Will the universe end today

Beginning and end of the universe

by Hans-Erich Gillmann

According to the world models that are widespread today, the universe is an expanding space littered with galaxies. The often spiral-shaped galaxies consist of billions of stars like our sun. A large number of these stars, like our sun, are almost certainly orbited by planets, and some of these planets are likely to contain various forms of life. By examining the rocks occurring on earth, we know the age of our planet: approx. 4.6 billion years.

This is presumably also the age of the sun and our entire solar system. In the universe, however, new suns are constantly being created. Therefore the universe must be older than 4.6 billion years. Observing distant galaxies plays a key role in determining the exact age of the world. Corresponding measurements, which are determined by the so-called redshift, show that the galaxies are moving away from us and from one another at high speed. The most distant galaxies fly apart at speeds of several (hundred) kilometers per second and more. So space seems to be expanding overall; in this context one speaks of the expansion of the universe.

In a model, everyone can see for themselves by inflating a balloon just enough to draw some spirals that are supposed to represent the galaxies. If you now inflate the balloon further, then the balloon expands and the recorded "galaxies" drift further apart. When the universe expands, it means that it was smaller in the past and the matter was closer together If you go back enough, you theoretically come to a point in time when all matter of the universe was compressed into a very small space. This is exactly what many scientists believe was the case about 15 billion years ago this time in a gigantic explosion, this very big bang, also known as the "Big Bang", with which the expansion of the universe began. In the Big Bang, not only matter and energy were created, but also space and time. Therefore, according to the Big Bang theory, it makes no sense to speak of a time before the Big Bang, since the time did not even exist before. Right after the Big Bang, the universe was infinitely hot and only contained energy. However, after just a few seconds, the universe had expanded and cooled sufficiently that the energy could create atomic particles such as protons, neutrons and electrons. After a short time these particles accumulated and formed atomic nuclei, especially helium nuclei. Several hundred thousand years passed before the atomic nuclei could bind electrons to themselves and atoms could be formed. Protons (hydrogen nuclei) and helium nuclei bound electrons to themselves, neutral hydrogen and helium atoms were formed. They are the most common elements in the universe. Hydrogen is primarily the "fuel" of the stars, which, like our sun, makes them shine.

The expansion and cooling of the universe continued. About 2 billion years later, molecular clouds of hydrogen and helium gas condensed under the influence of their own gravity to such an extent that the first stars were formed. Since then, new stars and galaxies have continued to form, and this is how the universe came about today. No one can predict the future development of the universe, but the following possibilities appear conceivable, depending on whether one considers the hypothesis of the open or closed universe. In an open universe, the galaxies keep moving apart, and the universe keeps expanding. This development will continue even after all the stars have been extinguished in billions of years. However, if there is enough matter in the universe, its mass attraction (gravity) could be enough to stop the galaxies from drifting apart one day. This consideration would be related to the idea of ​​a closed universe. For a closed universe, however, the existing visible matter is not sufficient. But it is quite possible that there is a larger amount of unobservable mass, the so-called dark matter, and that the universe is actually closed. This dark matter fills the space between the galaxies and distant islands of the world, it condenses in the Milky Way systems and even permeates the environment of our planetary system. They have to exist, otherwise observations of galaxies and star movements cannot be explained. Then the expansion of the universe comes to a standstill after a certain time, and a contraction, i.e. a contraction of all matter, follows. The galaxies then move towards each other again. A reversal of the currently observed development occurs, like our model with the balloon, from which the air is now slowly being let out again.

The closed universe continues to contract until all matter is compressed to a single point. Then the universe disappears in the "Big Crunch", the counterpart to the "Big Bang". That would be the end of the universe. Or, the "Big Crunch" could very well trigger a new Big Bang, which in turn would create a new universe. In the expanding new universe, stars and galaxies would arise again, just like today's ones. This universe would again be marked with a "Big Crunch "ends, followed by another big bang. This idea of ​​a periodically expanding and contracting universe is called the "oscillating" universe for short.