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How will the world end?
March 10, 2012 10:40 AM   Subscribe

How will the world end? Encased in ice? Crumbling apart due to over mining? Or maybe beset by amphibious monsters and loathsome animals of huge size creeping their way towards us? An article by Herbert C. Fyfe from 1900, illustrated by Warwick Goble.

I think I have said how much hotter than our own was the weather of this Golden Age. I cannot account for it. It may be that the sun was hotter, or the earth nearer the sun. It is usual to assume that the sun will go on cooling steadily in the future. But people, unfamiliar with such speculations as those of the younger Darwin, forget that the planets must ultimately fall back one by one into the parent body. As these catastrophes occur, the sun will blaze with renewed energy; and it may be that some inner planet had suffered this fate.

HG Wells, The Time Machine
posted by dng (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do we get to vote? Because I'm really partial to the "loathsome animals of huge size" option.

I would like my last words to be "what the fuck is that th..OW!"
posted by louche mustachio at 10:44 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

- Robert Frost
posted by hal9k at 10:46 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm going with blue ice from an alien civilization's spacecraft flying through our solar system.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2012


Yeah, loathsome animals of hugh size looks like a good way to go. I imagine a long fight, resulting in victory over the loathsome animals followed by a celebratory seafood feast with crab legs the size of telephone poles, only to be followed by chaos and civil war when we realize there's not enough butter to go around. Hell of a better way to go than ebola.
posted by Mcable at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2012


I suppose we'll have to stretch out and wait.
posted by Abiezer at 10:57 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I would like my last words to be "what the fuck is that th..OW!"

I'm going with "Watch this" or "Hold my beer."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:57 AM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


From wikipedia:
Main article Future of the Earth:

The future of the planet is closely tied to that of the Sun. As a result of the steady accumulation of helium at the Sun's core, the star's total luminosity will slowly increase. The luminosity of the Sun will grow by 10% over the next 1.1 Gyr (1.1 billion years) and by 40% over the next 3.5 Gyr.[54] Climate models indicate that the rise in radiation reaching the Earth is likely to have dire consequences, including the loss of the planet's oceans.[55]

The Earth's increasing surface temperature will accelerate the inorganic CO2 cycle, reducing its concentration to levels lethally low for plants (10 ppm for C4 photosynthesis) in approximately 500 million[24] to 900 million years. The lack of vegetation will result in the loss of oxygen in the atmosphere, so animal life will become extinct within several million more years.[56] After another billion years all surface water will have disappeared[25] and the mean global temperature will reach 70 °C[56] (158 °F).
...
The Sun, as part of its evolution, will become a red giant in about 5 billion years. Models predict that the Sun will expand out to about 250 times its present radius, roughly 1 AU (150,000,000 km).[54][59] Earth's fate is less clear. As a red giant, the Sun will lose roughly 30% of its mass, so, without tidal effects, the Earth will move to an orbit 1.7 AU (250,000,000 km) from the Sun when the star reaches it maximum radius. The planet was therefore initially expected to escape envelopment by the expanded Sun's sparse outer atmosphere, though most, if not all, remaining life would have been destroyed by the Sun's increased luminosity (peaking at about 5000 times its present level).[54] A 2008 simulation indicates that Earth's orbit will decay due to tidal effects and drag, causing it to enter the red giant Sun's atmosphere and be vaporized.
posted by delmoi at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2012


Earth: use it or lose it!
posted by curious nu at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, what's interesting is that most of the time that the earth is capable of supporting life is already passed. Life has existed for 3.5 billion years, but only has another 1.5 billion to go. Only 500-900 million to go capable of supporting current plant life, but plants will probably evolve to live in lower CO2 environments over hundreds of millions of years.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 AM on March 10, 2012


I don't know, but I'm pretty sure Auto-Tune will have something to do with it.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:17 AM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


A toad hopped into my face last night. So I guess I'm going with the amphibian thing.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:28 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slight correction on the Robert Frost poem quoted above:

"To know say that for destruction ice"
posted by azaner at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2012


I think we've already covered how we can defend ourselves from this sort of thing.
posted by scalefree at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2012


loathsome animals of huge size creeping their way towards us?

I had a nightmare last night about a giant stink bug. I tried to smoosh it with a sledgehammer but it bit my arm off. I'm not certain the world is going to end that way, but I think I have a good idea for a SyFy original movie.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Likely, humans won't have to worry about the next 500 million years.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2012


Man, I had never even thought or heard of the "Crumbling apart due to over mining" option - that's a good one.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:11 PM on March 10, 2012


I've always assumed that whatever does us in will be both stupid and avoidable. But that's just mankind - the earth will age gracefully and pass in it's sleep when it's time.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:14 PM on March 10, 2012


Likely, humans won't have to worry about the next 500 million years.

I've heard of that before and have an explanation for why it's wrong.

First of all, the argument is actually intrinsically religious. It implies that there is a fixed number of souls, and that they are distributed with an equal probability function with respect to time.

If thought of in a religious context, though there is a problem, there is an X% probability that the human race will be exhausted of souls within (1-(x/100))*y years where y is the number of already existing years. However, there is a low probability of winning the lottery, but people do win, and the fact they've won does not change the odds of anyone else winning. souls extant today may simply have been 'lottery winners' in terms of ending up in an early body.

But obviously, if you drop the soul bit there's no problem. Humans are like branches on a tree. A branch can only come about during a short period after the tree starts to grow and before it sprouts any sub-branches. A tree branch, if it could become conscious, would not assume that it could could have existed at any point in time, including before the tree started to grow or after it died.

On a cellular level, human cells are just part of a long chain with no beginning Just like you grow new skin cells and hair cells, which die off your entire body was split off from your mother and father, and will eventually die off as well - but your children will continue to exist. The probability distribution function for when "you" came into existence isn't even across all time, but rather a finite the range of time during which your parents were fertile.
posted by delmoi at 12:24 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, these illustrations, as well as those in the links on Moebius' passing, convince me anew that art is a lost art. That quality illustrations, done manually by a talented individual with nothing between him and his medium (no computer, no photoshop, etc.), are a talent that is being forgotten in this modern time.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 1:01 PM on March 10, 2012


I'd like the world to end in an avalanche of dark-chocolate-covered crystallized ginger, please.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:18 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, I had never even thought or heard of the "Crumbling apart due to over mining" option - that's a good one.

Nope. Gonna end with a sucking implosion from oil drilling/removal.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:22 PM on March 10, 2012


I was already an admirer of Warwick Goble's lobsters. Goble does good lobster. You really wouldn't know whether to run screaming or, as Mcable suggests, call for the drawn butter.
posted by jfuller at 1:42 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a giant whiskery amphibious thing coming to eat your face.
posted by Pallas Athena at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


It starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes and aeroplanes, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid...
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


No need for mystery, there's a restaurant with a view of the whole thing. Make yur reservations now.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2012


Rush Limbaugh is still on the air, so I vote for the loathsome animals of huge size creeping their way towards us.
posted by Schmucko at 5:06 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love those illustrations. Thanks, dng.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:59 PM on March 10, 2012


You know, these illustrations, as well as those in the links on Moebius' passing, convince me anew that art is a lost art. That quality illustrations, done manually by a talented individual with nothing between him and his medium (no computer, no photoshop, etc.), are a talent that is being forgotten in this modern time.
It used to be, artists had to make their own paint. 100 years ago artists started to be able to use photographs as a reference. It is true that with computers, artists don't need to do their own shading, and a lot of the cool stuff that guys like Mobius did was in the shading and details.

But still, using a computer doesn't mean you're not a real artist.
posted by delmoi at 4:42 AM on March 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great work highlighting Goble. Dude doesn't get enough props.
posted by smoke at 3:44 AM on March 12, 2012


You know, these illustrations, as well as those in the links on Moebius' passing, convince me anew that art is a lost art. That quality illustrations, done manually by a talented individual with nothing between him and his medium (no computer, no photoshop, etc.), are a talent that is being forgotten in this modern time.

thermonuclear.jive.turkey, you forgot to mention that this "hippity-hop" stuff the kids listen to these days is NOT music.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:27 AM on March 12, 2012


This Is The Way The World Ends.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:38 AM on April 4, 2012


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