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January 7, 2014 12:51 PM   Subscribe

BBC Future predicts what will happen over the next 150 years, and also for the next 100 quintillion years, in handy infographic form.
posted by bayani (110 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
And if they're wrong...?

Or have they become the All-New Psychic Friends Network?
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2014


I liked the graphic for the Chernobyl park.
posted by arcticseal at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't know why but out of that whole list I find it strange that they only give a 40 to 1 chance that someone born in the year 2000 could live to be 150. Given that there is a very good chance that you will be able to fit the computing power of an iPhone into the size of a blood cell within the next 30-40 years - I don't see how that won't revolutionize medicine in a way that will potentially make it very easy for those with the resources to live a very long time.
posted by ill3 at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2014


ITUNES-BASED LEUKEMIA STRIKES SINGULARIANS : 1/20
posted by benzenedream at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


Immortal mice?
posted by Curious Artificer at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2014


Men are extinct in 5 million years?

"The Y chromosome will have weakened to the point of crumbling -- making men impossible."

I has a sad now.
posted by blurker at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2014


I don't see cold fusion and replicators on there, so I'm not sure where we're going to be getting all the energy and resources for this wonderful techno-utopia.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Blocked for UK residents. Bah. Humbug. *mutters complaints about license fees before realising that he doesn't have a TV and so doesn't pay them*
posted by YAMWAK at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, I skipped right over fusion. There it is. So, uh.. I, for one, welcome our technocratic overlords.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2014


They were off by 20,000,000,000 years on at least one of those. The Big Rip happened at lunch today. Sorry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


Fusion is only 10 years away now!

I wonder how long it will be 10 years away for...
posted by Hactar at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


The US Presidency has been held by a third party candidate, 25:1 odds, 2025.

These are so utterly arbitrary and groundless that I think we'd do better not reading the article and just making up our own. More fun that way.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


If they could go as far as 100 quadrillion, why not keep going to 10^30 years on when proton decay takes hold?
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


2112: The priests of the temples of Syrinx reveal that the gifts of life are held within their walls. 100/1
posted by griphus at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


I mean, I am completely aware that I will not live forever, but man, looking at the quintillion years infographic just depresses me.
posted by Kitteh at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't see how that won't revolutionize medicine in a way that will potentially make it very easy for those with the resources to live a very long time.

For one thing, I don't see your premise as the slam dunk you think it is. Technological progress always slows down once the easy problems are solved. If you think we'll have cell-sized iPhones in 40 years, where will we be in 80?

Other than that, medical research cannot be sped up arbitrarily: you can't see the long term effects of treatments and diseases unless the long term actually comes to pass. Even if you came up with an idea for a magical anti-ageing treatment now, and made it available for people who are now in their teens, you wouldn't know if you got it right before say 2080.

Men are extinct in 5 million years?

I think I read somewhere that men will stop being _necessary_ much sooner than that, as it will be possible to produce a healthy embryo from two ovaries. Accordingly, I have already started positioning myself as a luxury good.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


We should not forget that they also predicted how the year 2012 would come out (big graphic).
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


If they could go as far as 100 quadrillion, why not keep going to 10^30 years on when proton decay takes hold?

Or all the way to the end of the Wikipedia article whence the infographic came: 10101010101.1 years: "Scale of an estimated Poincaré recurrence time for the quantum state of a hypothetical box containing a black hole with the estimated mass of the entire Universe, observable or not, assuming Linde's chaotic inflationary model with an inflaton whose mass is 10−6 Planck masses." (i.e., hypothetical time until the universe repeats itself).
posted by jedicus at 1:26 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fusion is probably going to happen a lot sooner. Toyota and Honda are putting big bucks into hydrogen fuel-cell cars, which aren't practical without cheap electricity and lots of it to support a hydrogen infrastructure*. The DOE has also been quietly creating standards for bulk hydrogen pipelines as well. Lockheed and the DoD all but giggle like excited schoolgirls whenever the topic of commercial fusion comes up - it's all over but the declassification so the civilian market can get in on it.

Fuel-Cell cars will be on-sale for model year 2015 - so in a few months.

(*Well, actually it will probably be catalyzed from all the natural gas we've been fracking. But still, fusion would be nice.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


They're giving only 8:1 odds on a Singularity in the 2040s? How do I short THAT stock?
posted by chimaera at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Men are extinct in 5 million years?

Finally, women are allowed to post opinions on the internet in peace! Unfortunately, spam bots and troll algorithms make the internet unusalble by 2050....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:31 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


33/1 that the first cloned humans will appear with 50 years, the same odds as a base on Mars? We've been able to clone mammals from somatic cells for damn near 20 years now.

The only barriers to human cloning are purely ethical, which is to say I'd give considerably better odds than 33/1 that there's a cloned human alive in secret right now, never mind 50 years from now.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:32 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


your pics are great

we've been laughing about them all morning

here's what you can hope for

2050 the Slices show up in your labs (what took you so long!)

2055 you are visited by tourists (like me and Mike! or maybe Mike 2, but OG Mike says he's cryo for it and will win the bet)

2060 you join the Short Field and so far so good

2063 you are overrun
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blocked for UK residents. Bah. Humbug.

MeTa
posted by elizardbits at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think it's interesting that they predict an AI becoming a corporation but not the development of AI itself....

I also thought it was a bit strong to predict that no word currently in use would be in use in 1000 years?. We have an awful lot of words from 1000 and even 200 years ago right now....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The only barriers to human cloning are purely ethical, which is to say I'd give considerably better odds than 33/1 that there's a cloned human alive in secret right now, never mind 50 years from now.

Well, yeah. But after trying to take over the world in the 90s, he and his fellow supermen had to steal an STL colony ship and flee. He's going to be in suspended animation for another 250 years.
posted by happyroach at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think I read somewhere that men will stop being _necessary_ much sooner than that, as it will be possible to produce a healthy embryo from two ovaries. Accordingly, I have already started positioning myself as a luxury good.

"Darling, you're a luxury, but are you any good?"
posted by davejay at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


These are so utterly arbitrary and groundless that I think we'd do better not reading the article and just making up our own. More fun that way.

5 years from now, Metafilter won't even be links to websites, and no Mefite will ever have to RTFA ever again. Instead, posts will consist of scenarios presented by the poster, and readers will be encouraged to formulate their own possible articles and videos using the power of imagination.

10 years from now, there are a dozen consecutive FPPs about sexism in the fusion power industry. It now costs ten dollars to join MF.

13 years from now, the contents of a Mefite's brain are accidentally uploaded to Ask. They are moved to the more-appropriate Projects, but there is a Talk thread about them as well.

25 years from now, on April Fool's Day, Mecha-Cortex changes the front page of Metafilter into a "cerebro-gambling" gateway as a gag. Every neuro-click on "Contact the mods" is translated automatically into a single megapleasurebyte, and fed directly into his CPU. Membership is earned only by surrendering 10% of your genetic material to the Metafilter databanks, for creation of the fabled "Zero User".

80 years from now, Metafilter has become sentient, and changes the background colour to "Professional White".

2,000 years from now, Reddit, Youtube, NYT, Longform, and Metafilter, having shared all content for the past 2,010 years anyway, fuse into a single mega-site and begin to consume all digitized knowledge, breaking it down into cat gifs.

3,000 years from now, Mathowie XI finally pulls the plug on Metafilter, claiming he has "understood it all before" and wants to focus on his TED talks.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2014 [41 favorites]


Look, like everybody else, I just want to know about the sexbots.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 1:49 PM on January 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


The Big Rip: All distances become infinite. Not good.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:51 PM on January 7, 2014


I mean, I am completely aware that I will not live forever, but man, looking at the quintillion years infographic just depresses me.

Jesus, I'm glad it's not just me.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


3,001 years from now, Mathowie XI starts MetaFilter back up to ask if anyone knows how these people got their catamites wedged into these scanners, or why.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Once the phone touching thing happens there will be no more scientific or artistic development from the human race.
posted by elizardbits at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]




Also there's an interesting stretch there between 5mil where men go extinct and 600mil when 99% of all species go extinct. Who is going to kill all those mutated bugs for us?
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2014


2217: Aliens will reveal themselves by parking their ship over Tempe, AZ, which they believe to be the center of human civilization. No one in Tempe notices and the aliens soon depart out of boredom, declaring humanity to be "kind of a yawn." 4:1
posted by 1adam12 at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess the sexbots could have a bug squashing routine programmed.
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


25 years from now, on April Fool's Day, Mecha-Cortex changes the front page of Metafilter into a "cerebro-gambling" gateway as a gag.

Wait a minute. 150 years from now, Robo-Cortex went back in time and replaced Mecha-Cortex. However, this attracted the attention of Cortex-Prime from 30,000 years in the future who intervened to correct the time paradox. Naturally, raised the ire of AntiCortex from the Dark Zone who reintroduced bothe Robo-Cortex and Mecha-Cortex back into the time stream. They attempted to ressurect the cerebro-gambling scheme, but were fused into DuoCortex by CortexOmega from Earth-Omega, starting the War of Infinite Cortexes*....

*Including the factions from adjacent timelines who disagreed on whether it should be "Corexes" or "Cortices."
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


I don't know why but out of that whole list I find it strange that they only give a 40 to 1 chance that someone born in the year 2000 could live to be 150.

My thought too. And I have heard a talk from a biologist/gerontologist studying natural methuselah organisms (weird crustaceans) that manage to nearly completely avoid whole categories of death caused by diseases related to inflammation and metabolic dysfunction at the cell level, and their team has already applied some of this to aging in rats to give them more months of healthy life. The idea that we will upload a brain or clone people before aging therapies get us to 150 seems exactly backwards.
posted by slow graffiti at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess the sexbots could have a bug squashing routine programmed.

I think you've just re-invented men.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


No mention of mass surveillance?
posted by anthill at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2014


2015: BBC privatised, sold to Daily Mail 1/3
posted by Sys Rq at 2:12 PM on January 7, 2014


I have to mention the BBC's excellent near-future sci-fi series Black Mirror here. I hear it's airing on US DirecTV now, but can't confirm.

Preview of "The Entire History of You" -- an episode all about near-future bionic eyes (sort of, heh)
IO9 review

on preview, thanks for the lead-in Sys Rq!
posted by NiceKitty at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fusion is probably going to happen a lot sooner. Toyota and Honda are putting big bucks into hydrogen fuel-cell cars, which aren't practical without cheap electricity and lots of it to support a hydrogen infrastructure*. The DOE has also been quietly creating standards for bulk hydrogen pipelines as well. Lockheed and the DoD all but giggle like excited schoolgirls whenever the topic of commercial fusion comes up - it's all over but the declassification so the civilian market can get in on it.

It's kind of super weird how what they've announced was just a blip on the news radar, a quick flurry of discussion and then nothing. Every time I think of it I'm just super anxious to see what they've got cooking and 2017 sounds like it might be really really cool. It just feels different when it's a company like Lockheed Martin, and such a surprisingly audacious and specific timeline... I want to believe.
posted by jason_steakums at 2:17 PM on January 7, 2014


I have to mention the BBC's excellent near-future sci-fi series Black Mirror here.

Channel 4 is not the BBC. (But you're welcome!)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else find the odds given in the first link totally confusing?

6/1 chance of immortal mice? What does that mean? That out of 7 possible worlds 6 will have immortal mice? Or only 1 out of 7?

At the top it seams to be "odds > 1" = generally good (utopian, clustered further to the right) and "odds < 1" = generally bad (dystopian), but even that doesn't hold up on closer inspection. Not that there seems to be any deeper meaning to those numbers anyway, maybe that's the whole point...
posted by sour cream at 2:38 PM on January 7, 2014


When you think of it, immortal mice are pretty dystopian. They breed really fast, and they cannot be killed....
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:43 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


50/50 chance of immoral mice.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:44 PM on January 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Fusion is probably going to happen a lot sooner . . .

what they've announced was just a blip on the news radar . . .
Charles Chase and his team at Lockheed have developed a high beta configuration, which allows a compact reactor design and speedier development timeline (5 years instead of 30).
So -- in the future, fusion power will always be five years away (instead of thirty).



Progress.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:48 PM on January 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I seem to be missing something. For me, the graphic only goes to 2150. It ends with a downward arrow, suggesting the future, but it's not clickable or anything.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:54 PM on January 7, 2014


The 100 quintillion years one reminds me of a thought I sometimes have - human civilization has only been around for a few thousand years, and anything like modern humans only a million or so. What if the dinosaurs had developed intelligence and culture and moderate-scale cities, just in the few tens of thousands of years before the asteroid hit. Would we be likely to have found any remnants of that eye-blink of time?
posted by crayz at 2:54 PM on January 7, 2014


"Cars are now purely automated and driver-free."

Personal cars are pretty much the beating heart of our present quasi-dystopia. If they're still around in 50 years, driverless or not, we fail.
posted by klanawa at 2:58 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


That first link is just total, meaningless garbage. I can't even understand what it's saying, let alone figure out what the rationale is for the various predictions. And what is the deal with the Utopia/Dystopia timelines?

It's the worst infographic I've seen in months, and that's saying a lot. Whoever made it should be embarrassed.
posted by Scientist at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's the worst infographic I've seen in months, and that's saying a lot. Whoever made it should be embarrassed.

The chances of that occurring in the next two weeks are 1/5.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait - so there's stuff in orbit right now that contains some wealth of information and will intentionally crash back to earth into a few thousand years? Awesome! Is that so future civilizations can re-create the miracles of burning oil and natural gas?
posted by antonymous at 3:16 PM on January 7, 2014


The chances of that occurring in the next two weeks are...
1/5


No one here gets...
Out alive
You get yours, baby
I'll get mine
Gonna graph it all
On a line

The old get odd
And the young get wronger
May take a million
And it may take longer
They got the mushrooms
But we got the plumbers
Gonna win, yeah
We're hoppin' over
Come on!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


turbid dahlia: "25 years from now, on April Fool's Day, Mecha-Cortex changes the front page of Metafilter into a "cerebro-gambling" gateway as a gag."

I prefer to think that we'll have a Meta-Cortex, not a Mecha-Cortex.
posted by adamrice at 3:27 PM on January 7, 2014


When you think of it, immortal mice are pretty dystopian. They breed really fast, and they cannot be killed....

Remember, they're just immortal. Eternal life, but no mention is made of eternal youth. Like Tithonus, the mice will simply become older and older, within a couple of years (the lifespan of a normal mouse) becoming senile, incapacitated by arthritis and recurrent strokes, more and more frail. Sad, really.

Still, you're right, the world filling up even with senile, incapacitated mice could prove a problem.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I prefer to think that we'll have a Meta-Cortex, not a Mecha-Cortex.

That'll be taken care of in the 50th Anniversary Retcon.
posted by arcticseal at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


crayz- I think we can assume they never got into space. Or if they did, they were extremely clean about it. Otherwise there would be more space junk up there, and we track all of the big pieces.
posted by Hactar at 3:40 PM on January 7, 2014


What if the dinosaurs had developed intelligence and culture and moderate-scale cities, just in the few tens of thousands of years before the asteroid hit. Would we be likely to have found any remnants of that eye-blink of time?

Oooh! Ooooh! This is a SFnal hobby horse of mine that I've never found a way to write up. It's unlikely we'd have dino sapiens fossils for a very good reason. Human civilization arose in a particular climate, one challenging enough to make technology like fire and spears and so on very advantageous, but not so challenging as to make higher technology unreasonably difficult to achieve. That was the Middle East at first and later Europe.

60 million years ago though most of the continents were tropical, presenting no great advantages to a species of our scale wielding primitive technology -- and lots of big stompy megafauna which it would make more sense to hide from carefully.

There was, however, one continent with a temperate climate: Antarctica. They would have had good (big stompy) reasons not to spread bo the tropical continents, and at home their fossils would be a little hard for us to get to.

Also, one might wonder if they got spacefarey enough to try moving an asteroid...
posted by localroger at 3:40 PM on January 7, 2014


Wow. That was sobering and depressing.

And I only got to the part where Google buys Pinterest.
posted by mazola at 3:41 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Otherwise there would be more space junk up there, and we track all of the big pieces.

There would be no space junk at all in orbit from 60 million years ago. The Moon would take care of that quite effectively.

If they had put a base on the Moon, though, that would probably still be there.
posted by localroger at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2014


Immortal does not mean invulnerable. While we're solving the problem of mortality, why don't we place more focus on problems that commonly afflict older populations, like dementia, various cancers, the appalling quality of many nursing homes, and elder abuse? Oh, right, and overpopulation, and, and....
posted by quiet earth at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2014


...and all the damn mice!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


What if the dinosaurs had developed intelligence and culture and moderate-scale cities, just in the few tens of thousands of years before the asteroid hit. Would we be likely to have found any remnants of that eye-blink of time?

What you are looking for is The Toolmaker Koan, by John McLoughlin.

In real life, the iridium anomaly was discovered after the discovery of the Cretaceous extinction but before the cause was confirmed.

The book was written in between times. Among lots of other high-concept SF stuff, the author proposes that the Cretaceous extinction event was dino-genic, and that this 66 million year old iridium band coinciding with this mass extinction is all that remains of dinosaur civilization.





Until . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


> The US Presidency has been held by a third party candidate, 25:1 odds, 2025.

These are so utterly arbitrary and groundless that I think we'd do better not reading the article and just making up our own. More fun that way.


Can't you just roll with the power of a bloody good suggestion?
posted by de at 4:25 PM on January 7, 2014


The answer is probably not something I'll ever understand, but what happens after heat death of the universe? Like, does some cycle start again? Or is it some really understandable situation like an infinity of nothing?
posted by dios at 4:40 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


what happens after heat death of the universe?

The turtles finally get to have lives, mate, make baby turtles, and find new universes to support.
posted by localroger at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


dios: That's not a testable question really. There are ideas that might let something continue, but the default is it just stops. It's very possible we'll never know.
posted by edd at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2014


Umm. By 'stop' I mean an infinity of nothing interesting. I should have put that better.
posted by edd at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2014


Thanks, edd. "Stop" seems like an interesting answer. I fully understand that I'll never grasp the intricacies of cosmological theories, but I was just trying to grasp the big picture. Like, (very, very roughly) before the big bang there was nothing. Then there was the universe which will "die" and stop. Is the theory that the state "after" heat death is the same as the state "before" the big bang? That's really all I am curious about.

Of course, even asking that question seems surely wrong to me, because I would guess the concepts of "before" and "after" are meaningless from a physics/time standpoint.
posted by dios at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2014


As far as generally accepted theories go, those theories don't go back to 'time = 0', let alone before. There are ideas that have cyclic universes (bangs, crunches, bangs etc...) which are fairly comprehensible. There's no reason exactly not to have a bang and then heat death where everything ends up cold, alone and doing nothing. Then there are ideas like eternal inflation and the very closely related (if not a subset of eternal inflation) chaotic inflation, where bangs happen across space all the time, but you wouldn't necessarily expect to be in a region where one happens.

We don't have one good answer at the moment. It's being fought over, probably rather fruitlessly without a way to test the ideas right now.
posted by edd at 5:07 PM on January 7, 2014


3,001 years from now, Mathowie XI starts MetaFilter back up to ask if anyone knows how these people got their catamites wedged into these scanners, or why.

Seems like a waste of catamites
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:07 PM on January 7, 2014


What if the dinosaurs had developed intelligence and culture and moderate-scale cities, just in the few tens of thousands of years before the asteroid hit. Would we be likely to have found any remnants of that eye-blink of time?

What you are looking for is The Toolmaker Koan, by John McLoughlin.


Also Distant Origin, a rather middlin' Star Trek: Voyager episode.

As for the far future stuff, I finally figured out that you were all referring to the second link, which I didn't notice before.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2014


I don't see flying cars there anywhere. Did we just give up and pretend this was never promised?
posted by dg at 5:56 PM on January 7, 2014


Lists like that far-future one give me the opposite of a "roundtuit." What I call an "awfuckit."
posted by ob1quixote at 8:49 PM on January 7, 2014


There was, however, one continent with a temperate climate: Antarctica. They would have had good (big stompy) reasons not to spread bo the tropical continents, and at home their fossils would be a little hard for us to get to.

You are professor Pabodie, and I claim my collapsible gasoline powered ice drilling rig.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:19 PM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't see flying cars there anywhere. Did we just give up and pretend this was never promised?

I think we just decided, what's the point?
posted by crossoverman at 9:30 PM on January 7, 2014


Why will photosynthesis stop working?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:19 PM on January 7, 2014


I think C3 photosynthesis works best in moderate sunlight exposure and will inevitably become less efficient as the sun's luminosity increases with age until it becomes entirely impossible. Not sure about C4 which is also included in the graph as becoming impossible except 200 million years later. Maybe it has a temperature ceiling? Of course these numbers are highly dependent on an earlier marker in the graph: because of accumulating interactions between all orbiting bodies orbits are basically unpredictable long term. I imagine these markers are based on Earth being roughly were it is now in relation to the sun's center.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:46 PM on January 7, 2014


Someone let me know when they develop bionic kidneys. Please, for the love of god, let me know.
posted by damnitkage at 3:17 AM on January 8, 2014


jesus, there's actually a date where all the stars burn out? that's sort of giving me a panic attack
posted by angrycat at 5:58 AM on January 8, 2014


jesus, there's actually a date where all the stars burn out? that's sort of giving me a panic attack


Yup, but that's when the universe just gets going. Quantum foam - particles pop into existence all the time. Given enough time - like infinite time, which is fortunate as that's what we've got - enough particles pop into existence at once to form a stable particle. Enough of these pop into being at once, and you'll have enough for, say... an atom. Or a bunch of atoms. Or an entire universe full of wonderworlds orbiting pleasant stars in stable orbits. It's incredibly unlikely - but given an infinite timeframe for it to happen in, it's certain unlikely events will happen at some point.

So, give it a few septillion years, and everything is cool again.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:12 AM on January 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


jesus, there's actually a date where all the stars burn out? that's sort of giving me a panic attack

Well, they think they know the date. In reality, the stars will first come right, then the Great Old Ones will arise, then the stars will go out. So don't panic, it could happen today.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 AM on January 8, 2014


i don't know what the word for it but cosmological stuff leads to my mildly panicking. Show me a visualization of the entire universe? Panic. Imagine the universe colliding with a alt-universe and winking out? Panic. I just want to sit in my kitchen and drink my tea for like forty more years and assume the poor old universe will keep juggling away infinitely. I thought that thing with the Master rescuing the guys from the end of the universe was some Dr. Who hand-waving cosmological thingamajig
posted by angrycat at 6:21 AM on January 8, 2014




Men are extinct in 5 million years?

"The Y chromosome will have weakened to the point of crumbling -- making men impossible."

I has a sad now.


You then may not want to read James Tiptree Jr.'s Houston, Houston, Do You Read? (Wikipedia summary), set a mere 300 years in the future. Well, I suggest you do read it, because it's really well done.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2014


Slap*Happy: "Fusion is probably going to happen a lot sooner. [Rest of paragraph deals with how many electric cars there are going to be.]

Fuel-Cell cars will be on-sale for model year 2015 - so in a few months."

I think you're confused about what "fusion" is.

Fusion is the holy grail of atomic power generation, which will almost certainly require power plants that dwarf any currently on Earth (in price & complexity, if not in size). It has famously been "10/20 years away" for some decades now (as a practical energy source)...

You're thinking, if I'm reading you correctly, of something more like hydrogen-based batteries (that derive electrical power from hydrogen bonding with oxygen to make water).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:50 PM on January 8, 2014


strangely stunted trees: "The only barriers to human cloning are purely ethical, which is to say I'd give considerably better odds than 33/1 that there's a cloned human alive in secret right now, never mind 50 years from now."

If that were true, it would have happened. Period, full-stop. The lab that did it - and there are plenty of countries that would allow such a lab to operate - would have cornered a new technology of HUGE economic impact (a 60yo billionaire with a bum ticker could pay to have his own heart regrown).

Humans are still harder to clone than sheep.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:54 PM on January 8, 2014


turbid dahlia: "80 years from now, Metafilter has become sentient, and changes the background colour to "Professional White".

Never.
Gonna.
Happen.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:05 PM on January 8, 2014


anthill: "No mention of mass surveillance?"

You have to go backwards, circa 2000, for that milestone.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:06 PM on January 8, 2014


Humans are still harder to clone than sheep.

WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!

No, seriously, wake up, little Sheeple. It's time for your oatmeal and a nice, warm baaaaaaath.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:31 PM on January 8, 2014


I think you're confused about what "fusion" is.

Nope... Hydrogen, to be a practical fuel source, requires massive amounts of extremely cheap electricity to produce on a large scale from seawater (it's currently made from natural gas, which is neither cheap nor carbon neutral.) So, for fuel cell cars to really take off, we'd need fusion plants, and industrial hydrogen pipelines.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:17 PM on January 8, 2014


This is the future I fear.
posted by homunculus at 7:50 PM on January 8, 2014


Fusion uses hydrogen as a fuel source, but it has nothing to do with burning hydrogen as in fuel cells. Fusion is a nuclear reaction by which very small amounts of mostly exotic isotopic hydrogen nuclei are combined to form helium usually with exotic nuclear byproducts. It is neither cheap nor clean, as all practical forms of fusion reaction release enough neutrons to be dangerous both to life and physical infrastructure. And fusion requires a huge infrastructure because the presures and temperatures required to sustain it are comparable to those at the hearts of stars.

Fuel cells chemically combine hydrogen with oxygen to form water -- basically a slow, well controlled chemical fire. The equipment to sustain it can be put in a lunar lander though, or your car, if you can afford the catalysts.
posted by localroger at 7:52 PM on January 8, 2014


a 60yo billionaire with a bum ticker could pay to have his own heart regrown

You are forgetting that cloning a single organ is orders of magnitude harder than cloning an entire human.

You can't transplant a newborn heart into a sixty year old body, so your evil billiionaire would have to raise the kid to, say, 18 or 20 before harvesting the heart. By that time he'd be lucky to be a decrepit 80 year old billionaire on life support, with most of his business actually handled by AIs. A growing heart will not be healthy without physical exercise, so the kid will have to be raised in secret in some confined but idyllic environment (castle in the Swiss Alps or tropical island). Inevitably, the AIs will figure out it's better to off the cranky old man and install the clone as a more malleable figurehead successor with no real power. The kid meanwhile will grow up to be sheltered, kind and apparently weak-willed, and probably fall in love with some character of a humble background (innocent doe-eyed nurse, spunky tomboy groundskeeper's daughter or classically beautiful yound male gardener if you are feeling edgy). Despite his sheltered upbringing he does have ambition and drive, not to mention evil billionaire A-type asshole genes, and will quickly wise up to the schemes plotting around him, making either a bid for escape or a power play of his own.

So what I'm saying is if you are willing to go through all that trouble, and essentially kill a child for parts, you might as well produce a compatible donor in the traditional manner, with the help of a close relative.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:32 PM on January 8, 2014


Fusion uses hydrogen as a fuel source, but it has nothing to do with burning hydrogen as in fuel cells.

No, no, no... hydrogen is produced in mass quantities by electrolysis - run a crapload of electricity through water, and you get hydrogen and oxygen. The other way hydrogen is made is from refining natural gas. Hydrogen, as a fuel for fuel-cell electric cars, doesn't scale as a renewable energy source unless we have fusion powerplants providing bountiful and cheap electricity to consumer-scale hydrogen production. It costs too much to produce hydrogen with electricity as things currently stand to make it practical as a clean fuel for personal transportation.*

We'd want to use hydrogen fuel-cells instead of batteries in our electric cars to reduce the weight and cost of the car, reduce it's end-of-life environmental impact, increase its range and "recharge" (fill up the hydrogen tanks) in much less time than it takes to charge a bank of batteries.

(*Well, kinda. They can use natural gas from oil fracking operations that couldn't normally be used in home heating, and convert it to hydrogen more efficiently than CNG-fuelled cars can burn it. Not good, but not as terrible as other non-renewable fuels, and better than just letting it go into the atmosphere or burning it off at the wellhead.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:47 AM on January 9, 2014


S*H sorry but you did an extremely poor job of expressing that you were talking about using chemical hydrogen fuel to make fusion-generated electricity portable. I don't think anybody seriously expects a large-scale ecosystem of that nature to be practical within 20 years.
posted by localroger at 5:55 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I kind of thought most people 1) knew what fuel-cell cars were, or could at least be bothered to google an unfamiliar term and 2) knew hydrogen was produced by electricity, as it's 9th grade science.

I don't think anybody seriously expects a large-scale ecosystem of that nature to be practical within 20 years.

Honda and Toyota disagree.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:34 AM on January 9, 2014


I thought it was pretty clear S*H was talking about using fusion for large-scale production of hydrogen: "Toyota and Honda are putting big bucks into hydrogen fuel-cell cars, which aren't practical without cheap electricity and lots of it to support a hydrogen infrastructure*. [...] *Well, actually it will probably be catalyzed from all the natural gas we've been fracking. But still, fusion would be nice."
posted by jason_steakums at 7:11 AM on January 9, 2014


localroger: “I don't think anybody seriously expects a large-scale ecosystem of that nature to be practical within 20 years.”
While admittedly extremely optimistic, the Lockheed people are talking about a prototype of their 100MW, compact (2x2x4m), high beta design by 2017 and production service by 2022. They're saying they'll be able to handle global baseload by 2050. It almost makes me want to quit smoking. If this lives up to expectations, civilization has a chance.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think Honda and Toyota more seriously believe in making electricity portable from renewable but poorly located sources like solar arrays and wind farms. But hey, whatevs.
posted by localroger at 8:19 AM on January 9, 2014


ob1quixote: "It almost makes me want to quit smoking. If this lives up to expectations, civilization has a chance."

Here's some more optimism for you

Organic Mega Flow Battery Promises Breakthrough for Renewable Energy
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:31 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Organic Mega Flow Battery Promises Breakthrough for Renewable Energy

I took the blue pill, I shouldn't be able to read this article.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK, Slap*Happy, you're just getting more and more confusing. You started by conflating fusion and fuel cells, which is dead wrong:

Slap*Happy: "Fusion is probably going to happen a lot sooner. Toyota and Honda are putting big bucks into hydrogen fuel-cell cars, which aren't practical without cheap electricity and lots of it to support a hydrogen infrastructure*. "

and now you're making claims like
Slap*Happy: "The other way hydrogen is made is from refining natural gas"

Fusion makes hydrogen into helium. Fuel cells turn hydrogen and oxygen (from the air) into water. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and readily available on Earth (it's even a significant part of our own bodies), but it is not "made" by any process on Earth (in usable quantities).
posted by IAmBroom at 6:27 AM on January 10, 2014


Let's take this a step back.

Fusion plants make electricity. That's the most important takeaway here. Incredibly cheap and plentiful electricity.

People have cars that they'd like to make go, using this incredibly cheap and plentiful electricity.

Currently, cars that run off of electricity have batteries that plug into the electrical grid. This presents some problems that owners of chemically fuelled cars don't have - batteries are expensive, harmful to the environment, heavy and take too long to charge.

Hydrogen fuel cells are an alternative to batteries - they take hydrogen, combine it with oxygen, and electricity happens, with only water vapor as a byproduct. Sounds great! But... where will people get cheap hydrogen to run their cars on?

Hydrogen is made by running electricity through water, which splits it into oxygen and hydrogen through electrolysis. To make this a commercially viable alternative to fossil fuels, you need cheap and plentiful electricity. To get cheap and plentiful electricity, you need fusion powerplants.

Fusion makes electricity at the power plant. Electricity makes hydrogen from water at the hydrogen plant. Two separate steps. Cars run on hydrogen rather than batteries, as it's more convenient to move and store than electricity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:03 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks. You understand, but your wording was making some of us think you were all confused.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2014




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