I understand that as the universe continues to expand, eventually our supply of hydrogen will be exhausted and then it's "lights out." Is that really going to happen or is there something "eternal" about the universe? It matters because if the universe is eternal, and since we are a part of the universe, we too are eternal as well in some sense.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe something cannot come or arise from nothing and I understand the characteristics of the whole are not necessarily that of its parts, but I think if something can be said about the universe, it must also apply to us as well because we are in the universe. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lee Dec 2 '17 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, physics says something can come from nothing (e.g., virtual particles) and the characteristics of the whole necessarily are the sum of the parts. Saying the whole is not the sum of the parts just means you don't know how those parts sum together yet. Lastly, I can say the universe is expanding, but that doesn't mean you're expanding. While you're a part of the universe, statements about the universe cannot necessarily be applied to every individual component of the universe. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Dec 4 '17 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @zephyr I did a little research about "virtual particles" and I don't agree with you that it is a valid example of something arising from nothing. They said it consists of a single particle that becomes a pair of two virtual particles that exist very briefly and so it's hard to detect them, but it doesn't follow from that virtual particles come from nothing. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lee Dec 11 '17 at 13:17
  • $\begingroup$ You may have misinterpreted something. Virtual particles do not derive from real particles. They derive from literally nothing, but their existence is limited by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The more energy that spontaneously pops into existence out of nothing, the less time that energy can exist for. But it most certain comes from no where. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Dec 11 '17 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ And if virtual particles do not convince you, try looking at Dark Energy. The energy in Dark Energy grows as space expands but it appears to come out of no where. Admittedly there's still no complete proof this is true, but all current (widely accepted) cosmological models point to that being the reality. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Dec 11 '17 at 13:43

The metaphysical aspects of your question can't be answered. Our bodies aren't eternal, and astronomy can't answer questions about the soal.

Observations of the universe suggest that it will continue expanding.

As you note, eventually all the stars will run out of hydrogen, collapse to white dwarfs, which then slowly cool. What happens next is rather speculative. At this time there will be nowhere that is warm in the universe. Everywhere will cool to very close to absolute zero. Complex chemistry will no longer be possible, and there will be no life in the universe.

Some stars will fall into black holes. Others will be ejected from the galaxy. If protons decay, then very very very slowly, the matter will break down, leaving only black holes.

If black holes emit Hawking radiation, then they too will break down.

In this model, the spacetime of the universe is eternal, but nothing within it survives.

Wikipedia has a list of some of the events of the far future

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  • $\begingroup$ I tried not to introduce the idea of an immortal soul into equation as that makes it more of a philosophical question, but what happens to life after the universe goes dark? Will life continue somewhere else? $\endgroup$ – Michael Lee Dec 3 '17 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Now that I think about it, isn't it possible that even after our reputed universe dies, others shall still continue to be born, exist and then die just like ours? And our universe is just one among many - just another world. We haven't detected the presence of them yet, but they're there. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lee Dec 3 '17 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Life will be long gone. See edit. As for your second comment, that is metaphysical speculation. It can't be answered. $\endgroup$ – James K Dec 3 '17 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ "Life will be long gone." That comment is desponding. If you are right, then life is stupid, meaningless and absurd. $\endgroup$ – Michael Lee Dec 4 '17 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelLee It would seem you're struggling to accept the philosophical concepts of existentialism, absurdism, and/or nihilism (which flavor you prefer is up to you). Perhaps you can try reading about these philosophies to see what others have said about them. $\endgroup$ – zephyr Dec 4 '17 at 13:55

The universe is eternal...in a sense. The universe is rapidly expanding, and with that, the amount of space in between everything. The point when astrophysicists consider the universe to have "ended" is when all stars have died and there components are too far apart to create new ones. When the planets of solar systems are too far from their stars to see their light. When our universe is ruled by black holes who swallow up what is left of our once beautiful universe. When (theoretically) the redshift effect would occur on such a vast scale that we would no longer be able to see the light from the stars in the visible universe( by that point we will all have been dead for billions of years). To the point where the universe can no longer harbor life. The universe will still exist in a technical sense, but it will be a cold and unrecognizable universe from the one we call home today.

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