The universe

Now imagine a white hole – a black hole’s time-reversed twin…

There are many ways to measure the course of human history and each will give an insight into one or more of the various qualities that have made us the most successful great ape. Every major advance, whether in war or art or literature, requires imagination, that most amazing of human capacities, and the ability to ask ‘What if?’ – to take the world from a different perspective. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the history of science. While there is an inherent provincialism in revolutions in art and literature, progress in science is universal, and moves, like Dante’s Hell, in concentric circles of ever deeper understanding. It is

Will the universe end with a bang or a bounce?

The cosiest way to read The End of Everything, Katie Mack’s fast-paced book about universal death, is as a murder mystery. Everything in spacetime, including the reader’s understanding of much of the story, is in the shadows. Black holes, quarks and gluons, Cepheid variables, the Concordance Model? Mere words, strewn across the floor. Believability, restraint and common sense? Left at the door. In the middle of the carpet is our butchered universe. How did it die? Squashed (‘The Big Crunch’)? Boiled (‘Heat Death’)? Eviscerated (‘The Big Rip’)? Burst apart from every pore (‘Vacuum Decay’)? To one side, almost dancing with excitement, is Inspector Mack, a theoretical astro-physicist at Carolina State