How to survive doomsday: Humans must upload their minds to machines or try to move Earth’s orbit, warn scientists
- Scientists say humans will not be able to live on Earth in 500 million years
- They suggest humans fire asteroid to alter Earth’s orbit, or build solar sail
- Or, they say humans could one day upload themselves into machines
- Comments were made by a pair of Columbia University astrophysicists
In roughly 500 million years, scientists believe humans will no longer live on the surface of Earth; conditions will eventually become so harsh that not even cockroaches will be able to survive.
But, there may still be some hope for Earth’s inhabitants.
Researchers have suggested a number of methods to stave off the impending doomsday, from altering Earth’s orbit by launching an asteroid, to uploading our consciousness into machines.
“If Earth avoids a life-ending event – like self-inflicted nuclear apocalypse or an extinction-sized asteroid – the scientists say humans have less than 500 million years left on the planet. This comes well before the planet is predicted to be ‘melt’ 6 billion years from now, when the sun swells to become a red giant”
Columbia University astrophysicists Michael Hahn and Daniel Wolf Savin explain how life on Earth will slowly begin to decline in an essay entitled ‘How to Survive Doomsday’ published in Nautilus.
If Earth avoids a life-ending event – like self-inflicted nuclear apocalypse or an extinction-sized asteroid – the scientists say humans have less than 500 million years left on the planet.
This comes well before the planet is predicted to be ‘melt’ 6 billion years from now, when the sun swells to become a red giant.
The predictions seem grim, but the researchers say there are a few ways humans can potentially save the fate of our planet.
One such idea is to physically move the orbit of Earth.
‘If we fired a 100 km [62 mile] wide asteroid on an elliptical orbit that passed close to the Earth every 5,000 years, we could slowly gravitationally nudge the planet’s orbit farther away from the sun, provided that we don’t accidentally hit the Earth,’ the authors write.
SCIENTISTS PREDICT ‘THE END’
As the sun grows brighter at a rate of roughly 10 percent every billion years, Earth will respond by decreasing its own ‘warming blanket’ of atmospheric carbon dioxide. With less carbon dioxide, the plants eventually all die out, and oxygen will not be replenished. Over time, the temperature of the Earth will dramatically raise as well. Large animals will be the first to die off, they explain, and after roughly 1.5 billion years, even the poles will be too hot to sustain non-microbial life. This all comes well before the planet is predicted to be ‘melt’ 6 billion years from now, when the sun swells to become a red giant.
They also suggest building a giant solar sail, at least 20 times the diameter of Earth.
This would theoretically work to drag the planet away from the sun by interacting with the photons from the sun in a manner similar to how a kite flies in the wind.
Earth would remain ‘tethered’ to the solar sail by gravity.
According to the Global Catastrophic Risks 2016 report, the biggest threats humanity should prepare for are climate change-related catastrophes, natural pandemics and nuclear war.
These were all listed as high priority and had the highest likelihood of occurring in the next five years.
However, other threats to look out for include pandemics from man-made pathogens, failure of geo-engineering projects, and catastrophic disruption from artificial intelligence.
In terms of mitigating risks, the report draws comparisons with fatal car accidents, where governments have mandated basic safety features, such as seatbelts and air bags.
It states that while the risk of human extinction is small, at 0.1 per cent each year, it means that a person is five times more likely to die in an extinction event than a car crash.
Catastrophic climate change poses such a high risk due to the cumulative effects of rising carbon dioxide levels, feedback loops in the carbon cycle, and lack of action and financial investment.
The report states of the need for the international community to take strong action to avoid the upper limits of global temperature change, which could have devastating impacts on food security and human life.
By CHEYENNE MACDONALD FOR DAILYMAIL
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