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Final project - fate of the universe - need ideas

  1. Aug 1, 2004 #1
    I am in a college-level Astronomy course this summer, and my final project topic is on the fate of the universe. I must present this in a creative, entertaining way for the class. But I also would like to have up-to-date, sound science in there, too. What I would like from you guys is some ideas for how to present it (I don't care how crazy they are). The presentation should be about 5 minutes.

    Here is my current outline of information and material I am considering presenting. I can make this presentation a certain aspect of the fate of the universe and present that in more detail. Also, I don't have to present all of the information I have here tentatively in my outline -- it's subject to change.

    Thanks for any ideas and input!

    1. most likely end state (runaway acceleration, “heat death”)

    a. model (possibly act this out)
    i. stars use up their fuel & fizzle out (thousand billion years from now)
    ii. hawking radiation blasts (next 10^122 years)
    iii. nothing for the next unimaginably large 10 to the 10^26 years
    iv. iron atoms undergo “tunneling”
    1. these atoms disappear into tiny black holes
    2. these black holes fizzle out due to Hawking radiation
    v. cold, dark, lonely

    b. how did we come to this conclusion?
    i. explore the value of Omega
    ii. explore the factors that determine the end state
    1. baryonic matter (“ordinary matter”)
    2. dark matter
    3. dark energy

    2. other end states (less likely ones)
    i. closed (Big Crunch, Omega > 1)
    ii. flat (Omega = 1)
    iii. open (Omega < 1)

    3. what’s in it for humans
    i. for how long could we theoretically survive?
    ii. how would we survive this long?
    1. hibernation
    2. disembodied digital intelligence
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2004 #2


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    It looks good to me. I would add the possibility the universe could quantum fluctuate back into existence again by the same mechanism that created it. Perhaps, when it 'thins out' sufficiently, quantum fluctuation effects will take back control.
  4. Aug 2, 2004 #3

    woah i've never heard of this one!

    could you possibly point me to a site that has more info on this?
    thanks for the help, Chronos!
  5. Aug 6, 2004 #4
    AFAIK, this is not quite correct. I don't know what is the timeframe for the last stars to burn out and for existing and new black holes to evaporate. But assumming the timeframes you specified are correct, then this should go approximately like this:
    I. ~10^12 years from now: Last stars burn out. Soon after (a few dozen of billions of years later), the last radioactive isotopes decay to a stable form.
    II. ~10^37 years from now: Barionic matter dissapears through proton decay.
    III. ~10^160 years: Last black hole evaporates.
  6. Aug 8, 2004 #5


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