How Long Will We Be Around?

Remember the young Woody Allen's cosmic angst in the film Annie Hall? Having just read that the universe is expanding, the boy is so worried that he can't do his homework. "Someday it will break apart," he tells his shrink, "and that will be the end of everything." But, his mother snaps, "you're here in Brooklyn! Brooklyn is not expanding!"

Maybe not, but Woody was on to something. Long before the universe finally fades out, his nightmare will come true--though not as he imagined. Now about halfway through its estimated 10 billion-year lifetime, our sun is slowly brightening. In about...

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