The bad news is that an asteroid of city-killing proportions is heading in our direction, but the good news is that it’ll miss us on the night of June 6 by 3.2 million miles.
British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned repeatedly that Earth could well be doomed, but his latest warning gives us no more than 583 years before we get burned on Earth.
During a video clip aired at the Tencent WE Summit on Nov. 5, the 75-year-old scientist said that humanity would have to deal with exponential growth in the centuries ahead. He noted that the world’s population has been doubling every 40 years.
“This exponential growth cannot continue into the next millennium,” Hawking, who has been coping with neurodegenerative disease for decades, said in his computer-synthesized voice. “By the year 2600, the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder, and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red-hot.
“This is untenable,” Hawking said as a planet-sized ball of fire blazed on the screen.
In an upcoming TV documentary, British physicist Stephen Hawking revives his prediction that humanity will have to spread out a new home in space within 100 years in order to ensure the species’ survival.
But this time, he’s looking into how it can be done.
The two-part documentary, titled “Expedition New Earth,” is due to air on BBC Two as part of the British network’s revived “Tomorrow’s World” TV series.
Hawking has repeatedly warned of the potential threats facing humanity, including nuclear war, rapid climate change, potential pandemics, catastrophic asteroid strikes and even a robot uprising. That echoes similar warnings issued by Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX.
If an asteroid strikes, don’t head for the hills, or the windows: Head for the basement.
A study aimed at sorting out the effects of a catastrophic asteroid impact found that violent winds and pressure shock waves would be the biggest killers, accounting for more than 60 percent of the lives lost in simulated scenarios.
“This is the first study that looks at all seven impact effects generated by hazardous asteroids and estimates which are, in terms of human loss, most severe,” Clemens Rumpf, a senior research assistant at the University of Southampton in Britain, said today in a news release from the American Geophysical Union.
Rumpf is the lead author of the study, which is published in Geophysical Research Letters, an AGU journal.
What should the world do about the potential threat of a catastrophic asteroid collision? This month NASA established the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to manage the issue. Meanwhile, the Russians and the Europeans are talking aboutdiverting nasty space rocks with nuclear weapons.
All this comes as cosmic threats are getting ready to hit prime time, in the form of an NBC comedy titled “You, Me and the Apocalypse.” (The threat in this case is a comet, not an asteroid.)
Former astronaut Ed Lu, CEO of the B612 Foundation, is glad for all the attention. For years, B612 has been trying to raise awareness about the asteroid threat, with mixed success. In a statement posted on Facebook today, Lu noted that NASA’s actions come in response to a highly critical internal report about NASA’s asteroid-hunting effort.
Another indication of a turning tide is contained in last month’s omnibus spending bill, which sets aside $50 million for the effort during fiscal year 2016. That’s 10 times more than NASA was spending in 2010.
British physicist Stephen Hawking says we need to colonize other worlds because humanity will almost certainly face a disaster on Earth sometime in the next few millennia – perhaps a disaster of our own making.
Among the risks he outlined in a report from the BBC are nuclear war, climate change and genetically engineered viruses. What’s more, he said further progress in science and technology will bring “new ways things can go wrong.”
Like SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Hawking believes the best cosmic insurance policy is to create human colonies on other worlds in our solar system and beyond. Find out how he put it in the BBC report.
The Large Hadron Collider set another record for particle-smashing energy levels this week – which set off another round of hyped-up rumblings about the end of the world.
Before the LHC’s startup in 2008, the Internet was set abuzz with worries that high-energy collisions could create globe-gobbling black holes or cosmos-wrecking strangelets. Protests were mounted, lawsuits were filed, and physicists at Europe’s CERN particle physics center had to explain in depth why the nightmare scenarios were nothing more than nightmares. Once the collider went into operation, the lawsuits were dismissed and the hand-wringing settled down.
Now the world’s largest collider is operating at near its design limits, and this week, CERN reported that lead-ion collisions in the LHC’s ALICE detectorreached energies beyond a quadrillion electron-volts – a level also known as 1 peta-electron-volt, or 1 PeV.
“This energy is that of a bumblebee hitting us on the cheek on a summer day. But the energy is concentrated in a volume that is approximately 10 -27 (a billion-billion-billion) times smaller,” Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje, professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen and head of the Danish research group within the ALICE experiment, said in a news release.
At first blush, a quadrillion electron-volts sounds like a huge ramp-up from 13 trillion to 14 trillion electron-volts, or 13 to 14 TeV, the traditionally quoted figures for the high end of the LHC’s collision energy. That’s what set off the doomsayers. In the weeks leading up to the ALICE collisions, there was a drumbeat of postings claiming that “CERN LIED” and warning that 1-PeV smashups would have catastrophic consequences.