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Nick Schnelker
Mrs. Funk
Inquiry skills 14
16 April 2014
The Cosmos: Beginning and End
Although it may seem irrelevant in your lifetime, the universe will have an end. The
beginning and end of the universe is not a typical dinner conversation, so a lot of people dont
know much about it. The big bang started the universe off as a huge expansion and it will most
likely end with a couple of different theories.
The Big Bang
It is hard to imagine what the universe was like before the big bang; the world was
nothing like it is today. It is nearly impossible to wrap your head around a place where time,
space, and matter were non-existent. Professor Lawrence krauss, one of the leading theoretical
physicists explains that before the big band there was just an unimaginably dense extremely hot
and infinitely small speck of pure energy. The big bang was the defining event of our universe,
and everything in it (Kaku). Everything around you, people, buildings, earth, stars, was
condensed into a single point meaning that that point has the same mass as the universe today
has, but what is the big bang?
The big bang is simply a theory scientists have to explain how the universe came in to
existence. Dr. Max Bernstein a lead astrophysicist quotes . The big bang was not an explosion
in space, because there was no space to explode in. But instead the big bang was an expansion
of space into existence. A good simile for the big bang would be rather than imagining a balloon
popping and releasing its contents, imagine a balloon expanding: an infinitesimally small balloon
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expanding to the size of our current universe (The Big Bang Theory). Before the big bang there
was no such thing as space, the big bang was the sudden expansion of space
Many incredible things happened before one second after the big bang, things that
changed the course of time forever. Michio Kaku explains that the very moment after the big
bang the fundamental laws of physics was brought into existence. Meanwhile, the universe was
expanding faster than the speed of light. so many things are happening so fast in the early
universe because the universe is so close together (Krauss). At this point in time there was still
just pure energy in the universe but all that is about to change. The universe is now still a tiny
fraction of a second old and it is the size of our solar system. Michio Kaku states that as the
universe expands it also cools down but it is still trillions of degrees hot. When the universe gets
cool enough the pure energy starts to transform into tiny particles, the first matter. Remember
the universe is only millionths of a second old at this point. The next step for the universe is to
build itself from the fundamental level up.
The universe is now a second old and still a very strange place there were still no atoms
and looked like nothing we would recognize today. According to Lawrence Krauss a few
seconds after the big bang the universe got a lot cooler and when things cool they slow down, so
when the universe got cooler the particles began to slow down and they started to clump together
to form the very first atoms. Within the next couple minutes those atoms will clump and start to
form elements, hydrogen, lithium, and helium were all created in those very first minutes (Kaku).
The universe over the next billion years would keep cooling and expanding, allowing for the
creation of planets, stars, and galaxies.
Throughout this whole time the universe has not stopped expanding we have learned this
thanks to Hubble and his discovery of this in the mid-twentieth century, and later confirmed
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through images brought back by Hubble space telescope. Professor David Spergel, a theoretical
Physicist states that there is a reason why we know that there was a big bang; since we know the
universe is expanding we can figure out that a year ago it was smaller and a year before that the
universe was even smaller (Dark energy). We can calculate that around thirteen and a half
billion years ago was when the universe was condensed into a single point. The expanding
universe seems to be a theme so why is the universe expanding and what is causing it?
Dark energy is the key to the expansion of the universe Scientists question much about
what it is but they do know it exists and it is all around us. Martin White, an author of a book
about dark energy, quotes Gravity pulls together while dark energy pushes apart so they are
constantly in a battle against each other. In his book he also states that when things are closer
together gravity is stronger and dark energy is weaker but when things are far apart the opposite
is true (Dark Energy) Combining that statement with what we know about the expanding
universe, it is safe to say that in the early universe gravity was much stronger and was winning
the battle against dark energy but now because the universe is expanding at an exponential rate
dark energy is winning, and this could lead to some problems down the road with our universe.
The end of everything
If the human population live that long our sun will die out in about five billion years and
with it all life on planet earth will cease to exist. But this is extremely short term compared to the
end of the universe. Than Ker, a writer for national geographic, reported that there are four
scenarios that scientists are putting their money on, the big rip, crunch, freeze, or slurp. These
are not all the theories Ker wrote But there are the theories that are most probable and most
supported. (Ker) These theories of the end all depend on dark energy, if dark energy is
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temporary, growing, or everlasting. But scientists just dont know enough about dark energy to
know which our probable fate is, but lets look at some of the theories.
The first theory and probably the theory that has the most support is the big rip. Michio
Kaku explains that the balance between dark energy and gravity is what keeps structure in the
universe, if there was only gravity everything would collapse in on itself, if there was only dark
energy nothing would be able to clump together and everything would just fly away from each
other. The big rip is when dark energy keeps growing exponentially stronger and eventually
galaxies solar systems even atoms all rip apart and fly away from each other. (What is the big
rip?) Around sixty million years before the big rip our galaxy is destroyed, three months before
the solar system breaks apart, thirty minutes before earth explodes, and a fraction of a second
before atoms are ripped apart. But this is just one of the theories that scientists have come up
with.
Another theory is the big freeze, this theory is when the universe keeps expanding and
doesnt stop. According to David Spergel the universe is still cooling down as its expanding,
eventually the temperature of the universe reaches a point so cold that particles stop vibrating
and electrons stop moving this temperature is called 0 kelvins. We have created a whole new
unit of temperature for this phenomenon because it is so cold (4 Purported Ways). But before it
even reaches this point everything will be so far apart that the raw material needed for star
formation would not be able to clump together enough, the universe would be a dark wasteland
of dust and black dwarfs, which are the remaining cores of died out stars. But what if gravity gets
stronger?
The next proposed theory is the big crunch; this theory is when the universe stops
expanding and starts collapsing in on itself almost like the big bang in reverse. Professor Michio
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Kaku quotes the big crunch is like rolling the tape backwards eventually we end up back where
we started. He also later explained that it again depends on what black energy does, in this
theory dark energy is a temporary energy after a while it goes much weaker or just goes away
while gravity starts to regain control and get stronger (the big crunch). Many scientists believe
that if this theory happens another big bang will happen. Think about it, if everything starts
collapsing in on itself we would eventually end up with the conditions that we had before the big
bang that was mentioned in the second paragraph, and if the big bang happened once from those
conditions whats stopping it from happening again. Maybe it has happened before, the big bang
that was mentioned before could have been the second big bang, the third big bang, the millionth
big bang! The possibilities are endless; in fact it could be endless, because the big bang could
have happened an infinite number of times. But this could only be true if the universe ended
with the big crunch.
The last theory about the end of the universe is the big slurp which is probably the most
difficult theory to understand. Jaime Trosper, a journalist that has spent her lifetime focusing on
scientists views on the universe, writes the vacuum of our universe may be inherently unstable.
If this were the case, our universe might experience a catastrophic event when a "bubble" from
another alternate universe appears in ours. She later on explains that this is disastrous because
it could cause of all the protons in all matter found in our universe to decay (4 purported ways).
Due to a very complicated mathematical equation, this theory is when another big bang from
another universe appears in ours. Remember that after the big bang the universe expanded
rapidly, if another big bang from another universe were to appear it would do the same thing.
This new big bang would start swallowing us from the inside out destroying everything in its
path. Unlike all the other possible theories this one could happen anywhere at any time.
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The universe has a long interesting history and an unpredictable fate. This paper is just
simply based off of theories and predictions scientists made based off of scientific evidence, this
paper is not trying to contradict anyones personal or religious beliefs on the universe. Now that
you have a general idea on the universes origins and probable fate, be thankful you live in a time
of peace in the universe. But strap in because this universe is heading into some rough, but
amazing times.