How Will It

In This Chapter

^ The future of the universe: expansion or contraction? ^ How the density of the universe determines its fate ^ The universe before the Big Bang ^ The shape of the universe ^ Perfecting the Big Bang theory

In Woody Allen's 1977 movie Annie Hall, there is a flashback to the Brooklyn childhood of the main character, a stand-up comic named Alvy Singer. The family doctor has been summoned because young Alvy, perhaps 10 years old, is desperately depressed. He has just learned that the universe is expanding. He believes it will eventually fly apart. The physician (puffing on a cigarette) offers the comforting thought that universal calamity is many billions of years in the future. Alvy's mother is more strident: "We live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is not expanding!"

In this chapter we strive to be more precise than either Alvy's doctor or his mother. We look toward the end of the universe—if there will be an end. Will it end with a bang or a whimper?

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