Humans will one day end.
There are a few ways this might happen. Our species could change and evolve into something unrecognisable, so far from homo sapiens that we will become extinct. We could be wiped out in some calamity, an asteroid ala the dinosaurs or a gamma ray burst (or climate change *cough cough*).
But let’s imagine for a moment that we survive all of that and somehow humanity lasts millions or even billions of years. Highly unlikely, yes, especially given our propensity for self destruction, but if we do survive that long, if we somehow spread out into every corner of the Milky Way and other galaxies in our local cluster, one fateful day it will cease to matter.
Everything will end.
The universe itself will cease to exist (or become inhospitable to life of any form, anywhere).
Nothing will live, emptiness will reign supreme.
It sounds daunting and I apologise if I have induced some amount of existential dread within you, but if instead I’ve piqued your curiosity and you want to know more about the fate of the universe, the fate of everything, then you need to read The End of Everything by Katie Mack.
It might seem like an impossible task to make the end of the universe an entertaining topic but Mack manages to keep you laughing and smiling as she takes you through the five most likely ways the universe will end, given our current understanding of physics.
With pop-culture references littered throughout and tongue-in-cheek comments, Mack maintains momentum through what, on the surface, sound like dull topics. Quantum mechanics, particle physics, classical physics and cosmology might not be your cup of tea but in Mack’s capable hands each sip of the complex topics is easy to swallow, and you’ll delight in every moment.
It’s Mack’s clear enthusiasm for the subject matter that achieves this. Every page drips with her joy and fascination regarding the cosmos and it is impossible to read this book and not get caught up in it.
Even as you read about the potential sudden demise of Vacuum Decay (a bubble of true vacuum that could be coming towards us right now at the speed of light!) or the slow, prolonged doom that the Heat Death would be, you will be smiling. Mack balances the existential dread she induces with solid science and detailed explanations, leaving you with greater knowledge and a wider perspective about your place, and humanities place, in the universe.
So if the idea of everything ending, of one day it all ceasing to matter is keeping you up at night, I can’t recommend reading The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack more.