The universe is not dying!

Written by D., POI Russia *
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 02:37

Recently it was announced a terrible discovery: that our universe would presumably be dying! [1] A study of more than 200,000 galaxies by astronomers from several countries, using some of the most powerful telescopes in the world, shows that the universe is producing half as much energy as it did 2 billion years ago and continues to fade.

The news comes as no surprise since it is known that the stars shine because of the fusion of primordial hydrogen remnant of the Big Bang, helium and other heavy elements. [2] And when they die, the stars still emit this hydrogen, thus reducing both its quantity and concentration. This impacts on the rate of formation of new stars. The newborn stars are fewer, smaller and, therefore, radiate less energy in the form of light. What was known theoretically, has now been detected experimentally.

The point is that this discovery is being considered as an “evidence” that the universe is dying. That, because older stars are fading out faster than new stars are forming, it would eventually leave the universe colder, until all matter will eventually decay and only a cold, dark and lonely place, a dead universe will remain. [3] Is it true?

A developing universe

Decreasing the amount and concentration of hydrogen, the fuel for star formation is actually a full evidence that the universe can’t be maintained forever in its current state. It was not in the past the way we know it today and  will not be so in the future. It’s no motive for sadness because this is a symptom of life and not of death!

Eventually, this fuel is not disappearing but turning itself into increasingly heavier atoms, passing to helium, lithium, carbon, oxygen, iron, etc., throughout the entire periodic table. It is forming more complex elements every day, necessary, among other things, for the emergence of life. Let’s not forget that every atom that makes up the universe and each of us (except for hydrogen) has been synthesized in the interior of a star that has already exploded. The remnants of these explosions give rise to other stars and planets, including our Sun, the Earth and everything in it, including ourselves. We are literally children of the stars, generated in their wombs and birthed in catastrophic supernova explosions!

Forgive us today’s prophets of the apocalypse, but the dead universe was the universe a few billion years ago, consisting only of primary hydrogen and helium, which do not allow the emergence of life! It is precisely the synthesis of heavy elements from the stellar nuclear fusion, a symptom of senility to such naysayers, that allow matter to be organized in a more complex state, capable of serving as a basis for life and later to consciousness, the highest form of evolution of matter. In addition, the primary, 1st generation stars, without heavy elements, did not have Earth-like planets in their orbits and lived just a few million years before exploding into supernovas. This time span was inadequate for the emergence and development of life in their surrounding areas, which in the case of Earth demanded some billions of years of sun stability to emerge and evolve to the present.

Despite having spent nearly 14 billion years since the Big Bang, the universe still has nearly 99% of nuclear matter in the form of primordial hydrogen and helium. And its rate of processing is very slow. The number of heavy elements, in addition to lithium, is still very low, but despite this it allowed the formation of 2nd, 3rd and other generations stars as our sun, galaxies, nebulae, moons, comets, asteroids and planets, and at least in one of them there is conscious life! So it’s not the case that our universe is dying, but that it is just waking up for life! And we should expect increasing forms of life as long as more and more complex states of matter are synthesized, with stars sufficiently stable to allow the necessary conditions for that.

Regarding the very distant future, when the rate of stars formation falls to zero and there will be no heat enough to sustain life anywhere in the cosmos, it’s nothing more than speculation, with virtually no scientific basis. According to what we know about the evolution of the universe today, it will be able to sustain life as we know it for trillions of years. Speculating on time spans greater than that, considering the current level of knowledge on the universe’s evolution, it makes no sense. As matter keeps on being organized in increasingly complex ways, we should expect increasingly richer possibilities for the universe, not the opposite.

It is true that theoretically it can’t be ruled out the possibility that, in its permanent transformation, the part of the universe where our civilization lives reaches conditions in which life as we know it today, based on carbon chains, becomes impossible. But also one can’t rule out the possibility that, in an even more complex world than today, with richer and higher forms of matter, life and consciousness can exist in ways that we don’t dare to dream today. In the present state of our knowledge, we can only assure that, the visible part of the universe is rapidly expanding, synthesizing heavier chemical elements inside stars and is capable of sustaining life as we know it to any foreseeable time horizon. It is an open universe of possibilities, which multiply every moment. There won’t therefore be a poorer world, but even richer in possibilities in the future. And if humanity, overcoming the terrible social contradictions, reaches this distant future, as we firmly believe, it will have a much richer material than now to work towards its further survival.

The “scientific” hypothesis of doomsday, an “atheist” version of the Judgment Day, also called “heat death of the universe,” which overuses the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics [4] to be justified, has no basis. This law is a valid principle for closed systems. Our universe is not a closed system and its future is not predetermined by any scientific theory! Scientific theories can foresee possible and probable scenarios, the general development, not the “final destination” of the universe, as this is not defined in advance. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not state that the universe is walking toward death, but that it just walks! That it is not static and doesn’t cease to exist, as expressed by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (always “forgotten” by the messengers of the doomsday) that establishes that energy/matter is neither created nor destroyed, it is always transformed from one form to another [5].

And let’s not forget that in this universe there is still the conscious factor, that is, human life. Being consciousness the highest form of existence of matter, is it not surprising that its role is considered just irrelevant to the future of the universe? Humanity lives in a historic crossroads, a critical moment in its development, and only the working class can give it a progressive way out. The future of our civilization depends on that. This is the current limit of the transforming human action, where “changing the world” is still restricted to revolutionizing the society we live in. But there is no reason to believe that our ability is limited to build the future of our civilization, and only on Earth. Free from the shackles of capitalist society, a humanity with thousands and millions of years of assured future to develop science, technology and culture to unimaginable levels and to colonize other celestial bodies, hardly will find before it insurmountable barriers. The expression “change the world” will win in the future much broader contours! Not only the future of the Earth but also the future of the universe belongs to us!

* D. is a revolutionary and physician



[1] – http://news.discovery.com/space/galaxies/universe-is-dying-galactic-survey-shows-150810.htm

[2] According to calculations that take into account the conditions in the moments after the Big Bang and empirical data as the neutron half-life, the universe would have a theoretical composition of 75% of light hydrogen, 25% of helium-4, 0.01% deuterium (heavy hydrogen), traces of helium-3, lithium and beryllium, and no other elements in the Big Bang. That the observed abundances in the Universe are consistent with these figures is considered strong evidence of the Big Bang.

[3] In their original article, the authors of the discovery just announced the result of stellar emission reduction, without metaphysical conclusions about the death of the universe. It was the journal that published it that demanded the change of the text to include the idea that the universe is dying.

[4] The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that in a closed system, disorder (entropy) tends to grow over time. It is the law that explains why the houses become dirtier with time if cleaning is not performed or why it is easier to break an egg than to rebuild it. In physics, this is explained by statistics, in the sense that if there are more disordered and in thermal equilibrium states than organized and in thermal disequilibrium ones, they simply tend to the most probable states. In dialectical materialism, if a closed system tends to increase its entropy is just because, by being closed, it has been isolated from the universal movement. A closed system comprises adiabatic boundaries, ie it doesn’t allow energy exchanges with the outside. By its own definition, it is clear that the universe can’t be considered a closed system, since there is no question in talking of an “outer” universe and that the theory of relativity prohibits the existence of borders in the universe.

[5] The first law of thermodynamics is a version of the law of conservation of energy, adapted for thermodynamic systems. The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed. While the 1st Law is an expression that the universe has neither origin nor end, the 2nd Law simply states that it can’t be static, it is in constant motion.

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