Friday, 31 January 2014
A Science Myth
A cyclical universe is a feature of ancient Oriental and modern scientific cosmologies. In the scientific myth, cosmic expansion is slowed, then reversed, by gravity; there is a collapse to a point from which re-expansion begins.
This myth is in at least three of Poul Anderson's works:
in Tau Zero (hard sf), a continuously accelerating relativistic spaceship carries its crew, like Noah's Ark, into the next cosmic cycle;
in "Flight to Forever" (hard sf), a time machine carries its occupant into the next cosmic cycle;
in "Pact" (humorous fantasy, not Anderson's best), a demon compelled by a compact carries an astronomer's soul into the next cosmic cycle.
By "myth," I do not, in this case, mean a falsehood. Thus, the cyclical universe, in Stapledon's, Anderson's and other sf, could remain both a meaningful story and a current scientific theory. However, the cosmic expansion is not slowing but accelerating due to the as yet not understood "dark energy" which has the potential to generate new myths.