End: the termination of a temporal process or physical object. The end itself is to be regarded as a part of the object or process. An object or process with no end does not have to be infinite, but it will certainly be unbounded.

1) The physical end of the world according to the medieval worldview. The flat disc of the world is surrounded by ocean and has four ends corresponding to the four directions. Prior to the discovery of America, the world's Western end was said to be located at Cape Finisterre (from Latin finis, "End", and terra, "earth") near Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. This was at the same time the final destination for pilgrims on the Way of St. James (the Camino de Santiago).

Some Apocalypses

2) The temporal end of the world according to various religions. Almost every religion has a prognosis concerning the end of the world, although the prognoses differ:

  • The Christian worldview announces the end of the world in the Revelation to John. According to this revelation, the end of the world is preceded by the appearance of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and by the pouring of seven bowls of God's wrath to punish the Antichrist and his followers and prepare them for their downfall. After a final battle between God and Satan, the present world is replaced by a new, perfect creation.
  • Due to its gruesome and cryptic contents, the Revelation to John has been an item of dispute in ecclesiastical history. Some church fathers considered it a fabrication. Some churches in the Eastern European tradition, such as the Syrian Orthodox Church, do not recognize it as a part of the Bible.
  • The Islamic worldview includes a vision of the Last Judgment that is very similar to the Christian one. Here, too, the dead are revived and judged according to their conduct in life. The righteous will receive the eternal joys of paradise, while the non-righteous earn eternal punishment in hell. For example, according to Islam he who has spent his lifetime accumulating wealth without giving some of it to the poor will be condemned to hell.
  • According to the worldview of Buddhism, by contrast, the end of the world is something desirable; it sets in when all souls are liberated from the circle of eternal reincarnation and have entered Nirvana.
  • Nordic mythology associates the end of the world with the downfall of the gods in the so-called Twilight of the Gods (Ragnarök). When this occurs, the sun and moon will be devoured by mythological wolves and the stars will fall from the sky. The old world will be eliminated by fire during the final battle between gods and giants. The surviving gods will together create a new earthly world.

3) The temporal end of the world according to the scientific worldview. You will find more details about the eventual end of the universe under Universe. The Earth itself, however, will have ceased to exist long before the universe does.

The End of the Solar System

At present, the sun's energy derives from a nuclear process in which hydrogen atoms are fused and thereby turned into helium atoms. As a result, the ratio of helium to hydrogen in the sun is constantly increasing. Since helium atoms are heavier than hydrogen ones, the sun's core gradually increases in density. This in turn leads to a continuous increase of brightness and power density in the sun's radiation.

In about 500 million years the temperature of the Earth's surface will have exceeded 100 degrees Celsius (c. 212 F) — one global warming that will not have been caused by us. The oceans will boil over and evaporate. All life will be extinguished, with the possible exception of a few types of anaerobic bacteria that live in depths of several kilometres in rock inclusions; they may continue to flourish even in extreme pressures and temperatures. But even these will have ceased to exist when the sun swells up to a red giant star in about 6 billion years. At that point, the sun will swallow up the nearby planets Mercury and Venus. The Earth will be orbiting as a glowing fireball closely along the sun's outer margins. At the end of its growth, the sun will eject a large part of its matter and shrivel up into a white dwarf, a tiny and extremely dense star roughly the size of the Earth. This dwarf will continue to radiate light for another few billion years, gradually cooling off until it has become a dark star — the cold and radiationless remnant of a sun.

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