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Sabin Muntean

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

TEDCRED 50+

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How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light:

Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

The current answer remains: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.


I just could not resist posting Asimov's "last question" since it is my favourite short story by far and since I have also asked myself if we'll ever find a solution.
After all, if such a question could get an answer, where better than here on TED.com?

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    Mar 21 2011: Your question just reminds me of a visit to small local science museum for children that I visited as a six year old. We lived in Boston for a year, even though we are Swedish. My dad was a guest researcher in physics at MIT.
    Anyway I was six and I could read. There was a picture of the sun and stars, that are far away suns. And then the numbers, how old the sun was (which I have forgotten now) and then, horror of horrors:IT WILL DIE. THE SUN WILL DIE.
    And I did have some understanding of numbers. And I had learned about time. I did understand that it would be long after I, my children, my grand children and even their grand children would die.
    But that fact still created that bottomless fear in me.
    And it made me start looking for ways to overcome that feeling - not for ways to restore the sun.
    So how wise is a six year old?
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    Feb 26 2011: The Entire Universe consists purely of energy, and when we consider mass/energy equivalence, everything can be theorized to one equation..

    Unfortunately what transpires or has transpired can never really be reversed..
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    Feb 22 2011: With enough energy, it seems possible to modify universe at least in some level, like as local level (modifying components. around us. etc.).
    In order to make enough energy: First, create a gap in space itself, in form of a tunnel, extra narrow and long enough to get enough energy. Then, let the space collapse to itself starting from ends of tunnel shaped gap. Second, absorb the shockwave afterwards, and make energy out of it. In the meanwhile, be careful and avoid catastrophic results.

    I know this may sound strange, but thats how the ideas are born, and thats how science evolves.
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    Feb 22 2011: I can't really see how we could lower the entropy of the universe, keeping in mind that the move from lower to higher entropy seems to be the normal state of affairs.It's like the famous example of the broken egg. How do you "unbreak" it ?
    Even if you could restore the sun to it's youthful state, where would the energy come from ? you could only restore the sun at the expense of something else.