“The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return.” -Carl Sagan
Here on Earth, we hear every so often about a conspiracy of how the world will come to an end. The end of the Mayan calendar; Y2K; an encounter with Nibiru; or a biblical prophesy come true are only a small selection of what people “predict” will bring a demise to our world, and soon. Yet even most of the egregious natural or human-caused disasters won’t bring an end to even our species, much less the entire world. Scientifically, the end of the world will happen in four stages.
Today on Earth, ocean water only boils, typically, when lava or some other superheated material enters it. But in the far future, the Sun’s energy will be enough to do it, and on a global scale. Image credit: Jennifer Williams / flickr.
The first one is straightforward and inevitable: humanity will only continue to exist for so ...