Before Einstein’s heralded 1905 paper on the Special Theory of Relativity and his second ground-breaking and mind-bending paper on General Relativity in 1916, most people believed that the universe was infinite and eternal, with no beginning and no end (in other words, static). Einstein’s theory predicted that the universe should be either expanding or contracting. Einstein, himself, believed in an unchanging universe so he modified his theory to accommodate this belief (he later acknowledged that this was his “greatest blunder”). Why do you think Einstein and others assumed the universe had no beginning? Does a universe with a beginning some 14 billion years ago have any important philosophical or religious implications? If the universe might someday come to an end, whatever that end might be, what does that mean to you? Of course, there are plenty of questions one could ask here and I’ve given you a few to get you started. Prepare a personal essay on your response to the preceding paragraph. Naturally, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer here so your mark will be based on how well you substantiate and argue your perspective. The essay involves not just astronomy, although the premise is based on a very profound discovery about the universe. The culmination of your thinking and writing might involve philosophy, religion and perhaps even psychology.