the firmament, and the smallest of all the stars in the Milky Way screamed out: “Now, Peter!””

        and Chapter 3.

        “A moment after the fairy’s entrance the window was blown open by the breathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still messy with the fairy dust.
        “Tinker Bell,” he called softly, after making sure that the children were asleep, “Tink, where are you?” She was in a jug for the moment, and liking it extremely; she had never been in a jug before.
        “Oh, do come out of that jug, and tell me, do you know where they put my shadow?”
        The loveliest tinkle as of golden bells answered him. It is the fairy language. You ordinary children can never hear it, but if you were to hear it you would know that you had heard it once before.”

        Reading fantasy stories to little girls gives you a great perspective into imagination, especially useful when it comes to cosmology.

        These amateur cosmologists still have quite a lot to learn when it comes to having an imagination.

  2. The ultimate fate of the universe is a curious question. The first question one might ask is, “How can we know what that is?” The second question might be, “Why should we be interested?” The last question is important if quantum information is conserved. If the universe in its earliest state had the same number of quantum bits it has now, and will have in the final state it means the initial and final states are related by a particular kind of “map,” or transformation. This is a unitary transformation, or what I think is some more general modular transformation. The latter bit is hard to go into, and unless you are like me and spend much time thinking about Jacobi theta functions, Ramanujan Mock functions and modular forms, which is way outside the scope here. However, in a generic sense we can say the initial and final states of the universe are identical “modulo,” a term used in mathematics meaning in a sense “ignoring,” these various transformations. With respect to the first question, we can never know for sure, but if we have accurate enough data we can garner a reasonable estimate of the final state. Nobody will be around during the final state of the universe — there is no Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    What will the final state look like? The universe will exponentially accelerate outwards by dark energy or the de Sitter vacuum. Space is expanding in a way similar to the scene in the movie Poltergeist where the hallway telescopes out as the mother runs to the little girl’s room. In just 10^{10} years all galaxies but the local group will be red shifted out of the optical band. Over the next 10^{13} years stars will die out, there will be successive generations of stars that get more red dwarfish and eventually the galaxy will go dark. Proton decay will have decayed off half of matter by 10^{31} years, and by 10^{40} years there will be virtually no more protons or baryons in the universe. By 10^{50} years in the future galaxies will largely be consumed by their central SMBH. So every local region will be essentially an enormous black hole of 10^{11} solar masses which sits in a region surrounded by the cosmological horizon at 10^{10} light years out. In 10^{110} years these SMBHs will quantum mechanically decay away and the entire universe will be reduced to a de Sitter spacetime or vacuum. This is a sort of “final state.”

    Things are going to get cold and dark, and there is no escape.

    This is not entirely a final state though. Just as black holes quantum mechanically decay, so too does the de Sitter vacuum. The cosmological horizon will emit extremely large wavelength bosons and the horizon will recede off to “infinity” as time goes to infinity. This is a curious state, for it raises questions of Boltzmann brains, and if the universe conserves quantum information there are queer question which might be asked. I am not going there though — it is too weird. The complete decay of the de Sitter vacuum leaves a flat spacetime, or Minkowski spacetime. There is also the question of those other “pocket universes,” for they undergo a similar transformation, and eventually merge into a single zero energy vacuum state of a flat spacetime — a completely void. Well a complete void plus the few quantum bits which actually define the universe. How that works out is a matter of entanglement and holographic quantum gravity. Then to complicate things a bit, our spacetime is a system of strings on a D3-brane which interacts with a foliation of other similar D3-branes.

    This picture is probably a fair match to what will happen. Space appears to be absolutely flat, and the expansion of the universe is governed by a negative pressure governed by the de Sitter vacuum. We are sure that big black holes in galaxies will grow, stars will die and things will get cold and dark. It is curious that intelligent life appears to have arisen right at a time where we can observe the transition to dark energy phase, where we can observe the matter phase in the distribution of galaxies back in time and the radiation phase (CMB) as well.


    1. But the SMBH decay by emitting radiation, so how can the Universe be ‘void’ when they’re gone?

    2. There is a metric structure which is not flat. Space is flat, but space is embedded in a spacetime which keeps expanding space. This is a nonzero vacuum configuration, which decays away.


  3. I can only describe your comments in one word: parsimonious. go look it up. Yeccch. “In truth I think the future of the universe will be the same as its present state.” Really? Based on what scientific evidence? URRRRRRP! Oops, sorry, that was me barfing. Nothing to do with you, really. IT’S JUST ME, NOT YOU.

    Forget I said anything. I’ve been drinking, as is my wont to do. I am insignificant, in the universal sense, so why pay attention to my meanderings? I mean you no harm. I come in peace. UURRRRRRRP! oops, I barfed again (I was re-reading your post, but I’m sure that was a “coinkydink”!)

    Now I feel bad.

    I’m not even me. I hacked this guy’s account and I’m just typing stupid crap to embarrass him.

    enjoy! You write really well, both of you. It just makes no sense.

    your pal,

    Theoretical Physicist Dr Scratchio Barfo

    1. “I can only describe your comments in one word: parsimonious.”
      When one wishes to point out the flaws in another’s arguments, it is usually worthwhile point out to whom your barbs are directed. Whilst it might be economical to tar everyone with the same brush, it makes it near impossible to respond (or want to respond) — pal or no pal.
      Sadly for me, it is far to early in the day to be in an alcoholic drug-induced haze. (After reading this, I might be in need of a drink.)
      Cheers! (literally)

  4. Infinity means that everything possible must exist, including silly rambling non-sense ideas.

    Something more practical; Relativity says that objects undergo time dilation as their velocity increases. Another way of saying this is that everything travels at light speed, but through different dimensions. If you travel more through the space dimension, you travel less through the time dimension. From the perspective of a very fast particle (99% of c) the universe appears to age very quickly. From the perspective of an observer stationary to the universe, the particle appears to age very slowly.

    Does this mean that fast particles (cosmic rays) will last longer than their stationary counterparts? Could an alien race build a spaceship, travel very close to the speed of light, and travel to a time after all other particles have evaporated?

    If our universe is infinite, somewhere, some aliens are actually doing this =)

    1. Have you read the book :Tau Zero” by Poul Anderson.
      ( gives a good summary.)

      Either way, humanity will not even enter the equation, as you and me, my friend, will be probably scattered among the stars or frozen dead (our atoms at least) in some stinking thunderbox in some ginormous black hole.

      1. The Lorentz gamma factor for traveling into the future to witness the far distant future would be enormous. To compress 10^{31} years of the future of the universe into 100 years of proper time on one’s frame requires a gamma = 10^{29}. This means one must move relative to the Hubble frame with about 10^{29} times more energy than the energy equivalent in the mass of the spaceship. The

        gamma = 1/sqrt(1 – (v/c)^2)

        we can compute the velocity v = .999999999999999c, which is the velocity relative to the Hubble frame.

        Besides some obvious practical problems with scale, a Bussard ramjet that draws in interstellar material into a reaction core or fusion reactor, if accelerated at one gee for twenty years will means the CMB radiation in the forwards direction will become blue shifted into the X-ray and then gamma-ray. The CMB is converted into a dangerous source of radiation.


  5. The only think that is for certain in Cosmology regarding the future of the universe, is that the EU/PC dubious explanation is absolute nonsense and will/has gone the way of the Dodo. I.e Extinction. Just like the universe expanding (virtually) forever more, the universe will become a cold and lonely place, where all our neighbourhood galaxies finally disappear over the horizon — unknowable and untestable. Not only does the universe have a bleak future, so does the possibility of life continuing. It will huddle around the fires that remain, but like entropy, will dwindle out and die in natural time. There will be no last hooray or fanfare at the end, just a whimpering sigh that no one will ever be able to observe or grief over. (The universe might be better off without the ‘infestation.’
    Frankly, the death throes of humanity (if it hasn’t already happened) will be no great loss but the universe will go on as it does. (nihilist)
    I for one won’t lose any sleep over it!

    Note: These EU/PC twits believe, the magnetic fields will get stronger with distance and age, until the whole place is presumably in the end be lit up like a dazzling Christmas Tree.

  6. When one reads in the introduction to Pan Theory that, ” One elementary particle started the entire universe. By slow division it became strings and clusters of the smae identical particle” one doesn’t really know how to react or what to say. Sounds more like an amoeba or does it sound more like bullsh*t? Having become rather tired of going back to Zeta Talk for a belly laugh I’ll now dip into Pan Theory when the rest of my department and I need our spirits lifting.

  7. I prefer Dr. Phil Plait’s theory – that after all the proton decay, black hole evaporation and entropy no longer playing a role, then nothing ever happens and nothing ever will.

    1. That would be the case if the de Sitter vacuum were stable. It is pretty darn stable, but quantum fluctuations cause it to decay. The cosmological event horizon very slowly retreats off to “infinity,” as the spacetime asymptotes to a flat Minkowski geometry. The time scale by which the de Sitter vacuum significantly changes is absolutely enormous, such as 10^{10^{100}}years. This radiation produced by the de Sitter horizon is called Hawking-Gibbon radiation.


    2. If you refer to Phil Plait’s book “Death from the Skies!”, then I am quite sure that he also speaks of the possible decay of spacetime.

      Wait a second, I look it up……..

      Indeed, on page 294 of the hardcover edition:

      What we’re experiencing now would then be a “false vacuum state,” and we might take the final step down, dropping to a lower state. […]
      A cascade starts, with more and more bits of the Universe dropping to the lower state.

      I think, this is the idea Lawrence B. Crowell was already talking about in his first post.

      1. Yes, that is basically right. There are some other issues with respect to other pocket universes witht heir own bubble nucleation vacuum. If they all decay, then how do they all decay into a single grand final state?



    Be careful Mr. Crumb, and bear in mind that some humility is always in order when we propose to pontificate on something so magnificent as Gods’ marvellous and vasty universe.

    I’m sure all who are interested in this field have by now read about this little boy.

    Whence cometh these amazing cognitive abilities??? …and he says he has some ideas to disprove the Big Bang!!!! We will see. But I do have a suspicion where they may be coming from…and consider it more than a passing coincidence that the starry vault is of especial interest to him!

    Psa 8:2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
    Psa 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
    Psa 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
    Psa 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
    Psa 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

    The Indy Star article linked here is most comprehensive.

    1. Read Psalm 104, where God is praised for making it so the Earth does not move.


    2. Everyone knows of course that Krom, the one true God, is indeed glorious.

      Lawrence B. Crowell;

      Is there any possibility that quantum fluctuations could restart the big bang at any given time? Also, you mentioned that other space-times are likely decaying along with ours, Is there any reason to surmise that this will have an effect on our observable universe (i.e. multiverse collapse?) or am I far off on this one?


      1. Psalm 104 is a version of the prayer to Aten, which is the sun god Anum Ru Akhnaten elevated to the “one God.”

        Something funny might happen when all these bubbles of nucleation coalesce. The merger will occur in the depleated inflation space. The inflaton field roles down a potential barrier ramp and is depleted. The bubbles of nucleation then have (currently in fact) a larger vacuum energy than the space at large. However, as their horizon receded off to “infinity,” somehow all of these nucleation bubble merge into the whole “gemish.”


      2. Nice.I imagine the Hebrew tribes access to ancient Egyptian culture translates to a lot of influences like this.

        Curious. I assume there is some mathematical basis for this merging. Another great question is, what is this Gemish if it consists of nothing? A Gemish of quantum fluctuations and vacuum energy?

        The romantic side of me wonders if an intelligence of sufficient development and age would seek a way to escape entropy – or at least delay it by jumping bubbles (good luck making stable macroscopic wormholes).

    3. “Be careful Mr. Crumb, and bear in mind that some humility is always in order when we propose to pontificate on something so magnificent as Gods’ marvellous and vasty universe.”

      There is an very old saying; “Humility hides stupidity.” Frankly, you might as well believe in Peter Pan and pixie dust, for all I care. I haven’t mentioned anything at all about god, so I don’t see the relevance here to your condescending piousness. The only caution I’d say to you is to stick to the topic and dump the irrelevant fiction.

      “Who’s more foolish. The fool or the fool that follows him?”
      Obi-Wan Konobi

      Says it in spades, doesn’t it?

      1. “Be careful Mr. Crumb,…”
        At least I’m free from your implications of tyranny and deliberate obfuscation. With free will, I will say what I want and I will do what I please, and happily will ignore such veiled threats — here and now; and forevermore. If “He” exists, He is already damning you for your hubris!

        “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
        Benjamin Franklin

        or to promote your ‘brand”

        Matthew 23:12 : “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

        Ummmm. Might be something in that, methinks.

  9. Ps. 104 is clearly replete with much figurative imagery, which is characteristic of the Hebrew OT language.

    In Biblical eschatology, however, there is a prophesied time of cleansing by fire, through which the earth does appear to pass although coming forth all the better in the end in pite of whatever cataclysm this imports.

    Matt. 19:28, the regeneration (palinggenesia, GK)

    also: 2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoikeia — whence stoichiometry) shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…. Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (katakaio–burned, consumed wholly).

    Actually, Salacious (hmmm, your name here doesn’t suggest some sort of subconscious Freudean insecurity does it?) this is possibly as clear a description of what could occur should the sun prematurely deliver us a death-dealing blast
    as anything else I’ve seen. And it is certainly as relevant and on-topic as some of the questions posed above.

    I saw an interview not long ago of world famous cosmologist Sir Roger Penrose (Road to Reality and other well-known books) who, when asked about the, various scenarios involving strings and branes and inflation and age-of universe claims–he admitted that some creationist scenarios were in final analysis as legitimate from a theoretical standpoint, as based upon what can be proven empirically, as many of the theories spunoff from the more widely accepted “standard” models.

    He seemed to say it with a smile–and humility which DIDN’T by any means appear to conceal a vestige of STUPIDITY! 😉

    1. What a giggle! You are drawing a very long bow here. If have no interest in your far-fetched fantasies nor of your religious verbal diatribe. Cosmology is a science not a religion, and this, I thought, was a science based site.
      As I’ve said; “I haven’t mentioned anything at all about god, so I don’t see the relevance here to your condescending piousness.”
      Frankly everything else you say here is irrelevant gibberish unrelated to the subject at hand.

    2. I hope you realize that you are referring to an event that is billions of years off. There is no chance that humans will be around to witness this. This is also an event that will be gradual. By the time any “melting” occurs. Advance life will be gone due to other related environmental complications. No Earth will be coming out of this event; more like, disintegrated. Earth will be interstellar dust. Some cleansing.

      If you rewind the clock a several million years, you won’t recognize our Sapient ancestors. Lots of evidence for this in those pesky sciences that deal with what’s under our feet. Thanks to our need to erect buildings, we know quite a lot about geology and archeology. In fact, geology is one of our most solid sciences.

      There is no evidence for any creationist scenarios. Zip, zilch, nada!

  10. It is interesting to note about the Biblical interpretation of the end of things. For example, the Bible says many that all the stars will fall from the sky to the ground at the end of times? Is that true too? How about the Apocrypha in the book of Enoch and the orders in heaven? Do you believe in that too?
    Cosmology is mostly based on observations of the physical universe and interpreting how the parts work to formulate a testable and provable theory. Science also cannot prove or disprove a god or creator, as this entity does not exist in the physical universe. I.e. You cannot prove anything physical or in how the universe works. Also religion cannot dismiss the physical or observational evidence before it.
    Like all religion, the science has strict rules of adherence. I.e. The scientific method, observations are reproducible, coherence of used data, etc. From this we can predict past or future behaviour or conceive of new ways to test our theories or assumptions. In some cases we can create new avenues of explanation to better interpretation of theory or observation.
    Any small astronomical body up to the size of the universe obey natural laws that can used individually or categorised collectively. If some god or gods do exist, the universe has been left for humankind to discover these natural laws, and in its place, rightly satiates our inherent quality of learning and curiosity. What most fervent religious types always seem to forget is the universe is a puzzle for us it untangle. It is not put there just for obedience to some god or church but is put there as a reminder of our inherent human qualities.

    Bottom line is that the Bible is a religious book NOT a science or cosmology book.

    To apply, like JeffLong here, this carte blanche application of eschatology (death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of the destiny of humankind), across quite unrelated disciplines is like being a zoologist contemplating galaxies.

    It is plainly absolute foolishness at best and untestable at worst!

    (Now go away you irrelevant little pipsqueak before I start to become unkind!)

  11. What is to prevent an entity from entering into our observable 3- or 4-D universe through a singularity from one of your hypothesized (and are THEY religious constructs too?) … other dimensions?

    Stars falling from the sky? You have to understand these statements from the standpoint of the writer/observer. These obviously could be comets or meteor showers or … ballistic missiles? We are not given enough detail to be dogmatic one way or the other.

    But either way, such questions are as germane to cosmology as are the proposed 11 dimensions of M-Theory. Have you seen or personally experienced the other 7? or any of Susskind’s 10^500 other universes? Admittedly there is an element of “faith” involved there too isn’t there?

    I understand the scientific method, so you don’t have to waste time on that with me. I received my degree in geology, incidentally. Probably when some of you fellows were in diapers. 🙂

    I was awarded my green beret a couple years afterwards.

    The three articles above by V. D’Amico were well written I thought, and I have appreciated some of the more learned contributions made here following her.

    I just surmised that a cosmos/creation w/o a Creator seemed to be a bit of an empty interpretation of it all — all things considered.

    1. ‘I’m good I am. Just ask my mother.”
      … and now you obfuscate on your personal vanities.
      You wants us to take your biblical view on face value as absolutely true, but the stars can be interpreted as something else. You can’t have it both ways.
      If your a geologist, you must have been a pretty poor one, considering the nonsense you’ve already said. I.e. Eschatology a’int a science, now is it?
      Sorry. Leaving the farm gate open isn’t any excuse.
      To your condemnation, sir!

    2. “What is to prevent an entity from entering into our observable 3- or 4-D universe through a singularity from one of your hypothesized (and are THEY religious constructs too?) … other dimensions?”

      No they are not religious constructs. In fact, they would realise they more resemble opinions or good guess.
      As for what you say here, it resembles no SCIENTIFIC theory to me.
      The only “entity” (or “entities”) we currently know of are here on Earth, and nowhere else. Good to see you can make hypothesis on the impossible!
      Your out of your depth, sonny!

      1. If you want to see how religious thinking conflicts with science, read Proverbs Ch3 v1 “Lean not on your own reasoning, but trust in the Lord,” and Hebrews 11.1 Faith is the substance of things not seen … . That pretty much captures the conflict right there, or at least why religious thinking can’t be applied to science.


      2. Thanks for this. I’ll note these quotes for future reference.

    3. What is to prevent an entity from entering into our observable 3- or 4-D universe through a singularity from one of your hypothesized (and are THEY religious constructs too?) … other dimensions?

      I haven’t read much of the above, as so many crackpots and/or non-cosmologists you try to insert uncertainty where there are none. The standard cosmology works to quantified certainty, and there are no gap for your fantasies there.

      I recommend you study up on the scientific theory, especially since you believe you “understand” it.

      I pitch in not because you don’t behave like the typical anti-science troll, but for the above misunderstandings. Maybe you are trying to depict wormholes. (Because which entity would survive a singularity?) But then they wouldn’t connect to other dimensions any more or less than we who already live in them (say M-theories max 11), but to our or other universes.

      Here it is you who would need to provide evidence for the above scenario in its corrected physics form. Why isn’t this observed already? And how would the observation conflict with todays theories?

      I just surmised that a cosmos/creation w/o a Creator seemed to be a bit of an empty interpretation of it all — all things considered.

      OK, this was funny too. This is called parsimony, and it is *a good thing* in empiricism and science. It is your fantasy that would be a bad idea, even if it were a fact.

      [It isn’t, as we can now find those natural pathways that we expected all along. See Hawking, Stenger, Carroll, et cetera.]

  12. Instead, the contents of the universe will eventually drift prohibitively far away from each other and heat and energy exchange will cease. The cosmos will have reached a state of maximum entropy, and no life will be able to survive.

    I agree with the former (say, along LC scenarios) but the later is more or less flowery language to me. What is “the entropy of the universe” or “the entropy” of a volume of it, what does it actually mean?

    If you look at GR energy you have the problem that it isn’t well defined. It is precisely when you go to standard cosmology you can define a total energy of the universe. (It is zero energy, flat space, see LC comments.)

    But then it isn’t obvious to me that we can define an entropy as “easily”.

    – Most of the classical definitions won’t work, because there is no environment to do work in to study a heat engine (Carnot cycle) against. The classical 2nd LOT is a relativistic principle (p 52, “Thermal physics”, Morse).

    – The statistical definition of microstates won’t work, since we need a finite amount of matter and, again, a system in a heat bath, to define the statistical weight function (pp 62-65, “Statistical physics”, Mandl).

    So let us look instead at the entropy density of a volume of the universe.

    Then as Stenger points out in his “GOD – The Failed Hypothesis”, such a volume starts out with the maximum possible entropy density it can have! As the statistical definition goes, entropy is a measure of the available energy levels of microstates, and at the beginning the highly symmetrical system had yet many available levels in a small volume as it froze out.

    As the universe expands, it will cool down but also dilute towards heat death. Now IIRC we know by observation that the Local Group seems to be tugged apart by dark energy I think and in any case cosmological expansion. Eventually our galaxy will be alone in the universe, and a typical or average volume will have very few available states. So the system will develop its microstate distribution so that the universe will end with the minimum possible entropy density it can have (as well as minimum energy density, natch).

    Now I believe cosmologists like Carroll makes a big deal of the universe “starting with untypical low entropy” and how that can be predicted by various cosmologies. So it must be possible to do this estimate differently and yet meaningfully. Also, I assume the holographic principle can set a bound, but that is for the horizon not the universe.

    Maybe LC and others can pitch in. How do cosmologists identify or estimate the entropy of the universe?

  13. Thermodynamics of spacetime physics is strange. The concept of maximum entropy is standard thermodynamics involves equilibrium. However, with black holes something funny happens. Consider a black hole with a mass M that sits in intergalactic space and has the same temperature as the CMB. Currently a moon mass black hole less than about the 1mm in radius would have a Bekenstein-Hawking temperature equal to the CMB. The black hole can absorb a unit of energy E = mc^2 or emit such a unit by Hawking radiation. If the black hole emits this radiation its mass decreases M – -> M – m and the temperature T = 2pi k/M increases. This means the black hole will by statistics preferentially now radiation Hawking radiation to the CMB. The converse situation might happen as well, where the mass increases by absorbing a quantum of energy from the CMB M – -> M + m and the temperature of the black hole decreases. This means the black hole will preferentially grow by absorbing more mass-energy from the CMB than it emits by Hawking radiation. This means the concept of equilibrium is lost in thermodynamics of spacetime.

    Thermodynamics of event horizons, or black holes, does connect with the Boltzmann theorem on entropy S = -k log(W), where W is a volume in phase space of momentum and position which contains the microstates of the system. However, the microstates are coarse grained or indistinguishable. For black hole the entropy is S = kA/4L_p, where A is the area of the event horizon, k the Boltzmann constant, and L_p = sqrt{G-hbar/c^3} is the Planck length of about 1.6e^{-33}cm. The area A = N*L_p^2, for N an integer number which tells us how many units of event horizon area there are on the black hole which contain some number of quantum states. How many is not known. However, we do know that N = sum_i n_i, where n_i are a set of integers which sum to N, and there are many of these in the partition of N. This gets into some very deep issues with how supergravity states and strings can determine the possible configuration of quantum states of a black hole. These configurations are measures of n-partite entanglements of states.

    The universe as a whole has a cosmological event horizon, which is similar to a black hole horizon, and observers in the universe are in a situation similar to an observer inside a black hole looking towards the outside. The degrees of freedom we observe in the universe are due to a huge entanglement entropy, which on a fine grained level (quantum microstates level) does not really exist. This event horizon then is similar to that of a black hole, which is not in equilibrium and decays. The de Sitter vacuum, just as the spacetime vacuum for a black hole decays.
    The low entropy of the universe is related to some of the above, and due to the fact that the extreme inflationary de Sitter vacuum with an enormous quantum energy density was also not stable. These questions ultimately boil down to the problem of what are the quantum eigenstates of the universe, and how are they partitioned holographically on boundaries (AdS_n and CFT_{n-1} correspondences) and event horizons if black holes and cosmologies. All of these problems appear to me to distill into this one major problem, It is often the case in physics and mathematics that a problem is converted into another form in order to really solve it.
    As for religion, which appears to have crept into this discussion, the religious method of thinking is just simply inappropriate for questions involving cosmology or the nature of elementary particles or quantum gravity and so forth. The Bible contains plenty of references to a bronze age or early iron age understanding of the world. Jonah for instance travels under the Earth and through the foundations which uphold the Earth and the vault of heaven. This is flat Earth stuff! That was how people at the time these writings, or pre-Tanach writings, were written or laid in codex saw the world.
    The Hymn to Amun-Ra has the line “Lord of truth, father of the gods, maker of men, creator of all animals, Lord of things that are, creator of the staff of life,” where Psalm 104 is a revision of the same thing. Akhenaten is the Pharoh who ejected the Priests and rose the Amun-Ra to the Aten, the supreme one God. The Amun-Ra was the sun god, and this was elevated to the status of a supreme deity. The Aten cult was abolished with the death of Akhenaten and its priests dispersed. Doubtless some of them made their way to Canaan, while there were small cult followers who lived in Libya. The Genesis story of God moving across the face of the deep (chaos) is borrowed from the Babylonian Marduk and Tiamut creation story, where Marduk slays the dragon-god of chaos Tiamut and creates the world. The Genesis references to the leviathan are essentially a form of Tiamut. The connection with Abraham illustrates how a personal god (a bit like a guardian angel) was elevated to universal status, and this idea along with the city state god-narratives of the Babylonians or Chaldeans was kluged with the Egyptian concept of monotheism.
    These are ideas which serve no working purpose any more. In effect these ideas are wrong, for they presume a conscious thought system from top down that forges the universe. Yet in virtually everything we have come to understand the nature of things is exactly the opposite. From the time of Darwin it appears that these most cherished ideas about things have fallen to the wayside. We can’t disprove them, and the Bible is filled with various forms of double thought, such as Proverbs Ch3 “Lean not on your own understanding, but … .” So these ideas are not likely to go away any time soon, but it is pretty clear that these ideas have nothing to say about the universe as we really understand and observe it.


  14. <>

    Oh my! Well let me apologize. I didn’t realize that “salacious” here was in charge of the comments column!

    It is evident from remarks like this that the person making them is NOT one of the respected authorities on the topics being discussed.

    I was referring above to a singularity in the mathematical sense of the term — not the strictly astrophysical — and what dimension might lie on the other “side”, or what could come out of it could be anything! and it would not have to proceed forth from a hypothesized “wormhole.”

    Wiki def.:

    God could “step into” the cosmos almost anytime, anywhere from another dimension he could inhabit little known to us. Occasional miracles could happen this way while the normal course of predictable and mathematicaly calculable cause and effect events proceed as we observe them to moment by moment. This could be especially true in the sphere of cognition and mental processes, and impulses, thoughts, ideas could literally be interjected in such a stealthy and benign manner. I believe there is much evidence for this, though in the realm of mental events it is difficult to establish with “scientific” rigor.

    I enjoy the discussion here of the various hypotheses being kicked around today in cosmology and the analytical tools some of you bring to bear to advance or rebut them.

    Cosmology, since it is so wide-ranging a subject and is not an exact science per se, will always be amenable to theological input, though I can appreciate that a column like this is best not allowed to become a disputation forum for everyone’s views on how THEIR God DID IT ALL!

    I would add that I don’t think the last Wiki- or Youtube version of religious history given above holds much water.

    I would moreover simply caution that an honest cosmology is always subject to questions and speculations surrounding the Anthropic Principle and that inevitably a Creator/Designer will be brought into the discussion. After all he always has been by men like Newton, Kepler, Gauss, Euler, James Jeans, and a whole pantheon of other stellar SCIENTIFIC geniuses! [and you guys know this, dont; you.] 🙂

    Here is an excellent lecture at CALTECH by a mathematician on God, Math and the Multiverse — delivering a scathing critque of Hawking en route.

    The only “trolls” are the ones hiding under bridges threatening to gobble up all the new visitors! 😉

    1. You know where you can stick you eschatology, don’t you! 🙁 Believe in god or whatever you like. I haven’t even questioned your faith or lack thereof.
      I DON”T CARE. GET IT!!

      Really. People are free to do what they like when it comes to religion, but they should not be applying their personal dogma and force it on the rest of the world.

      Again, (which you clearly are ignoring); “Science also cannot prove or disprove a god or creator, as this entity does not exist in the physical universe. I.e. You cannot prove anything beyond the physical or in how the universe works. Also religion cannot dismiss the physical or observational evidence before it.”

      Go away!

    2. “Cosmology, since it is so wide-ranging a subject and is not an exact science per se, will always be amenable to theological input,…”

      Absolute rubbish. By definition; “COSMOLOGY is the SCIENCE of the origin and development of the universe.”

      Science is NOT some theological subject!

    3. JeffLong said; “I would moreover simply caution that an honest cosmology is always subject to questions and speculations surrounding the Anthropic Principle and that inevitably a Creator/Designer will be brought into the discussion.”

      Absolute rubbish. Anthropic Principle has absolutely nothing to do with god or supernatural mumbo-jumbo. It is a principle based on the OBSERVER in the PHYSICAL UNIVERSE.*

      By definition, but you favourite (mostly unreliable) Wikipedia ;
      “In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it.”

      What I really hate most about your toxic words here is they are hidden in half-truths. You pull out scientific words or principles and twist it to have retold as some nonsensical airy-fairy dogma.

      If you want to preach your religious rhetoric, I suggest you do it on a religious site. When it comes to science, sorry, you clearly haven’t a inkling of clue!

      * Ikeda, M. and Jefferys, W., “The Anthropic Principle Does Not Support Supernaturalism,” in The Improbability of God, Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, Editors, pp. 150-166. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Press.

    4. “God could “step into” the cosmos almost anytime,…”

      Ok smarty. Prove this on scientific principles or even cosmology.
      You simply can’t!!!

  15. I watched much of the YouTube clip you posted… and what a load of bullocks!
    Satan Devadoss is a Associate Professor of Mathematics, not of cosmology. He’s about a relevant as Peter Pan!

    I mean, what total idiot would say; “We need to go to the quantum world which incorporates….reason…and incorporates faith.” He also argues “History is the only means to measure a unique event like the creation of the world or the historical Jesus.”, and then accuses cosmologists of basically “scientific materialism.”

    What the hell has Jesus (allegedly) rising from the dead have to do with cosmology? Eh? All it is is absolute manipulative rubbish, and is completely irrelevant!

    So called “evidential faith” a’int science, sunshine !!

    You are an absolute joke, sir!

    Peter Pan : “I do believe in fairies, I do, I do.” (This even makes more sense than you voodoo.)

    1. Quantum moo-shoo quackery. I dislike seeing this sort of nonsense, and it is made worse when said by somebody with credentials. Frank Tipler has been out on a limb with this sort of stuff.

      The anthropic principle (AP) comes in two forms, weak and strong. The strong AP is the conjecture that the universe requires the existence of conscious intelligence in order to exist. In a funny sense the universe is then maybe a sort of Godel self-referential system. It might be that the universe requires intelligent life in order to confer ontology onto itself, which gets us into metaphysics — where in some sense with Godelian self-reference might get us their through meta-mathematics. The strong AP is hard to know about, and seems beyond science in my opinion.

      The weak AP says that the universe must be of such a nature as to permit life and intelligent consciousness to exist. This is less of the metaphysical statement with the strong AP, but a guiding statement. Hans Bethe in effect used the weak AP. The gravitational collapse model of solar energy predicted the sun could only function for about 100,000 years. Yet biological evolution and geology indicated the Earth had a 100 million year or longer history. So this meant the astrophysics had conform to the reality of conditions on Earth, which involved the existence of biology, life and ourselves. So we have already seen the weak AP at work.


      1. Thanks Lawrence.
        For almost anyone, the Anthropic Principle never was an argument for proof of influence or existence from some supernatural realm. In essence it is a question of the “observability” of the universe. It is hardly observational cosmology.
        It really cheeses me off when I hear some jerk say “I understand the scientific method” that have twist and manipulate it to validate some untestable or unprovable notion via some deviant machination of a quite unrelated discipline. The scientific method, as the name implies, is based on science and reality not some dogma-driven metaphysical contrivance under the umbrella of religion or faith. (if it were true, then why isn’t it called the religious method.) The scientific method is by definition “a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.” Positivism, if you must.
        Yet, even “alleged” scientists sometimes forget the basics of what they are doing. They fall into the trap of conjecture or even how to create concepts that ultimately are theoretically easily falsifiable. Most seem to fall foul with some advent of religion They become so confused they start adopting the diametrically opposite principles of antipositivism. I.e. Using history as a means of some kind of reality or proof. Opinions they hold are ultimately transformed into untestable ideas based on some biassed justification of their adopted faith; either by the very experience of ‘personal enlightenment’ and deemed authority of the tenets of their adopted doctrine (displayed via dogma.)
        In the end they cannot see or distinguish between observable reality, and then feel hurt and mystified when they are directly faced with any refutation in what they say.
        Our friend here claims to be a geologist and understand science; but his logical notions he once held so dear, now make him collapse into little more than nonsensical gibberish. I.e Implication of Jesus’ death and cosmology is both unintelligible and just plain crazy.

      2. The weak AP is really a part of a question. In the case of the sun and its age it was Hans Bethe who looked at nuclear physics and fusion as a solution. We are faced with something rather similar, where maybe a complete understanding of the quantum states of the universe will solve the problem. It is the hope that once this is done you can peel away the weak AP as not needed.

        There is nothing that mystical about the weak AP, although the strong AP is “odd,” and really might represent some contact between physics as a science and metaphysics in philosophy. At this point we have no clear way of addressing the strong AP. Yet clearly when people start using the AP as a way to arguing how cosmology makes a contact with theology it is pretty clear they are talking moo-shoo balderdash.


  16. <>

    IF the “100-million year or longer history” be correct! Which I am becoming more suspect of with every passing year.

    Thank you, Dr. Crowell for outlining the strong vs. weak AP distinctions for readers here.

    As for “lecherous” crumb (accept my apologies if that be your real name), your chosen monicker is revealing enough regarding your own psychological immaturity, and likely insecurity.

    You, Sir, have been a blight on this entire discussion, and in my opinion should be booted from these comment threads, as your gratuitous ad hominem rantings no doubt discourage many others from posing questions and contributing thoughtful comments. [and your spelling and syntax are atrocious]

    1. Oh. Is this not an ad hominem attack as well?
      Lose your argument here, and applying your same logic, you fall into the exact same trap. Clearly you are a total hypocrite.

    2. “lecherous” crumb…
      Should I change my avatar name to Delilah, then?

  17. “IF the “100-million year or longer history” be correct! Which I am becoming more suspect of with every passing year.”

    Oh? Why is that?

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