Or does it? I guess it's not absolutely certain yet, anyway, but the results of an experiment recently announced in various places that was done with some high altitude balloons measuring, I seem to remember, some sort of ambient background radiation in the Universe and concluding from the levels of it recorded that it provided evidence Space was "flat" rather than "curved", so that its ultimate destiny was to be one of indefinite expansion out into the presumable runny unsalted oatmeal heat death scenario we all know and love to stare at the ceiling and ponder of nights, instead of eventually reversing itself, collapsing back into it's own history and eventually returning to Singularity.

So anyway, this flies in the face of a parallel I had been nursing in the back of my mind for a long time between the cosmological theory that the Universe is finite, bounded and cyclical (looping infinitely through expansions and compressions), and an idle speculation tossed off by the german philosopher Freidreich Nietzche, asking the reader to consider what their reaction would be to being informed that all the history of their life, and everything else in the world, would repeat, endlessly, in exactly the same fashion down to the most infinitesimal detail.

That is, you would live, die, and all the eons of time between your death and the end/rebirth of the Universe would pass instantly for you, since your consciousness would not be around to tick off the pay periods, and as soon as the sensations of death passed, those of birth would step into their place and the whole ride would start all over again.

I always felt that if the Universe was really headed back to that dimensionless, singular state with no "there" there that we all harbor a secret desire to tattoo on some part of ourselves after a night of serious drinking, the necessary result would be that Nietzche's conjecture was true and we were all bloomed (blessed+doomed) to this repetitive shadowplay, over and over and over and over and ... because if all that went to make up the Universe including even all of the space itself was in a single place, no up, no down, no inside or outside, no variation or distinguishability, only One Thing that was Everything and nothing else outside it to affect it in any way, there could only be one thing that could happen to it, namely, all this.

But the point of the myth, I think, was to give as much weight as possible, as much importance as was humanly conceiveable, to the decisions one appeared to oneself to be making in such a case (since the very premise seems to throw out free will, but like a lot of things of that ilk, can actually be a real spur to action if you take it seriously.) Also, since every moment in this case is echoed throughout all eternity and in fact is an infinite subset of the larger infinity of all moments, from all perspectives, anyone who longed for an eternal paradise need only consider the most fleeting moment of happiness and contentment in their life, magnified through eternal repetition into an infinite private Universe of ecstatic happiness.

I've got to admit, that never seemed like much of a compensation for the endlessly magnified labyrinths of fear, hatred, depression, and so on it would seem to require in the average existence, so maybe it's just as well if The Universe Is Flat.

This is not necessarily true - Nietzsche's Eternal Return may still live on due to quantum effects and statistical dynamics. While theories such as the Big Rip or Big Freeze have taken precedence over the Big Crunch, there are mechanisms by which the universe could return to a state of complexity rather than a soup of electrons, positrons, neutrinos, and photons, even though it has winded down to the Dark Era of the Universe.

The most notable of these mechanisms is Poincare Recurrence, published by Henri Poincare in 1890. The concept of the Poincare Recurrence Theorem is rather simple - given infinite time, systems return arbitrarily close to their initial states. The classic example is that if you open a new pack of cards and shuffle them many times over, the cards will eventually return to the order in which they were initially.

Because the conditions that led to the universe entering the Dark Era are reversible, thanks to Einstein's good old E=mc^2, physicist Don Page has calculated that the universe is estimated to return to its current state after 10^10^10^10^10^1.1 years. The exact timing however is not particularly important, because given sufficient time, highly unlikely events become inevitable.

There are also apparently quantum mechanical events that could generate a new big bang, which would occur considerably sooner than a Poincare recurrence, but the details of which I am not familiar with. This comes in at approximately 10^10^56 years. These events and more can be found on Wikipedia's Timeline of the Far Future.

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