Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Big Freeze

Of all the Ultimate fates of the Universe the Big Freeze is the most supported. This theory proposes that the Universe reaches a temperature too cold to sustain life. This would happen because as the Universe expands, the Cosmic Background Radiation (formed immediately after the Big Bang) would fade away completely causing the temperature of the Universe to drop. Once a star dies its gases used to create another star wouldn't group together and begin fusion because extreme cold means no moving particles. The Universe's temperature would reach absolute zero (-459.67 Fahrenheit) and stay that way forever.

3 comments:

Scott Phillips said...

if the universe tends to freeze due to increasing entropy, then the energy present now in stars would have to mean that the vacuum is highly negative in temperature - surely if the net result becomes absolute zero, then the higher gradients mean all the others must sum to zero but even if vacuum was at absolute zero now, the energy (heat) from all active sources if poured into the space would surely level to a temperature above the lowest one? Where would the energy go then to make the unveral temperature become absolute zero?

Also that presupposes that the temperature would stay that way forever, then what was the temperature before the big bang? If it was abslute zero then, we can say it had no effect and the universe came into being anyway despite the low temperature. Otherwise, it was not, then it should not become so again. Or are you saying the big bang was a one shot affair and not a cycle? Its much easier to believe its a cycle and will repeat but we have been here such a short time that we dont see the cycle in its entireity like bacteria on the hands of a clock.....unaware that the clock is ticking, at what speed, and what will happen next, and what happened before....but to the outside observer it is merely part of a cycle of oscillation.

Louis said...

Thanks for your comment. As for how the Universe would reach absolute zero, first consider this. Energy, and therefore heat, is generated by the interaction between particles, and at larger scale, stars and galaxies. If the Universe's expansion would continue to accelerate as it is doing now, eventually matter would spread out too much for this sort of interaction. Therefore, even the Cosmic Background Radiation would eventually be spread too thin and the temperature would approach 0 Kelvin. As for the Universe actually reaching absolute zero, it would approach it, and as time stretched to infinity the temperature would become infinitely close to absolute zero even if the temperature is not directly achievable.

As for the second question, I am not personally a supporter of the Big Freeze theory. The flaw is this theory is how to explain how the Universe formed, if the fate of it as to go on forever and never contract into a Big Crunch, it is a paradox that the Universe formed at all. Of course, there are many explanations to how this can occur. Since that was my oldest post, and I have become a better writer since, you may find the newer posts "The Heat death of the Universe" and "Is the Universe All That There Is?" more useful. There is a lot of guessing is this area of cosmology and many theories vary beyond our wildest imaginations.

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