Picture yourself on Wells’ terminal beach.  You had set the controls of your time machine to the max.  Now you find yourself down the foggy ruins of time.  You’ve journeyed to the far future.

The Earth is locked by tidal forces.  The planets spiral toward a red giant Sun, which hangs motionless in an endless sunset. The solar system is in meltdown. So ends HG Wells’ prophetic and terrible account of the end of the world in his famous 1895 novel The Time Machine.

Wells took a momentous leap in the portrayal of Darwinian evolution.  He depicted the entire Universe as a machine, running down on energy.  The cosmos is in a state of entropic decay, and man is being swept away, “into the darkness from which his universe arose”.

With the development of cosmology as a science in the 1960s, astronomers realised Wells may be right.  This image of dying planets, dying Suns and a drift in entropy became known as ‘The Heat Death of the Universe’.  Indeed, heat death remains a possible final outcome, with no free energy and a future in a cold, dark, empty space.  The Universe will have reached maximum entropy.

Happy days.

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