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How do we know when the universe will end?

How do we know when the universe will end?
Nicola Symeonides from Essex (Aged 5-14)

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One Response

  1. In the 50’s and 60’s the ideas were based on ‘The steady state theory’. The universe has always been and always will be.

    Then came the idea of ‘The Big Crunch’ an opposite to the big bang. The idea was that gravity would eventually stop down the universe’s expansion followed by pulling everything back together.
    Recently a NASA probe called WMAP (Wilkinson
    Microwave Anisotropy Probe) has shown that rather than the universe slowing down, it is actually expanding at a faster rate than before. See http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/

    Another idea is that there are multiple universes. Some are just starting at their big bang, others are dying and that this spawns new universes. There is no evidence for this idea at present.

    As to when the universe will end, the simple answer is that we just don’t know yet. We know that it is 13.7 billion years old but not how far through it’s life it is.

    Radio 4 had a series on this question in 2004. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/briefhistory.shtml
    to hear the programmes.

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