This coming Thursday is the premier of Crash Course Astronomy, where, over the course of 40+ short YouTube videos, I’ll be waxing prosaic about all sorts of cosmic thinkery.
I have a syllabus I’m working from for the show, which I put together along with the help of a team of folks (including my dear friend and all-around astronomy wonder Michelle Thaller). The very last few episodes will be dealing with some Very Big Concepts: The evolution and eventual future of the Universe itself.
It’s something I’ve read a lot about and thought a lot about, especially when I wrote the final chapter of my book Death From the Skies! There’s so much content in this idea that I had to leave a lot of stuff out of the book, and I have some notes to myself about what I want to put into Crash Course Astronomy.
By coincidence, John and Hank Green just released an episode of their series Crash Course Big History, which deals with this topic as well.
I’ll have stuff to say about a lot of the concepts Hank and John discuss here, including details on things like the last star burning out, the eventual decay of matter, and what happens to black holes after a googol (10100) years (hint: It’s looking dark). It’s not all doom and gloom, though; there are some heartening messages in all this, I think, especially when it comes to living our lives on the teeny tiny human timescale we live in.
Some people find it depressing that the cosmos is so big, and time stretches so deep. But I’m just the opposite: It’s always better to know reality, for one thing, and for another I appreciate the contrast. I’m here now, and that’s pretty good, maybe even good enough.
And the very fact that we can understand such concepts is a pretty nifty development. It’s a big Universe, sure, but we understand a lot of it, too. That says a lot about us.