1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Can Heat Death Be Prevented

  1. Feb 25, 2009 #1
    Is there a way that the hypothetical heat death of the universe can be prevented, if the danger exists? The heat death is a possible final state of the universe, in which it has "run down" to a state of no thermodynamic free energy to sustain motion or life. In other words, It has reached maximum entropy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2009 #2
    If we get really* lucky, it'll just randomly not happen.

    *Really, really, lucky.
  4. Feb 25, 2009 #3
  5. Feb 25, 2009 #4
    Well I doubt it will happen in our lifetime
  6. Feb 25, 2009 #5

    Andrew Mason

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If a state of maximum entropy were ever reached, the entire universe would have to be at the same temperature and would have to have zero gravitational potential energy. Otherwise one could extract useful work from reservoirs at different temperatures or at different gravitational potentials, and thereby increase the entropy of the universe.

    In order to achieve that state of maximum entropy, the universe would have to stop expanding. Good luck on that one.

  7. Feb 25, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I'll get around to it as soon as I've fixed all those other problems threatening mankind. :)
  8. Feb 25, 2009 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Short answer; no. If heat death is the future of the universe, there is nothing that can be done about it. That is sort of included in the definition of "heat death." If we were able to do anything, it wouldn't be heat death.
  9. Feb 25, 2009 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    In these troubled times, it is everybody's responsibility to keep our dorm rooms / apartments / houses / etc. neat and orderly. Do your part to keep the universe's entropy as low as possible, and together we can forestall the inevitable Heat Death for a long, long time.


    A public service message from the PF Community Spirit Guru
  10. Feb 25, 2009 #9
    Yeah, the best thing to do after being sealed in a tunnel by a cave in is to give a long winded talk on how to conserve oxygen.
  11. Feb 25, 2009 #10
    Great historical documentary. I asked that question in the last universe. :biggrin:
  12. Mar 1, 2009 #11
    Haha, yes! Don't worry. I'm doing my part. I put together all the jigsaw puzzles in my house and I built things out of all of my Legos.

    Also, I've given up scrambled eggs and I don't put ice in my water anymore.

    That should buy us some time.
  13. Mar 1, 2009 #12
    Y'know, if we build a way to extinguish stars (and save them to power fuel cells) then in principle we could postpone heat death.

    ..hopefully we won't instead speed it up significantly, though that would be more consistent with our historical resource usage.
  14. Mar 1, 2009 #13
    Fruitcake is a conspiracy to increase entropy. It's so obvious, when you think about it.
  15. Mar 1, 2009 #14
    It is! Think about how hard it is to bite into that garbage! That's a lot of dissipated energy!

    You know what else is a conspiracy? Gyms!

    Gyms almost do nothing but contribute to the end of the universe.
    "Here, you add GPE to this mass and take it away, over and over again. You, run for as long as you can on this machine that makes you not go anywhere. You, get this flywheel going with your feet, and don't worry, we'll put resistance on it."

    Just think about jumping jacks. A jumping jack is like 100% heat energy!

    That's it! From now on, I'm morally opposed to exercise. How could I knowingly waste all my energy (with potential to do work) like that? How could I sleep at night, knowing that with every push-up, I bring the universe one step closer to maximum entropy?

    Stand up against this waste of working energy!

    Actually, don't stand up. It's bad for the universe.
  16. Mar 8, 2009 #15
    Youu know, I was pretty much hoping for a straight answer to the question instead of all these sarcastic remarks. I just wanted a straight yes or no.
  17. Mar 8, 2009 #16
    My answer was serious.

    If we're lucky enough, it'll just not happen. It's called "statistics".
  18. Mar 8, 2009 #17
    It will happen. It's called "the 2nd law of thermodynamics".
  19. Mar 8, 2009 #18
    I assume you understand that the second law of thermodynamics is statistical. It could just so happen that entropy reverses forever and ever after a certain point. Unlikely, but you never know.
  20. Mar 8, 2009 #19


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Sorry if my joke was not appreciated.

    Serious answer: there is nothing we can do to prevent the heat death of the universe. However, long before this happens our sun will run out of nuclear fuel, and burn out or go nova.
  21. Mar 9, 2009 #20
    I liked it :)
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Can Heat Death Be Prevented
  1. Heat Death, eh? (Replies: 6)

  2. Heat death (Replies: 10)

  3. Heat Death (Replies: 7)