We all know that Earth won’t last forever. But nothing else in the universe will either, and you can witness the series of explosions, evaporations, expirations, and other kinds of cosmic deaths that will constitute the next one trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years in the video above. Conveniently, it doesn’t take quite that long to watch: the time-lapse gets from just a few years into the future to the time at which the last black hole vanishes in under half an hour, doubling its own speed every five seconds. Not only does Earth go first, destroyed by the dying sun, but it happens at the 3:20 mark.
Most of us have no idea what might possibly play out in the universe over the next 26 or so time-lapsed minutes. But more astrophysics-inclined minds like Brian Cox, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sean Carroll, Janna Levin, and Michio Kaku have put a great deal of thought into just that, and it is from their words that this video’s creator John D. Boswell, known on Youtube as melodysheep, crafts its narration.
And what this formidable cast of scientists narrates resembles sequences from the biggest-budget science-fiction movies, which shows how far visual effects have come since A Brief History of Time, Errol Morris’ thematically similar 1991 documentary on the late Stephen Hawking — a figure who has also appeared in Boswell’s previous work.
However it’s told, the narrative remains the same: “the death of the sun, the end of all stars, proton decay, zombie galaxies, possible future civilizations, exploding black holes, the effects of dark energy, alternate universes, the final fate of the cosmos,” as Boswell puts it. “This is a picture of the future as painted by modern science,” and one that “gives a profound perspective — that we are living inside the hot flash of the Big Bang, the perfect moment to soak in the sights and sounds of a universe in its glory days, before it all fades away.” Thanks to the work of generation upon generation of scientists, as well as the work of creators like Boswell who interpret their findings in far-reaching ways (this time-lapse of the future has already racked up nearly 12.5 million views), we know how the story of the universe ends. Now what will we do with the chapters granted to us?
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.