A Big Rip, But Not the End of the World

Scientists in Spain have proposed, after years of research, that in 22 billion years, the universe will be torn to pieces in a so-called "Big Rip," as a result of the ongoing expansion of the universe. However, the Big Rip does not necessary bring the world to its very end. This is in sharp contrast to the suggestion brought out by an American scientist in early 2003, that the Big Rip is tantamount to the end of the world.

Astronomers have long been investigating and studying the universe. Currently, the focus has been shifted to the research on the post-Big Bang expansion. As early as 1999, scientists had already discovered that the universe was expanding indefinitely at an ever-increasing rate.

The driving force behind such an indefinite expansion is termed, "phantom energy." This phantom energy is assumed to act as an inter-stellar anti-gravity force.

In early 2003, physicist Robert Caldwell from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA brought forth a proposition, suggesting that the universe had been accelerating in its expansion all the time, and that the universe would continue to enlarge its boundary until the lights from stars could no longer reach us. In the very end, the phantom energy would break away all the binding forces that hold all matter together and the galaxies and stars would be destroyed in a very brief period of time. Mr. Caldwell also pointed out that about six millions years before the Big Rip, the inter-stellar gravity forces would disappear, and several months before the Big Rip, all the stars would decompose. Right at the moment of the Big Rip, atoms and molecules would disintegrate and eventually all these decomposed particles would be detached from their corresponding active fields. At the time of the Big Rip, all matter, including human beings would completely vaporize into nothingness.

In June of 2003, several Spanish scientists suggested that the Big Rip would not cause the world to end. This proposition was based upon Albert Einstein's concept of the Universal Constant from his Relativity Theory that was first published in the early 20th Century. According to the Universal Constant concept, the universe would expand indefinitely, and the inter-stellar distances would reach infinity as a result of such expansion.

The proposal also said that the phantom energy would reduce the instability during the process of the universe's expansion. It pointed out that even if the universe was developing in the direction of the final Big Rip, we should not be worried too much about it. The Big Rip simply means that the universe would expand indefinitely.

Reference: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3461

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