The Heat Death

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The most common thing people ask me is, “What have you seen?”

First, you must understand; to explain everything I see would be grossly impossible. I’ve seen the birth of the universe, its life, and its death. I’ve seen order and chaos, beauty and terror. I’ve witnessed the forming of new planets, organic (and inorganic) life and civilizations. There is nothing I have not seen. So, please, do not ask me, “What have you seen?” It is likely that you will end up incredibly disappointed when I tell you I do not have the time in my simple human life to explain. What I can tell you, however, is that there is much more to the universe than even I can imagine.

Life moves in cycles: birth, life, death, birth, life, death. With every death, there is life, and with every life, there is death. This is a relatively easy concept for primitive humans to understand. When an animal dies, not only does it leave behind its offspring to continue its legacy, but it provides food and fertilizer for other living things. In this, death is not a negative effect of life, but a crucial step in allowing life to flourish.

I use the term “life” incorrectly in this example. Most believe that life is rare, but they are profoundly mistaken. While spirit and brain function may be scarce and precious, so many humans do not fathom that the universe teems with life. Life is in the energy of stars. It’s in the violent winds of gas giants. It’s even in the radiation that travels millions of light-years to destinations unknown. Life is not rare in the universe, no. It is abundant. Life does not have to breathe and feel emotions. It is in the very matter that traverses the vast emptiness of space. Life is movement, and movement is the blood of creation. Without movement, there is nothing but a stagnant abyss. Everything we know was birthed from an incomprehensible entropic burst of light and energy, and the momentum of such an event created the fabric of space itself, and all that resides in it. Eventually, that momentum will be lost. What happens when movement stops and entropy surrenders? What happens when the last atoms of the universe are swallowed by darkness?

When you ask me what I have seen, are you genuinely prepared for my answer? The real question you should ask is, “What do you see when you close your eyes? What remains in your mind when you try so desperately to stop thinking?” You see, it’s not the life of the universe that has clung so furiously to my memory. It’s the event of its death that, no matter how hard I try to forget, will not release me from its grasp.

The death of the universe is unimaginably cold. It is bleak and bitter. In its death, no heat endures, and the movement that once kept the universe alive concludes. Not even a corpse remains to offer some false hope for life to return. Everything is gone. Yet, even this fact is something I can accept. The decay of the universe is not the image that frightens me so. The devouring horror that will haunt me for eternity is this: in the death of everything we know, the void takes its first breath.