Entropy: it's a bugger, innit? One day, the universe and everything in it will run down and die, making all human endeavour utterly worthless.
And now Australian scientists have discovered that we've got even less time than we thought. Thanks a bunch, guys.
Researchers at the Australian Nnational University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics have computed the entropy of the universe. Using new data on the number and size of black holes, they've found that the universe contains way more entropy than earlier estimates.
“We considered all contributions to the entropy of the observable universe: stars, star light, the cosmic microwave background. We even made an estimate of the entropy of dark matter, said PhD student Chas Egan.
"But it’s the entropy of super-massive black holes that dominates the entropy of the universe. When we used the new data on the number and size of super-massive black holes, we found that the entropy of the observable universe is about 30 times larger than previous calculations."
Dr Charley Lineweaver said that the next step in the research is to figure out how close we are to maximum entropy, how much entropy is being produced and how much time we have left before the universe and all life in it dies in the inevitable heat death.
Their paper is available here. Good bedtime reading.