It begins with a reference to Arthur C. Clarke's wonderful story, "The Nine Billion Names of God."
This is the story of an Asian monastery where the monks believe that when the nine billion names of the Supreme Being (see above) have been written, the world will come to an end. After centuries of laboring to write every possible permutation of a specialized alphabet, they resort to a computer to generate the names. The technicians who install, program and oversee the computer realize that the end of the possible list of names is approaching, and they flee the monastery to avoid the panic that they anticipate will occur among the monks when the world does not end and they realize the futility of the task to which they and previous generations have sacrificed their lives.
As the technicians are escaping, they calculate the moment when the last name will print out. As they look back to see what happens to the monastery, they notice that, one by one, the stars overhead are winking out.
According to CNN,
The conclusion of a new astronomical study pulls no punches on this. "The Universe is slowly dying," it reads.
Astronomers have believed as much for years, but the new findings establish the cosmos' decline with unprecedented precision.
An international team of some 100 scientists used data from the world's most powerful telescopes -- based on land and in space -- to study energy coming from more than 200,000 galaxies in a large sliver of the observable universe.Based on those observations, they have confirmed the cosmos is radiating only half as much energy as it was 2 billion years ago. The astronomers published their study on Monday on the website of the European Southern Observatory.
The team checked the energy across a broad spectrum of lightwaves and other electromagnetic radiation and says it is fading through all wavelengths, from ultraviolet to far infrared.
At the ripe old age of nearly 13.8 billion years, the universe has arrived in its sunset years.
"The universe has basically sat down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze," said astronomer Simon Driver, who led the team.
Death does not mean the universe will go away. It will still be there, but its stars and all else that produces light and stellar fire will fizzle out.
"It will just grow old forever, slowly converting less and less mass into energy as billions of years pass by until eventually, it will become a cold, dark and desolate place, where all of the lights go out," said astronomer Luke Davies.
But don't cry for the universe anytime soon. Astrophysicists say this will take trillions of years.
Future generations trillions of years from today might thank us.Just a thought.