Could we survive the end of the Universe?

The distant future of our Universe looks rather bleak: cold, empty and dark. But inventive civilisations may still find ways to survive, even after the last stars have died away.

Our Universe is already winding down. Billions of years ago, the birth rate of new stars was much higher than it is now. In the future, it will decrease further. Meanwhile, if the expansion of the Universe continues to accelerate, galaxies will move ever further away from each other. In the very distant future, we could be left with a cold, empty and dark Universe, containing solitary stellar corpses like neutron stars and black holes. If the Universe contracts again - and no-one knows if this could happen - it could become a star-studded scene again. But probably not for very long; a big crunch could eventually wipe everything out. At present, the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, but no-one knows what the distant future holds.

Scientists like "what if?" questions. What if the Universe expands forever? What if the Universe shrinks back into one spot? What if the Universe came to a complete stop? What do you think?