On 9/4/07, the History Channel broadcast an interesting two-hour program on the Big Bang theory, where it came from and what the evidence is.
This program was the end of a series on this subject, and it briefly closed with a description of the end of the universe, “billions and billions of years from now.”
The end of the universe, the scientists currently think, will be the unending expansion of the universe, accompanied by the “falling apart” of all the matter in the universe.
Why does this make sense in terms of the governing science? Everything is made of atoms, which in turn are made up principally of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Sad, sad story: protons decay. Their half-life is about 4 billion years. So, in 4 billions years or so, one half of all the protons will decay. In fact, if the age of the universe is 13.5 billion years, then the universe has been through over 3 half-lives of the proton, and so we now have only about 1/8 of the mass of protons left in the universe since the big bang.
While it may take billions and billions of years to get to the point that the last bit of matter decays, the science says that quite a bit of the universe has already fallen apart (or should have).
The program did not delve into the physics of the decaying proton. But, that’s my point here, to give a little more information about the decaying universe, and why it not only makes sense, but is a certainty from a nuclear decay (scientific) standpoint.
I never put all this together until this evening, but it makes good physical sense.
This may have no practical value to us, especially given our short lifetimes. But, the science makes sense.
Well, then, even more: this proton decay gives off heat, and it is thus thought to be an irreversible process, in itself. So, the future “universe” is dark with all those smaller-than-proton pieces floating around.
Our telescopes allow us to look out and capture images of stars and matter that, in fact, may already no longer exist as we would normally think of them, as they appear to us. Wow.