AstronomyCast‘s Fraser Cain joins Toren, Joe and Kevin to talk about The End of All Things — the death of the entire Universe. Everything, everyone, even the very atoms themselves! The Big Crunch, The Big Chill, dark energy, and a whole lot more that confuses the heck out of Kevin. Plus: Doctor Who, Spaceship Zero, and what Marvel’s all-time eating champion Galactus has to do with the end of the Universe.
Music: “Theme from Spaceship Zero” by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
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After the collision and eventual mergion of the Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies, I propose the new galaxy’s name to be “Galaxy Anyway”
Asimov’s Last Question story was a Big Chill universe – one of the sequences ended with futile plans to assemble new stars, after all. Of course, that was the short story – was there a novel-length version as well that I didn’t know about, with a Crunch?
Quick pet peeve (from someone who knows just enough about thermodynamics to be dangerous): Closed systems spontaneously tend toward the lowest Gibbs free energy possible, which is a combination of entropy and enthalpy. This often means striving for high entropy but not always, there are some neat examples of systems ordering themselves which ends up representing the lowest energy (drying salt water is a simple example where the salt forms ordered crystals from a soup of mixed ions).
The universe comment is still true though; The total entropy of the universe always increases. Small systems can sometimes become more ordered by themselves but not the universe as a whole (in the salt example this required the increased entropy on the part of the water).
There are better examples then the salt water one, but they are generally mathy and complicated (since water leaves, it’s not really a closed system).
Thanks for another great show as always!
Wait, did I hear a cat in the background at 1:11:33? Mascot??
Obscure and awesome Christmas & end-of-universe story (yes you read that right – think Santa v. Entropy):