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The Fate of the Universe
August 20, 2010 10:16 PM   Subscribe


 
In other news, a new model describes a universe contrary to this orthodox teleology.
posted by clarknova at 10:20 PM on August 20, 2010


In other news, we little humans will probably never know for sure one way or the other. In really other news, I like to think of galaxies as massive creatures on a scale that we can no more grasp than a lost sperm can understand NYC. Galaxies are evolving and new mutations are occurring on their own scale somewhat like life on the surface of Earth. Groovy.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:32 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


In really, really other news, MeFites enjoy cannabis on Friday night.
posted by clarknova at 10:36 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I may be drunk, but I am not nearly drunk enough to believe that you can see into the future through a gravitational effect.
posted by quillbreaker at 10:38 PM on August 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is that my business? I live in Toronto. Toronto is not expanding.
posted by Crane Shot at 10:56 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


In totally other news, that link to Physorg is borked.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:08 PM on August 20, 2010


Leon is getting larger.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:12 PM on August 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


What if our gravitational lens is dirty?
posted by spock at 11:16 PM on August 20, 2010


BBC article: Eventually [the universe] will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term "absolute zero".

Link next to it: Elsewhere on the BBC - I see dead people
posted by lukemeister at 11:20 PM on August 20, 2010




"...And all this bullshit you think is so important, you can just kiss all of that goodbye."
posted by fantodstic at 12:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


>I live in Toronto.

My condolences.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:27 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




What a bummer. That seals it - I having a KFD Chicken Skin Double Down when it comes out.
posted by helmutdog at 1:15 AM on August 21, 2010


Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing gluons.
posted by trondant at 1:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


The final enemy: the heat-death of the universe.
posted by Joe Chip at 2:31 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm 100% certain this will not occur within my lifetime.
posted by bwg at 3:55 AM on August 21, 2010


I see they've failed to answer the most important question: where is the restaurant at the end of the universe?
posted by treepour at 4:02 AM on August 21, 2010


I see they've failed to answer the most important question: what does it mean to live a good life?
posted by Meatbomb at 4:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


quillbreaker: "I may be drunk, but I am not nearly drunk enough to believe that you can see into the future through a gravitational effect."

My tarot cards reveal the same thing. Convinced now?
posted by Splunge at 5:02 AM on August 21, 2010


This is not actually "Heat Death though right? That's entropy in a closed system. This is just shit expanding forever and getting really cold. This is "Big Freeze". Right?
posted by nathancaswell at 5:12 AM on August 21, 2010


The real graceful end state is "big crunch" where the rate of expansion slows in time for gravity to still be able to pull everything back to a singularity, creating a cycle of big bangs / crunches for eternity like a blackboard being wiped clean over and over. That's still the only one that makes sense to me.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:21 AM on August 21, 2010


So TS Eliot was right.
posted by sien at 5:58 AM on August 21, 2010


"Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term 'absolute zero'."


So this disproves global warming, amirite?
posted by coldhotel at 6:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


We should ask Multivac if it knows how to reverse this.
posted by octothorpe at 6:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


spoiler alert.

lol.
posted by gnossie at 6:25 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I may be drunk, but I am not nearly drunk enough to believe that you can see into the future through a gravitational effect.

And nobody claimed that they can see into the future.

What they did is measure the amount of dark matter at some place in Virgo and deduced from that how dark matter is distributed. It turns out that there is not enough dark matter to pull the universe back together again. Hence, it will expand forever.

A possible flaw that I can see is that they only looked at one specific place. Who knows how dark matter is distributed in other places of the universe? But maybe they thought of that and it's just not reported in the article.
posted by sour cream at 6:29 AM on August 21, 2010


But I suppose this is a welcome further excuse for procrastination: The universe will eventually become a cold, dead wasteland anyway, so what's the point?
posted by sour cream at 6:32 AM on August 21, 2010


In Related News: Flat Earth Society, still in business.
posted by Fizz at 6:37 AM on August 21, 2010


Meetup here today! BYO candlesticks and compasses.
posted by norm at 7:29 AM on August 21, 2010


"Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term 'absolute zero'."

That is such a pessimistic view. I prefer to think everything will be 0K.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fizz: "In Related News: Flat Earth Society, still in business."

Wow. I don't think I'm going back there again. I didn't believe stupid could get me this angry.
posted by Splunge at 7:55 AM on August 21, 2010


So, it really is all for nothing?
posted by zzazazz at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2010


Fortunately, Ray Kurzweil knows how to stop this.
posted by lukemeister at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


What they did is measure the amount of dark matter at some place in Virgo and deduced from that how dark matter is distributed.

That's what I initially thought too but they "measured" dark energy, which is not the same thing.
posted by neuron at 9:27 AM on August 21, 2010


Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term 'absolute zero'.

Freeman Dyson has a fun essay (click on p. 83) about how long we might be able to survive in the universe as it approaches absolute zero. It's in his latest book, A Many-Colored Glass.
posted by sunnichka at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to think of galaxies as massive creatures on a scale that we can no more grasp than a lost sperm can understand NYC

Have you ever really ETC
posted by DU at 5:59 PM on August 21, 2010


Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term 'absolute zero'.
This assumes there is no capacity for regeneration of stars based on merging resources. Generalization is so often a precarious assumption.
posted by uni verse at 8:37 PM on August 21, 2010


Epicycles are delicious.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:04 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term 'absolute zero'.

Sounds like my love life.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:18 AM on August 22, 2010


This assumes there is no capacity for regeneration of stars based on merging resources. Generalization is so often a precarious assumption.

Expanding universe = eventually all stellar material will be too diffuse for stellar birth. Supernovae will reform into smaller and smaller stars but eventually won't have enough matter as it bleeds to energy.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:26 AM on August 22, 2010


Sour Cream: The reason for your confusion is that, most fundamentally, they are measuring the ratio of the size of the Universe at different times, based on looking at how multiple galaxies in the background (different amounts of time in the past) are lensed. This requires modeling the mass distribution of the cluster - which is dominated by dark matter.

It turns out if you know the amount of dark matter and dark energy (the authors of this paper assume if you know one you know the other, based on other constraints on the geometry of the universe and theoretical bias), you can then predict the relationship between the size of the universe and time (redshift, really - I'm trying to simplify here), and compare to observations. This doesn't depend on how much dark matter is in the cluster (taking ratios avoids that), but rather on the average amount in the universe.

This measurement is difficult, though, and has only been done for a couple of clusters so far. The authors are quite good, but cosmology papers that do not present systematic error budgets always need to be taken with a grain of salt (especially because some of the lensed arcs were rejected for systematics, which leaves some question about whether the remainder might be problematic at lower levels). Unfortunately, papers in Science or Nature don't give much room for that. The fact that this independent, mostly geometric method gives us an answer consistent with other methods is very encouraging, though.

Less encouraging: Laurence Krauss has pointed out that, even if we can come up with a projection for the fate of the Universe from what we see now, it is always possible for there to be a component of the Universe which is totally negligible today but controls the Universe's expansion in the future (dark energy was kind of like that: no impact in the first billion years, huge impact today). I'm prone myself to saying we're trying to determine our future fate, but the honest answer is no one can without a complete theory of physics.
posted by janewman at 8:48 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The final enemy: the heat-death of the universe

Clearly, there is no alternative to a War Against Heat Death. We must begin the bombings at once. You're either with us or against us.
posted by flabdablet at 3:39 AM on August 23, 2010


All bombs ever known have proven to be evil agents of Entropy.
posted by Goofyy at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2010


And that sounds cute and funny, yea. But it's serious. Entropy is the enemy of everything we hold dear, including our very lives.

Our only hope lies in the ability of sentient beings everywhere to organize!
posted by Goofyy at 8:18 AM on August 23, 2010


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