Saturday, Jan 20, 2018, 4:00 pm
575 Osgood Street
North Andover, MA
Lecture 5 – Ends of the World
This lecture discusses phenomena that could bring an end to planet Earth. When we contemplate such an occurrence, we usually think of a rampant virus that would decimate our species, or global thermonuclear war, or the destruction of the environment. These tragedies, however, would result only in an end to human beings; Earth itself would still exist. We can point to three scenarios that would result in the destruction of the planet: the death of the Sun, the collision of the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxies, or the heat death of the cosmos. We won’t live long enough to see any of those, but perhaps our species will.
Lecture 6 – Coming Attractions
Statistically, asteroid impacts represent the biggest threat to human civilization from nature. Most are small and do little damage, but a few are large enough to render the entire species extinct. Evidence in the fossil record tells us that Earth has been hit before by such asteroids. One layer of rock will show the Earth teeming with life, while in the next layer, all life is gone. Such extinction was originally attributed to volcanoes or climate changes, but we now know that about every 100 million years, Earth is hit with a deposit of energy sufficient to cause the loss of 50 to 90 percent of all species. This lecture looks at our risks of getting hit with an asteroid and what we can do to avoid such an occurrence.
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