How It Ends, By Chris Impey

Christopher Hirst
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:01

This is a cheery work from a US astronomer about the death of everything. Displaying an adroit turn of phrase ("Nature is parsimonious... Think of your atoms as hand-me-downs"), Impey showers the reader with terminal revelations.

A study in 25 cardiac units is exploring whether out-of-body experiences exist. We learn that a star called WR104 is heading straight for us. "Like looking down a rifle barrel," says a researcher. "We probably have hundreds of thousands of years before it blows."

Universally, we may have a trillion years to go, though it may be a mere 20 billion according to the "big rip" theory. After filling our heads with such stuff, we can forgive Impey for claiming "Spit-alfields [is] within earshot of the bells of Westminster Abbey."

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