Thursday, 24 January 2008

Hell on Earth


You will all go directly to your respective Valhallas,
Go directly. Do not pass " Go". Do not collect 200 Dollars. - Tom Lehrer
After many months, I finally finished Yiorgos Grammatikakis' "The Autobiography of Light". Towards the end of the book it looks at scientific predictions for the future of the Universe, as well as for the Earth.

Scientists believe that in around 5 billion years time, the Sun will expand into a Red Giant, which may well be so big that it engulfs the Earth. Even if it doesn't, it'll be so hot that we'll all burn. Sounds familiar?

He briefly speculates on things we might do to save the human race. One idea is for us to move onto planets further away from the Sun, the main candidate being Mars. Of course, we'll probably have to move planets in fewer than 5 billion years once we've trashed this one. Once they make Mars inhabitable, property prices here will plummet and all of the "respectable" people will move to a redder neighbourhood.

Mars isn't too bad. The days are almost the same length as here, and by pumping enough greenhouse gasses out they think it's possible to create an atmosphere similar to Earth's. We're experts at the greenhouse gas thing, so that should be okay.

Presumably once Mars is no longer the "in" place, it might be possible to move further out. Even if the planets aren't suitable, maybe their moons will be.

Another possibility, instead of trading in our old planet, we could just move it out of danger. All right, there's not really any "just" about it. Grammatakis suggests diverting an asteroid to push us, but warns that it was an asteroid strike that wiped the dinosaurs out. Maybe they were trying to do the same thing.

If we survive that, then there are all sorts of depressing possible futures for the Universe as a whole (big contraction, big bang, entropy). But scientists still don't really know what will happen there.

All of this is being rather arrogant, anyway. What makes us think that we're likely to be able to survive another 5 billion years? People keep talking of Humans wiping ourselves out, but I'm thinking more about Nature. Something else will evolve that will kill us off. We're good at stopping the big animals, but things like superbugs are out to get us.

So we're all going to die. Well, we kind of knew that anyway, but scientists have a way of making it seem more final and making us realise how helpless we are in the face of Cosmic Forces. It's not science's fault, and I think all these big scale things to do with stars, galaxies, etc is absolutely fascinating.

In the meantime, I can now start my next book. It's a Mathematical Murder Mystery. I did start it before, but left off 1/3 of the way through, so now I'm getting back to it. Hopefully it won't take as long as the last book to find out whodunnit...

24 comments:

Bee said...

FIRST!!!

Bee said...

You know what? I don't want to know what might happen, will happen, etc.
I prefer to wake up one day, see the end of the world coming and then say this:
"Wow! Will you look at---"
Cut off cuz I died instants later, SURPRISE!

Brian o Vretanos said...

But surely you'd want advance notice so you could look your best? Dress up for the occasion? Silly me, of course you always look your best, I'm sure... Just in case ;-)

Anyway, it all depends on whether it could be that accurately predicted. I'd hate to be the person who convinced everyone the world would end one day, only to find it didn't. It would seriously piss people off, even though they'd have longer to live than they thought.

There's a fantastic episode in Series 2 of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" called "The Night the World Ended". A journalist in a bar persuades a down-and-out regular that the world is ending that night. The guy goes out and tries to do some good deeds, but they all go horribly wrong. When he finds out he's been tricked he exacts very fitting but terribe revenge...

Bee said...

Also, I think the dinosaurs maybe didn't plan the asteroid thing right, maybe their calculations were off... were you around back then?

Bee said...

WHAT???? WHAT DOES HE DO????

Bee said...

Hello?? Brian???

Brian o Vretanos said...

SPOILER:
















HERE IS THE STORY:













The journalist says that in the evening paper there's a report that astronomers have detected an asteroid or something and it's going to hit the Earth and destroy everything at xxxx that night (I forget the time). The guy does various things, including helping some poor children break into a shop to steal toys, but he ends up killing a night watchman. Then he walks past a newsstand and sees that the paper doesn't have the story, goes back to the bar and shoots the journalist dead. The time is exactly xxxx. So for the prankster the world really did end exactly when he "predicted".

Bee said...

Phew! Thanks! :o)
I was about to go to lunch but chose to sit here until you responded. Sad I know.
Now I'm going to lunch!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Being born in the 70's, like you, I wouldn't know about dinosaurs...

It's scary though watching the news last night about Heath Ledger, who was born in 1979. That does make me feel old...

Jean Knee said...

Here's old, I was born in the 60's.

Did you ever read On the Beach? I think it was a movie too

Anyway nuclear war breaks out in the northern hemisphere, not sure who did what but we're all wiped except for austrailia (GO aussies) but still all the fallout is coming right for them, I think they have six months until it gets them this is getting too long

Dan said...

i think the human race will live in a man made planet, kind of like the Death Star from Starwars.
Dan

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

I've a feeling I watched the film. Too long? Did you have to rush off? You've not got the lergy, have you?

Dan:

That's a fantastic idea! Millions of years to get to a star would be do-able that way. It would be like being on a permanent cruise.

I don't think we'd want to live on one really huge one - it'd be better to have several in case some got damaged or destroyed for any reason.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

I've nothing against Australia, but a world with nothing but Aussies...

"Nuclear Holocaust? That's one hell of a barbie, mate..."

Bee said...

ASS-TU-ROIDS might hit the death star!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Who said that?

Bee said...

Me Bee!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Please don't tell me there's another Bee - it's possible to have too much of a good thing ;-)

Bee said...

Same Bee although that sounded kinda of SARCASTIC Brian!!

Chris said...

"I don't think we'd want to live on one really huge one - it'd be better to have several in case some got damaged or destroyed for any reason."

Yes, but that only works for so long and presents all sorts of logistical issues while traveling through space. Especially if on is being chased by the Cylons.

Yes, I watch to much Sci-Fi Channel ;-)

Jean Knee said...

and what about the people who live in the blue death star but fall in love with someone from the green death star....you can see where I'm going here

Jean Knee said...

didn't finish the on the beach comment cuz it wasn't going anywhere, but, well here goes:

So the Aussies are just waiting for the radiation to reach them, they know they're doomed & all. Well first the wife gets sick, then the baby, and the husbands sitting around knowing he'll be next but still is caring for his sick family. Terrorfying

Just like me and THE SPEW. It got Drew, now has Lean, and I'm next.

That would be one hell of a barbie.
now you can keep plenty of meat in your freezer just in case

Tracy said...

I think I agree with Bee here. I don't want to know when it's going to happen.
Just like when the tsunami hit and those people were all running down to the beach instead of away from it.
I want to be so mezmerised by it that I just don't see it coming.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Chris:

I remember Battlestar Gallactica too. I hope the future isn't going to look like that ;-)

Jean Knee:

Assuming that the different coloured Death Stars* go in roughly the same direction, then travel between them should be possible.

* We need a better name for them, like "Self-Propelled Earthlike Worlds".

Tracy:

Yes, I expect a lot of people feel like that. Personally I'd prefer to know.

Jean Knee said...

The Spew appeared in the dark recesses of the night. I'm still finding traces today...

My psychotic powers tell me nothing except, "thank god for rubber gloves and clorox cleanup"