Current evidence suggests that the cosmological constant is not zero, or that we live in an open universe. We examine the implications for the future under these assumptions, and find that they are striking. If the universe is cosmological constant-dominated, our ability to probe the evolution of large-scale structure will decrease with time; presently observable distant sources will disappear on a timescale comparable to the period of stellar burning. Moreover, while the universe might expand forever, the integrated conscious lifetime of any civilization will be finite, although it can be astronomically long. We argue that this latter result is far more general. In the absence of possible exotic and uncertain strong gravitational effects, the total information recoverable by any civilization over the entire history of our universe is finite. Assuming that consciousness has a physical computational basis, and therefore is ultimately governed by quantum mechanics, life cannot be eternal.
- Cosmology: theory
- Large-scale structure of universe
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science