There have long been theories about how the world might end. One of the very first, of course, being the final battle between Heaven and Hell as described in the back of the King James Version. Some of the most famous predictions outside the Biblical context, include the now clearly wrong Mayan prediction about 2012, those put forward by Michel De Nostredame better known by his English surname Nostradamus. Not to mention the looming threat of nuclear annihilation, the Cold War when the “Doomsday Clock” was introduced and the hilarious-in-retrospect Y2K scare.
What all of these “world ending” predictions failed to take into account is the fact that in every case, the Earth itself would still be here. Planets are actually pretty darn sturdy and, short of a Death Star, very difficult to destroy entirely. What the majority of ‘end of days’ scenarios are really talking about is the end of humanity and not even always that. Even in the worst, most horrific, rain of fire, dead-rising-from-the-grave versions, humans are still here, in scattered groups, living on the planet which is still very much intact. It was human society and infrastructure that have been destroyed and little else.
The new face of nothingness
Doom-saying is no longer the exclusive domain of the religious, insane and/or politically inclined (the three seeming to come together at an alarming rate). Now scientists have gotten into the business of predicting the end of everything, their authoritative lab coats and degrees in ‘hard’ sciences making their predictions, not only socially acceptable but widely believed. They must be right, they’re scientists! This is a large part of the reason that something like the Y2K was widely accepted. It wasn’t something shouted from the street corner on in the legends of a long extinct civilization.
The theory of the Big Rip
Say that the dead are going to rise, the earth is going to split or even the nukes are going to fly in the late 1990s, most people would just think that you are insane. Say that computer systems can’t recognize the date sequence ‘000’, especially while holding an expert degree in computer science and there are people in basements with guns and lots of food. Some of them might still even be down there. Another thing that tends to separate modern, scientific predictions from those in days of old is that it tends to be at least the entire Earth, such as getting hit by a dwarf star, if not the entire universe such as the Big Crunch which is seeming less likely by the day and the, relatively, new kid on the block The Big Rip.
The Science of Destruction
Basically the logical conclusion of the expansion begun by The Big Bang, The Big Rip basically means that there is a point at which the universe will expand to where it can expand no more and everything, from sub atomic particles up to mega planets, will be torn and cease to exist. Frightening to be sure but yet another example of the self-regarding nature of human psychology. Considering the length of time that it took for the universe to get to its current state, it is highly unlikely that humans will be around when it gets to the point of ripping, if this happens at all. And I don’t just mean the humans alive now. I mean the human species.