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Scientists Predict Bleak Future For Life

According to a study on the future of the earth, matter but not life, will last forever. //

The universe's ceaseless expansion, propelled by the still-unseen and unknown mysterious dark energy, will ultimately yield an environment in which matter nonetheless remains while radiation energy dwindles away, say researchers.

This finding runs contrary to previous thinking that suggests that matter will gradually decay into a radiation-heavy universe. "Even if matter begins to decay, it will still be the dominant sort of stuff in the universe," says physicist Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University, and lead author of the new study. "That's why I've kind of said that diamonds are forever", he quips.

Krauss and colleague Robert Scherrer of Vanderbilt University used mathematical models to determine that in the far future, radiation-including heat, light and all other forms-will vanish faster than it can be replenished through the decay of matter into component protons, neutrons and electrons.

At the crux of the issue is dark energy, a hypothetical field or anti-gravity energy, which permeates space and tends to accelerate the universe's expansion. "It means that the future isn't like the past, and that the future is once again different than we thought,” says Krauss.

The research was detailed April 25 in the online edition of the journal Physical Review D.

Previous theories have suggested that radiation, not matter, would win out in the end because matter would decay into additional radiation over trillions of years.

"The universe started out radiation-dominated," Scherrer said in an interview. "Today, the universe is mostly matter and what's left over from the radiation is the famous microwave background, which is very dilute."

So what is the future for life on earth? Matter may win out over radiation in the distant future thanks to dark energy, but the odd force, as-yet unobs
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