New calculations suggest that the cosmos may be a bit closer to heat death
For all its tumult — erupting stars, colliding galaxies, collapsing black holes — the cosmos is a surprisingly orderly place. Theoretical calculations have long shown that the entropy of the universe — a measure of its disorder — is but a tiny fraction of the maximum allowable amount.
A new calculation of entropy upholds that general result but suggests that the universe is messier than scientists had thought — and slightly further along on its gradual journey to death, two Australian cosmologists conclude.
An analysis by Chas Egan of the Australian National University in Canberra and Charles Lineweaver of the University of New South Wales in Sydney indicates that the collective entropy of all the supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies is about 100 times higher than previously calculated. Because supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to cosmic entropy, the finding suggests that the entropy of the universe i