HIGHTOWER: The End of the Universe

Let's take a long-distance journey today ...into the way out future...indeed, so far into the future that we will see the end of the world as we know it.Not just the end of us, but the end of earth itself, plus the sun, the stars and all known matter in the universe.Two Michigan scientists specializing in something called "cosmic vision" have calculated that this total termination will come not tomorrow, not in the year 2000, but a bit further down the path of time. To be precise, they are talking 10,000 trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion years from now.You say that's too far to worry about, that you don't even know what you're doing next weekend, much less trillions of years from now? Sure, buster, you say that now, but the end for us human types is coming much sooner, and there is evidence that the end has already begun.In only about five billion years, the scientists say, our Lucky Old Sun will explode and be reduced to what they call a "white dwarf." Slowly, all the stars in the heavens will do the same, and that will end the "stelliferous era".Then comes that era in which most of the universe's matter will be in the form of "brown dwarfs," red dwarfs, white dwarfs and black holes. Now, I ask you, is this not already happening in Washington? Don't the dwarfs rule? And doesn't Newt Gingrich himself signal the beginning of the "degenerate era"?At the end of the "degenerate era," the scientists predict that black holes will gobble-up all the dwarfs, leading us into the "black hole era" and finally into the "dark era" ... in which there is nothing out there -- zero, zip, nada. Except, of course, cockroaches. And maybe Newt Gingrich.If that's all the future has to offer, shouldn't we spend less time working . . . and more time playing?Source:"At other end of 'Big Bang' may simply be big whimper" by John Wilford. New York Times: Jan. 16, 1997.

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