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Hey, Baby -- did you feel that?
February 22, 2001 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Hey, Baby -- did you feel that? The sun, someday, will envelope the Earth and all life as we know it will die. Can we prevent this? Some wacky scientists think that the best thing to do would be to up and move the whole damn planet.
posted by amanda (16 comments total)

 
I heard some short discussion on this on NPR which raised the interesting question of how humans might not be able to work together and make this happen. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to reach global unanimity in this endeavor? That's where the real difficulty is.
posted by amanda at 9:45 AM on February 22, 2001


I dunno. Folks might get motivated when the imminent death of the earth is at stake. Besides, we'll be better evolved by then.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:48 AM on February 22, 2001


The problem is not moving the Earth.

The problem is forwading all that mail.


posted by bondcliff at 9:55 AM on February 22, 2001


remember that its not imminent death... we've got a billion years to go. and of course, you, I, and everyone else alive today will be dead by then...

great, now i'm depressed. sigh. :)
posted by benjh at 9:57 AM on February 22, 2001


This gets my vote for best link title of the week.
posted by kindall at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2001


Just as sure as the Sun comes up every morning, it is scheduled to die.

'Now, sure as the sun will cross the sky...'

a little Asia for you :-)
posted by Sean Meade at 9:59 AM on February 22, 2001


In just a billion years, the Sun could be 11-percent brighter, scientists say, rendering Earth an inhospitable greenhouse.

A billion years?! Let's get cracking! If we haven't figured out what to do by then, then we deserve a good case of the Lethal Sweats.

And, incidentally, I nominate "Hey, Baby--did you feel that?" for funniest thread title of the month.
posted by Skot at 10:01 AM on February 22, 2001


Argh . . . kindall snuck in the nominating vote while I was applying zinc oxide.
posted by Skot at 10:02 AM on February 22, 2001


Yeah, Skot, but he was only nominating for the week. You upped the ante. :)

As for the "we'll all be dead by then" argument, I say you got to plan ahead! Think of all the world's problems that could be solved if people thought beyond their lifetime.
posted by amanda at 10:07 AM on February 22, 2001


I'll be very surprised if humanity is still around in a billion years. Obviously we should be spending more time on developing a way to communicate with the cockroaches so we can warn them of the danger.
posted by darukaru at 10:08 AM on February 22, 2001


Can you imagine how difficult it would be to reach global unanimity in this endeavor?

I imagine we had to bunch people up into two groups, one will be on one side of the planet and the other on the other, then one on the other will have to simultaneously jump?
posted by tiaka at 10:30 AM on February 22, 2001


Just make sure to turn in library books on time before you begin to get charged a late fee or a replacement fee.
posted by Postroad at 10:41 AM on February 22, 2001


Larry Niven wrote about moving planets, particularly in A World Out of Time. This is actually a really neat, subtle technique. When Cassini swung by Earth on its way to the outer solar system, we transferred some of our angular momentum to it -- which imperceptibly slowed the Earth. What we need to do in this case is transfer angular momentum from another object back to the Earth, to speed it up, and expand its orbit. (Actually the first effect is to make it more elliptical; smoothing it out at the wider distance is another trick.) That's how they reboost the space station, for example -- they turn it around and point it forward, and the shuttle boosts it in that direction so it goes faster and rises. (Bet you thought they just fired "up"!) The really difficult part, of course, is the moon. We're in a remarkably stable relationship with that object, and something like this has the potential to really disturb it. If the moon is responsible, as some believe, for helping create the conditions conducive to life, we might find that a moonless Earth farther out from a hot sun isn't in that much better a situation.
posted by dhartung at 11:42 AM on February 22, 2001


The moon question was asked on the NPR program (hate, hate, hate searching their archives) and never really answered. I was thinking that the Earth might potentially crash into the moon or cause the moon to crash into it. I suppose the theory might go that the Earth would drag the moon with it but I wonder....
posted by amanda at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2001


Easy: move the moon too. Hell, move it now; it's ugly.
posted by johnnydark at 1:01 PM on February 22, 2001


We've known this for a long, long time. Moving to the moon, or anywhere else in the solar system, won't help either. When a sun dies, it increaces in size by gigantic ratios (like the article says) and at that point would envelope the earth and all the other planets in the solar system. After this, it will collapse in on itself.

Glad I could brighten your day.
posted by tomorama at 2:19 PM on February 22, 2001


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