Sunday, September 18, 2005

What'll it be, Heat Death or the Big Crunch?

In the field of astrophysics, an unsettled and deeply intriguing question is: how is the universe going to end? One popular theory holds that the universe, which has been continuously expanding since the Big Bang, will continue to do so indefinitely, until all of the energy of that initial explosion has been spent, at which time the lights all gutter out . Party's over. Another, infinitely more interesting theory, the Big Crunch, posits that the universe will expand continuously until a given point of maximum stress when, like a rubber band, it snaps back, contracting at the same rate that it expanded, until all the matter of the universe imploded back into the pre-universal speck that preceded the Big Bang. Recent data has pretty much confirmed that we're in for a long, slow, steady expansion into the nothingness of entropy. No Big Crunch coming.

Needless to say, when I found out, I was bummed.

All around us are signs of a looming End. If you've been at all paying attention during this century, you can't help but get a sense that all of the wires that suspend us comfortable Americans above the abyss of Hobbesian struggle for existence are beginning to fray. Cheap oil, the lubricant of empire, is running out. Climate change continues to destabilize the environment. The imaginary economy is losing its necessary impenetrable mystery. And let's not forget the potential wild cards in the deck: global pandemic and nuclear annihilation.

It's scary, but maybe not as scary as the alternative. The Heat Death of civilization. When I think about the current carnival of grotesque excess and soul-crushing mundanity grinding on and on and on, mummifying us, drying us out into human shaped husks of dead flesh, I find myself secretly yearning for the iron broom of history to sweep it all away in one bold, charismatic stroke. To be there, to witness the destruction of all that is familiar, and homogenized, and commericalized, and exsanguinated by banal efficiency, might be worth trading an uninterrupted lifetime of mundane suffocation.

But probably not.

Shit, I should just get a hobby or something.

2 Comments:

Blogger Erick Anderson said...

as the universe gradually proceeds toward thermal equilibrium, all that a guy can do is patiently await the heat death of your mom.

6:02 PM  
Blogger matthew christman said...

Your mom goes to college.

7:25 PM  

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