When will the Earth meet its demise? | by Ethan Siegel | Starts With A Bang! | Mar, 2024

If the Earth had the misfortune to either encounter a black hole or simply have one get too close to it, our planet would be irrevocably destroyed. This is an extremely unlikely scenario, however, as there are much more likely, and much more seemingly inevitable ways, for our planet to meet its demise. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

No matter how you define the end, including the demise of humanity, all life, or even the planet itself, our ultimate destruction awaits.

If you have ever read the news, you’ve likely seen stories that announce our impending doom, usually brought on by some apocalyptic event that strikes fear into our imaginations. Various incarnations of the reported end of the Earth has come in a variety of forms, including from:

Every few years, or maybe even every few months (depending which corners of the internet you’re perusing), a new story, speculation, or conspiracy will go viral, claiming that the end of the world is near. While some claims are very specific; in general these claims are more vague, making them difficult to disprove or debunk.

Yet we don’t live in a world where myth and mysticism dominate our thinking; we know that we can comprehend all that’s known, as well as an enormous amount of what’s to come, using the predictive power of science. Based on what we know today, we can concretely predict that there are four ways the Earth will meet its eventual end, and each and every one of them will eventually occur. Here’s how our living planet, home to all the life in the cosmos that we presently know, will meet its ultimate end.

The Ivy Mike nuclear test was the world’s first thermonuclear device: where fission and fusion reactions combine to create a more energetic yield than a fission bomb alone can achieve. Unlike the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the yield was measured in the tens of kilotons of TNT, thermonuclear devices can reach tens or even hundreds of megatons of TNT-equivalent. Although these devices far exceed the breakeven point, the fusion reactions are uncontrolled and cannot be harnessed to create usable energy. (Credit: “Ivy Mike” atmospheric nuclear test — November 1952/Wikicommons)

1.) The extinction of humanity

Despite the dreams of immortality that many envision, both for themselves and for our species, our extinction is an inevitability. Although there are over eight billion humans on Earth (with that number continuing to grow) today, humans have only been around in our current form for a few hundred thousand years, with the…

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