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Space Science

Universe Has 100x More Entropy Than We Thought 304

eldavojohn writes "Previous estimates are now thought to skimp on the entropy of the observable universe. The researchers contend that super-massive black holes are the largest contributor of entropy. Since they contribute two orders of magnitude more than previously thought, the total of all the observable universe is correspondingly higher. The paper highlights (in gruesome detail) new issues that arise with these new calculations — like estimating us a little bit closer to heat death (moving entropy totals from 10^102 to 10^104 out of a maximum of 10^122)."
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Universe Has 100x More Entropy Than We Thought

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  • by the_rajah ( 749499 ) * on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @01:52PM (#29659957) Homepage
    Oh, wait... that's going to happen anyway.
  • Dark Energy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:01PM (#29660105) Journal

    With the "news" (circa 1998) that the rate of expansion of the universe is increasing, it seems to me that worries about the heat death of the universe should be put on hold. There's something (currently labeled "dark energy") about cosmology that we simply lack sufficient understanding of.

  • Re:Heat Death (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:14PM (#29660343) Journal

    Coincidentally, the Ask Slashdot regarding SciFi works for students lead me to Isaac Asimov's cool short story "The Last Question" ( [] which has an interesting perspective on this...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:22PM (#29660521)

    The expansion of the Universe actually works against us. There is only so much energy in the Universe (i.e. matter and energy). As the Universe expands, the energy is spread over greater distances, making it harder to extract as much energy from a certain amount of space as you used to be able to do. When the energy is spread to thin to support life, it's called the cold death of the Universe.

  • by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:31PM (#29660657) Homepage
    I don't see anything wrong with the intent of the question. Maybe he read it and found it too complex. Maybe he didn't understand it at all. Maybe he didn't read it and thought Slashdotters could give the best answer - in any case, no one's forcing you to answer his question.
  • Re:discovery (Score:4, Insightful)

    Football plays and players clearly show that simple bodies can form spontaneous order. This result was found to be in direct opposition to the prevailing dogma of the second law of teenodynamics; That the disorder of a teenagers life, property, and living space will always increase over time. This breakthrough is thought to have bearing on the great problem of "Teenage dysfunction death" which asks why when teenagers continuously degenerate over the course of their teen years, so they eventually mature into productive and stable adults.

    Scientists urge caution in relation to these findings. "Current teenage theory leaves many questions unanswered", said Professor Alex Tweed of the national institute for Juvenile Entropy studies, "However, one result does not explain all the data on its own. For example, we know that there are quite a few adults who never become stable or mature. For example, many can be found making tasteless jokes about peoples' daughters on web forums, and other can be found modding up those same comments. This field will require more research before a definitive understanding of human maturity is achieved."

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:01PM (#29661107) Journal

    If the current age of the universe is finite, then it must have come into being - been created - at some point. There's no real answer to how that might have happened within the real of science. Oh, you can say there's some multiverse which creates universes such as ours, but that just shifts the question: how was the multiverse created?

    My personal creation belief is that our universe is itself a supermassive black hole in some much larger universe, and in that universe the riddle of creation has some obvious answer. Perhaps God strides around shaking hands and giving photo-ops. Perhaps you can see the moment of creation with a sufficiently powerful telescope. Perhaps that unvierse does not have afinite current age.

  • by civilizedINTENSITY ( 45686 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:40PM (#29661657)
    I'll take this a step further. Science is a useful methodology for the building of models that are extremely useful for making specific predictions. Whenever you forget that its a model, and start BELIEVING it, its no longer science. Most laypeople don't really care about science, or models, so long as "it just works" when you flip the switch. However, they like certitude. It makes them comfortable that when flipping the switch next time, the TV will keep working. Now, Newtonian Mechanics, for instance, works pretty damn well for building bridges. Is it real? Nope. But its a really useful model. It works within a context (things are large enough we can ignore quantum effects, relative velocities are low enough that relativity isn't worth considering, etc...). To say that Newtonian Mechanics is "right" or "wrong" misses not only the mark, but the target. Science is never "right" nor "wrong" in the manner in which you used the terms. It is, however, extremely useful.
  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:43PM (#29661713) Journal

    If the current age of the universe is finite, then it must have come into being - been created - at some point.

    No. Even with a finite age, there's absolutely no need for a beginning. Just like the positive reals have no first element (for each positive real, there's a smaller positive real; note that 0 is not a positive real), there need not be an earliest point in time.

  • Re:discovery (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Knara ( 9377 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:39PM (#29662533)

    It could be the Pee-Wee football team.

  • Re:Heat Death (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ustolemyname ( 1301665 ) on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @12:36AM (#29666431)
    So? I read it, but couldn't remember what it was called, and appreciate the link. To me, GP would have been appropriately modded "informative".

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen