It may take a few billion years, but scientists have determined that the universe as we know it is on its way out.
According to io9, the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) Project has determined that the energy output of the universe -- which is nearly 14 billion years old -- is decreasing and is already half of what it was 2 billion years ago.
The findings were determined by observing 200,000 galaxies in 21 different wavelengths, using seven of the world's most powerful telescopes. The results were the same across every wavelength: The universe is cooling down.
As the head of the international research team, Professor Simon Driver of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Western Australia, put it: "The universe has basically plonked itself down on the sofa, pulled up a blanket and is about to nod off for an eternal doze."
Scientists have surmised this for quite some time but have not observed it on this scale until now. ICRAR member Dr. Luke Davies said (see video below), "Just as we become less active in our old age, the same is happening with the universe, and it’s well past its prime."
Of course, nothing will change in the immediate future, so we don't have anything to worry about just yet. Stars, planets, galaxies and whatever life may be out there will continue going through their cycles. But the energy output of the cosmos itself will just keep slowing and fading until, as Davies says, "eventually it will become a cold, dark and desolate place where all of the lights go out."
Where will we be by then? Assuming we survive that long, hopefully we'll be far away from our own solar system at least, since the Earth and other inner planets will be burnt to a crisp as the sun gradually turns into a white dwarf. But since the universe itself will be going through its own long, slow fall, can we actually escape that cold, dark, empty future?