How Will the World End?
The Earth has a long shelf life, but it is, alas, temporary. Before the Sun explodes in 5 billion years, there are a number of extraterrestrial threats to our planet, from rogue black holes to magnetars.
What's the Latest Development?
There are at least seven ways the Earth could be pulverized even before our Sun turns into a red giant 5 billion years from now. Hypervelocity stars are one. The literal shooting star, these balls of fire millions of miles across have such a high velocity that they could break their gravitational orbit and go screaming into space, perhaps with a trajectory for Earth. Black holes are not stationary, either, and because not even light can escape their grasp, they are difficult to detect. Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of such rogue black holes roaming the galaxy. Is one headed for our planet?
What's the Big Idea?
The world will end in the existential crisis of all existential crises. But will it go out with a bang or a whimper? Will humans undo our own home or will the final blow come from outer space? Could gamma rays, a space rock, black hole, cosmic radiation burst, escaped star, magnetar or vacuum metastability get us before we get ourselves? Or at least before the Sun swallows the Earth in flame? Not a pleasant topic to ponder, perhaps, but one we should keep in mind both for psychological perspective and to remind us, as Stephen Hawking does, that our ultimate goal should be to get off this rock.
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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