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Author Topic: It's the End of the World...  (Read 3825 times)

Offline Frank Ears

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It's the End of the World...
« on: 17/01/2008 15:02:02 »
Hi everyone,

This is my first post here. Looks like an interesting place and perfect for my question.

I recently saw the film I am Legend it got me to thinking about the end of the world. Basically my question is: If every single person on the planet dropped dead tomorrow how long would stuff last? By "stuff" I mean things like power. How long would electricity last? What about the internet? Obviously it wouldn't be updated but would it still function in the same way it does now?

So how long until the world is plunged into darkness? Can anyone help to answer this poser?

Thanks.


 

Offline Nobody's Confidant

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #1 on: 17/01/2008 15:45:38 »
Without anyone to operate the machines, how would power get anywhere? One man can't do it all. So I would guess they would fail long before the last man drops dead.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #2 on: 17/01/2008 17:18:03 »
Clearly any services that required human intervention would cease to work.  That includes electricity because  fuel supplies and power control require intervention even if a lot of the things shut themselves down in a safe mode.  This would all happen in a few hours although restarting it would be very difficult require many people at different locations and take a long time.
 

lyner

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #3 on: 17/01/2008 18:49:55 »
There are some nasty factories and even some nuclear power plant which can't be relied upon to turn off gracefully all by themselves - We could expect a few Chernobls before everything finally goes quiet. Then there are all the supertankers adrift in the ocean . . . .
Happy New Year Everyone
 

Offline engrByDayPianstByNight

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #4 on: 04/02/2008 19:46:01 »
You might be interested to know that plastic shopping bags would outlast most man-made things on earth...
 

another_someone

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #5 on: 04/02/2008 20:51:01 »
Probably remote sensing stations (including satellites, but also maybe some remote weather stations, etc.) I would imagine would last quite well for a few years.

Not sure about the plastic shopping bags - does it not rather depend on context?  Certainly, in protected environments, they will have a long lifespan, but most I suspect are fairly susceptible to ultraviolet radiation, let alone mechanical damage.  By comparison, I should thing gold or platinum jewellery to be at least as robust (certainly has proven to be fairly robust in archaeological sites).
 

Offline engrByDayPianstByNight

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #6 on: 04/02/2008 21:49:16 »
I guess I meant the lifespan of plastic bags (made mostly of polyethylene) in a bio-degradable sense. another_anyone is right in pointing out the ultraviolet radiation, which decomposes plastic bags in a photo-degradable sense. I should have been a little more specific about my previous post.
 

Offline engrByDayPianstByNight

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #7 on: 04/02/2008 21:50:48 »
Just want to add that even in a photo-degradable sense, plastic bags could take hundreds if not thousands of years to decompose. For obvious reasons no one knows for sure.
 

another_someone

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It's the End of the World...
« Reply #8 on: 04/02/2008 22:47:08 »
I think there are two different issues with regard to plastic bags.

We do not know how long it will take to break down the materials, but if one is talking about functional carrier bags, I tend to keep a supply around the house for this and that, and many do become pretty useless after a couple of years.

One of the problems on the high seas is that lots of plastic objects fall into the sea, and although many of the objects have deteriorated to being unrecognisable lumps of plastic, but the peril is in the large number of very small globules of plastic floating in the ocean.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

It's the End of the World...
« Reply #8 on: 04/02/2008 22:47:08 »

 

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