UPDATE: If the sun suddenly went dark, how long would it take for Earth to become uninhabitable? And why would it become uninhabitable?
A couple weeks ago during my inbox-clearing, question answering binge, I responded to the following question:
My husband and I were having a discussion last night. Assume for the sake of this argument that the sun could spontaneously go dark (without imploding or exploding) overnight. If that happened to our sun, how long until earth would be inhabitable and we’d all die? And what would make it inhabitable first: freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen, something else? I said lack of oxygen, he said freezing temps. Settle the debate and enlighten us with some actual science. Thanks!
I was pretty happy with my answer, but I decided to pose the question to the Quora community. There’s some really interesting answers popping up over there. Check it out!
What do you think would happen?
What’s your take on the Apophis Asteroid slated to visit us around 2036? LOVE your blog, btw. Thanks for all the great info!
Apophis? You guys wanna talk about Apophis? I wrote this post about it six months ago, where I used words such as “BS” and included an image of Chicken Little.
It was in response to a post that made it on the radar … the RADAR, for crying out loud … that said we were all gonna die. We’ll be fine. It has an even smaller chance of hitting than DA14.
Do people out there have this impression of NASA scientists as like, uncaring diabolical assholes? Like they have some rocket ship waiting for them, and they’ll take all the puppies and pizza and queso with them right before this asteroid hits, and they’ll be all “Hey, we coulda told you about this and saved Earth, but you stuffed us in our locker in high school so nah”? Because most of them have mortgages and kids and car payments, and are probably as equally invested in an asteroid NOT hitting Earth as you are.
There’s over 1 million asteroids in the main belt of the solar system, and even more when you add in the rogue wanderers. If we have to debunk even one tenth of one percent of them, that’s still more than 1,000 apocalypse scenarios that we have to shake out of your head. Let’s stop shaking and start thinking.
First of all, it’s not going to hit us. Yes, it’s going to pass within 27,000 km. But that’s not going to hit Earth next February. NASA’s Near Earth Object Program scores the impact probability for all kinds of rogue celestial objects. It currently rates DA14 at a 1 in 4,550 chance. Or, looking at it another way, a 99.978% chance that it won’t hit us.
Since this asteroid is on an orbital path that will bring it by Earth again in the distant future, should we be on the alert for a decade or two down the road? Dunno. We can’t look that far ahead for an object of this size with any real certainty. Painting it or not is an irrelevant and unrealistic question.
Here’s one thing I do know: Between now and then human beings will provide each other with more opportunities to be destroyed than this little rock could ever imagine. So perhaps if we stop looking up for the time being we can avoid a collision with our fate down here.
(More at Bad Astronomy)