back to article Boffins: The universe is DOOMED and there's nothing to be done

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were are going out. Don't worry, though: the heat death of the universe is still hundreds of trillions of years away. That's the conclusion of work announced by the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, which has looked at 200,000 "nearby" galaxies across 21 wavelengths between the …

  1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    I think Asimov

    was more "let there be light" than "the stars were going out".

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Happy

      There's a lot of firsts happening in that year of the heat death

      Its the year of Linux on the desktop.

      Microsoft writes a browser which shows webpages correctly.

      XP market share falls below 10%.

      A MP submits an honest expenses claim.

      Apple comes up with an idea of its own.

      Labour win their first election since 2005.

      Liverpool win the Premiership title.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's a lot of firsts happening in that year of the heat death

        The Chilcott report is published

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's a lot of firsts happening in that year of the heat death

          The Chilcott report is published

          In some parallel universe where they didn't send a civil servant to do a man's job.

        2. Mostly Harmless v2
          Linux

          Re: There's a lot of firsts happening in that year of the heat death

          I would add 'BBC show the final ever episode of 'Master Chef'

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's a lot of firsts happening in that year of the heat death

        The EU will increase tax's to fund a working party on how to stop the universe dying, skewed by the flawed studies of some overhyped scientists looking for some free funding

    2. Benchops

      Re: I think Asimov

      Replace "Multivac" with "OK Google!" or "Siri!"... scary.

    3. BlartVersenwaldIII
      Alien

      Re: I think Asimov

      To everyone that didn't get the reference - reward your wise choice of luncheon with a post-prandial perusal of the following short story:

      http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So, I guess it's a bit premature to be planning an "End of the Universe" party?

    1. Chemist

      "So, I guess it's a bit premature to be planning an "End of the Universe" party?"

      But you know which venue to book for it - right ?

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        If the cyclic model of the universe is correct, it would make a great big bang party too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          it would make a great big bang party too.

          I went to one of those once. I could hardly walk for days!

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        "So, I guess it's a bit premature to be planning an "End of the Universe" party?"

        But you know which venue to book for it - right ?

        I do and I checked. Already booked by someone else.

    2. Danny 4
      Pint

      EOU Party

      Didn't Douglas Adams cover the pointlessness of existence in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe?

  3. Robert E A Harvey

    Nice to know that someone has done the sums to set the alarm clock.

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    So why waste your life looking into it then? Oh, the Uni of WA? That'll explain why then. Looking to see when your teniture might end and you get to go somewhere with an atmosphere. Like east Austrailia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Optional

      Finding out what will happen to Everything is a waste? Can't be as much of a waste as MY life. Oh if only I were "wasting" my life like that!

  5. Christopher Lane
    Alien

    Knowing my bloody luck...

    ...If I were trying to find the One True Name it'd would be the 8,999,999,999th one I tried. The only saving grace is in British English we don't use the old money any more else it would have been the 8,999,999,999,999th attempt.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: Knowing my bloody luck...

      Available from the BBC on 4extra. Great short story.

      But I don't think the monks were assuming one true name, more all the names of God

      1. Benchops

        Re: Knowing my bloody luck...

        SPOILER (as if it hasn't been out for a while, or given away in the article)! From what I remember of the story, the monks had narrowed down the possibilities of the one true name to 9 billion (using a phonetic alphabet of their own devising) and had the software engineer write them something to go through all the possibilities one by one. Using a computer was much faster than their manual method and by the time he was leaving the monastery, it had found the right one and the stars had started to go out...

        Very reminiscent of the "controversial" proof of the four-colour theorem in the ... 1970s?

  6. HCV

    For shame: Asimov's expository style was definitely more Shatner to Clarke's Stewart. The good doctor would have written something like:

    "My God!" Quarv Seldnar exclaimed. "The stars! They're all... going *out*!"

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      That might be a bit exaggerated, but it is instructive to compare, say, the style of Asimov's "Nightfall" with that of Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God", since they have generic1 similarities. "Nightfall" is unquestionably more hyperbolic.

      Personally, I tend to enjoy Asimov's work more than Clarke's - particularly their novels. But there's no doubt Clarke has the lighter touch.

      1That is, of the same genre. They're both SF short stories of similar length, with third-party narration, Aristotelian unity, etc; and they have certain similarity of theme.

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I could just about download the data set by then

    thank my ISP for preventing me saving the universe!

  8. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Terminator

    "All through my life...

    ...I've had this strange unaccountable feeling that something was going on in the world, something big, even sinister, and no one would tell me what it was."

    "No," said the old man, "that's just perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the Universe has that.”

    - DNA

  9. Mutton Jeff

    Then it'll be time to download the upgrade, sim universe 2.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Aren't we just some kid's science fair project?

  10. Nigel 11

    All assuming ...

    This is all assuming that the dark matter and "dark energy", about which we know little and less, aren't "up to something". And anyway, the Earth is doomed far sooner, either when we loose all our water, or when the sun gets hotter and we fall out of its goldilocks zone.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: All assuming ...

      Thanks, I feel much better now.

  11. moiety

    We can just turn it off and on again.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      That might be what's happening - it's just that the shutdown process is a very long one.

      1. Little Mouse

        I've found that if I leave my oven switched off it cools down, but if I switch it back on it gets hot again.

        Is my meddling postponing the heat-death of the universe, or speeding it up?

        Perhaps I'd best just leave well alone.

        1. moiety

          On a related note, it's all down to entropy, right? So if we all collectively have a tidy up, can we pospone the inevitable end of everything for a couple of billion years?

          1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
            Joke

            @Moiety

            It'll probably take until the end of the Universe to tidy up the mess I've made....*

            * - I know the Earth will be destroyed by Sol long before then. Don't let the facts get in the way of a (poor) joke.

  12. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Which is it?

    I would actually prefer that slow heat death to the "Big Rip" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Rip)

  13. DiViDeD Silver badge

    Hmmm..... Just time for another bath

    See title.

  14. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Waiting for background apps to close...

    We apologize for the inconvenience.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vaguely worrying

    The thing that struck me was that figure about a total energy half life of about 2 billion years. That means there was more than 4 times as much energy in the universe when the earth was born.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vaguely worrying

      I thought energy couldn't be created or destroyed? (apart from being converted to/from matter, obv.)

  16. DropBear Silver badge

    ???

    I'm still pretty confused about who was around two billion years ago to take a baseline measurement for the comparison...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ???

      You compare galaxies at different distances - age is proportional to distance. For example, the Andromeda galaxy is about 2.5 million light years away (at that distance you don't really have to worry about the expansion of the universe to complicate matters) so we're seeing it as it was about 2.5 million years ago, giving us a measurement for that time. Other galaxies, at different distances, give you measurements for different times (but the further away you look, the more that expansion comes in to play). Two billion years isn't really very far anyway.

  17. Ironclad

    Solar engineering

    Just hypothetically if we possessed the technology to create fusion reactions to form new stars could we postpone the heat death of the universe?

    Or would the energy we need to create these reactions just drain it faster?

    Slightly shorter term, could the same technology create a new sun in our solar system? What size object would be needed to create a similar sized sun a similar distance from Earth? E.g. if we sacrifice Pluto as 'kindling' for our new sun would it be bigger than Sol is now?

    Yeah, slow day at work.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Solar engineering

      Just hypothetically if we possessed the technology to create fusion reactions to form new stars could we postpone the heat death of the universe?

      No. To perform "work" you need an energy differential. Heat death is when the energy is the same across the entire Universe. You couldn't avoid heat death by building a reactor as you wouldn't be able to get the energy to build the reactor.

      Slightly shorter term, could the same technology create a new sun in our solar system? What size object would be needed to create a similar sized sun a similar distance from Earth? E.g. if we sacrifice Pluto as 'kindling' for our new sun would it be bigger than Sol is now?

      According to hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/KellyMaurelus.shtml, you need something about 80 times bigger than Jupiter to form a star. And that's assuming the proto-star has the right composition for nuclear fusion. Main sequence stars, such as Sol, "burn" Hydrogen to form Helium, etc. Pluto is a rocky planet, so not much Hydrogen to burn.

      1. Ironclad

        Re: Solar engineering

        Thanks A Non e-mouse.

        So not even lighting up Jupiter would do the trick. Hmm, back to the imaginary drawing board.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Solar engineering

          So not even lighting up Jupiter would do the trick.

          Ordinary scientists content themselves with vandalising comets, or smashing small ummanned probes into unsuspecting planets. But you were contemplating setting fire to en entire planet, just to put off time being called.

          Do you have a long haired white cat? And are you recruiting henchmen? I'm a good henchman, so long as the JD doesn't include "being eaten by piranhas for trivial mistakes"

        2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
          Alien

          @Ironclad

          So not even lighting up Jupiter would do the trick

          Not unless you have a black monolith lying around....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solar engineering

      Re Sacrificing Pluto: the mass of Sol is a smidge under 2x10^38 kg and the mass of Pluto is about 1.3x10^22 kg so in terms of mass Sol equals about 1.5x10^16 Plutos. Adding one more isn't going to make any difference.

      Fwiw, Sol accounts for about 99.8% of the entire Solar System by mass.

  18. TRT Silver badge

    Has anyone scanned for z-neutrino emissions?

    Ah. Must be the alignment.

    What's wrong?

    Well, I don't know ! I mean it can't be the lens. I was looking at Orion, the constellation of Orion. Take a look and tell me, what can you see?

    Where?

    Well up there, of course! In the sky!

    I can't see anything. It's just... black.

    I mean it's working! The telescope is working.

    Well, maybe it's clouds.

    There's no clouds.

    Well there must be.

    There's not! It was there. An entire constellation. Look. Look there! They're going out. Oh my God, Donna. The stars are going out.

  19. John H Woods Silver badge

    oh well ...

    sudo shutdown -h 3000000000000000000000

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. ma1010 Silver badge
    WTF?

    ASIMOV?

    What's all this about Asimov? The story referenced is "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke.

    http://downlode.org/Etext/nine_billion_names_of_god.html

  21. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "sliding gently into old age."

    Kids today, thinking anyone over 30 is old. Given the current age of the universe and the timeline proposed it's not really got past the mewling and puking stage.

  22. Trin Tragula

    It's George Bush's fault.

  23. mIRCat
    Terminator

    You think you've got problems?

    Only another fifty or hundred trillion years left? Honestly, what's the point? I think I'll stay in bed today.

    "The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million: they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline."

  24. jphb

    And why did I feel a sudden wish to type "inifinite improbability drive" into E-Bay?

  25. Peter Stone

    Another story that is appropriate for this article & is well worth a read, is 'The Voices of Time' by J.G. Ballard

  26. Esme

    Is that proper trillions

    ie; ten to the eighteen, or those piddly-little American ten to the twelve 'trillions'? After all I don't want to be late for the party, and if it's the Merkin version, I'll hardly have time to repaint my nails before I have to order my taxi!

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