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Best of 2010: Time Likely To End Within Earth’s Lifespan, Say Physicists

In September, a new model of the universe suggested that there is a 50 per cent chance that time will end within the next 3.7 billion years

Look out into space and the signs are plain to see. The universe began in a Big Bang event some 13 billion years ago and has been expanding ever since. And the best evidence from the distance reaches of the cosmos is that this expansion is accelerating.

That has an important but unavoidable consequence: it means the universe will expand forever. And a universe that expands forever is infinite and eternal.

Today, a group of physicists rebel against this idea. They say an infinitely expanding universe cannot be so because the laws of physics do not work in an infinite cosmos. For these laws to make any sense, the universe must end, say Raphael Bousso at the University of California, Berkeley and few pals. And they have calculated when that is most likely to happen.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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