What will cause the end of life on planet Earth? Will it be the when the sun dies or something else?
Graihagh - Will hungry humans be the cause of the apocalypse or will it be something like the catastrophic comet that cause the dinosaurs to go extinct? We put it to you on Facebook and Paul came back with this...
Paul - Humans may survive, breeding, warring, poisoning, destroying and plundering forever but I fear, nothing habitable will be left behind, for humans are cancer to all life.
Graihagh - Whereas Jeremy thought life was just to hardy to ever go extinct.
Jeremy - Life is persistent stuff. NASA tried to create a sterile room to build Mars rovers to prevent interplanetary contamination. What did they find? Bacteria that evolved to eat the paint in the sterile room.
Graihagh - So, will life always find a way to endure, no matter what happens to Earth? To find out, we spoke to Astronomer Royal, Martin Reese from Cambridge University.
Martin - We know that the sun will die in about 6 billion years. When that happens, itíll flare up, become a red giant and engulf the inner planets and end any life remaining on Earth. Long before that, in fact, life have become uncomfortable on Earth because the sun is getting brighter all the time. So after about 1 billion years from today, the ocean would start to boil.
Graihagh - The Atlantic boiling, our sun exploding... 6 billion years from now, do we have any hope?
Martin - I would expect it in a few hundred years, thereíll be communities living away from the Earth on asteroids or on Mars and they will in fact, use genetic technology and cyborg technology to modify themselves. So, they'll be post humans already. But if we imagine that the Earth has ahead of it, more time that itís taken to go all the way from simple organisms to humans, then we can imagine that by the time the sun dies, thereíll be life descended from human life, all through the galaxy perhaps and taking many different forms.
Graihagh - So, human life may end on Earth but not elsewhere in the universe. Thanks, Martin. Next week, weíll be twirling our moustaches over this beaded beauty of a question sent in by listener Mark...
Mark - I've been taking part in November which is a fundraising for cancer research where men raise money by growing moustache over the course of the month of November. Hence, that 'M' in November. Itís been 10 years since I've grown any hair on my chain and this year, itís growing white. The hair on my head isnít white, itís not grey. My question is, why is my facial hair growing white and I don't really want people to think I'm dying it.
Honestly... either some biological disease from acts of war... or flesh eating cats. no really though... if there is anything we've seen from the past.. its diseases that have done the most harm in the history of humans. Oceanbliss, Tue, 16th Dec 2014
I think we can put up a parasol for the Earth to get another few billion years out of her. David Cooper, Tue, 16th Dec 2014
Humans are irrelevant. Life will continue until there is no water left for the last cell to divide. alancalverd, Tue, 16th Dec 2014
I sometimes think Green peace who say "make peace not war" have got it the wrong way around it would be better for the world if humans killed themselves off.
There are a lot of bad genes in people because rape and pillage was a major part in our evolutionary history with the bad guys winning repeatedly. It's really quite remarkable that so many people are nice and civilised despite that. What we need to do is reprogram all the bad stuff out of our species so that we no longer have any abusive individuals spoiling it for the rest. Once that's done, we have billions of years ahead of us here where we are no longer a negative thing. David Cooper, Wed, 17th Dec 2014
If I had to bet I'd say that someday in the very distant future some insane person will figure out how to destroy the earth in a major nuclear detonation and that same person will do it for the hatred he has for all or most people. And there's plenty of reason to do it. Almost every single day we bump into people who act rude, mean or will act violently or threaten you. There are plenty of cops who are power hungry and love to toss their authority around to make themselves feel good. There are doctors who let their patients suffer so they don't get into trouble with the FDA or the DEA. The list goes on and on. If this same person was abused as child and has grown up with a hatred for mankind in their heart then I can easily imagine it happening. So in, say, 100,000,000 years I can see it being possible for the average physicist to figure it out. PmbPhy, Thu, 18th Dec 2014
I don't know if we will make it. too many things going wrong at the same time.
We pause for a moment of optimism in response to yor_on's post.
Yeah Ophiolite :)
Once I thought we could something about it, but as it is today I've started to doubt it. It's like a bad soap opera, in where you see the actors doing the same mistakes over and over again. That doesn't necessarily mean that we can't find a new balance with life and our earth. But those days I guess that the 'forces' that correct us will be way out of our voluntary, individual, control. Some of the reasons to why it looks like it does for us has to lie in the way we're (hard) wired, no matter what color or language one have. And to change those is the same as expecting every human to voluntary start to question himself, and then act on it. I don't expect that to happen, it hasn't so far. yor_on, Wed, 24th Dec 2014
Okay, new years eve, well somewhere, somewhat :)
Diseases are the usual way great civilizations have ended. But in all likely hood it would be water radiation poisoning from Fukushima or any others that may occur. AnotherView, Wed, 14th Jan 2015
I think it is worthwhile to remember that nuclear fuel was mined from the Earth and concentrated for use. In this concentrated form it is quite dangerous, but if returned to the dilution it was originally found in, not likely to be much more hazardous that it was at the outset. I remember reading somewhere that the levels of radiation naturally found in the Andes is significantly higher than those currently found on the Bikini Atoll (where the US did much of its nuclear weapons testing...)
I think that the nuclear accidents in the Ukraine and Japan caused very little damage on a worldwide scale but the minor accident at Three mile island will be the cause of an untold number of deaths due to delaying the introduction of nuclear power with the contamination caused by fossil fuel continuing. syhprum, Wed, 14th Jan 2015
Yes there is far more radioactive metals (and other heavy metals) pollution from coal mining, and radon release during oil and natural gas extraction. chiralSPO, Thu, 15th Jan 2015
I think there are several questions.
As the expansion of the universe, the earth will also expand until it explode and there couldn't hold any life. Waaah, I'm not so lucky to see this spectacle.
The new theory Big Rip predicts Dark Energy will drive expansion of the universe to the point that atomic particles will fly apart .. sudden Big Rip in all matter .. end of everything. Identical to the biblical view .. "elements shall be dissolved in fervent heat". Alohascope, Sat, 16th Jan 2016
It's amazing. I just came across this old thread and was totally fascinated by the comments made to this innocent sounding question.
I think it's fair to say, though, that humans are probably the best prospect for global destruction, one way or another. Until we came along, life here had survived armageddon more than once. We're doing an excellent job of ruining the place for everything and everyone and creating a huge human monoculture in the process... chris, Sat, 16th Jan 2016