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lemming's avatar

Is it likely that the universe will eventually contract again?

Asked by lemming (3913points) December 28th, 2010

Is it scientifically and Mathematically viable that the universe will contract again? And if so, it could expand again? Possibly infinitely expanding and contracting, exploding and imploding? Because if this is the case…everything will happen again. What do you think?

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25 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

No, it is highly unlikely.
Observations show that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating.

kess's avatar

Every day there is the birth of a universe, except is is incorporated into the one infinite universe which is already in existence.

This universe is space itself and without it there is no other space.
therefore it cannot expand, for there is no other place to expand into.

It cannot collapse because it is self existing, thus making that an impossibility.
The universe exist as Lifeandit is impossible that Life would die.

Summum's avatar

The Universe is what it is and has been eternally. It has always existed and will always exist. What small little time man has had to examine and look at science and evidence is so small that we have no clue to its nature nor its existance. The laws of the Universe have always existed and have never changed it is how it is.

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tedd's avatar

If i’m not mistaken, that would go against one of the laws of physics. Entropy?

I feel like when things start going against the laws of physics, bad things happen.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I don’t think it will contract again. Who’s it going to contract with, anyway? And how do you write a contract for an entire universe? Just getting through the Terms & Conditions would be a nightmare. I suppose it could subcontract, like having black holes create various mini-verses. Or Hollywood, for that matter.

But seriously… considering the age of the universe and mankind’s relative nano-second of consciousness and serious thought into it, it seems presumptuous of us – any of us – to have any kind of certainty. At least it’s there, which is enough for now.

At least, I thought it was there until I read the response from @kess. Now I’m not so sure any more.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@kess so i may have got the wrong conclusion but, are you saying there is one super large universe that has always been always will be and within that is contained hundreds of trillions of smaller universes?

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submariner's avatar

Whether the universe will contract again depends on variables that are at present unknown. When you speak of the “universe” expanding and contracting, some would say you are speaking of the stuff (matter/energy) in the universe, and that the universe in its entirety is more than that, but we need not quibble over semantics.

There are three possibilities: (1) open universe: the force imparted by the Big Bang exceeds the force of gravity of all the matter/energy in the universe, in which case the matter/energy will continue to expand and disperse forever; (2) closed universe: the force of all that gravity exceeds the force of the Big Bang, in which case the expansion will eventually slow and stop, and then contraction will take place; or (3) steady state universe: the two forces are so perfectly matched that eventually an equilibrium will be reached. Since we don’t know how much stuff there is in the universe—estimates have been revised fairly recently—we don’t know which force is stronger, so we don’t know which of these scenarios is more likely.

If (2) turns out to be true, perhaps the universe will contract to a singularity, and perhaps when it does, another Big Bang will result, and the process will repeat. But that does not mean that the subsequent expansion will be identical to this one. There are indeterminacies at the quantum level that might lead to different results during the next go-round (not to mention the choices that free conscious entities may make, if there are any such, but that’s a whole ‘nother debate).

At least that’s my understanding of current cosmological theories.

stump's avatar

According to Steven Hawking’s book “A Brief History of Time” There isn’t enough matter in the universe to produce enough gravity to stop and reverse the expansion.

kess's avatar

@uberbatman that concept is what it is.
When we consider how large this space is we must conclude that it is infinite.

Now because of our ignorance it is difficult to fully grasp the concept of infinity, but the truth is you need not.

Since the universe is ONE and this ONE is also an Infinite number of ONES,
why then struggle with the infinite it is much easier to understand the ONE, thus you would have all the knowledge of the infinite. x

Summum's avatar

@submariner

There are so many more options we don’t have the numbers to assign them. You are trying to understand something we as a species cannot possible understand or grasp. Do you think in our small little existance we can conclude anything about the Universe beyond that it exists and always has. Even this statement may not be correct though from my own experiences I know the Universe exists eternally.

phaedryx's avatar

Not likely, but theoretically possible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_crunch

ETpro's avatar

No, not if our current measurements of red shift (telling the speed of expansion) are telling us what we think they are. The red shift of the most distant objects is greatest, indicating they are moving away the fastest. That makes sense, as the most distant objects got to be most distant by moving away most rapidly. But what’s unnerving is they are accelerating. It is 13.75 billion years since the Big Bang. We would not expect the explosive force of a Big Bang to outlast gravity that long. Based on the observed mass and velocities of things in the Universe, it should have expanded to a certain point, then began to collapse on itself due to gravity. Since that doesn’t seem to be happening, and the opposite is expanding ever faster instead, something as yet unknown is at work. Things simply flying out from an explostion do not accelerate.

Cosmologists have theorized that there must be additional mass and energy in the Universe that is not observable using ordinary means, and that this “dark matter” and “dark energy” account for the surprising acceleration of expansion. That may be. But we need some observations to prove it. Without observed evidence of such, they become little more than fudge factors to make observed data agree with a potentially flawed theory.

My SWAG is that there are more than 3 spatial dimensions in the Universe, and that we will ultimately find that the Universe is expanding toward itself and will Bang again when it hits. Call that one the Big Dang if you happen to be here when it occurs.

I say this not just as wild speculation, but because as far as we can observe, the Universe seems to be centered around the observer no matter where that observer might be. In other words, when viewed from Earth, the most distant objects in any given direction seem to be at the same predictable distance from us. That would suggest that Earth is the center of the Universe. However, we are pretty sure from observation that if we could travel to one of those objects that appear to be on the very edge of the Universe as viewed from Earth, and look out in any direction form there, that place would seem to be the center of the Universe as well. Everywhere in the Universe looks like it is the center. This is a feature we never observe in 3-dimensional space.

lemming's avatar

Thanks so much for your answers, this idea is something I have been wondering for a while now, because if it is true that the universe is expanding and contracting infinitely, than everything that is mathematically possible would happen, down to every variation of your own life. I’m just glad to hear it isn’t totaly off the wall, albiet unlikely.

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El_Cadejo's avatar

@kess that didnt really answer my question. Like I said, are you saying there is one large infinite space with many other smaller universes contained within. If so, how could you or anyone else possibly know something like this?

@ETpro i was just watching something talking about 4 dimensions and how the universe could be some crazy 4 dimensional shape like an orb thing and how all the galaxys would be arranged around the outside of it would give the impression that no matter where you view it from your at the center. It was pretty interesting.

submariner's avatar

@lemming The ancients believed that the universe had no beginning and no end, and that there would therefore be endless cycles of decay and regeneration. They also posited the Principle of Plenitude: given enough time, every possibility would eventually be realized.

Nullo's avatar

Redshift measurements suggest not.

Paradox's avatar

Unless you’re a supporter of the cyclic version of the ‘big bang’ I would say a ‘big crunch’ is highly unlikely.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Insufficient data. : )

asim_delhi's avatar

Not only is it unlikely but also i know that all religions with their books( Bible,Quran,Vedas,upanishads,Bhagwat Gita,etc) tell us the similar thing that this earth is a testing ground for all the living beings…after the judgement day all will be classified and put into hell or heaven and there they have to live for eternity…there is no data about the prediction that the universe will contract again…people who are religious will find it easier to accept my conclusion…also there has never been observed a scientific phenomenon where a highly ever expanding origin(i.e. universe) suddenly starts contracting…this question is very dumb in the first place!

lemming's avatar

I have read in several places that it is possible… gravity may cause the universe to contract again. But thanks for your imput.

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