A while ago I read what was supposedly the original plan for the ending of Mass Effect. In the world of Mass Effect, there is a specific technology that underpins essentially the entire culture and economy in the world. It turns out that this technology hastens the end of the Universe, and the “big-bad” of the series comes along to destroy civilization, to stop the universe from ending.

This is obviously not the ending that the video game series ended up pursuing but it’s something that I would like to implement. In my hard science fiction setting, humanity has settled in a new solar system after leaving Earth centuries ago. Earth has been relegated to the place of myth. There is no FTL travel, no artificial gravity. My question, is what kind of theoretical technology we could envision that would serve such an integral role in this society. As far as technology goes, I’m willing to make the leap to some kind of handwavium or unobtanium type fuel source or something but I want it to be realistic enough that there isn’t much suspension of disbelief required on the part of the reader. Originally my thought was having some kind of space Stargate type thing, where ships going through these wormhole-portal things is how the interstellar economies function (I also had the idea that maybe, unknown to the inhabitants of this civilization, the star gates a portals through time as well as space). And then travel through these portals has some kind of deleterious effects on the universe. I ended up deciding against going with this wormhole/portal/stargate idea because it is such a common trope in science fiction, I wanted to do something a little bit different (especially since I conceived of these gates as being remnants of an ancient alien civilization and I have become a little tired of the ancient aliens trope, to be honest).

Is there another hypothetical type of technology that human beings could develop that wouldn’t stretch suspension of disbelief too far?

  • $\begingroup$ Please read the proper use and limits for the hard-science tag as questions involving hypothetical or theoretical science cannot use this tag. This question best fits the science-fiction tag. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Mar 19, 2022 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry about that; correction’s been made! $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2022 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @LindsayDavies-White Not posting as a full answer, but consider "The Gods Themselves", by Isaac Asimov, as a possible source of inspiration. In it, (here I assume it's safe to post spoilers for a book written in 1972) an apparent source of infinite energy turns out to be slowly increasing the strength of the strong nuclear force in places where it is used. (ie., continued use on earth would eventually make the sun go nova) You could consider having a technology which does a similar thing but on a universal scale--like slowing the speed of light or changing the fine-structure constant, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Mar 19, 2022 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves, 1972. Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1972, and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973. Quite famous, I would say. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 19, 2022 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Qami I haven’t read much Asimov, just “Foundation” and “Caves of Steel” but that’s a really cool idea, I like that a lot!. $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2022 at 1:38

2 Answers 2


What is ALREADY going to destroy the universe?

Imagine a new device that allows you to gather energy. Not just rich sources or specific sources, but something able to tap into the energy supply of the universe - an entropy accelerator.

Everything in the universe is moving towards a state of lowest energy. It is simply how physics works. The flow is inevitable, and all technology is essentially a usage of that energy shift for useful work. Nothing we do DECREASES entropy, only uses it for our own purposes.

Now give mankind a device that takes advantage of the universal tendency towards entropy, but it can gather this energy from everything - extremely inefficiently. But what does that matter? The universe is FULL of energy. Why, surely the entire output of human civilization for a million years hardly makes even the slightest dent in even the output of a single sun?

But this is like the monkey's paw - you get what you want, but the cost is orders of magnitude worse than the benefit obtained. Piloting a ship up to 0.99C in a couple seconds sounds fine, but the energy consumption begins to approach infinity. Spread across the entire universe, the harm is barely detectable in any one place. But what are the consequences of draining the universe of energy? Is dark energy depleted and expansion stops? Gravity begins to cause the universe to contract? The frequency of stars collapsing into supernovae go up? Or perhaps it pushes a couple of super-massive black holes to finally collide rather than spending the next billion years circling each other.

  • $\begingroup$ That’s a great idea, I like that a lot. I could see that maybe this is the way that vessels get their energy somehow? Thus, if they can no longer propel their ships in this way, there goes interplanetary trade and the whole interplanetary economy. I like that a lot! $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2022 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe civilizations that take advantage of this technology are isolated in space-time, so each civilization think they are the only ones destroying the universe. Once they find out, it's too late and all they can do is wait a few million years for the gravity wave tsunami to arrive $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2022 at 13:53

You are asking for a thing that eats the universe. No such thing is suspected to exist by experts in the real world. But IF such a thing was to exist then perhaps. . . it might be a crab?

Large Cosmic Crab

enter image description here

There is a crab -- larger than the one shown above -- at the centre of the universe. Whenever the pesky humans activate their matter trans-replicators, it makes a high pitched and very annoying noise that only the crab can hear. Actually it is a form of radiation but the noise thing is easier to relate to.

The (ahem) noise wakes up the crab who is angry at being woken up. He shovels a few spiral galaxies into his mouth and goes back to sleep. This of course causes gravitational disruptions to other nearby galaxies.

I think this is a good answer. The only thing that makes the crab hard to believe is that he does not exist. But you said we are allowed to handwave that sort of thing.

He is getting closer to Earth. . . .


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .