Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

John Wheeler discusses his idea of "the big crunch."

Oral history audio excerpt

John Wheeler discusses his idea of "the big crunch."

THE BIG CRUNCH

Ford:

John, could I interject a question about the universe at large? You said once in an earlier interview that you saw the inevitability of the Big Crunch. When I was a student, we were told that it depended on the mass density: The universe might expand forever, or it might turn around and collapse. But at some point you reached a conclusion that the collapse was inevitable. Could you discuss what led to that insight and conviction?

Wheeler:

Yes. What religious process [laughs] led me to feel that collapse was inevitable? Well, one could call it the principle of ecological clean-up. That might trigger a question about the extent to which I let what I might call aesthetic considerations influence my attitude to questions in physics.