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The universe is in a long, slow decline to darkness

Sorry folks but it's true, read the article! Here's a much edited-down version:

The universe is cooling down, its stars pumping out about half as much energy as they did 2 billion years ago. From the birth of the first stars, nuclear fusion in their cores has been converting matter into energy—the energy that makes stars shine. But stars don’t shine forever; eventually they run out of fuel and die. Astronomers don’t know when the universe’s energy output peaked, but, according to the GAMA project, we’re well past that point now. Energy output from nearby space is dropping across all of 21 different wavelengths, from ultraviolet to far infrared. The GAMA team says the universe is well advanced on a long, slow decline toward a cold, dark future.

In other words, the stars are going out!

My question

Using either your imagination and soft-science or actual hard-science, can you suggest ways that the human race and/or other sentient life-forms could stop this eventual decline.

Specifically I'm trying to come up with a consensus of the sort of thing we could do to prevent it. No magic but even wild suggestions will be of interest if they make sense.

Narrowing it down

So that it's not just a free-for-all, here's what I'm looking for:

In the far distant future, the human race still exists in some form. I don't know whether we've evolved. I don't know what amazing science we can do. Also there may be other life-forms involved in the endeavour with us or independently.

Here's the crux:

Is it possible in principle that we can stop the extinguishing of the stars and the decline of the universe? Or is it completely impossible? Is there some way we can escape our fate?

Bear in mind that the universe may be infinite and that we can probably only affect a portion of it.

Also bear in mind that other alien races may be trying to do the same thing even if we cannot communicate with them.

Finally throughout history, well-known and knowledgeable people have repeatedly said that something is impossible only to be proved wrong - often in their own lifetime.

SOS! Help us to survive!

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    $\begingroup$ "The human race" will probably be so unrecognisable that the predictions don't really make sense anyway. We've only been around a few tens of thousand years and look where we've gotten; and now you're asking us to envision the human race as it'll be in billions of years. $\endgroup$ – Erik Aug 13 '15 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ Does inducing a Big Crunch back into a singularity count? $\endgroup$ – Schwern Aug 13 '15 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. See the chat room for recommendations and discussion of related SF works. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 14 '15 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ There's a nice related video on YouTube here: youtube.com/watch?v=4_aOIA-vyBo $\endgroup$ – Jason C Feb 17 '16 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ Multivac, how can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased? $\endgroup$ – Scott Downey Mar 25 '16 at 9:12

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It's impossible to stop it.

There is nothing known in science that we can use to stop the heat death of the universe. There are no workarounds to avoiding the second law of thermodynamics.

Many people have said it's impossible to violate the second law of thermodynamics (no free energy and no perpetual motion machines) and none of them were proved wrong in their lifetime.


Note:

The question states that I can use "actual hard-science" to answer the question "Is it possible in principle that we can stop the decline of the universe?". The answer, from actual hard science, is no. Other answers can fantasize with some magic or other non-science, and that's perfectly fine, but this answer is based on what we currently know. Willy-Wonka was not a scientist, science is not "whatever you can imagine with sparkles", science is about finding out what the evidence we have tells us about the universe. What all the evidence tells us is that we can not get free energy and that we can not avoid the second law of thermodynamics.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 14 '15 at 20:50
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I think the second law of thermodynamics places too much emphasis on our universe existing as an isolated system.

We've constantly pushed boundaries to find that there is another layer to unravel; The word for "atom" is derived from the Greek "atomos" meaning indivisible; but then we found protons, neutrons, and electrons (and eventually quarks). In the same sense we continue to gain a better understanding of the vastness of the universe. We started off thinking we were a unique planet, then we turned out to be just one of many planets around our Sun. Then it turned out the sun wasn't unique either, Then planetary systems, galaxies, galaxy clusters... Why not universes?

A popular option may be to find a new younger universe with similar conditions to our own and just move on in. But if finding one where all the same physical laws are "close enough" then maybe we could instead drain the energy from that universe to ours.

Once we get rid of that "isolated" bit the second law isn't as big of a deal.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice get-out clause - I like it! And a great idea to just up and move sticks. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 12 '15 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ The second law doesn't even say what some people interpret it to. The term "universe" seems to confuse many, but it really is just the sum of the surroundings and the system. No magical implications of how the universe must work. In fact, were it to say that, the second law would likely not be considered even a sound hypothesis. $\endgroup$ – user5083 Aug 14 '15 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ This "we've been wrong before, so probably will be again" argument has been wrong before, so it's probably going to be wrong again. Fantasizing is not the same thing as theorizing. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Aug 14 '15 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Samuel This is less an observation of "we've been wrong" and more an observation that we continue to find another layer beneath the one we were just focused on, and it's true on both a macro and micro scale $\endgroup$ – Culyx Aug 17 '15 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ I did not know the multiverse theory was a fantasy... Unless you have definitive evidence that our universe is all there is then it's a valid theory. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Recard Jul 9 '16 at 2:26
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Parallel universes!

(Disclaimer: My answer was inspired by Isaac Asimov's works. I myself have only a basic understanding of thermodynamics, so please excuse any mistakes, misconceptions or inaccuracies)

Why not find a parallel universe where the laws of thermodynamics are different, or maybe the opposite, of our own, and then just "simply" exchange entropy with it using (for example) matter as a medium?

By "moving" the entropy over to where it can be reduced, you ensure that this solution lasts for all eternity, instead of requiring a new universe every x googolplex of years.

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    $\begingroup$ Argh you beat my answer by 3 minutes! Curse my verbosity! $\endgroup$ – Culyx Aug 12 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @user1792299 - Not unless new universes are being created all the time. As Culyx has suggested, maybe we move to a younger universe. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 12 '15 at 19:57
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    $\begingroup$ Speaking of Asimov and entropy, I'll make the obligatory mention of his short story "The Last Question", which is basically a bunch of people asking this very question over the lifetime of the universe. A web search on "the last question" returns a (likely illegal) link to the full text as the first entry. $\endgroup$ – Doug Warren Aug 12 '15 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ "The Last Question" and "The gods themselves" were my primary inspiration for this question. $\endgroup$ – AvidScifiReader Aug 12 '15 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Michael - I want one. Are they available on Amazon? Update: They aren't but you can buy books about them - I just checked. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 9:23
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True, but irrelevant because...

Actually, before I start with the answer proper, the thing to understand is that consciousness as we are currently using the term is a naturally evolved process, i.e. generated haphazardly, on top of a Rube-Goldbergian chemical stratum ("life") where it is an ancillary process mostly concerned with boosting the evolutionary fitness of a set of DNA replicants.

To rephrase this in English, the barely functional kludge that is our brain evolved to help propel human genes into the next generation. The fact that there is a self-aware stratum in there harboring illusions of control over the body is a mere accident brought about by the moderate improvement in evolutionary fitness and bounded in complexity by metabolic cost of running all those neurons.

More to the point, if a super-human Artificial Intelligence would go about designing consciousness, they would never create something as inefficient as humans.

So yes, from the perspective of human, flesh-based consciousness, at some point in the impossibly distant future (trillions or quadrillions of years down the line) the universe will literally become unable to sustain human life.

But that doesn't much matter, see, because...

The 23rd century will never arrive

And no, by that I don't mean that we'll wipe ourselves out with nukes or some silly thing like that. No, I mean that by the end of this century most sentient processes will have been digitized, i.e. moved to a virtual world, running millions of times more efficiently than before, and subject to further exponential refinements in computing power. The more computing power (aka thinking) the more we can understand and make use of the subtleties of natural law, and the better we can make our processes, the faster we can run them and the more efficiently we can host them.

Subjective time will accelerate for those uploaded. A minute might pass for them in a second of primary-world-time, then with refinements, a whole year, then a millenia, then perhaps whole eons can be lived in the space of a second.

The 23rd century will never arrive. We'll probably run out of the universe before we run out of universe.

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    $\begingroup$ Don't judge us, for we are immortal... this one always gets me:smbc-comics.com/comics/20131122.png $\endgroup$ – Lope Aug 13 '15 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, except in my scenario, a wave of nanites, tearing stars apart and turning galaxies into computronium, would likely spread out spherically at fractional c from Earth. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Aug 13 '15 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ There is a limit to computronium under current physics (the least amount of energy to do a bit of calculation). We can reach that limit at an exponential rate (during which your thesis holds), but the exponential growth will consume the head room at a shockingly fast rate. Once reached, the only form of expansion is more mass-energy, which means leaving our star. Such expansion is limited by quadratic growth (and will be much slower) of the speed of light. This does not stop heat death: it only pospones it (relative to experience). $\endgroup$ – Yakk Aug 13 '15 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ I think the key word there is 'under current physics'. Who knows what wondrous things enhanced humans can dream up in billions of subjective years? $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Aug 13 '15 at 13:48
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Scale up. Get smarter.

In a matter-free universe, the universe loses track of scale.

There is nothing to measure time, except frequency of photons, and nothing to measure the frequency of photons except other photons.

The same physics works if we pretend our clock is really slow, or really fast. In effect, we end up with a free parameter on our physics models -- the scale of the model is no longer bound.

If you move the scale parameter of the model one way, you get a cold empty universe. If you move it the other way, the same model describes a hot, dense universe. With nothing but photons around, there isn't anything to provide an absolute scale.

Which means that an empty universe with cold photons flying around is indistinguishable (under certain models) from a really dense hot universe dominated by high energy photons, just at a very different time and space scale.

A dense hot universe is a big bang.

Scale ourselves up so that we are so big, we can encode ourselves onto this "larger scale" big bang. Get really smart, so that this encoding is sufficient to cause our consciousness to form in this bigger bang resulting universe. As an example, engineer the physical constants of the bigger bang universe so that they are going to produce intelligent life that will spread throughout it and will examine the background radiation of the big bang. In that background radiation, encode yourself (or your "civilization"), and get them to build a machine containing yourself in that new universe (as a matter of curiosity).

And now you have just passed from one cold, dead universe into a new, ridiculously larger scale universe.

Repeat.

Now, this doesn't solve every problem. Your state space becomes limited by your horizon (as too many states in too small a space means a black hole -- entropy (aka information) is limited by surface area). So you need some way to become infinitely "large" so you can actually remember your infinite life, and such large beings have to think infinitely slowly. In addition, the above procedure requires you do do it "right" each time; doing it wrong results in your self being destroyed forever. A method to create more than 1 such child universe may be required, so that the number of copies of your consciousness-history diverge instead of converge. I'm not sure how you'd do it, given this model.

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    $\begingroup$ You might point out the Roger Penrose lecture that covers this, with his delightful hand-drawn artistic slides. Several performances can be found on YouTube. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 15 '15 at 6:35
  • $\begingroup$ @jdlugosz This one? $\endgroup$ – Yakk Aug 15 '15 at 11:08
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gravity

How can the universe be expanding, with dark energy constantly increasing with the volume? It's balanced by the increase in potential energy of the gravitational field. It is said that "it has no fear of debt".

With the equivalent of an infinitly deep hole, you can have a sink for energy use, forever.

Gravity is one example that admits having no lower bound. Tacyonic fields are another. I don't mean particles travelling faster than light: a disturbance will still be limited to light speed. In a Stanford class lecture Leonard Suskind shows the negative m-squared as being like an inverted pendulum, and points out that if it falls over there is no indication of how low it can drop or if there even is a limit.

So, having some infinite sink is not without precedent in the real universe.

so what?

To clarify for those who commented: Useful Energy is a potential, not an absolute level. With infinite potential you have unlimited energy.

Having an infinite sink means the heat death will not occur, as you will never reach equilibrium. You can use this as an out to construct a perpetual motion machine using that physical principle.

But here is an analogy using an actual bottomless pit.

Live on a platform down in the shaft. A waterfall provides power, the spent water being caught on a lower platform. When you run out of water, move all your stuff to the lower platform and relocate the upper platform to an even lower position (and gain even more energy from lowering everything down).

With no real bottom, you don't have a "heat death" when all the water is at the lowest point.

I'm not suggesting you throw things in a pit and not get them back. I'm saying that the existance of an infinite potential energy source means that the running down of the universe need not ever reach a minimum, and thus the heat death is cancelled due to invalidating the assumptions.

Recall the opening line: dark energy is ever increasing, not running down. I explain that you can get perpetual energy without violating concervation if you also have an ever-increasing dept on the books.

the afterlife

(Kind of a joke, but didn't make a different Answer)

Heaven and Hell are eternal, so the people there will get bored and start building things, making art, getting creative... and it never runs down so they can do that forever.

multiverse

A sci-fi version of the same idea. There is always a younger universe to move into, and the multiverse is eternal.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm interested in the idea of Heaven and Hell being instrumental. However I did exclude magic in my initial question. ;-) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 0:16
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK - That doesn't solve the problem of getting the stuff out... it just includes you in the stuff you can't get back. That might solve the problem for you, but the rest of the universe is still screwed. :) $\endgroup$ – Bobson Aug 13 '15 at 0:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Bobson - I was assuming that we all jump in. Screw the inanimate universe. Of course the real problem is that it would be a leap into the unknown. Once in, we can't get out, and we might not like it there. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK - True. It could be even worse in there... $\endgroup$ – Bobson Aug 13 '15 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ If you have an infinite sink, you can avoid the 2nd law of thermodynamics. You can always use the energy you have after the things reach thermal equilibrium. I'm not saying one jumps into the bottomless pit, but it gives an out for the heat death. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 13 '15 at 2:11
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Change your perspective.

The only reason heat death is something to worry about is if you have a process which does not scale well towards lower energy. If you focus on attributes of reality which do scale well, one can exist as usable energy approaches, but never reaches, 0.

That being said, it is clear that most systems which rely on matter are very dependent on energy. But hey, we have a long time to find more exotic solutions which do scale.

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    $\begingroup$ Let's see if I have this right. You're saying that the decline will be inevitable but that it needn't kill us. We just become more and more efficient at exploiting what is left. Is that right? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 12 '15 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ I think a good analogy for this is like saying that Earth is going to run out of fossil fuels eventually, but that doesn't mean humans have to stop driving cars. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 12 '15 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Yes, you have what I'm saying right. The trick is defining "us" in such a way that "we" can be more and more efficient, without a limit. Whether this can be done is really the realm of both science fiction and religion, but in theory one could drive down that path. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Aug 12 '15 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh I'd say that captures half of it. The other half is that we do need to shape society such that the moment fossil fuels run out, we are able to go on being ourselves without them. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Aug 12 '15 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon Well yeah, if we want to make ourselves stupid. Our regular conciousness requires a certain amount of energy though: journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.102.250602 $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 12 '15 at 21:56
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The heat death of the universe is not a scientific consensus

We don't know many things yet. We don't know much about what dark matter and dark energy are or how do they operate.

In this YouTube video from the channel "In a Nutshell" they explain three scientifically discussed and relatively well accepted ways the universe could be destroyed:

  • Heat death - as in the main topic;
  • Big Rip - the space between stuff is inscreasing, if this force overcomes gravity, everything rips out and the universe becomes countless particles that can't interact with each other;
  • Big Crunch - Someday gravity will overcome the expansion of space (dark energy) and then stuff would then stop accelerating and start merging with each other until all matter is concentrated into a point and boom! Big Bang again...

Even with heat death cenario however, a spontaneous decrease of entropy is theoreticaly possible, resulting from a quantum tunneling that could lead to a new big bang.

So, the answer I believe is: science. We should develop our science to a point we can know for sure what is going to happen with the universe and only after we find out that if in fact the heat death is the end of the universe and quantum tunneling leading to a new big bang is not something that is going to happen, we should worry.

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Simulate another one

This is a very clever trick, that may or may not work. Freeman Dyson came up with it originally. The second law of thermodynamics states that the amount of useful energy in the universe will inevitably run out. But we can build a reversible computer. A reversible computer is one that essentially can use an arbitrarily small amount of energy for a single step of computation. The drawback is that the less energy you want to use, the longer it will take.

So let's say we have one Joule of usable energy left in the entirely universe. We use half of that for the next step and wait until it finishes. Then we use a quarter for the next, an eighth for the next and so on. The decline is exponential, so before long the computer will have only minute quantities of energy left, and will therefore take eons to complete the next step. But, it will never stop running. And there's no suggestion currently that time will run out. Just energy.

The last step is to program a simulation of a universe (preferably with nicer thermodynamics, eternal life and free beer) into the computer, transfer ourselves into it and live happily into eternity. Outside the computer a single nanosecond of our universe will take incalculably long to complete, but to us that won't matter, because our perception of time is part of the simulation.

The problem

There's a few problems with this scenario, most prominently that under quantum mechanics, energy is not infinitely divisible, so the plan wouldn't work. But then, quantum mechanics isn't quite complete, so who knows... maybe the grand unified theory will give us a loophole. We have some time left to figure out the kinks.

Some other problems we'd need to work around can be found in the Wikipedia article I linked above.

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    $\begingroup$ You say, " the less energy you want to use, the longer it will take". That never matters. For someone inside a simulation we can assume that everything, including their thought processes occurs at the same rate. To us, our reactions seem instant yet to a housefly we seem to be moving in slow motion. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Precisely. For us it doesn't matter, once we're in the simulation. $\endgroup$ – Peter Aug 13 '15 at 16:42
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The Holographic Universe concept has it that the physical universe (or "explicate order") is a kind of projection from another order of reality (the "implicate order"). The explicate order's source is the implicate order, and the implicate order is more the realm of consciousness, meaning ultimately that in some way or another, the physical universe is just a projection of something else. The theory also has it that the actual relationship of consciousness to time is different, and that a consciousness potentially has access to all places and times.

If some of that is accurate, then the current apparent state and trajectory of the physical universe and its apparent end, is something that's either not a practical concern, and/or is something that can be changed or reinvented in the implicate order and thus recreated differently in the explicit order, or it can be avoided by thinking about and/or reinventing earlier times, or possibly other approaches.

(Of course, even if that's all wrong and we are stuck in one universe destined for eventual heat death, that's also an extremely impractical thing to worry about, given the cosmic time before anything like that would happen, and the many much more timely things to worry about that could cause our demise, mostly our own atrocious behavior towards our planet and each other.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Well you make some interesting points. I'm a little disappointed that you appear to have so little regard for our descendants. If we start thinking about this now then we may save them the trouble. If we leave it to them, it might be too late for them to do anything about it. Where's your humanity? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ "the realm of consciousness"? Is that getting woo-woo or am I missing something? Are you suggesting dualism? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 13 '15 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Hehe. People already can't help thinking about it. I know of at least two incarnations of Doctor Who who have, and many idle physicists. $\endgroup$ – Dronz Aug 13 '15 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz My referring to it as a realm was my own poetic use of language, but no, it's a quite serious and many of the various proponents are high-level physicists and so on. Of course it's also seized upon by people with more woo woo sympathies, but it also could explain how some seemingly woo woo things may actually be accurate. I first read about it decades ago and couldn't even follow it, let alone believe it, but after learning a lot, I can follow the logic and see how it could be so. It seems to be the sort of thing that could explain quite a few other mysteries. $\endgroup$ – Dronz Aug 13 '15 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ I know about the holographic principle, and the idea of the past being a blurry view of the future. But human consciousness is due to physical processes in the brain, not a "realm", so I wonder what you are talking about. How about adding links or references? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 13 '15 at 6:36
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Atomic compression sub-universe stabilization machine

Construct a device which causes the atomic pressure of the space within it to compress. Construct it large enough to contain a sizeable amount of space. The machine itself still exists within the original universe, so once the sub-universe is created, you'll have to work on another, smaller machine within it to take over when the original breaks down due to atomic decay. Each sub-universe stabilization machine should be able to monitor the breakdown of the universe outside of it, as well as how well it is working at stabilizing the interior universe.

Outside of that...

Big bang machine

Construct a device which replicates the explosion/collision/reaction which caused the big bang in the first place. Of course, to do this, we will first have to learn a lot more about what actually caused the big bang... Which will mean building bigger and better particle accelerators, I'm sure. And this doesn't actually ensure the continued existence of the human race, but it would certainly quell the slow decline into darkness.

Barring that...

Do nothing

Regardless of probability, it's possible that everything was created from nothing in the first place. If that is true, then the chances are quite high that it may happen again. After all, if you think heat-death is boring, think of how the universe must feel! ;)

(If any shall doubt that one can arrive at an infinite array of all possible values from a starting position equivalent to nothingness, let them take a college-level calculus course.)

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While we cannot stop the universe from dying, we could make it quite a bit more pleasent for ourselves, at least for a time.

The dying universe still contains an awful lot of hydrogen. All we need to do is to concentrate some of it in nebulas that can create new stars and hopefully new planets with comfortable conditions.

Except for the minor details of travelling around the universe moving enormous amounts of hydrogen over distances of millions of lightyears, this is theoretically possible given enough time and energy.

The caveat is that for each generation of nebulas we want to create, the further away we need to go for material, and the longer it will take to create a new nebula. Only a few generations of nebulas in, we would be in a situation where we should have started millions of years ago.

But as this does take a lot of time to do, and we only have about 5 billion years until our sun takes its final breath, we are in quite a hurry, we need to set this up in the first 100 million years or so (and we need to find habitable planets, that already exist, as creating a solar system like our own from scratch takes longer than the remaning lifespan of our solar system).

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that seems like a plan. In fact, if the universe is infinite we don't need to 'go further away' and bring the material back. We simply keep on the move with our hydrogen trawlers moving ahead of us. If we can do that I think we could also take our own planet or even the solar system along for the ride. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 13 '15 at 13:46
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Ditch this universe, make a new one

I would say there are countless ways to escape the dying universe before it becomes uninhabitable to any form of life, but the one way that I see is simply to make another one. Given millions of years, technological civilization and revelations of reality around us may well lead to finding the means to to just that. Since a civilization of rapid paced, rapidly changing and evolving beings like "humans" will resemble something akin to yog-sothoth more than people by the time they dominate. Even with only a few billion years, you could reduce humanity back to pond-scum and still have enough time to evolve back sapience. Civilization advancement being of course a far more rapid and chaotic affair than evolution. Any society that manages to dominate the local group of galaxies with little possibility of ever losing power will have eons to find a solution to their dying suns problem.

The solution may well be simply to make a new universe than bother saving this one. Especially if they can find a universe or even generate a universe that is physically just like our own. Why, who is to say our current universe isn't a product of some endless procession of gods who advanced to the point where they started to make their own universes to escape their own dying one. None of which bothered to make an immortal universe because they simply lacked the need to when it just takes five million years of technological civilization. Billions of years being far more than enough time to get into a new universe before the universe goes dark.

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Overcoming this problem was a major feature of a science fiction book that I read years ago, and whose name I forget. The concept was that in the far future, humanity has learned how to create new regions of Space-Time (called Esty's in the book) and move between them. When the one that you are currently inhabiting becomes too high in entropy then you 'simply' create a new one and move into it.

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