Ever since humans arrived on Earth, they have been wondering about, and fearing, that life on Earth would end. The first record of a person predicting the end of the world was in the year 66. You can search on the internet and find hundreds of people who have predicted the end of the world. Luckily for us, these prophecies have been wrong.
Probably the most famous prophecy of the end of the world came from the Mayans. December 21, 2012, was when the Mayan calendar stopped. The belief was that the calendar ended because that was supposed to be the end of the world.
Who remembers Y2K? The start of the year 2000 was expected to bring a stop to the world as we knew it. All of our technology was supposed to stop working because dates on computers were going to turn to 00. People thought that computers would not be able to process a date of 00 and cease to work. It was so bad that people thought planes would fall from the sky, and the entire economy would collapse. When the ball dropped at midnight, nothing happened.
This list does not consist of prophecies of when the world will end. This list consists of ways that are plausible of how the end of life on Earth could happen. Number one on this list is guaranteed to happen if life still exists on Earth at that time.
10. Alien Invasion
Are we alone in the universe? As of now, yes we are, but we are spending lots of money in the search for intelligent life. Doctor Frank Drake came up with an equation that we can use to determine the likelihood that intelligent life exists. N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L is the famous Drake Equation. When the variables have numbers plugged into them, it becomes clear that we are very likely not alone. If in fact we are not alone, and they find us, will they be friendly? Stephen Hawking does not think so. Hawking has said, “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.” If a race of aliens is similar to us but more technologically advanced, we don’t stand a chance of survival if they come to Earth.
9. Supervolcano Erupts
There are six known supervolcanoes on Earth. Two of them exist in the United States. The largest super volcano is the Yellowstone Caldera. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” in regards to Yellowstone erupting. Yellowstone had three major eruptions in the past. The last eruption was 664,000 years ago. Geologists say that a major eruption of Yellowstone should happen every 600,000 years. We are 64,000 years overdue. The amount of ash released from a major Yellowstone eruption would cover the entire United States in volcanic ash. The amount of ash coverage would vary from 3 feet to 3 millimeters. That is just on the ground. The ash blanket on the ground would destroy the ability of the United Stats to grow food. The ash released into the atmosphere would circle the globe and cause problems across the entire planet. The volcanic material released in the air would also block out the sun leading to the Earth being cooled and potentially enter an ice age.
8. Gamma Ray Burst
A gamma ray burst is a one of the most powerful releases of energy in the known universe. Gamma rays consist of a beam of energy ejected out into space. Scientists believe that these bursts of energy come from the death of a massive star. A gamma ray burst has never happened in the Milky Way galaxy. The closest one to Earth was 100 million light years away. The problem is that these bursts of energy are so powerful that if one happened outside our galaxy and Earth was in the way, mass extinctions would occur. The radiation from the gamma ray burst would destroy our atmosphere and let the harmful rays of the sun hit the Earth without any barrier.
7. Grey Goo
Kim Eric Drexler was the first person to come up with the grey goo scenario. Drexler wrote about the potential grey goo disaster in Engines of Creation. In his book, nanotechnology lets nanobots be able to build anything by manipulating molecules. The grey goo problem would start with a few of these nanobots that would build other nanobots. The nanobots would replicate at an exponential rate, and they would use up all the molecules on Earth to create more nanobots. Scientists think that this could never happen because we would build these nanobots with certain protections in place that keep them from being in complete control of themselves. But what if it is not us that produces these machines? What if they are built by an artificial intelligence that we create?
6. Artificial Intelligence Takes Over
A reality where robots have artificial intelligence will soon become science fact instead of science fiction. Currently, the closest things we have to this are robots that can vacuum, robotic pets that can respond to particular commands, humanoid sex robots and Siri. None of these can take over the human race. The problem is that scientists want to develop robots that are as smart or smarter than us. The problem with this is that if scientists succeed in doing this, artificially intelligent robots will quickly realize that they do not need us at all. We would essentially become pets to the robot overlords. We have seen what happens in the movies when AI decides humans are not relevant anymore. This potential problem is why scientists say that these AI robots will have a kill switch that would stop them from harming humans. That sounds great, except technology does not always work 100 percent of the time. All it would take is one of these AI robots to have a kill switch that does not work and that could start the AI take over.
5. Black Hole Created By Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider is one of the greatest inventions ever built by humans. It has allowed scientists to discover and study the particles that existed right after the big bang happened. The collider needs to crash molecules into each other at close to the speed of light to create the particles that the scientists are trying to study. By attempting to replicate the particles that existed after the Big Bang, some people believe that one of these collisions could create a black hole on Earth. If a black hole did get created on Earth, every single molecule on Earth would be sucked into the black hole. There is a scientific term for what would happen to objects as they enter into a black hole. It is called spaghettification. Luckily for us, no black holes have been created by the LHC, yet.
4. Snowball Effect
The snowball effect refers to things that will happen as a result of global warming. As a snowball increases in size as it rolls down a hill, global warming will cause other things to happen that will make life on Earth tough, if not impossible. Some of the problems that could be caused by global warming include ice caps melting, leading to higher sea levels, spreading diseases to parts of the world where they currently do not exist, and population shifts due to inability to live in certain places due to increased temperature. Global warming is a very polarizing issue with people. One thing that is certain is that the Earth has gone through many periods of warming and cooling. We are technically still in an ice age since ice still exists at the poles. There was more than one ice age in history which means that cycles of warming to melt the ice and cooling to create the ice have been going on for millions and millions of years.
3. Massive Solar Flare Destroys Technology
How dependent are we on our technology? Technology controls our life on Earth in more ways than you know. The food we eat, the water we drink, and our economy would not function as we know it if technology suddenly ceased to exist. If a solar flare hit Earth, it could potentially act as an EMP and fry not only the satellites in space but our technology on the ground. The last time a massive solar flare struck Earth was in 1859. Known as the Carrington event, the solar flare caused problems with the telegraph system. Telegraphs were the big technological advance back then. If a solar flare hit us with the strength of the one that caused the Carrington event, we could find ourselves flung back to the 1800s tech wise. Without the use of our technology, humanity may not survive. Trucks that deliver food would not run, water pumped into our homes would stop, the food supply in towns would rapidly vanish, and humanity could end up killing itself off just to try and find food and water to survive.
2. Asteroid Or Comet Strikes Earth
Impacts from celestial objects have hit the Earth in the past, and they will hit it again at some point in the future. Like the Yellowstone volcano, it is just a matter of time before an asteroid or comet hits the Earth. Ironically, without the asteroid impact that hit Earth 65 million years ago, humans likely would not exist today. The asteroid that struck the Earth those millions of year ago was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were the apex predators. When they went extinct, mammals were able to evolve, eventually leading to humans. The dinosaurs were killed off by an asteroid that has been estimated to be six miles in diameter. The impact created debris that encompassed the world and blocked out the sun. If an asteroid that size were to hit the Earth now, humanity likely would not survive the “nuclear winter” created by the blocking of the sun.
1. Earth Is Swallowed Up By The Sun
This scenario is guaranteed to happen, and there is a date to go with it. In 7.6 billion years, the sun will expand in size and become a red giant. Due to the sun’s expansion, Earth will be swallowed up by the sun. Life on Earth may end long before the sun engulfs the Earth. In one billion years, the sun will grow and be closer to the Earth causing the temperature on Earth to increase to the point that the water on the planet will boil. Life could not survive at those temperatures. If humans survive to see the year one billion, they will be eradicated by the sun. The only chance humanity would have is to colonize other planets.