Life of universe shortened by observing dark energy?

Discuss

49 Responses to “Life of universe shortened by observing dark energy?”

  1. WassabiCracka says:

    So there really is a ‘dark side?’

  2. Mattz says:

    I thought it was a given that the universe would eventually contract back to a tightly packed state as the stars wink out one by one and matter is reduced to it’s component parts so that the massive force required will build up for the next Big Bang? Is it really worth caring when even if we observe dark matter in such a way, when we have absolutely no chance of observing enough to kill the universe in any of the next several epochs? Please rest assured that humanity will be long dead before the Sun even comes close to running out of juice.
    On another note, has the standard of writing in the Telegraph really fallen so far? Making light of Schrodinger’s Cat is one step away from a page 3 LOLcat.

  3. aguales says:

    Many years ago, Bruce Willis with deep concentration, observed something in the mirror and asked himself, “Am I balding?”

    Incredible as it seemed, his initial detection of hair loss may have provided evidence that his head would ultimately be bald.

  4. icehorse says:

    Do what?

  5. Brian Carnell says:

    “I think it’s funny witnessing the sometimes heated reactions to these kinds of stories. It would be enough to say, “Hey, New Scientist isn’t a peer reviewed journal,” but no.”

    If the proper response to every science-related post is “that’s not from a peer reviewed journal” there won’t be much science discussion among non-scientists.

  6. Studiokes says:

    As long as the universe doesn’t end before I finish building the anti-terrorist steampunk hot air balloon for Cory and Bruce, I couldn’t care less.

  7. monopole says:

    Thats just like the universe, kill you for looking at it funny.

  8. Gilbert Wham says:

    @ MATTZ: Awww, c’mon. How awesome would it be if every page 3 girl was replaced with a LOLcat?

  9. Gilbert Wham says:

    ^^^ Come to think of it, why has no-one propagared a LOLporn meme yet?

    /Goes off to Impact font some grumble pics.

  10. fltndboat says:

    Plank time will put a knot in your string. It is all floating on a giggle.

  11. Brian Carnell says:

    @32 wrote

    I thought it was a given that the universe would eventually contract back to a tightly packed state as the stars wink out one by one and matter is reduced to it’s component parts so that the massive force required will build up for the next Big Bang?

    No, that is not a given at all. There are just too many unknowns still for any definitive answer on the ultimate fate of the universe.

    For example, dark energy would repel matter and if there is enough of it would make it likely that the universe will simply expand forever. On the other hand, other scientists argue that dark matter, etc. could exert enough gravitational pull to eventually force the universe to collapse (though the notion that it has to collapse to another singularity is no given either).

  12. josephpalazzo says:

    People, you should give credit to George Lucas for popularizing the DARK FORCE…

  13. stovis says:

    Frank Booth: “Now it’s dark. Now it’s dark.”

  14. Clayton Counts says:

    I think it’s funny witnessing the sometimes heated reactions to these kinds of stories. It would be enough to say, “Hey, New Scientist isn’t a peer reviewed journal,” but no.

    BoingBoing has a history of linking to articles which (though arguably pseudoscientific at times) resonate with a certain type of reader. That is, the sort of individual who enjoys reading about James Randi and Pastafarianism.

    Seriously, take it easy, guys. This means you, #16. No need to start bashing Schrodinger.

  15. Xenu says:

    What you don’t know can’t hurt you.

  16. Swift Loris says:

    “To know” in the relevant sense requires an invocation of non-contradiction and causality at some point, both of which are local.

    But mystics insist that their mode of knowing is nonlocal.

    (Not arguing; I’m neither a mystic nor a physicist. Just wanted to toss that in the pot.)

  17. jphilby says:

    These guys need a vacation.

    I remember hearing the supposedly true story of a famous physicist who starting wearing a very large shoe size: according to his calculations there was a slight probability that he could just sink into the ground.

    Sirs: what must I do to shorten the life of the Bush administration?

  18. Matthew Miller says:

    Holy crap that’s some bad science reporting. A quote from the article:

    “I did not mean to imply causality – namely that our measurement itself reduces the lifetime of the universe [...]” — Professor Lawrence Krauss

    Followed immediately by:

    This is not the only damage to the heavens that astronomers may have caused.

    Sheesh.

  19. Jason McIntosh says:

    This story pinged the baloney meter of physicist Matt McIrvin earlier this week.

  20. cinemajay says:

    My brain asplode!

  21. ill lich says:

    Wait! you mean we’re not gonna live forever? WTF!??

    This is like a Looney Tunes cartoon character walking out over a cliff and not falling until he looks down and realizes he’s over empty space– those damn egghead scientists just HAD to look at the dark matter, didn’t they, now we’re all gonna die!!

  22. atouk says:

    I guess we’re going to have to sit through a new film from Al Gore, and invest in his “Dark Matter offsets.”

  23. Shrdlu says:

    I thought the Copenhagen principle was discounted. Does this mean Schrodinger’s cat could be half dead and half alive?

  24. Brian Carnell says:

    The Telegraph article clearly misunderstands the Science article. The Telegraph article isn’t even internally consistent. If you read it carefully, what they are really saying is that the fact that we can detect certain things may, in itself, say something about the state of the universe,

    And Prof Krauss stresses that resetting the cosmic clock was not something we have done to the universe but rather what our cosmologically observations may imply about our knowledge of the cosmic clock: “I did not mean to imply causality – namely that our measurement itself reduces the lifetime of the universe – but rather that by being able to make our measurement we may thus conclude that we may not be in the late decay stage.”

  25. jrtom says:

    Looks like someone’s been reading Greg Egan’s Quarantine again…

  26. Cpt. Tim says:

    yeah. the summary made it look like it in some way implied causality. A bullet moving toward your head will kill you if you look at it and kill you just as well if you don’t

  27. mkultra says:

    Even after discussing this with some friends (all much cleverer than I) last week, I can’t help but think that this kerfluffle is the result of a profound misunderstanding of the nature of the universe, combined with the (all too human) desire for free press.

    Even were the conjecture correct, I imagine that given the age and scope of the universe, countless other intelligent species would have set this alleged time bomb ticking while our planet was still in short pants, so to speak. (the Fermi paradox non-withstanding)

    …on the other hand, perhaps this is the cause of the Fermi paradox? (tongue firmly in cheek)

    To quote the immortal Douglas Adams:
    “There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

  28. Shrdlu says:

    A bullet is not a subatomic particle. Newtonian physics applies to this case.

    Any PhD in theoretical physics out there? Don’t pretend you have better things to do.

  29. Cpt. Tim says:

    “A bullet is not a subatomic particle.”

    that may be the case. but if the presence of this energy means the lifespan of the universe is shorter than we previously thought, us grocking it or ignoring it doesn’t change the outcome.

    unless us knowing about it allows bruce willis to save us that is.

  30. Tom says:

    Shrdlu: to quote Max Born, “Quantum mechanics is magic.”

    That is, no matter how much interpretive baggage you load it with, there is a central mystery that does not go away. The mystery is the meaning of “to be” in the quantum realm. Quantum ontology does not conform to our expectations of what it means for a thing “to be” something, so questions about whether a quantum cat “is” alive or not are not meaningful in the ways we would ordinarily mean them.

    Regardless of any of this, the folks above who have noted that nothing about the fact of our observation of the universe can cause it to be (classically speaking) in one state or another are correct.

    I’d try (and certainly fail) to explain further, but I actually do have better things to do! Besides, I’m an experimentalist…

  31. mellowknees says:

    “but if the presence of this energy means the lifespan of the universe is shorter than we previously thought, us grocking it or ignoring it doesn’t change the outcome.

    unless us knowing about it allows bruce willis to save us that is.”

    Ooooh – I hope it comes down to that. If any meat popsicle has to save us, I hope it’s Bruce Willis. I know there’s a writer’s strike going on, so perhaps we should all pitch in and start coming up with some clever one-liners for him now.

    “Take that, dark matter!” How’s that?

  32. Mike says:

    Where is the reaction video of someone’s grandmother looking at dark matter?

  33. Earth Man says:

    Am I the only one here that feels that someone forgot to carry the 2 in the development of quantum theory? the more I hear of strings, membranes, extra dimensions or cats that won’t die, the more I get the creeping suspicion that someone dropped the ball somewhere and has had to come up with ever more ludicrous nonsense to support the research field.

  34. Shrdlu says:

    Thanks, Tom. So the article really is just sensationalism, like a few years back when they said a negative vacuum being created at some physics lab was going to potentially destroy the universe.

    I really thought I was missing out on something after reading the article, like Paul Davies had been pulling my leg.

  35. Cpt. Tim says:

    Come on Mellowknees. Put more into it.

    “Lights out!”

    is far more willis.

  36. Cpt. Tim says:

    Or, just as the dark matter is about to win, he presses the button the scientists have given him to deliver (it broke on the trip so he’s hotwired it.)

    he stares at the approaching wave of dark and says. “Let… there…be…….. LIGHT!”

    punches the button. dies while saving us all, and liv tyler cries, and we by extension cry, because tears should never roll down a cheek that lovely.

  37. Brian Carnell says:

    @15… Two Astronomers, One Cup of Dark Matter?

  38. absimiliard says:

    Tom,

    The tao that can be spoken is not the tao.

    Quantum == Zen. (and zen is the bastard love-child of Taoism and Buddhism)

    Mu.

    -abs

  39. Benjamin says:

    Bruce Willis, 1 Gramma, and 1 Cup of Dark Energy

  40. frankiefourfingers says:

    This theory reminds me of the Electron Interference Experiment or Double Slit Experiment. Which in theory proves that by merely observing electrons projected through walls with slits in them that they change their path. Without observation on a small enough scale the electrons will go through all slits as observed at the destination wall. Observation at the point of entry will cause it too pick a slit to travel through.

  41. RedShirt77 says:

    If the End Times get predicted by guys from Cleveland and Nashville I will eat my hat.

  42. Hal says:

    /concentrates hard on the Bush presidency.

  43. washizu says:

    This is a classic misunderstanding of quantum mechanics. The “spooky action” examples like Schrodinger’s Cat are to illustrate the absurdity of how quantum particles act and then shows how to translate that absurdity to our universe. The case of how much it does is definitely unknown and it’s certainly too early to say it affects the entire universe!

  44. somevelvet says:

    This is ridiculous. Talk about blaming the victim.

  45. Tom says:

    Absimiliard,

    You’re right about the Tao, but despite the similarities quantum is neither Taoism and Buddhism nor Zen.

    They all go wrong in two places: the assumption of false associations between the mental/moral and the metaphysical, and the assumption that even if unspoken the quantum realm can be meaningfully understood by human beings at all.

    That is, Taoists et al make the mistake of all failed mystics: they believe they are capable of penetrating or meaningfully elucidating the mystery. The truth is that what lies beyond the quantum veil is absolutely and forever beyond human comprehension. This follows necessarily from the non-locality of quantum “existence” and the locality of human knowing. “To know” in the relevant sense requires an invocation of non-contradiction and causality at some point, both of which are local.

    Successful poets and failed mystics spend a lot of time trying to obfuscate this truth, and replace “knowing” with “feeling”, but the truth remains, nevertheless.

    –Tom

  46. Dave X says:

    I propose: “Yippie-ki-yay, Matterf****r.”

  47. ncm says:

    The universe can stand having its dark corners looked into. Astronomy, not so much. Preoccupation with “dark matter” and “dark energy” weaken the legacies of astronomers who publish on it. When it is all finally demonstrated to be a load of hooey, there will be red faces all over.

    We’ll need a new generation of astrophysicists who actually know more than a little (“a little” being MHD) about plasma fluid dynamics before that demonstration can happen; maybe two. In the meantime, it’s a lot of wasted careers. The universe can wait for us to understand it better. The harm being done is to students who are being denied the tools needed to understand what they see.

  48. mujadaddy says:

    Tom– Taoists et al make the mistake of all failed mystics: they believe they are capable of penetrating or meaningfully elucidating the mystery.

    You mean ‘Bad Taoists.’

  49. ill lich says:

    I knew a guy in college who was weirdly religious, and flipped out after taking too many mushrooms. At one point he was grabbing people and bringing them down to the basement to “LOOK! Look at the DARK!!!” (some joker had removed all the lightbulbs from the basement).

    Now I understand, it was DARK MATTER all along, Joe was RIGHT!!

    “LOOK, LOOK AT THE DARK!!!”

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