Life, the universe, and nothing: Life and death in an ever-expanding universe

Lawrence M. Krauss, Glenn D. Starkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Current evidence suggests that the cosmological constant is not zero, or that we live in an open universe. We examine the implications for the future under these assumptions, and find that they are striking. If the universe is cosmological constant-dominated, our ability to probe the evolution of large-scale structure will decrease with time; presently observable distant sources will disappear on a timescale comparable to the period of stellar burning. Moreover, while the universe might expand forever, the integrated conscious lifetime of any civilization will be finite, although it can be astronomically long. We argue that this latter result is far more general. In the absence of possible exotic and uncertain strong gravitational effects, the total information recoverable by any civilization over the entire history of our universe is finite. Assuming that consciousness has a physical computational basis, and therefore is ultimately governed by quantum mechanics, life cannot be eternal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Large-scale structure of universe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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