Looking Into the Abyss: Is The Universe Doomed to End In Heat Death Or Is That A Scientific Myth?

Spoiler Alert: It’s a myth.

The Heat Death of the Universe was first proposed by Lord Kelvin in the late 19th century. It is a conjecture that the universe is expanding and will continue to expand until all the thermal energy of the universe is expended causing all physical processes to cease.

This faulty and uninspiring mental image of the universe has been a part of the cultural milieu of the scientific community for so long that it has become a part of the popular culture’s understanding of Reality and is rarely challenged.

This apocalyptic vision originated from the observation of physical and chemical processes under specific, local conditions and then extrapolated to include the fate of the entire universe.

Just the Abyss - Ellis Rosen - The New Yorker

“It’s just the abyss, dear. Try not to gaze into it”

We call this kind of analysis empiricism, which is a bottom-up approach to knowledge. While empiricism is a powerful scientific tool, it has its limitations.

empiricism

the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience. Stimulated by the rise of experimental science, it developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, expounded in particular by John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

Google definition

Physics gives us knowledge when observing concrete (physical), local systems. We can control and submit these local systems to scientific experimentation. We fail sometimes to realize how little we can observe about the universe. From our tiny perch on this small planet whirling about in the vastness of space what can we really know for certain about the fate of the universe?

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