And now, for your pleasant Tuesday morning headline. A UC Berkeley physicist says that the laws of physics are simply incompatible with a model of the universe in which things just keep on going forever. So, bad news: they won’t.
Berkeley physicist Raphael Bousso‘s argument, considering it deals with the end of the universe and the ceasing of time, is not as brain-meltingly complicated as you might think. Basically, if time and the universe are both infinite, then at some point, every possible thing will happen. Even if it takes a trillion years. Or fifty trillion years. Think of it as the same idea as the thousand monkeys on the typewriters—sooner or later, they’ll crank our Shakespeare, just by chance.
But it gets wackier: not only will every possible physical scenario occur within an infinite timeline, but it will occur infinitely. The problem with a universe in which literally everything happens infinitely over and over again is that our poor physical laws just aren’t equipped to make sense of any of that—in fact, they themselves cease to mean anything at all.
But don’t panic yet—Bousso says there’s only a 50% chance that time will end and the universe will be destroyed within the next 3.7 billion years. I like those odds! Plus, I have a feeling we’ll have bigger things to worry about between now and then.