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The Collapse of the Universe and the Reversal of Time Cosmologists today do not agree on whether the universe will expand forever or will eventually recollapse And among those who subscribe to the latter view there is disagreement over the nature of the collapse Some believe it will be a mirror image of the big bang so that any intelligent creatures living during the second half of the universes life will sense time moving in the reverse direction and view us as living in their future This paper presents no solutions but attempts to analyse the possibilities rationally COSMOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE Writers on cosmology appear to speak with authority on the history of the universe They describe its earliest moments in great detail and discuss its present structure and future large scale development But many of their pronouncements have to take the form If such-and-such is true then so-and-so And if not then In fact our quantitative knowledge of the universe is very incomplete True we know the approximate distances of many celestial objects both near and far and we know the age of the universe fairly accurately Although from time to time the different ways of calculating this age have produced results which appear inconsistent with the known ages of the earth and the stars there is now general agreement that the big bang occurred between 10 and 20 billion years ago But estimates of the present size of the universe or the amount of matter and radiation it contains differ widely and any predictions we wish to make depend critically on these quantities Indeed there is disagreement over whether these magnitudes are finite or infinite surely this is the most devastating uncertainty anyone can imagine For a variety of reasons which are not presented here I believe that the quantity of matter in the universe and its dimensions in space and time must all be finite
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