Tuesday, August 11, 2015

So long universe, we hardly knew ye...

We're doomed! Dooooomed! Scienceticians at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu, Hawaii have just announced that the universe is slowly fading into nothingness and-huh? Yeah, Honolulu. I guess if you're going to get together and predict the end of all that is you might as well do it over Mai Tais.
"To the impending heat-death of the universe!"
"The good news is there's still time for you
to lose your virginity Stephen, if you hurry."
Astronomers presented the findings of their Galaxy and Mass Assembly survey, or GAMA if you're short on time (and apparently we are now), which analyzed the light from 200,000 galaxies. Then, through what I can only assume is incredibly complicated math, probably written as incomprehensible squiggles on a chalk board, they determined that the energy output of the galaxies is half of what it was 2 billion years ago. The news is confirmation of what they've long expected, that the universe is past its prime. What started as a Big Bang is going out as a Big Whimper.

Above: An artist's rendering of
the universe (source: science).
"The universe is fated to decline from here on in, like an old age that lasts for ever...[it] has basically plonked itself down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze."
-Simon Driver, GAMA team leader and

So what are we going to do about it? Well, nothing. The universe is going to start watching NCIS and complaining about how the kids wear their dungarees too low. That's all there is too it.

"What do you mean, if?"
But if it makes you feel any better, we've only got about 5.4 billion years before our own sun expands into a red giant and consumes us all, that is assuming we survive the next couple hundred years. I don't mean to be all gloom and portents here, but we're kind of careening towards a Mad Maxian dystopia of oil crises and water wars, that is if the robots don't get us first. You know what? Screw these guys. They're just sitting on a beach somewhere in Hawaii getting drunk and mathing up the end of all things. Shouldn't they be trying to do something about it?

Oh don't give me that look,
you're basically a space wizard.
Yeah, ok, I'll admit, reversing entropy is probably a lot to ask of a bunch of half-drunk physicists in floral shirts. Hell, it'd be asking a lot of Doctor Who, and that guy's full of scientifically implausible bullshit. Maybe we should just accept our fate and move on. I mean, according to Driver's fellow researcher Aaron Robotham, we've still got hundreds of trillions of years before the other galaxies slide out of view and the super-massive black hole at the center of our own swallows the Milky Way and then evaporates.

So really what we should be asking these mai tai-swilling ultra-nerds to do is to put down the coconuts and get cracking on a warp drive. To carry the old man couch metaphor a bit further, it's time that we, as the old man's grandchildren, piled in the station wagon and went for a visit. You know, before the end...
"These are the voyages of a 1984 Chevy Caprice wagon, it's five-hour mission:
to seek out Grandpa, and sit there while he complains about the Democrats
and then dozes in front of NCIS. To boldly complain most of the way there."

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