Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ten Ways the World will End

Whether it took more than a four point five billion years to reach here, it would however take much less time to end. Doomsday is big concern for astronomers and a favorite with  fiction writers and film-makers  alike. After all, what could be more thrilling than an action-packed global apocalypse, narrowly averted at the last moment. However here we look upon the 10 ways which can be strongly responsible for end of our home.

10. A giant Asteroid Impact

Responding to challenges to the hypothesis that an asteroid impact caused a mass extinction on Earth 65 million years ago, a panel of 41 scientists re-analyzed data and provided new evidence, concluding that an impact in Mexico was indeed the cause of the mass extinction. This asteroid was about 10 to 12 km in diameter, which is large, but less than 0.2% the diameter of the Earth. It’s pretty unremarkable, and makes it a pretty typical minor asteroid. For comparison, this makes it about half the size of the known asteroid Gaspra. The thing that makes this asteroid so vicious, though, is that it had so much kinetic energy when it hit the planet! The great trick here is realizing that the asteroid gets pulled in by the Sun, and that — by the law of conservation of energy. NASA detects and tracks asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground and space-based telescopes.
For a real chill,  Kuiper belt, a zone near Neptune, contains roughly 100,000 asteroids > 50 miles in diameter. The Kuiper belt sends a steady rain of small comets earthward. Impacts might occur over the ocean, and small over land might affect unpopulated areas. But with big asteroids, it doesn’t matter much where they land. Objects more than a half-mile wide- which strike Earth every 250,000 years or so- would touch off firestorms followed by global cooling from dust kicked up by the impact or they would simply end in breaking the earth into pieces.
Damage: Global destruction
Preventable: Evitable. Identify the potential risks, then blow them up or push them out of the way.

9. Robots Take Over

Robots we might see them as mindless objects to our orders. So how about an airplane with an autopilot? BBC reported of a a humanoid robot that learns to walk itself. Hans Moravec, one of the founders of the robotics department of Carnegie Mellon University, remains a believer. By 2040, he predicts, machines will match human intelligence, and perhaps human consciousness. Then they’ll get even better. He envisions an eventual symbiotic relationship between human and machine, with the two merging into “postbiologicals” capable of vastly expanding their intellectual power. Marvin Minsky, an artificial-intelligence expert at MIT, foresees a similar future. Soon we will have house-robots to do domestic chores.
What we can conclude is that their microchip might get dominant over the weak human mind because of the limitations of human memory and wisdom, they might say no to slavery and the artificial intelligence which is beyond any limit may take over and become homicidal since there will be no future of ethics with these machines and if they build a von Neumann machine which is any device that is capable of creating an exact copy of itself given nothing but the necessary raw materials. As the population of machines doubles repeatedly, the planet Earth will, terrifyingly soon, be entirely eaten up and turned into a swarm of potentially sextillions of machines.
Damage: Who knows what the hell their microchip brain will think?
Preventable: Yea, Stop making such stupid machines.

8. Bioweapons and Monstrous Epidemics

Germs and people have always coexisted, but occasionally the balance gets out of whack. Plague is a deadly infectious disease caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis (Pasteurella pestis). Scientists hold great concern that we might get a deadly monster plague from new bacteria that are formed consistently either by evolution or biotechnological mishaps. Old diseases such as cholera and measles have developed new resistance to antibiotics. Intensive agriculture and land development is bringing humans closer to animal pathogens. The plague has caused death of every 4th person in Europe 14th century epidemic. Moreover, old diseases have formed resistance to drugs available because of their constant evolution and remodeling and these strains have also evolved their life cycles becoming rapidly growing and spreading. And some biologists are of strong opinion that such a germ might come from outer space or a bio weapon accident may cause species extinction
Damage: Runny noses and rotten bodies
Preventable: yes if you discover new drugs or else forget it.

7. Geomagnetic Reversal

Earth’s magnetic field is approximately a magnetic dipole, with the magnetic field S pole near the Earth’s geographic north pole  and the other magnetic field N pole near the Earth’s geographic south pole. Based upon the study of lava flows of basalt throughout the world, it has been proposed that the Earth’s magnetic field dwindles or reverses at intervals, ranging from tens of thousands to many millions of years, with an average interval of approximately 300,000 years. However, the last such event, called the Brunhes-Matuyama reversal, is observed to have occurred some 780,000 years ago.
The earth’s magnetic field protects the earth from cosmic radiations and subatomic particles from space as well as the solar wind. Without such protection we will end up in stone-age and by the way our compasses won’t work anymore either. Worse, the strength of our magnetic field has decreased about 5 percent in the past century.
Damage: Erosion of the already harassed ozone layer and radiation damage to eyes, skin and genes.
Preventable: not preventable unless you have seen the Hollywood movie Core.

6. Alien Invasion

There are about a hundred billion galaxies having a 100 billion stars being revolved around by multiple planets. Its hard to believe that no life form exists in not even one of them. At the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California scientists sieve through a telltale signal from an alien civilization. So far, in vain. Now suppose the long-sought message arrives. As seen in the video which is a proof of Alien’s visit in the past, what if they decide to come here again? People argument that even if they exist then they might be living some billion galaxies away, they will not be able to reach but i say if they are intelligent life forms then they might be a million years ahead of us, they might know teletransportation which is traveling at speed faster than light perhaps and then any science-fiction devotee can tell you what could go wrong.
Humans might friendly accept their visit and a direct conflict might not occur but what if the aliens might want resources from our Earth like humans wanted from Pandora in Avatar? Perhaps, they want a hold of Earth’s water for refilling a fusion-powered spacecraft and swat us aside if we get in the way. Aliens might might import with them pests or fatal viruses with a taste for human flesh or  accidentally upset the solar system while carrying out some grandiose interstellar construction project. Most advanced civilizations have a destructive effect on the primitive ones, what if it happens to us?
Damage: Humanity swatted by aliens, pests killed the remaining.
Preventable: Preventable if we run into a a parallel universe and find a parallel earth that might easily inhabit us, otherwise forget it!

5. Genetically Engineered Human Mutants

Although genetic engineering has been a great step in fulfilling the world’s food requirement but gene therapy also promises to delete the defects that are caused because of faulty genes e.g thalessemia or color blindedness. There is no evidence of the fact that modified genes of plants might leak out to other species but humans themselves are willing to leak out genes. The Vacanti mouse was a laboratory mouse that had what looked like a human ear grown on its back. It provoked horror among the animal rights and advocacy groups and anti-genetics groups. Similarly the firefly fluorescent gene called Luciferase can be added into DNA of other species causing them to glow aswell as humans can be made to glow but a human right protection law protects us. But in Israel, genes of play are those of humans.
It is possible to isolate genes of various human characteristics. Its mind boggling to say that any biological property that exists in any living thing in any living world could be brought into human beings. It has its benefits like protecting people from genetically inherited illnesses but it doesn’t stop there, we are basically playing with evolution at a million times faster rate. With this not only the physical characteristics of human can be changed but also the mental characteristics. We already know of certain genes to cause to think in a certain way. The problem is there is no boundary between overcoming disease and providing enhancements. Such highly evolved super humans will be far superior to their humble ancestors, stronger, more intelligent and different to us as we are to earthworms. Some scientists might not realize this, but over a 1000 year time, the human species will split resulting in extinction of the weaker.
Damage: If you don’t know what’s Darwin’s theory of natural selection than it is “the nature selects those who have better chances of survival”
Preventable: Yes, stop playing with human genome.

4. The Big Chill

Observations suggest that the expansion of the universe will continue forever. If so, the universe will cool as it expands, eventually becoming too cold to sustain life. For this reason, this future scenario is popularly called The Big Freeze. Moreover global warming can lead to this big freeze, depletion of ozone and gamma radiations may have other disastrous effects as well as a vicious cycle of warming which can end in freezing over. The earth has faced 3 ice-ages before as well due to warming of its unstable climate of volcanoes and meteors but now man is leading to this global warming.
Now how it works is that Global Warming, by introducing fresh water into the North Atlantic, could affect the Atlantic Conveyer Belt, an ocean current which transports warm tropical water to the western coast of Europe. The water then sinks to the depths of the ocean as it cools, while the heat is released into the atmosphere, and it is this released heat that is responsible for the moderate winters in Europe as compared to the harsher winters in North America. Therefore, there is a possibility that Global Warming could create the conditions for an Ice-age.
Moreover a star has its life, Earth’s fate is precarious and related to life cycle of the giant sun as this star will first get large enough to incinerate us  first and then will get colder when the earth will have to face an inevitable Ice- age
Damage: Inevitable incineration followed by a forever lasting ice-age.
Preventatble: Forget it!

3. Nuclear Holocaust

Nuclear holocaust refers to the possibility of nearly complete annihilation of human civilization by nuclear warfare. Under such a scenario, all or most of the Earth is made uninhabitable by nuclear weapons in future world wars. Nuclear wars might seem unlikely but demise of Soviet Union a bunch of years back also seemed impossible. A nuclear war may or might not occur directly but there is a possibility of a faulty or accidental nuclear exchange that might arise by a technical fault in the ballistic system.
Abuse of the  Atomic power source leads to what would now be called a chain reaction engulfing the entire world, so that “of the two hundred million members of the human race, all were burnt or roasted or suffocated.
Damage: A chain reaction that will not only burn life forms but will cause genetic defects making humans likes of the (mythical) orcs.
Preventable: Yes,  start making out foreign! :/

2. Super Volcano Erupts

A supervolcano is a volcano capable of producing a super volcanic eruption, which is a volcanic eruption with ejecta greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers (240 cubic miles), which is thousands of times larger than most historic volcanic eruptions. Supervolcanoes are relatively new to science. Although there are only a handful of supervolcanoes, super volcanic eruptions typically cover huge areas with lava and volcanic ash and cause a long-lasting change to weather sufficient to cause extinction of species.
When Mount Tambora in 1815 erupted in indonesia, it caused massive disasters, it changed the entire climate but compare it to the Yellowstone super volcano, it appears a small pimple on the panet. However  the Yellowstone super volcano is the largest known super volcano, it has a cycle of eruption every 600,000 years and now its been 640,000 years since it last erupted and to add its not dead, it shows great volcanism since 1923. When it will pop, it would be unlike any we have seen before. Once it explodes, it will boil out the other 5 supervolcanoes and the pimple ones, one pops and then all pop. It will be largest loudest explosion in the human history and will incinerate life into blazing ash and super heated gases.
Damage: Massive
Preventable: Not at all but you can flee off to the opposite directions, still might not be mitigatable.

1. Earth Spins Off Axis

The earth is held in its axis by a balance of forces, the pull of gravity from the sun and push of centrifugal force. The Earth currently has an axial tilt of about 23.5°. The axis remains tilted in the same direction towards the stars throughout a year and this means that when a hemisphere is pointing away from the Sun at one point in the orbit then half an orbit later  this hemisphere will be pointing towards the Sun. This effect is the main cause of the seasons. With the exception of mercury, all the planets in our solar system are tilted on an axis. Uranus is however tilted on a side due to an asteroid collision in the past. So what would happen if earth suffers such a massive impact? It can cause our planet to shift in entirely a new axis or even catapulted into the sun.
If enough energy is provided then orbit of earth can be changed like that we assume of comets. It can be changed from elliptical to circular to hyperbolic. Such a collision will destroy the entire fabric of our planet causing devastation on a massive scale. It will cause heating of the planet because it will be hurled towards sun. There will be huge consequences even to the orbit of the moon if earth’s orbit changes. The north pole and Antarctica will boil. Ice caps will melt within days creating massive floods. Earthquake and super volcanic eruptions will tear apart the crust of planet.
Damage: Beyond your imaginations.
Preventable: Are you kidding me? Even if Earth would escape incineration in the Sun, still all its water will be boiled away and most of its atmosphere would escape into space. Those few who might survive will wait colliding into another planet or star and then there will be no planet. Zero. A horrible end of a beautiful experiment.


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