The world is going to end on December 21st 2012. How do I know this? Because the Mayans said so and the Mayans pretty much knew it all; these are people that calculated the length of a year to a thousandth decimal place, predicted all future lunar and solar eclipses and invented gravity*. They were also a people that took their calendars very very seriously; calendars which end abruptly on the aforementioned date. Worrisome.
The Mayans, probably because they didn’t think we would be able to handle our own demise in a mature fashion, were silent on how, exactly, time as we know it will cease. There certainly are a lot of possibilities. The Sun could explode for instance. That would be tragic. Or the zombies could finally, after years of scheming, take over. To say nothing of the robots or, heaven forbid, robot zombies. Most likely, the world will perish for one of the following reasons:
Not many people know this but the world is getting hotter. On the surface this sounds pleasant. T-shirt weather is, after all, good times. Increasing world temperatures are more sinister though. Think massive crop failures, devastating droughts, ever worsening extreme weather phenomena and the melting of the polar ice caps which will lead to rising sea levels and destruction of low lying lands. Low lying lands like the Netherlands. A world without the dutch is no world at all.
The Magnetic Poles
It has been proposed, after studying lava flows around the planet, that the earth’s magnetic field reverses itself at intervals of, on average, 250,000 years. The last such interval was over 780,000 years ago which puts us long overdue for such a shift. What exactly occurs during a reversal is unknown although there is speculation that the breakdown of the magnetic field during a reversal period would allow the earth to be bombarded by potentially dangerous cosmic radiation. More disquieting is that it is almost certain compasses would cease to work.
Sure it sounds all well and good: science but, like, smaller. So small in fact that materials and devices have to self assemble themselves from molecular components. At first everything will no doubt be peachy. There’ll be better superconductors and our clothes will be more stain resistant. It is inevitable however that these materials will go out of control and replicate themselves ad infinitum until they’ve consumed the entire universe. Frankly between a grey goo end of the world type scenario and a mustard stain on my new chinos I’d take the latter every time.
Bacteria are catching on to the whole antibiotic thing and they are doing something about it: evolving! Antibiotics are pretty much the cornerstone of our modern medical system and without them we’re helpless. And this is coming at a really bad time what with crazy pig-viruses, bird flus and SARS type things coming at us with, judging from the media, ever increasing frequency. It’s going to be like 14th century Europe all over again except with facebook.
Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Whole colonies of them are just vanishing in what has come to be known as Colony Collapse Disorder. No one knows why it’s happening although there are some suspicions: genetically modified crops, pesticides and environmental change-related stresses to name just a few (my money is on Israeli Acute Paralysis virus). What is so troubling about bee death is that they are responsible for the pollination of a lot of crops we humans depend on. No bees and we can pretty much kiss almonds goodbye as well as peaches and cantaloupe. And once the cantaloupe is gone complete breakdown of our social fabric isn’t far behind. True the bees could make a comeback. They might not all die off. But that’s even more unsettling since they’d probably be pretty pissed off.
Currently in the last stages of construction near Geneva, the Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator that may, when operational, produce Higgs bosons the observation of which could prove all sorts of cool stuff like how particles acquire mass. It may also create micro black holes at a rate of one every second. These micro black holes could then accumulate and eventually devour the earth. Or even better, the LHC could produce strangelets, a hypothetical form of matter more stable than normal matter which could initiate a runaway fusion process in which all matter could be converted to strange matter. Sure, I suppose that the question of how particles acquire mass is interesting. More interesting though is why the Swiss hate existence so much.
It is clear from the above scenarios, that Science has screwed us over. Big time. When Science whipped up the internal combustion engine did it mention anything about climate change? I doubt it. And when Science introduced pesticides and genetically engineered crops did it say anything about a melon-less world? No. And so here we are staring into the abyss or our own demise (albeit with some remarkably stain-free Dockers) and what is Science doing about it? It’s in a giant hole with some Swiss trying to DEVOUR THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. No watercolour painting of lilies ever devoured the earth.
*that might not be completely accurate