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Universe Closer To Heat Death Than Once Thought 237

TapeCutter writes "In a paper soon to be published (PDF) in the Astrophysical Journal, Australian researchers have estimated the entropy of the universe is about 30 times higher than previous estimates. According to their research, super-massive black holes 'are the largest contributor to the entropy of the observable universe, contributing at least an order of magnitude more entropy than previously estimated.' For those of us who like their science in the form of a car analogy, Dr. Lineweaver compared their results to a car's gas tank. He states, 'It's a bit like looking at your gas gauge and saying "I thought I had half a gas tank, but I only have a quarter of a tank."'" Fortunately, that quarter of a tank will still get us as far as we need to go and then some.
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Universe Closer To Heat Death Than Once Thought

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  • Not so sure... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:45AM (#30904142) Journal

    ...given the not-quite-set-in-concrete nature of theoretical physics, string theory, and especially M-theory (...don't like this universe? we got more!), I don't think I'm going to sell the house and walk around in animal skins just yet.

    (definitely not saying that entropy itself doesn't exist - that much has been proven. OTOH, I suspect there's a whole lot more going on out there/here/everywhere that we simply do not know about yet, eh?)

    Besides, the universe had damned well better not die - at least not until I get my flying car, copy of Duke Nuken' Forever (running on HURD), and an army of Linux fembots with a penchant for evil, damnit!

  • by Steve Baker ( 3504 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:50AM (#30904230) Homepage

    > Fortunately, that quarter of a tank will still get us as far as we need to go and then some.

    And where is it that we're going?

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:56AM (#30904328) Homepage

    Just because the laws of physics IN THIS UNIVERSE prevent that doesn't mean it can't happen since by definition the low entropy state the universe started in was created (in some form) by alternative laws of physics possibly outside this universe since the laws we know didn't exist at that point.

    There's no reason why these alternative physical laws couldn't suddenly kick back in when the universe reaches a certain entropy state and start to reverse the whole process back to zero. Some people would say time would then be going in reverse but this doesn't need to be the case.

  • no problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @10:59AM (#30904388) Journal

    Considering that red dwarfs are expected to last trillions of years (no red dwarf has ever died. The universe is too young), we just need to move to a planet around one of them, assuming they have habitable planets.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @11:00AM (#30904412)

    Star formation is believed to end about 10^14 years from now, the total entropy of universe only affects events after that. Not a worry. If protons decay with 10^32 year half-life, then practically all nucleons decay after 10^40 years, which leaves all black holes to evaporate after about 10^99 years.

    If protons don't decay as we suspect, then universe slowly tunnels to iron-56, (light nuclei via fusion and heavier via fission) in about 10^1500 years, which coalesce into black holes or neutron stars in about 10^10^76 years (yup, double exponent).

    So quite frankly, this bit about more entropy means little for life as we know it, though if life can arise by some heat-engine powered means (due to temperature differences only). still the time scales are staggering.

    but all mute if Big Rip is possible, we might only have 22 billion years left!: []

  • by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @12:49PM (#30906182)
    Keep on drinking the Haterade, Luddite. So why don't you go back and live the way your prehistoric ancestors did? After all, if increased life expectancy is so bad, just give up all the advancements that have tripled it. After all, mankind was so much nicer back then, right? Aside from all the human sacrifice and slavery and misogyny...

    Hmm, let's put this together shall we? When people's lifetimes were extended they had more time to think, become wiser, less concerned with death and the future of their progeny, all in all became less barbaric... hmm... maybe the trend would continue? Maybe, relieving the pressure of death even more would civilize mankind as a whole even more?
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:13PM (#30906586) Homepage

    Uh-huh. The humans only become 'transhumanist' once they've already discovered Hyperspace and are colonizing the galaxy. The transhumanism/immortality is used as a device to explore the fact that even "immortal" humans must die along with the universe. It's a brilliant way to consider entropy and heat death and a cyclical universe and even what it means to be God... ... not endorse that Kurzweil slop. Sorry you can't see past that.

  • Re:heat death (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:25PM (#30906740) Homepage

    The new hot theoretical speculations hold that gravity is a thermodynamic effect too, not a regular force. This dude explains. []

    Still highly speculative, mind you, but definitely hot stuff.

  • by JMH4343 ( 1730300 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2010 @01:54PM (#30907160)
    read "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov He wrote: This is by far my favorite story of all those I have written. After all, I undertook to tell several trillion years of human history in the space of a short story and I leave it to you as to how well I succeeded. I also undertook another task, but I won't tell you what that was lest l spoil the story for you. It is a curious fact that innumerable readers have asked me if I wrote this story. They seem never to remember the title of the story or (for sure) the author, except for the vague thought it might be me. But, of course, they never forget the story itself especially the ending. The idea seems to drown out everything -- and I'm satisfied that it should. The last question, posed in 2061, was this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age? Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.