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The Last Light

In our current moment of absurdity, I sometimes wonder if humanity is going to survive. I always think yes. While things feel crazier than most of us have experienced, I know that this isn’t the worst we’ve been through. But what will we do knowing we have a shelf life? It can be overwhelming.

In 14 billion years or so, the last hot star will go nova and plunge the universe into darkness. There will not be enough material concentrated in one place for a new star to form. The last light in the universe will go out. We might be able to harness the gravitational energy of a black hole to keep the lights on artificially, at least for a while.

However, in 30 or so billion years, there will be no escape. Atoms will begin to decay due to entropy, and long before that, cells will not be able to maintain coherence.

I’m not sure it makes sense for us to hang from the cliff that long. There is something terrible about knowing millions of generations of human beings will grow up without ever seeing the snow fall by moonlight, breathe in the air after a spring rain, or feel the warmth of a sun on their skin.

It might make more sense if we all simply accepted a gracious end, gathered around that last hot star and waited.

I think if all of us could try to live in a way where our descendants, whatever we are by then, could look each other in the eye, and say without reservation—despite all the pain, misery, and death, and even knowing it would all come to an end…

“It’s all been worth it. It’s all been worth it.”

That might be enough.

A physicist can tell me how dumb I am later, but maybe we could focus that last blast. And funnel it into a black hole, in an effort to disturb higher dimensional space, creating a new big bang. Not to make a universe for us to escape to. Just with the small hope that in a few billion years, there might be creatures, hanging onto life, and wondering what it’s all about.

We might find amusement in imagining them shouting each other down while debating politics, the meaning of life, love, and why is anything here at all.

A whole new species of orphans, desperately searching for parents they will never find.

Just like us.

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