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it ain't over til it's exploding
it's not the end of the universe - is it?
by jeff miller (@jmillerboston)
pop culture

It would appear that everything the human race has accomplished - every scientific discovery, every love song, every innovative prime-time TV show, all the Twinkies, Doritos, Oscar-Meyer lunchmeats in their brightly colored packages, our most coveted works of art, corporate infrastructures, radical militant backwoods cults, low-hanging jeans with 51-inch leg bottoms, little smoked sausages, and, god help us, the Internet - everything is doomed to be swallowed by dark matter, consumed into nothingness as our universe continues to explode ever outward over the next several trillion years.

Of course, to believe this is to put more than a little faith in science, which is what we do every time we get in a car, brush our teeth, or eat anything from McDonald's.

Some very convincing astrophysicists have proven that the universe is indeed expanding outward (a question raised in 1916 by Albert Einstein, no less)and, as it expands, it will degenerate into a sea of black holes and eventually become an incomprehensibly huge void containing only scattered photons, neutrinos and electrons. (I got all this from an article in TIME magazine, for whatever that's worth.)

I don't know about you, but to me this comes as a great relief.

So what if the bus is late - so what if I'm late because of it? Does it really matter that I haven't shaved in three days and my shirt is out of style? How about that bit about saving money for the future, bulding a solid economic foundation, blah blah blah blah blah blah...whatever, man.

True freedom comes in the knowledge that, ultimately, every single shred of human experience will be someday erased like a dusty chalkboard. Right?

Personally, I'm sick of feeling responsible for the fact that we don't have a Star Trek-like Federation swooping through the galaxies, doling out armchair therapy to alien races. Just because I like to play guitar and sit on the beach, do ya think that means I don't feel guilt about not helping to advance our civilization? I mean, in a Holden Caulfield sort of way, it's really been eating me up all the stuff we're not doing out there in space and all.

I guess if you don't buy the whole Big Bang thing, then you probably don't buy the notion of a universe that resembles an out-of-business K-Mart. This is where science ends and philosophy takes over - I just think that in this case it's very interesting that the death of a universe is not unlike the death of a single human being.

No matter who you are or what you've collected, you just can't take it with you.

It frustrates me somewhat that, even thought it's very likely that trillions of years from now there will be no such thing as books and memories and video evidence, I still find myself trying to pick a decent shirt out of the closet in the morning. I try not to eat ALL the cookies in the box, and I really, really worry about getting all my articles in on time, even though I never do.

Maybe it's this type of persistent, obsessive behavior that will allow us to open doorways to other universes. When this one shuts down we'll simply move on to the next theme park, pushing grocery carts in front of us piled high with our grandmother's quilts, old photo albums, hardcover editions of bad fiction, extra clock radios that somebody will want to use, and, of course, our laptops.

We'll be like a herd of tourists at a new mall, hauling our memories around from one outlet to the next, hoping to find the next indespensible item to add to our material identities before the stores close, as all stores inevitably do.


Brown eyes, brown hair, bluejeans and a T-shirt. Digs loud guitars and good design. Easily hypnotized by green-eyed blondes, shiny leather, B-movies, and brightly packaged foods. He's got a bustle in his hedgerow - but he is NOT alarmed.

more about jeff miller


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by jeff miller
topic: pop culture
published: 3.14.12

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by jeff miller
topic: pop culture
published: 3.25.02


mike julianelle
7.13.01 @ 1:00p

I love the idea of ditching responsibility! Who needs crummy responsibility anyways? DIGRESSION!

jael mchenry
7.13.01 @ 1:49p

If any of those accomplishments survives the destruction of the universe, it will be the Twinkie. Damn near indestructible.

adam kraemer
7.13.01 @ 3:14p

Don't Twinkies have a shelf life of, like, 20 years?

mike julianelle
7.13.01 @ 3:39p

Sguar enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, yellow dye number 5. Everything a growing boy needs.

joe procopio
7.13.01 @ 3:55p

That's one big twinkie.

Thank you. Goodnight.

adam kraemer
7.13.01 @ 4:09p

As Joe scores a point for the Ghostbusters reference.

mike julianelle
7.13.01 @ 4:19p

Where's my Die Hard points?

jeff miller
7.13.01 @ 4:56p

I'm placing my bets for Sole Survivor of the End of Everything on...

...ROCK AND ROLL, man! Rock and Roll!

adam kraemer
7.13.01 @ 5:10p

Sorry, Mike. Didn't catch the reference.

mike julianelle
7.13.01 @ 8:48p

That's okay, Adam. I have come to expect more from you (you did catch a less than obvious Lost Boys reference, but hey, if you don't know Die Hard, well...

We've already gotten in one argument, over music, so I'll let it slide...

jael mchenry
7.14.01 @ 7:46p

Infinite number of movie quotes. Finite brain space. He's doing pretty damn well.

And only one argument with Mike is a pretty good record too.

I just noticed Jeff's new bio, by the way, and it's hilarious, speaking of referential and subtle.

adam kraemer
7.16.01 @ 9:46a

Yeah. Probably the best hommage to Stairway since "Wayne's World."

jael mchenry
7.17.01 @ 3:00p

More on topic, I try not to think about the eradication of the human race, just like I don't like to think about my own death, because I find it troubling. On the other hand I do love the column, and especially the phrase "a universe that resembles an out-of-business K-Mart."

adam kraemer
7.17.01 @ 4:33p

I actually do like to contemplate the eradication of the human race, because a) it means that whether or not I'm successful in life, ultmately it won't matter and b) it'll be years after I die and if I'm dead why shouldn't everyone else be?

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