Astrophysicist Katie Mack doesn’t mince her words.
The universe will end. We just don’t know exactly how. In The end of everything she explores some of the scientific theories that attempt to answer the question. She does so in a pedagogical way, that’s (relatively) easy to understand even for laywomen like myself. You can tell she loves her job: her enthusiasm permeates the whole book, so even though her subject matter is rather grim, you cannot help but think that this is all very cool. She is also active on Twitter (that’s how I first heard of her) and she seems like an awesome person who loves educating others.
A little disclaimer though: I am a sucker for cosmology/astronomy in their watered-down-for-simpletons-like-myself version. I love the efforts the experts of the field make to educate the public (Brian Cox’ BBC series are great, for instance). But I am also very, very bad at science. I think what attracts me to all things space is more philosophical, a “why are we here”/ meaning of life/stargazing kind of thing, plus that I find it amazing that we understand so little about it – it opens up for SO many possibilities (eg multiverses). So I made an effort to understand the book, but some of the science went way over my head (especially during the second half). Once I had accepted that I wasn’t going to understand it all, it was fun to read about each potential way our universe might die. The parts that I did understand were mind-blowing and made me wish (not for the first time) that I had been better at science in school so that I could have gone into astrophysics.
Unfortunately the second half of the book got too complicated for me and I struggled to concentrate. I also felt that Mack was veering into different territory than the end of the universe – which is ok of course, but it felt a little disjointed. Some people enjoyed the footnotes but I found them distracting as they didn’t really offer much additional information (most of them were just jokes).
The end of everything was (mostly) a very enjoyable experience so I would recommend it to others. It does take some work on the reader’s part but don’t worry, you have time: the universe will not end just yet.