A guide to the big picture, fundamental physical law, windows of space and time, the great war, and extremely big numbers.January 1, 7,000,000,000 A.D., Ann Arbor:
The New Year rings in little cause for celebration. Nobody is present even to mark its passing. Earth's surface is a torrid unrecognizable wasteland. The Sun has swelled to enormous size, so large that its seething red disk nearly fills the daytime sky. The planet Mercury and then Venus have already been obliterated, and now the tenuous outer reaches of the solar atmosphere are threatening to overtake the receding orbit of Earth.