More than 99% of all species that have ever existed on Earth are extinct. Think about that for  a moment. All the species of flora and fauna existing today represent less than 1% of everything that has ever been. When you take into account evolution and the ancient age of the Earth, the number is not so overwhelming. Life has been here for a LONG time. Humans are late to the party.

Many, many different kinds of simple life forms popped up and faded away relatively quickly. Within a few million years. Extinctions aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s one of nature’s many tools for balancing the ecosystem and promoting eco-diversity. The environment left from one particular extinction, according to many scientists, was the key to the “Cambrian Explosion“. An epic, still not fully explained explosion of a diversity of life around 500 million year ago. Another particularly beneficial extinction was the death of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. Without that, there most likely would be no humans on Earth. There would probably be something like us,  only a little scalier.

The dinosaur extinction and the pre-Cambrian extinction are most often linked to asteroids. Chunks of rock and iron floating through space. Some as large as half the size of our own moon. . Most of the asteroids in our solar system are in the “asteroid belt” between Mars and Jupiter. A loose string of asteroids and other bits, pulled along by Jupiter’s massive gravity. Some asteroids here are as microscopic as bits of dust. The largest body measures 600 miles in diameter.

But these aren’t the only ones out there. There are many “near Earth” objects that have been discovered and then the unseen “rogue asteroids” that were flung free of the belt long ago and remain unaccounted for. Odds are we will encounter one sooner rather than later. This is one of those “end game” scenarios where the odds are stacked against us yet we keep defying them. One only need look at our own history to know this neighborhood is no stranger to asteroid impact. Craters exist all over the world. The moon is absolutely covered in impact trauma.

Many astronomers believe the Earth is overdue for another massive impact. Most agree that the Earth is hit once every 10,000 years or so by an extinction level impact or one close to it. Our last one hit about 12,000 years ago, North of the Great Lakes, setting the entire North American continent on fire. The professional term for that is “Holy Shit!”

Right now scientists have alerted us to two possible but not very probable impacts. The first being  2003 QQ47. First discovered in 2003(obviously) it is believe dot be on course for a 2014 impact date.  However data collection since then has pointed to the likelihood of it completely missing us. Strike one.

. However, to actually hit us, it would need to pass through a so called “gravitational keyhole” in space to fall under the sway of Earth’s gravity and achieve the proper trajectory. Odds of that happening currently stand at 1 in 250,000.  Strike two.

So that leaves us with any of the unaccounted for objects currently whipping around the sun. But there is no way to set odds as we have no idea where any of them are. And unlike the movies, we would know YEARS ahead of time if an asteroid was gonna hit.  But that doesn’t equal drama I guess. Everyday that goes by, the odds increase that we will be hit. Yet we see no signs of that happening anytime soon.

Part of that is Jupiter. Our “bouncer” so to speak.  Any object attempting to enter the inner solar system must contend with this behemoth and his titanic gravitational pull. So it is a very rare occurrence indeed when such a large object manages to sneak by. But they do. And they will. Most likely none of us will ever see it in our lifetime.  Well odds, are the ones who are here when it occurs won’t either. Again, its not like the movies. You won’t be on the beach watching it streak overhead and crash into the Earth.  It moves SOOOOO much faster than that. It will take seconds for it to get from our upper atmosphere to the ground. A “bang- bang play” if I may use  a baseball analogy. So don’t expect pictures.

Statistically it’s not really worth even mentioning but I should point out that the asteroid which sunk the dinosaurs would have had the same odds. But even so, what could we do? Can’t blow it apart. That just creates more fiery death raining down on us. We are working on deterrents though. The most likely involving flying  a satellite next to the asteroid and using it’s gravity to subtly divert the path of the asteroid. Simple and so far the best sounding proposal.

I just don’t see any of it working though. This is fate. this is the universe’s version of natural selection. We are overdue for an extinction. This should be reason enough to renew our exploration of space. You have to leave home sometime. Preferably before it is destroyed.

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.” (Revelation 8:10)

37
Leave a Comment

Please Login to comment
11 Comment threads
26 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
escribacatKillgoreTroutNoSillyName2ndClassCitizenPunditkellyk311 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
KillgoreTrout
Member

Whooops! Looks like I just replied to some great old members from 2011! My computer, and/or a glitch in WordPress sometimes brings me back to posts made a few years ago!

OR, I’m time travelling! Holy Shyte!

Report this comment

escribacat
Member

Kilgore — wasn’t KT a time traveller at one time or another?

Report this comment

kellyk311
Member
kellyk311

“Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light” – Milton

I can’t decide if that term best applies to our past, present, or future situation as a species.

If you hop on the ‘We grew from cyanobacteria’ train of thought, or basically grew from sludge, then I would say it applies best to the past, because in seeking the light of the sun, we grew.

If you subscribe to the idea that a sky person made everything, then the above theory still technically applies, and ‘Sky Person’ did create the sun as well for our nourishment and growth from nothingness, or darkness.

In our current situation at present, man finds himself trying to utilize the sun or ‘light’ to further himself once more via solar panels and whatnot; which is almost a twisted karmic fate of chasing ones own tail, in that the sun has long existed and been used to various things, but its still the best source of new untapped energy we can think of.

For the sake of future purposes, we seek out another solar system with the capability to be hospitable to our species, which requires a sun. Both so we can find others who may exist, and so we can eventually kill them and take over their planet, such is the nature of the beast.

Long story short – In any case, we are the hell we are always trying to free ourselves from. That in and of itself makes the idea of escaping hell seem futile, because it lives in us. Maybe, just maybe, the light is afraid of us?

Report this comment

Caru
Member

A few humans will probably survive. We’re stubborn like that.

Report this comment

audadvnc
Member
audadvnc

I was in a fossil and mineral shop yesterday. One of their items for sale was listed as a “post extinction trilobite”, age 350 million years. I suppose a few of them held on in pockets of safety after the masses died off. Maybe people will too, down in caves like Gollum.

Report this comment

Buddy McCue
Member

Here’s what that asteroid strike might look like (for those who haven’t seen it:)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zvCUmeoHpw

I like the music selection for it.

Report this comment

KillgoreTrout
Member

Jebus, another old coot! How the hell have you been buddy? I’m very glad to see you here once again!

(I hope you remember who the fuck I am) It’s been a while!

Report this comment

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

What is the assumed time rate for that video?

If I am not mistaken (and I may well be) I thought an asteroid would need to be traveling faster than the rotation of the earth in order to hit like that.

It’s a nice representation, but some of the details seemed a little off. I didn’t see any tectonic or volcanic side-effects.

Incidentally, I once saw something that mentioned how an asteroid that passed near the Earth could “rip” the atmosphere off the planet. The process could take a bit longer, but would be no less total.

Report this comment

kellyk311
Member
kellyk311

On a positive note, it appears we will all die instantly.

Report this comment

ParadisePlacebo74
Member
ParadisePlacebo74

We all know about the craters that can be easily seen, and, now that we have high resolution global mapping, we are starting to find many more that we couldn’t see — but what about events like the Tunguska explosion? If an object like that exploded over a modern population center, it could kill millions, and leave behind no visible traces of why that place was destroyed. How many of those types of events have happened over the eons, and, if we could somehow know the answer, how much more worried might we be?

Report this comment

whatsthatsound
Member
KillgoreTrout
Member

Hey, you old coot! Where the hell have you been? Painting up a storm I hope! I missed ya, man!

Report this comment

NoSillyName
Member
NoSillyName

Ah, yes… The Yellowstone Caldera!

Why fret about a little ‘ol rock from space when there’s a bubbling, brewing cauldron of hellfire right here on our Blue Marble?

What? Me Worry?

Report this comment

jdmn17
Member
jdmn17

I watched the show about it. I have visited Yellowstone numerous times. When I saw the photos of the changes at Yellowstone Lake I almost fell over. It makes sense given how much stuff comes up from the ground there every day. So my son got, I think, National Geographic and we sat and read it together showing the extent of damage and the way it might go. That’s some serious shit if it goes.

Report this comment

whatsthatsound
Member

Very interesting article, although I disagree with the sentiment about exploring space and “leaving home”. It seems to me to be part and parcel of the disconnected notion that our species is somehow other than and alienated from the planet that we are one with, that sustains us with oxygen and sunlight, that we are only one of millions of species sharing in. The biosphere is us.

I think it’s the same mentality that has caused us to so minimize our contact with other creatures that we have “pesticides” that toxify our food (and harm the environment), and industries that make the animals we eat look like “Happy Meals”.

We are one with the earth, I feel. She goes, we go (because we ARE her; that’s literally what our bodies are, temporary arrangements of the planet’s chemistry). And maybe if she ever decides we’re just too much trouble, just we go.

Report this comment

2ndClassCitizenPundit
Member

While in a spiritual sense you could be right, I do not think Gaia would want us to perish along with her. Even if we have done our best to destroy her.

Report this comment

whatsthatsound
Member

I’m not sure it would be a matter of Gaia “wanting”. Perhaps if the body were going to perish, it may wish that, for example, its hand or stomach or something could go on without it, but of course it couldn’t. That’s the level of connectedness I am referring to. I am very skeptical as to whether we COULD in fact, live apart from this planet. I think that at both a cellular, and certainly, a mental level, we would freak out. And not having other animals around us would be an extremely disorienting experience. Imagine no ants, no caterpillars, no birds, no squirrels, no fish. I, for one, can’t.

Report this comment

KQµårk 死神
Member

I believe we are part of Gaia too but I also think we can adapt as a species. How much different is space or another planet from the antiseptic environments people in cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo already live in anyway?

But I do think it’s a stretch that we will ever have the ability as a species to one day travel to another habitable planet in another solar system. So the best we’ll be able to do is live in little habitrails on places like the Moon, Mars or if we are ingenious enough on a few moons of Jupiter.

Report this comment

whatsthatsound
Member

Well, we have certainly modified our city environments beyond anything our bodies were naturally evolved for, but we still have sunlight (what’s left of it), oxygen (ditto) and water (ditto). And when we die, our bodies get recycled. I imagine that both physically and mentally, there would be a huge freak-out factor if we were pulled out of that. I also think we would be “cheating”, i.e. stealing from Gaia. We are HER bio-chemicals, after all.

Report this comment

KQµårk 死神
Member

Oh and I’m not saying we would thrive without Gaia one bit but survive for a while longer possibly.

Report this comment

whatsthatsound
Member

got that. We probably think more or less similarly about this.

Report this comment

KQµårk 死神
Member

yup my thoughts too 😎

Report this comment

zootliberal
Member

ADONAI – thought provoking to say the least, plus I learned a new scientific term “Holy Shit!” – so thank for that as well.

I am a big fan of both astronomy and space exploration. (btw, if you have ipad/phone/touch then Star Walk is must have app) so I really dig articles like this. Please keep them coming.

Report this comment

PocketWatch
Member

I have been long fascinated with the Cambrian lifeforms… very exotic stuff. 5 legs or a dozen, two heads, whatever. Absolutely NOTHING like we know of today.

If those exinctions had never happened, we all might be ACTUALLY talking out of out butts! LOL

8)

Report this comment

choicelady
Member

Adonai – I saw that, noticed the date, and just sighed. That is the absolutely LAST year that die-hard End Times people can justify the Second Coming/Armageddon. Just when I thought we were almost free of them (a big chunk are predicting May 21 this year for the Rapture and October 21 this year for the End so if it does not happen, it narrows the field of True Believers.)

Now, here comes the astroid giving the others who pin the date at about 2000 years after the end of Christ’s life something to slaver over. God’s sign! Repent NOW! The end is near!

I really hoped to hear the end of all that soon, but nooooooo. Now we have not only the Red Heifer (genetically modified by people who don’t believe in genetic modification to cure disease), the fall of Babylon (Iraq – why’d you think we went there under President Born Again?), and the hoped for rebuilding of the Temple (though that’s not going so well) – now we have a freaking meteorite.

Sigh.

Report this comment

ghsts
Member

Ha, you wish.

“And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”(Revelation 9:6)

Report this comment

choicelady
Member

Do NOT get me started any more than I just did. I cannot deal with these people and that lousy interpretation of Revelations ANY LONGER!

Report this comment