Judging by the number of commercially successful movies of the cataclysms and catastrophes, pop-culture fascinated with the idea of doomsday. The film "28 Days Later," Danny Boyle’s Britain and its neighborhood devastated virus. In "2012" and "Armageddon," threatens the Earth a huge meteorite. "The Day After Tomorrow" tells of the terrible sudden climate change.
In fact, life arose on Earth about 3.5 billion years ago, very fragile, and death – a normal part of its history. Of the four billion species have existed on the planet, 99% have disappeared. Over the past 500 million years mass extinctions have occurred five times – in these times, the reasons are not fully understood, disappeared more than 75% of cash.
At least one mass extinction occurred partly because of what might be called the end of the world in Hollywood style. If a large asteroid hit the Earth, it could cause earthquakes and tsunamis around the globe. In addition, the explosion in the atmosphere has risen so much dust that the sun would have been closed for several years, and then the plants would die, and with them, and those who ate them. It is believed that 65 million years something like this took place after the fall of the meteorite with a diameter of 10 km in the area of modern Mexico.
Monica Grady, an expert in meteorites at the Open University (UK), said that the near-Earth objects over a kilometer in diameter encounter with Earth every few hundred thousand years and more than six kilometers in diameter – every hundred million years.
The reason may be a global catastrophe, and other improbable things (see below), but much more serious risk is our own activity. Our species has a unique ability to change the world. And it can lead us to ruin. This, of course, anthropogenic climate change, excessive pollution, depletion of natural resources and nuclear war. Tinkering with genes and atoms also can not do too much. Nanotechnology, synthetic biology and genetic modification give us better food, safer medicines, etc., but the cost of failure in these industries already very high.
British astronomer Martin Rees, a former president of the Royal Society, warned in his book "Our Final Century?" (2003) that the chances of survival of human civilization after 2100 do not exceed 50%, given the easy access to technologies global consequences (biological terrorism, out-of-control nanotechnology).
Another point of failure – computerization. On the one hand, it is better access to information, new ways of trade, communication and management. On the other hand, are viruses. Trained terrorists could threaten energy systems of entire countries, not leaving the house and steal financial data, disrupt food supply. Such a failure in the United States may in a few seconds to influence others.
Ironic, but true: the more light we shed on the mysteries of the universe, the greater the risk of self-destruction. In addition, the more we realize our frailty. How could the great scientists and thinkers of Europe XVII-XVIII centuries. imagine that scientific discoveries are not only light but also a threat? Yes, they had no idea either about black holes, or of nuclear bombs, or of sea-level rise due to anthropogenic warming.
So if you really want to wind up, forget about 2012 and Hollywood, behold the following. Thus, the ten most elegant way to the destruction of humanity (sometimes – with the Earth), open science in recent years.
1. Many of us consume daily caffeine and nicotine, as well as other substances that elevate mood, improve attention, increase the activity. When it comes a time when we can not live without them? Maybe this will not lead to disaster-stage, but make humankind gradually evaporate.
2. If the Earth exists in a region of space called a false vacuum, it (this region) may at any time move to a lower energy state. Wave energy will cover us at light speed and break to atoms.
3. Generally speaking, in quantum mechanics, a lot of scary things. For example, there is a hypothesis about "strapelkah" – objects that can turn into a copy of any particle. Within hours, the whole earth can become a shapeless mass of faceless "strange drops."
4. The laws of physics allow the end of time. In 2007, Spanish scientists have proposed an alternative explanation for the mysterious dark energy, which accounts for 75% of the mass of the universe, and acts as a kind of antigravity, pushing the galaxies apart. According to them, we observe the effect of slowing down time to the extent that it "follows" from the universe.
5. Geologists fear the eruption of La Palma in the Canary Islands is able to shoot in the Atlantic piece rock twice the size of the Isle of Man. As a result, there will wave km altitude, which will move with the speed of jet aircraft. Half the world’s largest cities will be underwater for a few minutes.
6. The poles of the earth from time to time interchanged. In this transitional period planet’s magnetic field that protects us from harmful radiation is attenuated or even disappears. The last time this was nearly 780 thousand years ago.
7. Dying, a supermassive star shoots two beams of high energy gamma radiation. It is able to break the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer, comes to hand.
8. A black hole can break the Earth into its atoms by gravity. She is able to pull us over, while for billions of kilometers away from the solar system, and to tear the planet from the sun – the source of life.
9. Invasive species of plants, animals and microorganisms capable of destroying an ecosystem that has no defense against them. They have become a big challenge for world agriculture.
10. Once the biological and technological innovations will bring people to a level where they will not be like us, their ancestors. "Postlude" will be half or even computers exist only in the form of digital information transmitted by ultra-fast networks, and living a seemingly ever since the collapse of the physical body.
Then the system will fail. Almost all religions say that eventually the planet will be cleansed of sin and depravity as a result of the "divine" intervention, and highly moral people populate race, which starts all over again. Why not?
And do not forget that the average life expectancy of mammal species is 2.2 million years. Homo sapiens was born about 200 thousand years ago, and the genus Homo – about 1.8 million