A scientific paper announcing that the universe is slowly dying is making waves on the Internet. But don’t worry, intelligent life will be able to do something about that.
“An international team of astronomers studying more than 200 000 galaxies has measured the energy generated within a large portion of space more precisely than ever before,” the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced in a press release. “This represents the most comprehensive assessment of the energy output of the nearby Universe. They confirm that the energy produced in a section of the Universe today is only about half what it was two billion years ago and find that this fading is occurring across all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the far infrared.”
“The Universe is slowly dying.”
The research is part of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, the largest multi-wavelength survey ever put together. “The Universe will decline from here on in, sliding gently into old age. The Universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze,” concludes GAMA team leader Simon Driver.
The picture is gloomy. “After a short, productive explosion of early activity, the universe has begun its long mope towards oblivion,” notes Wired. “To the extent that anything was ever important, it won’t be.”
“Time, space, energy, matter – all gone.”
The Wired article asks the right question:
“What is to be done?”
Unfortunately the Wired article doesn’t answer the question. Let me answer it then.
The universe has produced something wonderful – intelligent life. Perhaps the universe is meant to produce intelligent life: matter, energy, space-time and the laws of physics are but a cosmic factory to generate intelligent life. You and I are intelligent life. Intelligent life is out there among the stars, probably including incredibly advanced forms of post-biological life with powers much beyond our imagination, indistinguishable from Gods. To keep things simple, let’s just call them Gods.
Our descendants – my grand-…-grandchildren, and yours, will go to the stars, evolve beyond imagination, and join the community of Gods. Or perhaps there is no community of Gods yet, in which case we will be the first intelligent life form to build Gods, and become Gods. Eventually, the Godlike children of organic intelligent life, including our grand-…-grandchildren, will re-engineer space-time and the fabric of reality and steer them toward a desired outcome. In the words of Ray Kurzweil, in “The Age of Spiritual Machines“:
“So will the Universe end in a big crunch, or in an infinite expansion of dead stars, or in some other manner? In my view, the primary issue is not the mass of the Universe, or the possible existence of antigravity, or of Einstein’s so-called cosmological constant. Rather, the fate of the Universe is a decision yet to be made, one which we will intelligently consider when the time is right.”
According to Frank Tipler, “”Intelligent life [will manipulate] the entire universe, forcing it into a series of patterns that allow this intelligent life to continue to exist.” Eventually, the Gods will be able to bring the dead back to life, including you and I.