What is The True Nature of Reality?
Get your geek on!
Is String Theory the final solution for all of physic’s questions or an overhyped dead end?
By Ian O’Doherty via Independent.ie
Well, that’s a bit of a bummer, isn’t it? Yeah, yeah, so the families of the 239 people who went down on Flight MH370 will finally find some much-needed closure. And sure, when you’re feeling all grown up and mature about things, you are prepared to accept that the 300 pieces of wreckage they found in the ocean yesterday provides incontrovertible proof that the airliner crashed. But still, aren’t you just a little bit disappointed? Isn’t the truth so banal and uninteresting?
In fact, such were the similarities between this case and Lost that people are now looking at the mundane facts of the crash with as much disappointment as they felt when they watched the last ever episode of that infuriating show.
Obviously, any time a plane crashes, it’s news. The bigger the plane the bigger the story, and they don’t get much bigger than the Boeing 777 which, until now, had an enviable flying record. But what we’ve witnessed over the last two weeks quickly waved goodbye to mere ‘news’; and became a febrile asylum of claims, accusations and conspiracies, the madder the better.
But, as fascinating as any plane crash is, and understandable though it may have been for people to fill their gaps in information with deranged theories, one simple fact remained – planes crash, bad things happen and people die all the time. The simple truth is that sometimes we would do well to remember the words of that wise sage Homer Simpson who reminds us that life is just a bunch of stuff that happens.
It became depressingly obvious just how far the once respectable trade of journalism has slipped when CNN anchor Don Lemon devoted an entire section of his show to possible ‘supernatural’ explanations, which saw him actually ask his guests: “Is it preposterous to consider a black hole as a possibility?”
Well, the simple answer to that question is… um, yes, it is extremely preposterous. And dumb. And scientifically absurd. Having dealt with the black hole theory – the guests declared they thought it an unlikely explanation – the Bermuda Triangle was then discussed as a possible culprit. Now, I’m no expert, but I would have thought the Bermuda Triangle was located somewhere around, um, Bermuda, rather than the Indian Ocean.
CNN’s sister network, HLN, even featured a psychic, Lisa Williams, who reckoned the plane had landed near water or trees and boasted that: “Naturally, I don’t have hard, concrete evidence. I think any psychic who has hard, concrete evidence can’t do their job correctly, because they get misinformed.”
You have to hand it to her, and the producers who booked her on the programme, because it takes a remarkably hard neck to take pride in eschewing evidence and thinking that hard facts can ‘misinform’ you. Just as nature hates a vacuum, it’s human nature to fill gaps in our knowledge with conjecture. But the possible explanations simply became ever more outlandish, and we saw everybody from Pakistan and Iran to North Korea and the Americans blamed for stealing it, all with the now customary scant evidence.
So now that the mystery seems to have been solved, have people finally regained their senses and started to accept that sometimes a crash is just a crash? Well, not exactly.
For years and years everyone from science fiction writers to scientists have been talking about all of these scenarios and what not about how the world will end (be it by our own hands, or a random act of nature).
While I find many of these scenarios interesting, many of them have a common flaw: they don’t actually end the Earth, just human civilization, and perhaps the human species.
So, how exactly could the Earth REALLY be destroyed (as in cease to exist)?
Well I’ve thought about it, and I’ve come up with about 11 different ways of how it could happen.
So if you don’t mind possibly being scared to death, below are those 11 possible scenarios:
• Planetary impact
We all know the dangers that a direct impact from either a comet or meteor poses to the Earth as it has been the subject of several movies and books, and is a legitimate threat because it has happened before, and it has wiped out entire species and caused major damage to the Earth throughout our planet’s history.
While some people might believe that it would be the end of the world if a large meteor or comet was to hit us today, it wouldn’t be. It might be the end of human civilization, maybe even our species, but the world will still exist… unless something really big, or really heavy was to hit us…
Lets say something nearly the size of the Earth, or bigger, was to hit us, or something very heavy like a neutron star. The fact is that there would be no way for the Earth to survive an impact by something close to, or larger, or heavier than the Earth. Our world would be broken apart and probably turned into an asteroid field by such an impact.
• High speed impact
The amount of damage a object can do not only depends on how large an object is, but also by how fast said object is going.
A one mile wide meteor hitting the Earth would be devastating. If that one mile wide meteor was to hit the Earth while traveling nearly the speed of light, the amount of kinetic energy released from such an impact would rip the Earth apart, and we wouldn’t even know it until it actually happened (assuming we survived long enough) because such an object would most likely be impossible to find, let alone track.
A von Neumann machine is a type of robot first conceived of by John von Neumann (hence the name) that can basically self replicate, and could even manufacture materials on it’s own in order to do so. It would even be possible for it to seek out the resources it needs to manufacture those materials.
While such a machine would be an extraordinary leap forward in terms of robotics and manufacturing, some people fear that one day one of those robots could go haywire (or someone could build one for the purpose of unregulated self replicating) and continue to self replicate without knowing when to shut off, and ultimately end up destroying the Earth a small part at a time until there is nothing left.
While a larger machine might not actually be able to do this before we stopped it, a small machine like a nano-probe might just be able to do this.
• Knocked into the sun
Lets say a very large object (like a star) was to pass through our solar system, what do you think would happen?
The answer is that the Earth would be knocked out of orbit.
After that one of two things would then happen: The Earth would be knocked away from the sun and become a rogue planet (as well as a giant ball of ice), or we would get knocked into the sun and be burnt into nothing.
If you’ve ever seen Star Wars then you probably know what I’m talking about, if you don’t then I’ll explain (although I do still recommend seeing Star Wars).
A laser is a device that creates a focused beam of light that can actually be quiet destructive, and depending on how much energy you put into the laser, it’s destructive power can range from being harmless (unless you look directly into the beam) to being used to take out a vehicle. Taking this in mind it is theoretically possible to build a laser powerful to destroy the Earth.
Fortunately we don’t have to worry about this one right now due to the fact that the total amount of energy produced world wide is no where near enough to power a laser that would be capable of doing so.
- Can Data Flow Help Us Escape the von Neumann Machine? (programming.oreilly.com)
- How Self-Replicating Spacecraft Could Take Over the Galaxy (io9.com)
- Huge Russian meteor was ‘a wake-up call for humanity’ (itv.com)
- Risk of Meteors Smashing Into Earth Bigger Than Thought (sorendreier.com)