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And the world, will it end in fire?

2023-03-23T10:16:44.344Z


At astronomical scales we can predict and calculate the future that holds for our planet Today I bring you a crystal ball that has the fascinating ability to predict the future. It is a precious sphere that has been sculpted by thousands, hundreds of thousands of hands over time. It works perfectly, and when it doesn't, it has the incredible ability to correct itself. It only has one small problem: it's not easy to learn to use it and although it comes, of course, with an instruction


Today I bring you a crystal ball that has the fascinating ability to predict the future.

It is a precious sphere that has been sculpted by thousands, hundreds of thousands of hands over time.

It works perfectly, and when it doesn't, it has the incredible ability to correct itself.

It only has one small problem: it's not easy to learn to use it and although it comes, of course, with an instruction manual, it's not one of those devices that you turn on and start working.

The instruction manual, moreover, is not boring at all.

What's more, it is a set of books that teach how to look at, understand and interpret the world and, although it can be difficult at times, by studying it you acquire the talent of being able to write your own chapters.

Obviously, I am not talking about a real object, but about a conceptual apparatus, about laws, those of physics, that have been elaborated by humans over time and with which we can guess the future.

With them you can do things like predict where exactly the planet Mars will be in the year 2035, in 2045 or in 3400. We can, from the movement of the Earth, the Sun and any of the planets or moons, launch a ship and place it with the precision of meters on the surface of a moving object millions of kilometers away and do it by aiming several years before.

This is how cameras can be placed on comets, bring back rocks from the Moon, glimpse the far reaches of the solar system,

More information

Quaoar's ring, planet X and other mysteries to discover in our solar system

I start with a

spoiler

: the protagonist dies.

But this is one of those stories with a hectic plot in which the secondary protagonists, us, have a small role, a sentence that, although it does not change the final result, is not entirely written and can still alter it, even if it is for a little bit. brief space of astronomical time, the course of history.

Let's travel back in time some 50 years and imagine a future in which humans on the planet have managed to agree to react to the change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

I know it is difficult because up to now we are doing little despite knowing what is coming our way.

But let's imagine that we manage to save the insects, the biodiversity of the planet and that we manage to stop climate change.

What will happen next on astronomical scales?

What is the future that holds for our planet on longer scales?

I will be concise: what the future holds for our planet is a true hell, in the literal sense of the word, but a hell from which we can learn a lot.

Let's see.

What the future holds for our planet is a real hell from which we can learn a lot

The first threat to our planet comes from the Sun and the fact that we are seeing a gradual change in the chemical composition of our star's core.

This, which is the key to the evolution of stars, has consequences on Earth.

The Sun, like all stars, is an object that remains stable for most of its life, transforming hydrogen into helium inside.

Our star has been doing this for 4.6 billion years and the density of its core has changed as a consequence.

A change in density implies a higher efficiency of nuclear reactions.

As hydrogen transforms into helium, the nucleus becomes denser because it is compressed and the core temperature increases, so the hydrogen burns faster.

The result is that the total energy output of the Sun increases. In the next 1.2 billion years, the Sun's luminosity (the amount of energy it emits per second) will increase by 10%.

The physical properties of the Earth, the geological history and its orbit have allowed life to exist on the planet.

It is estimated that the planet will continue to be capable of supporting life for another 500 million years, since according to current forecasts, after that time, the increasing luminosity of the Sun will have important consequences for the biosphere.

So far, Earth has done a pretty good job of maintaining a stable surface temperature.

Although the massive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is a

shock

to the Earth's climate in the next century, it is not clear how the Earth will respond to a 10% increase in solar luminosity that, again, will occur in a time scale of millions of years.

That increased radiated energy might be able to evaporate our planet's atmosphere.

But the problem of the future of life on Earth is not so easy to solve.

In fact, there is a little-known phenomenon that can have considerable consequences for life in the long term and is independent of what the Sun does. And no, I'm not going to talk about meteorites.

A surprise: the future habitability (on scales of thousands of years) of our planet may not be determined by the Sun, but by geodynamic processes at the surface.

According to these models, the Earth will be uninhabitable at 6,500 million years of age, within 2,000 million years, regardless of the evaporation of the atmosphere, long before the Sun becomes a red giant and will be the result of the Tectonic plates.

Since our planet formed, it has been cooling and the interior of the Earth is becoming more and more viscous.

As the viscosity of the Earth's mantle increases and the top of the lithosphere thickens, plate tectonics slows down.

And at some point, in the far future of the planet, in the next billion years, it will cease.

It must have happened to Mars a long time ago, and perhaps to Venus.

Let us remember that earthquakes, those great and sad destroyers, are fundamental to the cycles of our planet.

Currently, carbon dioxide is recycled in and out of the mantle on this planetary-sized conveyor belt of rocks.

Carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater where it reacts with calcium and magnesium salts to form carbonates that are not soluble in water.

Without plate tectonics, the recycling of gases in and out of the planet will slow down and cause the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to drop.

This is a double-edged sword: lowering the level of carbon dioxide (more when the Sun is heating up) means that the warming of the planet will be slower, but it also means that the food chains of all life on the planet would collapse immediately. the hand of photosynthesis failure.

Then more things happen, but I leave them for another day.

We're going to watch as humans continue to increase military spending and the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, so we may not have to keep doing any more calculations.

Cosmic Void

is a section in which our knowledge about the universe is presented in a qualitative and quantitative way.

It is intended to explain the importance of understanding the cosmos not only from a scientific point of view but also from a philosophical, social and economic point of view.

The name "cosmic vacuum" refers to the fact that the universe is and is, for the most part, empty, with less than one atom per cubic meter, despite the fact that in our environment, paradoxically, there are quintillions of atoms per meter cubic, which invites us to reflect on our existence and the presence of life in the universe.

The section is made up of

Pablo G. Pérez González

, a researcher at the Center for Astrobiology;

Eva Villaver

, researcher at the Center for Astrobiology;

and

Patricia Sánchez Blázquez

, full professor at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).

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Source: elparis

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