Skip

What Lies Past Eternity, for the Universe?
January 3, 2009 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Exit Mundi's thoughts on the latest anticipated apocalypse: the coming apocalypse in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 A.D.. (No kidding.)

(Previously and previously.) (head asplode)

The subpage lists as sources Evolving Cosmos and Stephen Battersby's February '05 article in New Scientist, "The Final Unravelling of the Universe."

Although the site at large is familiar to many Mefites, this particular subpage seems to have been added rather recently and I thought contained ideas that are unusual and interesting enough to be worthy of highlighting ...
posted by WCityMike (79 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Way to break the front page WCityMike!
posted by gomichild at 10:40 PM on January 3, 2009


Doesn't look broken to me, and the post is showing. What, it's not wrapping?
posted by WCityMike at 10:43 PM on January 3, 2009


Post Apocalypse. Nope, it's not wrapping.
posted by hackwolf at 10:43 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not wrapping mate. Sorry.
posted by gomichild at 10:44 PM on January 3, 2009


Well, crapadoodle. I know there's a mod on a different timezone, sort of the "overnight mod." Anyone remember offhand who that is? I'll try to find it on Meta and let him know. grumble grumble let's get some 21st century wrapping code installed shall we?
posted by WCityMike at 10:45 PM on January 3, 2009


I can't wait to hole myself up with a few virgins to prepare for this inevitable oncoming apocalypse.
posted by qvantamon at 10:46 PM on January 3, 2009


that would be vacapinta, WCityMike.
posted by taz at 10:47 PM on January 3, 2009


Thanks, I found it in the FAQ -- although the contact form entry in the FAQ doesn't have any IM information for him, so I just shot him an e-mail.

Sorry, guys, I honestly thought it'd wrap on a comma, and I thought the number was sort of a fun thing about the incomprehensible vastness the link is talking about.
posted by WCityMike at 10:49 PM on January 3, 2009


This is why neither historians nor prophets will never be considered scientists: They don't know when to use scientific notation.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 10:50 PM on January 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


Scientific notation, anyone?
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:51 PM on January 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's a new year and Metafilter is already broken.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:52 PM on January 3, 2009


Anyway, though, I posted this partially because I know we have scientifically-minded Mefites on the site, and I was interested in hearing the commentary or discussion that might arise on those very strange cosmological concepts described on the page — the Eiffel Tower randomly popping up in a incomprehensibly distant future where all the black holes the universe collapsed into have dissipated ... :-) Please don't let the wrapping-accident derail things, hopefully it'll be fixed real soon ...
posted by WCityMike at 10:52 PM on January 3, 2009


You got your apocalypse in my mefi!
posted by cashman at 10:52 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


faster than a speeding bullet beat me to the comment about scientific notation. Parse for string lengths that are too big and insert a line break, please.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:53 PM on January 3, 2009


In the year 10100, after all the universe has collapsed and quantum vacuums have caused us to reappear, a future WCityMike will make the exact same mistake. Unless he reads this comment first! Survive, little electrons, survive!
posted by WCityMike at 10:55 PM on January 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


1 x 10^134 by my count.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:57 PM on January 3, 2009


Maybe by the time 10100100 A.D. arrives, the repeated iterations of future WCityMikes posting this thread will have resulted in the mistake not occuring the next time 'round ... okay i've milked that joke as far as i can
posted by WCityMike at 11:00 PM on January 3, 2009


*makes it the sacred mission of his lineage to kill WCityMikes before they post to Metafilter, until the end of times*
posted by qvantamon at 11:02 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please people, don't blame big numbers! Small numbers will also hurt. Witness:
0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001....

No, I didn't have the heart.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:02 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I wasn't posting from an iPhone I'd paste a link to boltzman brains here.
posted by empath at 11:02 PM on January 3, 2009


"Do no evil", huh? Yeah, right.
posted by stavrogin at 11:04 PM on January 3, 2009


Here you go, empath.
posted by WCityMike at 11:09 PM on January 3, 2009


Lotta words to say "heat death".
posted by Clave at 11:09 PM on January 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


[i have broken
the zeroes
that were on
the front page

and which
you were probably
not intending
to bork things

forgive me
they weren't wrapping
so contiguous
and so wide]

posted by cortex at 11:09 PM on January 3, 2009 [29 favorites]


Cortex got it, so we should be okay now, hopefully.
posted by WCityMike at 11:11 PM on January 3, 2009


cortex broke a zero.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:11 PM on January 3, 2009


I'm going to mention now, for the benefit of anybody who joins the thread later, that what was happening was that this post read "Exit Mundi's thoughts on the latest anticipated apocalypse: the coming apocalypse in... and then there was an enormous gap until the rest of the post.

Pretty funny, really, given the context.

Things are back to normal now.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:20 PM on January 3, 2009


One ‘googol’ years, is the official word for that number. It’s the current age of the Universe...

No it isn't. According to its driver's license it's 13,800,000,000ish but if asked, it says it's 29.
posted by 517 at 11:24 PM on January 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't feel bad about it, WCityMike... it was refreshingly strange to see the line the coming apocalypse in... with empty blue following it. Being a deeply pessimistic MeFite, my second reaction was one of anxiety: "The apocalypse? When? When, you bastard?"

My third reaction (still without reading the article) was an association (and potentially a spolier): the end of a Stephen Baxter novel, in which the entire universe has almost been completely extinguished by swarming, semi-intelligent aliens that consume baryonic matter. The final scene, in which the last remaining uncorperal human beds himself down in the embers of a dying star as the universe cools to dark energy and matter, is the saddest I recall in SF outside of Childhood's End.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:27 PM on January 3, 2009


We, the Transhumans, will not let this fate befall our universe, as long as our naked asses are drifting in the intergalactic vastness.
posted by longsleeves at 11:31 PM on January 3, 2009


Should we start planning a meet up at a certain restaurant to watch the whole thing?
The first round of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters is on me.
posted by JimmyJames at 11:31 PM on January 3, 2009 [4 favorites]


Shit. I had plans that day.

Changing that around is gonna throw off my whole week.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:39 PM on January 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


517: the second half of the sentence you didn't quote changes the meaning dramatically from the bit you did quote. They never said a googol was the age of the universe.
posted by edd at 11:44 PM on January 3, 2009


oh man this is going to be so awesome
posted by aubilenon at 11:44 PM on January 3, 2009


I'll be sure to mark it on my google calendar.
posted by Foosnark at 11:44 PM on January 3, 2009


So the front page was broke. Anyone can do that! Me, I broke wind!

I find the Big Freeze to be repugnant. I propose to fashion a slingshot from some elastic strings, and shoot off to another brane. Or, perhaps, become totally irrelevant to this universe, and thus reveal The Way to the next. The universe may die, but the metaverse is eternal.
posted by Goofyy at 11:45 PM on January 3, 2009


ok, buckle yr seatbelt...
no matter how large the universe is at that point, when the last particle evaporates, there will no longer be any reference points to define the volume of the universe. not after 10^1056 years (or whatever), but immediately, that 'volume' becomes indistinguishable from a singularity containing all the energy that that empty volume of space represents...an object identical to that which started the universe. the likeliest scenario at that point is another big bang. see, even if the universe is 'open'...it's still 'closed'.

so says me

enjoy! :)
posted by sexyrobot at 11:45 PM on January 3, 2009


Metafilter: Incoherent lumps of random garbage, most of the time.
posted by lalochezia at 11:49 PM on January 3, 2009


Supernaught.
posted by Tube at 11:55 PM on January 3, 2009


I'm probably with ROU_Xenophile.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:58 PM on January 3, 2009


Fun (and accessible) further reading: Paul Davies' "The Last Three Minutes", which explores all sorts of "incomprehensibly far in the future" scenarios.
posted by ubernostrum at 12:11 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, there really are 1056 zeros in the big bang calculation.

20x3 zeros in the top row
41x3 zeros in the next 5 rows
49x3 zeros in the following two
and finally 29x3 zeros in the bottom row
so it's (49x3)2(41x3)5(20x3)(29x3)

...

I'm so bored...
posted by Pseudology at 12:15 AM on January 4, 2009


while true
 puts "Aleph-nought bottles of beer on the wall,"
 puts "Aleph-nought bottles of beer,"
 puts "You take one down, and pass it around,"
 puts "Aleph-nought bottles of beer on the wall"
end
posted by b1tr0t at 12:20 AM on January 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


So, in infinite time, anything can happen including the Eiffel Tower or a physicist popping back into reality. Does that not mean that an infinite number of things can happen? So I might pop back into existence married to my existing wife and then (at some other time) pop back into existence having my liver eaten by wolves? If it's not "anything can happen" but "anything will happen" then that's rather ... confusing.

Yes, I am an arts major.
posted by athenian at 12:47 AM on January 4, 2009


Everything has happened. We just don't perceive it. You pick your reality or just leave it. Heat death will come... or we'll just be one. Repeat the cycle indefinitely... You and I make three, WTF that be? Stick to arts, it's farts. Leave science to the people... who failed art.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:05 AM on January 4, 2009


Omega Point Theory is much more fun, heaven has already been won. Bicameral will give you another one. Snow Crash also gives cash, Infinity and the Mind might take it away, GEB brings it back almost any day.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:24 AM on January 4, 2009


10 gaziggyrillionwhatever years? Fine by me, because I won't be around anyway!
posted by Xere at 1:32 AM on January 4, 2009


anything can happen including the Eiffel Tower or a physicist popping back into reality.

Reminds me of The Hole in the Zero:
"Planets made of rust. Thousands of two-headed lions. Carnivorous stones, Izaak Newton in a paper coffin. Radioactive lead. Suns that absorbed heat. A little man ten milimetres tall made of collapsium. In the end, they just set up warning beacons and left it."
"How utterly baroque," she said with a shiver.
posted by raygirvan at 1:56 AM on January 4, 2009


So, in infinite time, anything can happen including the Eiffel Tower or a physicist popping back into reality. Does that not mean that an infinite number of things can happen? So I might pop back into existence married to my existing wife and then (at some other time) pop back into existence having my liver eaten by wolves? If it's not "anything can happen" but "anything will happen" then that's rather ... confusing.

Given an infinite amount of time, anything that can happen will happen. But the event in question still has to be physically possible. What this article seems to be arguing is that given enough time the universe can basically conjure up anything it wants.

So an entire crispy cremes outlet could just appear sometime in the distant future after all the photons have died but, say, the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster couldn't phase into existence at any point because its existence could not be not supported by our reality.
posted by Pseudology at 1:57 AM on January 4, 2009


Not everything can happen even given an infinite amount of time. Look at Aleph Null (integers 1, 2, 3. up to infinity) versus Aleph 1 (the infinity of real numbers of which an infinite amount exist just between 1 and 2). No matter how long you wait you’ll never get a 1.5 in Aleph Null.

Or take the “Where are they?” argument: If life on other planets exists then, given an infinite or even very large universe, they should’ve visited us by now. But they haven't.

If, given infinite time, anything can and will happen, then everything should happen all the time, simultaneously. A blizzard of white noise. But it doesn't. Infinity does not mean that no possibility is precluded.
posted by mono blanco at 2:18 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


People should use more zero-width spaces.
posted by Fruny at 3:04 AM on January 4, 2009


Seeing a post with a 1 followed by so many zeros reminds me that the total number of favorited comments I've acquired right now is only two away from 1,000.

I think about this. How important is a power of ten? Does it make me a better person if I have 1000 favorites instead of 998? Would 999 be better than 998? This seems absurd. Beyond that, why should I care how many Favorites I have. Am I that shallow?

Probably I am that shallow. Certainly, faced with the long term Heat Death of the Universe, I tend to dwell excessively on simple measures of my own performance. "How did I do during this Life/Universe cycle?" "Did I get enough points at Metafilter?" "Does she like me, and will she come with me to the Prom?"

But how does this translate numerically into measurements of success? I know my IQ is 100 plus or minus 100. I know that my income is 100,000 within a factor of ten. I can count on the fingers of two hands how many fingers I have, which means I have a lot of fingers... and what more could a person want?

I reject the acquisition of further Favorites.

For a moment, I resist the tyranny of powers of ten.

This is actually one of those rare posts where if you Favorite it you will screw up the post.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:58 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Page tried to run getlog.aspx - fuck this! Run away...WCMike to the penalty box...
posted by sfts2 at 4:11 AM on January 4, 2009


As mono blanco (3 above as I type, slowly) seems to be saying,where is it written that given infinite time, everything that could possibly happen will happen? Or anything like that? Sez who?
posted by Hobgoblin at 4:20 AM on January 4, 2009


Damn you mmoncur.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:49 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


So how do you know WE are not already a time burp? Hm?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:32 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


twoleft: enjoy the POWER OF TEN!
posted by leotrotsky at 5:39 AM on January 4, 2009


I swear I was just reading an long article about a noncrackpot theory that eliminated the problem of the Big Bang singularity, and predicted a big crunch preceding the current universe, with an eye towards a big crunch at the end of ours, possibly by dark energy changing from a repellent to attractive force. Anyone? Bueller?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:46 AM on January 4, 2009


Somewhere in a parallel universe, WCityMike is breaking MetaFilter... [pdf]
posted by cthuljew at 5:48 AM on January 4, 2009


A pickaxe to the head for you leotrotsky.

You've forced me into the next order of magnitude.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:03 AM on January 4, 2009


What this article seems to be arguing is that given enough time the universe can basically conjure up anything it wants.

The universe fucking hates it when people go around anthropomorphizing it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:05 AM on January 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


These arguments are often considered problematic. The term for your googling is Boltzmann Brain.
posted by edd at 6:31 AM on January 4, 2009


In 2003, Max Tegmark wrote an article for Scientific American called "Parallel Universes". It was mind blowing and won an entry in that years edition of the Best American Science and Nature Writing. Unfortunately it is behind a pay-wall, but luckily someone transcribed it into a message post on MSN Groups. It's long, poorly formatted, and one of the most mind blowing articles I've ever read. In a post above cthuljew may have been linking to the same article, but the URL is fubar and when trying to open the PDF is says it is corrupt.
posted by stbalbach at 6:56 AM on January 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


FWIW, an infinite amount of time is not needed to have crazy things happen. An infinite amount of space works as well. From the "Parallel Universes" article:
The simplest and most popular cosmological model today predicts that you have a twin in a galaxy about 10 to the 1028 meters from here. This distance is so large that it is beyond astronomical, but that does not make your doppelgänger any less real. The estimate is derived from elementary probability and does not even assume speculative modern physics, merely that space is infinite (or at least sufficiently large) in size and almost uniformly filled with matter, as observations indicate. In infinite space, even the most unlikely events must take place somewhere. There are infinitely many other inhabited planets, including not just one but infinitely many that have people with the same appearance, name and memories as you, who play out every possible permutation of your life choices.
posted by stbalbach at 7:01 AM on January 4, 2009


Stbalbach: So that doppelganger would be outside of our light cone, but certainly the gravitational effects of something that massive would be felt, right? Or is it just so distant that it doesn't matter?
posted by leotrotsky at 7:08 AM on January 4, 2009


Anything can happen including the Eiffel Tower or a physicist popping back into reality.

Or a teapot. YOU HEAR ME, BERTRAND RUSSELL?
posted by kid ichorous at 7:18 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Leotrotsky: the speed of gravity is fairly well constrained to be close to that of light.
posted by edd at 8:04 AM on January 4, 2009


b1tr0t, that's hilarious.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:08 AM on January 4, 2009


In the next universe, Nietzsche already posted this on metafilter over a hundred years ago. Except in his version, given infinite time, the same things must happen over and over again, forever:
If the world may be thought of as a certain definite quantity of force and as a certain definite number of centres of force - and every other representation remains indefinite and therefore useless - it follows that, in the great dice game of existence, it must pass through a calculable number of combinations. In infinite time, every possible combination would at some time or another be realized; more: it would be realized an infinite number of times. And since between every combination and its next recurrence all other possible combinations would have taken place, and each of these combinations conditions the entire sequence of combinations in the same series, a circular movement of absolutely identical series is thus demonstrated: the world as a circular movement that has already repeated itself infinitely often and plays its game in infinitum. (from The Will To Power)

and
The heaviest weight. - What if some day or night a demon were to steal into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it you will have to live once again and innumerable times again; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unspeakably small or great in your life must return to you, all in the same succession and sequence - even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!' Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god, and never have I heard anything more divine.' If this thought gained power over you, as you are it would transform and possibly crush you; the question in each and every thing, 'Do you want this again and innumerable times again?' would lie on your actions as the heaviest weight! Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to long for nothing more fervently than for this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal? (from The Gay Science)
posted by semblance at 8:57 AM on January 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


So an entire crispy cremes outlet could just appear sometime in the distant future after all the photons have died...

Yeah, right. The universe can't even manage to conjure me a krispy kreme in lower manhattan. Stupid universe. Heat death's too good for it.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2009


Remember, kids, before you make some crazy webpage: 10100100 is still ∞ less than ∞.

That's the math take on this. For the physics take on this, well: in a dead universe, time also dies.
posted by Eideteker at 9:42 AM on January 4, 2009


This post led me to re-read wikipedia's page about googolplexes, which eventually led me back to Scott Aaronson's classic Who Can Name the Bigger Number? Only extremely tangentially related (is there even such a thing as an extreme tangent? In our next series, we ask some extreme geometers, while skydiving into pools of Mountain Dew), but a fun read. I'd forgotten about the Ackerman function(s).
posted by Eideteker at 10:04 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anybody know if they say it will happen on a Tuesday or a Wednesday? If its Tuesday, I won't bother to Tivo House that day.

Come to think of it, I probably already know what it will be about anyway: The disembodied heads of Wilson and House sealed in the same glass jar alternate between spitting at each other and tongue kissing, while Cutty presses her disembodied, jar-enclosed décolletage against the glass, insisting they do more clinic hours as punishment for their misbehavior.

Also: Did my 10^1023m-distant duplicate misspell décolletage? Did he use m-w.com or tfd.com to look it up? Does he use coasters? What's in his Netflix queue?

Damn. Now I'll be up all night.
posted by buzzv at 10:33 AM on January 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wanted to see if I had anything scheduled to record on the Dish DVR the night the universe dies, but it wouldn't scroll forward in time far enough. Hopefully their next model will handle this problem!
posted by jamstigator at 11:22 AM on January 4, 2009


athenian: So, in infinite time, anything can happen including the Eiffel Tower or a physicist popping back into reality. Does that not mean that an infinite number of things can happen? So I might pop back into existence married to my existing wife and then (at some other time) pop back into existence having my liver eaten by wolves? If it's not "anything can happen" but "anything will happen" then that's rather ... confusing.

Yes, I am an arts major.


Well, then. Your school assignment is to paint this in a fashion whereby I can wander into a gallery at random and deduce this meaning from your representation of it on canvas. You have one class period.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:25 AM on January 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anybody get this (from the Parallel Universes article)?
The algorithmic information content in a number is, roughly speaking, the length of the shortest computer program that will produce that number as output. For example, consider the set of all integers. Which is simpler, the whole set or just one number? Naively, you might think that a single number is simpler, but the entire set can be generated by quite a trivial computer program, whereas a single number can be hugely long.
Why would it be simpler to generate the entire set of integers? Is it because all you have to do for the entire set is keep adding 1 to whatever number you have, whereas to reach a specific number, you have to both increment and compare?
posted by treepour at 3:23 PM on January 4, 2009


treepour: Pretty much yes.
posted by cthuljew at 4:40 PM on January 4, 2009


In the future, we'll all be dead.
posted by monospace at 9:49 PM on January 4, 2009


treepour, the quote is badly worded. But his question is: Which is simpler, the whole set or just one number?

The answer is, it depends on the number. Most numbers are insanely huge with lots of decimal places. More keystrokes are made writing out a single large number than would be made writing a computer program to print the entire set of numbers.
posted by stbalbach at 7:03 AM on January 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Internet Bird Collection has videos and...   |   New application of tilt shift... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post