Will our universe continue to expand 100 billion years from now? Does human life and all intelligence inevitably come to an end as the universe evolves? Could our present space be converted catastrophically into a new kind of space governed by different physical laws? Can we construct a theology of the future universe? Would the continuation of the universe for eternity be a good thing?
Nearly 400 years ago, Galileo ground the Dutch "spyglass" and looked to the stars. His discoveries raised questions about the origin of the universequestions that today, with our high-powered optical instruments, have become even more audacious. In Rome, at the Casina Pio IV, once a summer residence of Pope Pius IV and with links to Galileo, a group of scientists and theologians recently gathered to exchange research-in-progress, ideas, and opinions about the far future.
The Far-Future Universe presents eighteen provocative essays offering speculations on various scenarios for the future, from the perspectives of cosmology, physics, biology, humanity, and theology, including:
John D. Barrow, research professor of mathematical science, who notes: "When there is an infinite time to wait then anything that can happen, eventually will happen. Worse (or better) than that, it will happen infinitely often."
Paul Davies, British theoretical physicist, who addresses the question: "Eternity: who needs it?," poses six cosmological models, and examines the implications of each for the ultimate fate of the universe.
A. Graham Cairns-Smith, honorary senior research fellow at the University of Glasgow, who considers exotic genetic materials and distinguishes between "life as we know it" and "life in general."
Other contributors consider global time, artificial intelligence, religious ideas about the end of the world, and the nature of existence. Stimulating, challenging, and exciting, these visions of the far future are a starting point for further reflection and speculation.