One theory of the universe is that it is expanding at an accelerating rate and will continue to do so forever. This is called “eternal inflation” and to some implies an infinite universe. But reports that physicists from University of California at Berkeley are proposing that time, in fact, is not endless as previously implied. Further, they propose that time could end in 3.7 to 5 billion years due to a catastrophe that will resemble a black hole.

After the Big Bang, many experts believe that the early universe rapidly expanded. And that after this initial expanding period, the universe has continued to grow. This theory is considered standard in the Big Bang explanation of the universe. Further, it answers many questions physicists have about the origin of the universe.

But this new theory about the end of time, recently published on, proposes that some matter systems reach geometric cutoff in finite time. As explained, if a universe is eternal, this means that even the most unlikely events will eventually happen again and again. So there is no point in deciding if something is probable or not probable, possible or impossible.

Raphael Bousso is one of the co-authors of the paper. As he wrote, “If infinitely, many observers throughout the universe win the lottery, on what grounds can one still claim winning the lottery is unlikely…In local experiments such as winning the lottery, we have clear rules for making predictions and testing theories. But if the universe is eternally inflating, we no longer know why these rules work.”

The physicists also propose that no living creature will see the end of time as it is happening. They believe that the ultimate boundary of time will look something like the horizon of a black hole, called an event horizon. An event horizon cannot show light emitted past the horizon, and anything seeming to pass through the horizon from the observer’s side slows down and never seems to make it. Instead, they propose we will experience “thermalization” while crossing the black hole. (Thermalization is “process of particles reaching thermal equilibrium through mutual interaction.”) But the “matter system” experiencing thermalization would not notice crossing the end of time.

Will this happen? Only time will tell.

For further reading: