Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"10 Ways to Destroy the Earth": The Universe, History Channel

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the History Channel’s “The Universe” series presented “10 Ways to Destroy the Earth”. The program started with the “reassuring” idea that an asteroid hit could not destroy the Earth, but a collision with Venus could cause both planets to disintegrate and recombine as a larger, desert planet, probably resembling others within 100 or so light years of our solar system. A collision with a Mars-sized body accounts for our Moon.

“What if the Earth’s orbit disintegrated a little bit a year and they just weren’t telling us?”

That’s a good scenario for sci-fi. The Earth would become like Venus and eventually get extruded into the Sun. The other scenario, where the Earth gradually recedes, might allow humans to build a civilization underground, off of geothermal energy, and have a world like Europa (or maybe even Titan underground or even Triton).

Some of the scenarios toward the end are interesting. If the Hadron collider makes a mini black hole, they tell us it will evaporate, like ice subliming in the sun when the temperature is below freezing. A black hole the size of a marble could consume the earth from within, much like a well-known scene from the new Star Trek. In my sci-fi novel, I imagine that “ viral proteins can accommodate certain radioactive atoms that produce micro black holes that allow the information imprints of other personalities to be imported” in order that personalities get consolidated by a “soul contraction” at the end of time.

The film imagines some bizarre ideas, such as introduction of anti-matter, or like the possibility that gravity suddenly splits into two forces, or that somehow the Earth is “infected” by strangelets, that turns the entire planet into a strangelet goo, very much like a prion infection of the brain. Or possibly parallel universes collide, resulting in annihilation and a new big bang, which is an “inflation” of space-time which can exceed the speed of light.

Earlier this evening the History Channel presented “Big Blasts”, which start with the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs and ends with the Big Bang.

Attribution link for NASA picture of surface of Europa.

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