The End of Everything Book Summary - The End of Everything Book explained in key points

The End of Everything summary

Katie Mack

(Astrophysically Speaking)

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What is The End of Everything about?

How will the universe end? Will it cool down, tear apart, or even collide with a parallel universe? The Blink to The End of Everything (2020) peers into the furthest reaches of time and space, shedding light on the ultimate end of the universe and everything in it. Drawing on the latest cutting-edge research in cosmology and particle physics, the book introduces us to five of the most likely cosmic doomsday scenarios proposed and describes what it would actually be like to experience them.

About the Author

Dr. Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist exploring a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end. She currently holds the position of Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, where she carries out research on dark matter and the early universe and works to make physics more accessible to the general public. She is the author of the book The End of Everything: (Astrophysically Speaking) and has written for a number of popular publications, such as Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time, and Cosmos magazine. She can be found on Twitter as @AstroKatie.

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    From Religion to Science

    Okay, but before we dive into our scientifically viable endings, let’s first talk about the non-astrophysical ends of the world. Because, as human culture attests, there’s certainly been no shortage of speculation throughout the years.

    For thousands of years, it was religion that painted the picture of our eventual demise. All the major religions of the world today have something to say about the end times yet to come. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all teach a view of the end that is decisively final. In these religions, the world will undergo a sort of last-minute rebalancing act in which good overcomes evil and the faithful are rewarded for their troubles in the afterlife.

    But, look instead to the Mayan and Hindu traditions, and you won’t find an epic final event, but rather a vision of the cosmos that rejuvenates itself endlessly. In such cyclical cosmologies, every end of one cycle heralds the beginning of another. But that doesn’t mean they’re indifferent about how this cycle ends. With each cycle of the wheel, there’s hope that things will work out a bit better for us the next time around.

    Such optimism is usually nowhere to be found in philosophical perspectives on the end of the world. In contrast to religion, philosophy doesn’t really expect the universe to care about us – an idea that is probably best summed up in the concept of nihilism. A nihilist essentially says: Well, if nothing is going to last anyway, why give a damn? Life is completely meaningless! 

    Although they come to different conclusions, both religious and philosophical worldviews look to how it all ends to decide what meaning to give to the present moment. If we know how it’s going to end, they say, it will inform how we ought to live on the path toward that end. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

    These days, the philosophical questions about the meaning of life haven’t changed all that much, but the question of the end of the universe has become a firmly scientific one. With particle accelerators and gigantic telescopes, our ability to study the universe has drastically improved, to say the least. And not only that, they’ve also granted us a glimpse into the future.

    Human beings are nothing if not tenacious. After thousands of years of culture and scientific inquiry, we’re now able, for the first time, to create pretty detailed models for how this great theater we call the universe will finally draw to a close. So let’s start with the first one . . . the Big Crunch.

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    Who should read The End of Everything

    • Casual science readers who love to probe the nature of the world we live in
    • Doomsday fanatics
    • Space enthusiasts who have a taste for cosmic weirdness

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