Tag Archives: physical eschathology

Charles Darwin

With respect to immortality, nothing shows me how strong and almost instinctive a belief is, as the consideration of the view now held by most physicists, namely that the sun with all the planets will in time grow too cold for life, unless indeed some great body dashes into the sun and thus gives it fresh life.–Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress. To those who fully admit the immortality of the human soul, the destruction of our world will not appear so dreadful.

Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, London, 1958, p. 92

Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee

It is the year 7 billion A.D. The sun has gone into its red giant phase. The Earth has been consumed by the outer envelope of the 100-million-mile-diameter sun. Mars is a dried and lifeless body with a surface temperature sufficient to melt its crustal rocks. Jupiter is a roiling, heater mass rapidly losing gas and material to space. The ice cover of Jupiter’s moon Europa has long since melted away, followed by the disappearance of its oceans to space. Farther away, Saturn has lost its icy rings. But once world of this vast solar system has benefited from the gigantic red orb that is the Sun. It is Saturn’s largest moon, aptly named Titan.

Long before, in the time of humanity, a science fiction writer named Arthur C. Clarke penned a series of tales about the moon of Jupiter named Europa. In these stories, alien beings somehow turned Jupiter into a small but blazing star, and in so doing warmed Europa—and brought about the creation of life. A wonderful, though physically impossible, fable. Now, in these late days of the solar system, the huge red Sun was doing the same to Titan, changing it from frozen to thawed, and in so doing liberating the stuff of life. But Titan was always a very different world than Europa. Like Europa, Titan always had oceans. Frozen, to be sure, but oceans nevertheless. But where Europan oceans were water, those of Titan were of a vastly different substance—ethane. Titan had always been covered with a rich but cold stew of organic materials. And with the coming of heat, for the first time Eden came to Titan. Like a baby born to an impossibly old woman, life came to this far outpost, the last life ever to be evolved in the solar system.

The red giant phase was short-lived—only several hundred million years, in fact. But it was enough. For a short time, for the last time, life bloomed in the solar system. After death, once more came the resurrection of life in masses of tiny bacteria like bodies on a moon once far from a habitable planet called Earth, a place that, in its late age, evolved a species with enough intelligence to predict the future, and be able to prophesize how the world would end.

Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, The Life and Death of Planet Earth: How Science Can Predict the Ultimate Fate of our World, New York, 2002, pp. 212-213

John Desmond Bernal

The second law of thermodynamics which, as Jeans delights in pointing out to us, will ultimately bring this universe to an inglorious close, may perhaps always remain the final factor. But by intelligent organizations the life of the Universe could probably be prolonged to many millions of millions of times what it would be without organization.

John Desmond Bernal, The World, the Flesh and the Devil: An Inquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul, 2nd ed., London, 1970, p. 28

John Barrow and Frank Tipler

[O]nce space travel begins, there are, in principle, no further physical barriers to prevent Homo sapiens (or our descendants) from eventually expanding to colonize a substantial portion, if not all, of the visible Cosmos. Once this has occurred, it becomes quite reasonable to speculate that the operations of all these intelligent beings could begin to affect the large scale evolution of the Universe. If this is true, it would be in this era—in the far future near the Final State of the Universe—that the true significance of life and intelligence would manifest itself. Present-day life would then have cosmic significance because of what future life may someday accomplish.

John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford, 1986, p. 614