So, it has happened once again. Scientists, who have traditionally not brought mankind very good news — penicillin and the smallpox vaccine excepted — have brought mankind terrible news once again. So what’ll it be this time… scientists? What’s in the works? Zombies? A flesh-eating virus? A much worse nuclear bomb? Skynet becoming self-aware by next Friday so that we don’t even get to enjoy the weekend? Dogs with bees in their mouths, and when they bark, they shoot bees at you? What is it now, scientists? Give us the bad news.
As it turns out, this time the bad news is that the universe — and the very fabric of time itself — is slowing down. But though things will slow down, it’ll seem like everything is going faster. Thus, the death of the universe and of everything you’ve ever known and ever loved will be like getting stoned in reverse, sort of.
“If you’ve ever felt like time is dragging, you might not be far wrong,” says The Independent Online, although everyone who reported on this story made some version of the same goddamn joke, making the impending death of the universe seem like not such a bad idea after all.
The Independent continues:
Scientists say time is gradually slowing down and will eventually grind to a halt, freezing everything in an instant. However, the change is so subtle that it is undetectable to human senses and will become noticeable only over billions of years — when the Earth is long gone.
The idea has been set out by Professors José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain.
Researchers have long been puzzled by the fact the universe appears to be expanding, when the laws of physics suggest it should be slowing down. More than a decade ago, astronomers noticed that distant supernovae — exploding stars on the fringes of the universe — seemed to be moving faster than those nearer the centre…
At the time, scientists suggested the theory of “dark energy” — something we can’t see or even yet detect — to explain what was powering the expansion of the cosmos…
However, the team’s proposal… suggests that dark energy does not even exist. Instead, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock that needs winding after it has slowed down.
If Senovilla is correct, then things will seem to get faster and faster until time finally disappears. “Then everything will be frozen, like a snapshot of one instant, forever,” he said.
…Which is just great. And if you didn’t follow that, since The Independent decided to explain it incoherently, we thought the universe was moving more quickly and expanding, but it only looks that way because time itself is getting slower. Like how if you slow down the speed of a camera, and record in slow-motion, then everything looks like it’s going faster, as it becomes a blur.
So in this metaphor, time itself is the camera, and we’re the thing being filmed. Which is why, as time drags more and more, it’ll appear as though things are speeding up. Isn’t that a good metaphor, didn’t I explain that well? At least, I think that metaphor is correct — no one else on the internet seemed to be able to explain it very well either, and the main article is in Spanish, which I don’t speak, ha ha. As always, if the fate of the universe — or the fate of us understanding the fate of it — rests on me knowing Spanish, then we’re screwed.
Anyway, so time is going slower! And here you thought it just seemed that way because the Democrats were in office! I have no idea what that joke means. I can do better. And here you thought it just seemed that way because you were having your period! …Nope.
So what will it be like when time slows and then comes to a halt altogether? It’ll be like watching Sex and the City 2. …See! I still got it. Nah, who even knows. It’ll be billions of years from now, anyway. It’s always that way with scientists, isn’t it? Either they say something awful will happen, or they say that something intriguing will happen but it won’t happen until billions of years from now, or both, like in this case.
Still — there are some potential positives here. Like… example, example… Well. Say, for instance, that people are still listening to the music of the Counting Crows, billions of years from now, as they no doubt will be; and so then the song “A Long December” will have a really powerful extra resonance for everyone in the future. “It really is long,” they’ll say. “That guy with the dreadlocks was right. …But maybe this year will be better than the last.” So we’ve got that in our pocket, which is nice.
And speaking of songs, here’s a song about the universe expanding, in order to close this article out — now that we know that the universe is no longer expanding, until scientists change their mind about that, at least. Aaah, whatever. The zombies will be eating us by next Thursday at the latest. Until then, carpe diem, my friends; carpe diem.