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Earth's Period of Habitability Is Nearly Over

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the nice-while-it-lasts dept.

Earth 756

xp65 writes "Scientists at this year's XXVIIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil agree that we do not yet know how ubiquitous or how fragile life is, but that: 'The Earth's period of habitability is nearly over on a cosmological timescale. In a half to one billion years the Sun will start to be too luminous and warm for water to exist in liquid form on Earth, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect in less than 2 billion years.' Other surprising claims from this conference: that the Sun may not be the ideal kind of star to nurture life, and that the Earth may not be the ideal size."

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Dang! Things were just getting fun (4, Funny)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020957)

Just when we were about to figure out free energy!

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (5, Funny)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020965)

And to think, we were only 10-20 years away from Cold Fusion....

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (0, Redundant)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021061)

we've been 10 years away from cold fusion for the last 50 years :)... same with helium 3 (at a level where we actually get out more than we take in)

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (5, Funny)

inamorty (1227366) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021301)

Wooosh.*

*Not the sound of the atmosphere evaporating.

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (4, Funny)

Bredero (1154131) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020971)

Yeah fuck this shit, I'm out of here!

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (4, Funny)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021445)

Yep, me too. So long, and thanks for all the fish ...

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021031)

xx

Re:Dang! Things were just getting fun (2, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021089)

Well, so much for the real-estate market bouncing back. I mean heck, who wants to buy property that doesn't have sufficient air conditioning?? :)

Depending on who you believe (2, Interesting)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020979)

Depending on who you believe, the Earth will be inhabitable for a billion more years or so, or a couple hundred years.

Re:Depending on who you believe (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021047)

What climate model projects that the Earth will be _uninhabitable_ within a few hundred years?

Re:Depending on who you believe (5, Funny)

O'Nazareth (1203258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021207)

The book of Revelation.

Re:Depending on who you believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021257)

Actually, the bible says the end times would be within the lifespan of Jesus' desciples, so I'd say it's already long overdue.

Re:Depending on who you believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021377)

It means disciples as in followers, not specifically the apostles. (so it is still valid)

Also it says Earth will be wiped clean and the for 1000 years (God time [1]) after be a paradise devoid of sin

1. guessing one rotation of our galaxy around the universe as one God year

Re:Depending on who you believe (2, Informative)

anarchyboy (720565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021463)

1. guessing one rotation of our galaxy around the universe as one God year

Our galaxy does not rotate around the universe

Re:Depending on who you believe (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021455)

But on Biblical scale a few hundred years is quite along time. You know, it's not that Earth is older than 6000 years or so. - But then, what would Xenu do?

Re:Depending on who you believe (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021483)

If I was God here's how I'd do things

The Bible would have performance targets - e.g. colonise the moon and so on. Once those were achieved I'd just change them retroactively so humans thought they had to do say the moon and mars. Basically every time anyone picked the book up it would tell them that God thinks that as a species we're a day late and a dollar short and he's sick of it. I'd also explain that the dinosaurs didn't meet their targets either and even humans should be able to deduce the consequences of that.

Oh and by the way, FORE!

Re:Depending on who you believe (2, Interesting)

BradyB (52090) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021273)

Gorism

Re:Depending on who you believe (3, Insightful)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021417)

Don't worry, the Earth will remain inhabitable even in the most dark of the global warming scenarios.

Just not by humans.

Re:Depending on who you believe (1, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021489)

95% of cockroaches vote Republican, so I'm not worried.

Re:Depending on who you believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021325)

What climate model projects that the Earth will be _uninhabitable_ within a few hundred years?

Manbearpig.

Ugly model, though.

Re:Depending on who you believe (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021063)

The presentation was made in power point.

It was a large file.

Which was in the lecturer's usb drive.

He copied it to the projector's hd...

Depending on who you believe, the Earth will be inhabitable for a billion more years or so, or a couple hundred years

Re:Depending on who you believe (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021115)

It won't stop governments using these figures to tax us more now so they can erect a giant Venitian blind between the Sun and Earth in readyness for that time, so we can filter out some of the increased luminosity that will kill life here, according to that article.

Re:Depending on who you believe (1)

kulawend (1614911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021173)

Obama won't tax us, he'll just print more money.

Re:Depending on who you believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021287)

Was I the only one that saw "erect" and "giant Vagina"?

Sooner than that... (2, Informative)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021209)

If you believe your local religious nutball, it will be sooner than that. 2012 (for those confused in their religiosity, mixing Mayan and Christian myth), 2 years (if you're one of those bozos who believe the Iranian president is the new Mahadi), by the end of this year (if you believe the wingnuts who think Obama is the anti-christ and national healthcare the end of civilization), or several times in the past decade (if you're one to jump into your bunker everytime the Jehovah's Witnesses call the end of the world).

Get your Apacalypse here! Step right up! One to a customer! Step right up!

Re:Sooner than that... (4, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021251)

I'm confused... how can 2012 be attributed to Christian myth even by the most loose of interpretations?

According to christian doomsday lore, several things which need to happen have not, including the mark of the beast, the universal persecution of the christian faith, the single currency system... the anti-christ...

And even then, the rapture is supposed to occur seven years before the destruction of this world... basically under christian theology, the rapture happens, then seven years of absolute devestation occurs.

Where in the world did you get the idea that the Christian faith even hints at something near 2012?

Re:Sooner than that... (5, Informative)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021289)

I'm confused... how can 2012 be attributed to Christian myth even by the most loose of interpretations?

It isn't. It's attributed to Mayan myth (and its a fundamental change in the world, not necessarily the end of the world). But you get some confused people who think that's "another sign" of the last days, and that Jesus/the Apacalypse/what have you is coming then.

Totally illogical, not to mention heretical by their own belief system, but that doesn't seem to slow them down any.

Re:Sooner than that... (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021319)

Ah, well that makes more sense. I was wondering for a minute there if I skipped a chapter in Revelations...

Re:Depending on who you believe (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021295)

Well, everyone knows that if you ignore a problem, it'll go away, so I'm going to believe the few billion years bit.

Re:Depending on who you believe (5, Funny)

haifastudent (1267488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021385)

I expect this basement to stay nice and cool (read: inhabitable) so long as my parents keep paying the rent.

So we still have... (5, Insightful)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020981)

500 million years give or take a few hundred thousand to develop warp drive capability. Either we'll figure it out or we'll blow ourselves up.. I doubt it'll be the sun that kills off life on this planet.

Re:So we still have... (3, Insightful)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021015)

That's assuming we can build sufficient transport to offload folks faster than we breed - otherwise a large group of folks will be left to feel the heat....

I'm sure we'll develop something that can shift us around the universe - even if it's just building a generation-ship, but will it be big enough to take *everyone*?

Re:So we still have... (4, Insightful)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021091)

If Humanity is still around then (highly unlikely) it will long since have had the technology and resources required to push the Earth to a new, stable and habitable orbit.

Re:So we still have... (4, Insightful)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021117)

See, we rush to take this as an inevitable conclusion, but we could still be here arguing over illiegal immigration, voting on American Idol, and crying over Soap Opera weddings.

If we don't try, it won't just happen.

Re:So we still have... (1)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021193)

Oh, I'm all for pushing research £/$/â/Â¥/... into the problem of getting everyone off this planet should it look like the real-estate will become uninhabitable.

I won't be voting on American Idiot, or even the more local X-Factor. The last soap-opera wedding I saw was Charlene and Scott in Erinsborough (I didn't cry).

Re:So we still have... (4, Insightful)

xtracto (837672) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021479)

See, we rush to take this as an inevitable conclusion, but we could still be here arguing over illiegal immigration, voting on American Idol, and crying over Soap Opera weddings.
If we don't try, it won't just happen.

Just to put some perspective, the low-end side of the date is Five hundred million or:

500,000,000

The human civilization has only been around for about 6000 years (from say,bronze age [wikipedia.org] to Today [wikipedia.org] ).

This means that, when the sun starts getting unsuitable to life, civilization will have advanced for 499,994,000 years.

Somehow I think that, at that time either humanity has destroyed itself (or the planet, while playing their "nuclear energy" toys) or has matured enough to migrate to whatever other planet is suitable for life.

Re:So we still have... (1)

Adelbert (873575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021323)

I'm as pro-technological advance as the next /.er, but I've never really bought this kind of argument.

Civilizations wax and wane, ebb and flow. If Roman technological and economic advance had continued unabated, there may have been a Europe-wide steam train system by 700 AD, perhaps. But it didn't.

Maybe, just before the Sun's increased emissivity becomes a serious problem, our descendants will fall back into some sort of dark age/world war/counter-enlightenment. Who knows?

I just think it's a bit silly to assume that Moore's Law will be obeyed continuously for the next billion-odd years, without considering that maybe there will be sociological forces that come into play.

Re:So we still have... (4, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021467)

The idea that technological advance is as inevitable as a law of nature is a fallacy. It usually relies on us getting lucky because somewhere an enabling technology or knowledge was discovered. The only reason Europe emerged from the dark ages is that crusades brought back the Arabic numbers, for example. Gauss once blamed Euclid's not introducing digital numbers and sticking with base-60 numbers of the Greeks for all of the Dark Ages. Roman numerals do not make multiplication table manageable by any accounts, either. Basically, once the enabling technology is stumbled upon, you get a bunch of people in different parts of the world exploring all of its implications. Until then, you pretty much hit stagnation point sooner or later. American Indians never discovered a wheel, by the way. Social forces ALWAYS play catch up with technological state of humanity. As long as we remain the same specie, that is. Moore's Law is already at its limit. The next step is two-prong: parallelism and hybrid (analog-digital) chips.

Re:So we still have... (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021437)

That isn't the ONLY solution to the problem, you know. Moving a whole ##$#ing planet isn't easy. We could, you know, make really thin giant mirrors and put them into low earth orbit to reflect away some of the excess light. That could pretty much be done using technology available within 10 years of developement from today. (we'd have to develop a mass means of launching lots of stuff into orbit, using lasers or a linear accelerator, but other than that we have the technology)

Re:So we still have... (3, Funny)

Serious Simon (701084) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021111)

I'm sure we'll develop something that can shift us around the universe - even if it's just building a generation-ship, but will it be big enough to take *everyone*?

Then it should be a lot bigger than the previous one.

According to ancient sources, it only had space for one family and one pair of each animal species (or seven pairs for clean beasts and fowl)

See Genesis 7...

Re:So we still have... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021297)

That's assuming we can build sufficient transport to offload folks faster than we breed - otherwise a large group of folks will be left to feel the heat....

Oh, I'm sure we can convince a few people to stick around to get a shot at being the last human on Earth.

Re:So we still have... (1)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021331)

Hmm - I sense a new reality show for the emigrants...... Maybe combine it with some Running Man scenarios for added fun

Re:So we still have... (2, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021363)

I doubt strongly that we will develop sufficient transport to evacuate the earth's current population. But the population is currently scheduled to peak around 2100 and then start falling. *If* we can keep civilisation alive until this event occurs, I think is it a pretty good bet that we can taper our population down over the last few millennia so nobody gets left behind. Educated, well off people who know that their children have very good survival chances have been shown to be, on average, remarkably sensible about reproducing responsibly. (Though see current issue of The Economist for an article about how birthrates fall with wealth, but seem to be rising with super-wealth. But the super-wealthy will be the ones with the off-planet ticket).

Re:So we still have... (1)

wereHamster (696088) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021085)

or we'll blow ourselves up..

reminds me of http://www.endofworld.net/ [endofworld.net]

Maybe if the earth starts getting radioactive (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021135)

people will have enough incentive to start moving out.

Re:So we still have... (3, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021241)

Either we'll figure it out or we'll blow ourselves up..

Blowing ourselves up won't make the Earth uninhabitable. Contrary to common belief, we are just not that good, not even at being destructive.

Re:So we still have... (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021413)

I doubt it'll be the sun that kills off life on this planet.

Maybe humanity will be gone by then, but there is other life on this planet, you know. And that life might just be killed off by the sun in a few billion years.

This might be what Earth needs. (5, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020991)

Just think--an end to war, violence, depravity, poverty, oppression. Everyone will TRULY become equal then. Who knew the sun could be so... so... progressive?

Re:This might be what Earth needs. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021035)

Just think--an end to war, violence, depravity, poverty, oppression. Everyone will TRULY become equal then. Who knew the sun could be so... so... progressive?

Vote 1: "Death Star", for a Better Tomorrow!

Re:This might be what Earth needs. (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021373)

"Universal bereavement - an inspiring achievement" - Tom Lehrer, "We will all go together when we go"

so little time left (2, Funny)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 5 years ago | (#29020995)

I guess we should party til the last days then since we have so little left

Re:so little time left (3, Funny)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021169)

No obviously we should spend the last days figuring out how to blame this on Bush. After all that's what the MSM will be doing.

Re:so little time left (1)

TheGreenNuke (1612943) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021225)

Well that sounds like last call to me. Time for a good old fashioned goodbye bash complete with spilling oil in the oceans and setting it ablaze, leaving all our electronics and air conditioners running 24 hours a day, and do every other thing that trashes our planet. I knew that Al Gore character was out of his mind and global warming wasn't man-made. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a bonfire fueled by all my plastic bottles....

Ok, NOW I'm worried (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021001)

I'd better start with my bucket list.

On a side note... (1, Insightful)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021017)

as this may lead to the devastation of the planet, we must invest in a way to protect ourselves from the sun (and you thought GLOBAL WARMING was bad, this shit here is SOLAR WARMING), so I anxiously await Al Gore's appearance on the scene since there's plenty of government spending and fear mongering to be done here!

Well we should enjoy the slowly warming climate (1)

bossanovalithium (1396323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021019)

At least it's not going to broil us out of our skulls while we are alive...Just gently chargrill us..

Linux on the desktop (5, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021021)

So Linux on the desktop will really never happen! Pity.

Repent sinners for the end is nigh (3, Funny)

pariahdecss (534450) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021049)

. . . and to summarize TFA - Prof. Man Cuntz says, "Wear lots of sunscreen"

Re:Repent sinners for the end is nigh (4, Funny)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021087)

For a second, I thought you'd made that name up, then I RTFA. His name really is Manfred Cuntz.

Man Bear Pig, I give you, Man Fred Cuntz.

Re:Repent sinners for the end is nigh (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021105)

. . . and to summarize TFA - Prof. Man Cuntz says, "Wear lots of sunscreen"

I prefer the Baz Luhrmann version [wikipedia.org] .

His version was less informative, no less depressing, but after listening to it, you somehow felt a bit better. And you could dance to it. :-)

So ... (1)

krou (1027572) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021055)

Does that mean mankind needs to start planning for this eventuality now, or do we leave it until the last minute, and pray for Bruce Willis's head-in-a-jar to save the day?

Re:So ... (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021109)

Even then there will be (if there are any humans left, that is) a faction that gains from the status quo and has a lot to lose. So eventually there will be red-sun deniers. Oh maybe it will, happen, just not right now.
Other then that, the cosmological timescale is meaningless when compared to humans. society has only existed a couple of thousand years, irrelevant when compared to 500 Million years.

I love these articles, seriously... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021083)

- 65 Million years ago, we were mice.
- We have 500 Million years left (worse case).

Conclusion : your time is _almost_ over.

Brilliant !

Forget about millions of people dying of hunger and disease today,
let's worry about what's gonna happen five hundred _million_ years from now !
First things first !

P.S.: oh, don't let the "greenhouse efect" hint miss you... Global-warmers are up to anything these days...

Re:I love these articles, seriously... (1)

O'Nazareth (1203258) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021355)

The question is how does it take for terraforming a planet? We can surely find planet that can support life, but our life? We need to do some work first. You cannot expect millions or billions of humans to living on a planet that does not have the proper atmosphere. For Earth to contain 20% of O2, it took 2 billion years. So, where will we stay while terraforming other planets?

Re:I love these articles, seriously... (2, Insightful)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021435)

The question is how does it take for terraforming a planet?

Big Job. Takes decades.

2 billions years?! (1)

velen (1198819) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021099)

Hmm. Anyone wanting to take bets on humans becoming extinct within the next 50000 years?

Re:2 billions years?! (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021399)

I'll gladly hold the money for anyone willing to take bets.

Damn you Sun... (1)

merikari (205531) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021101)

... it is too late for Duke Nukem jokes as well.

This just in from the IPCC (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021123)

Data suggests the cause of this as being anthropogenic climate change, the best solution is therefore to pay more taxes. -- Interplanetary Panel on Climate Change

Re:This just in from the IPCC (3, Informative)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021247)

troll, I'll take your bait. The IPCC doesn't advise paying more taxes, but using our resources better : more insulation, more energy-efficiency ... which leads to : you needing to buy less energy. see for example : http://www.naima.org/pages/about/releases/2001/ase.html [naima.org]

@TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021125)

Keanu Reeves called to say: "Woah."

Sci-Am May 2009 (4, Informative)

pmontra (738736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021131)

This is exactly the conclusion of this article [scientificamerican.com] of Scientific American, May 2009.

YOU FAIL IT?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021137)

I'm not convinced by a couple of points (1)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021165)

first when it says " the Sun may not be the ideal kind of star to nurture life, and that the Earth may not be the ideal size"... as opposed to what other life bearing planet/ star... which produced what better life form? ... There could be life somewhere else... but how would it be better? It's like saying life conditions in a particular continent are better than on another continent, so life is more in danger/ is better off there. How do we know the dna mutations occuring (which according to the articles may have influenced life, endangered it)... didnt actually foster the right mutations for life as we know it... we dont have a recipy for life, let alone ideal life.

second when it says that life is doomed in half a billion... to a billion years... if indeed the sun's rays will make the temperature warmer, nothing's to stop us from enhancing the magnetic field or putting sunshades by then. as a matter of fact, with enough money, ressearch, it would not be impossible to put shades in orbit in a rather near future.

I'll go even further and say that supposing we had an orange dwarf which according to the article lasts 10 or 20 times more... we may never be encouraged to leave our solar system... sometimes, knowing we're doomed if we dont do anything about it is actually a motivator to save our necks by working more. So the fact that we are doomed - in a long term - will force us to find other habitable places.

Re:I'm not convinced by a couple of points (3, Insightful)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021275)

There could be life somewhere else... but how would it be better? It's like saying life conditions in a particular continent are better than on another continent, so life is more in danger/ is better off there

Australia vs Antarctica, you do the math.

How do we know the dna mutations occuring (which according to the articles may have influenced life, endangered it)... didnt actually foster the right mutations for life as we know it... we dont have a recipy for life, let alone ideal life.

Lets see, the kangaroo, the ostrich or the platypus seem pretty specialized, which means there were probably TONS of mutations that didn't make it. Basic Darwinism. We may not have a recipe for life, but if you throw the same ingredients together in various proportions (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, water, egg, oil and chocolate chips) you will eventually get some damned good cookies. The recipies that don't get eaten are in danger (endangered) of being thrown out.

I'll go even further and say that supposing we had an orange dwarf which according to the article lasts 10 or 20 times more... we may never be encouraged to leave our solar system... sometimes, knowing we're doomed if we dont do anything about it is actually a motivator to save our necks by working more. So the fact that we are doomed - in a long term - will force us to find other habitable places.
This one I actually agree with, it is like lighting a long term fire under our collective asses. Judging by Humans' propensity towards procrastination, by the time it is hot enough to make us move, they may be some very tan asses.

Shotgun (1)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021171)

So your saying buy tinned foods and shotguns ?

Re:Shotgun (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021239)

No. Tinfoil hats to reflect the giant sun's hot rays.

Shield against cosmic rays ?? (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021183)

This part of the article strikes me as odd :

"Planetary magnetic fields (...) also act as a shield against high energy cosmic rays"

_Magnetic fields can only deviate charged particules
_Cosmic Rays are electromagnetic radiation, they have no charge.

Then how can planetary magnetic field serve as shield against cosmic rays ?
There must be a side-effect that would explain it, does anyone care to explain please ?

Re:Shield against cosmic rays ?? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021235)

Cosmic Rays are electromagnetic radiation, they have no charge.

Untrue. Cosmic rays [wikipedia.org] are mostly high energy protons.

Re:Shield against cosmic rays ?? (4, Informative)

dylan_- (1661) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021243)

_Cosmic Rays are electromagnetic radiation, they have no charge.

Then how can planetary magnetic field serve as shield against cosmic rays ?

Cosmic Rays are high energy particles, not electromagnetic radiation. They're mostly protons.

Re:Shield against cosmic rays ?? (2, Informative)

blancolioni (147353) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021487)

Cosmic rays include many kinds of charged particles -- protons, electrons, alpha particles etc -- streaming out from the sun (and arriving from other places). Electromagnetic radiation is also known as sunlight, and is, as you said, not deflected by magnetic fields.

Ideally... (5, Insightful)

nomad-9 (1423689) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021197)

"that the Sun may not be the ideal kind of star to nurture life, and that the Earth may not be the ideal size."

Homo sapiens may not be the ideal kind of advanced life form either. Otherwise it wouldn't destroy its own habitat on a global scale, nor cause avoidable mass extinction of other species. The good news? We don't really need to start worrying about the sun quitting on us. We'll be long gone before that, and I don't mean on another planet. I mean gone in a dinosaurial kind of way...

Re:Ideally... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021347)

umm.. isn't causing mass extinction of other species what evolution is all about?

I'm just saying..

Re:Ideally... (5, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021419)

I mean gone in a dinosaurial kind of way

We'll evolve into birds?

Geez. (1)

S-100 (1295224) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021229)

Just as people from a few thousand years ago couldn't imagine the world we have today, it's just as silly for us to write off a habitable earth. We have small communities living now in far more inhospitable places: Antarctica, ocean bottoms and LEO. Who's to say what technological capabilities we will have in thousands more years? Perhaps a satellite orbiting the Sun that eclipses enough solar radiation to keep temperatures under control. Or nanoparticles added to the atmosphere for the same effect. Or a future propulsion system that can simply change the orbit of the Earth over thousands of years to correct for increased solar emissions. Or a way to affect the nuclear reaction inside the Sun itself. In 500,000 years, that may be child's play.

HALF A BILLION YEARS (4, Insightful)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021281)

They aren't saying we've "only" got 500,000 years they are saying that we've only got 500,000,000 years. Given that mankind in its present form have only been around for 100-50,000 years and that we've only had civilisations for around 10,000 years then even 500,000 years is a mind bogglingly staggering amount of time.

Sure we could do propulsion systems, space drives, kill ourselves directly, die from a meteor strike or new virus. What these people are saying is that in 500,000,000 years or more that the earth as it currently stands won't be a great place to live. This doesn't mean panic. It doesn't mean say "who are they to say we aren't going to have technology to fix this problem" its a piece of science that helps us understand more about our planet and solar system and the potential for life elsewhere in the universe.

Half a billion years ago was the Cambrian explosion when life really got going on this planet. So the odds on humans existing in our present form is pretty much zero given the amount of evolution that has happened in the previous 500 million years.

Clever technology is one thing, but half a billion years is another. Evolution works wonders on those sorts of timescales.

Earth's Period of Habitability Is Nearly Over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021277)

In the period life has been around, the Sun became a lot warmer, by 30 percent or so? The average temperatures have remained the same, since life works as a thermostat. So take it with a pinch of salt.

Apologies to Rummy... (1)

soboroff (91667) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021343)

You go to evolution with the planet you have, not the planet you wish you had.

Stanislaw Lem's tales (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021371)

"that the Sun may not be the ideal kind of star to nurture life, and that the Earth may not be the ideal size."


Reminds me of Lem tales; especially the Ijon Tichy series. In some stories the Earth is considered incapable of producing life by aliens that proceed to explain that life was brought by other aliens. In others they just say that, as the Earth is so different to their own worlds, it is incapable of creating life as they know it, and even when the human protagonist tells he is from Earth the aliens do not change their mind. Sort of a parody of movies and books talking only about "green men" and likewise, and lacking imagination when thinking about other lifeforms

Ultraviolet and X rays bad? Maybe not (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021389)

They talk about drawrf stars being better because of the lower amount of high energy EM coming off them (as well as they're longer life). But I wonder if they've stopped to consider that perhaps high energies were required to kick start life as we know it. If the early earth had just been an ocean of soup sitting under a benign, dull, low power star radiating mostly in the IR part of the spectrum its possible that chemically nothing very exciting would have ever happened.

Time to bump up the Life Assurance (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021391)

Ha... I've just massively increased my life assurance as the dumb insurance company didn't know about this report so haven't upped the premiums at all.

Man in 500,000,000 years time my kids are going to be RICH!

Gee..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29021393)

I'd better hurry up and learn how to talk to girls....

somebody (1)

mikerubin (449692) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021405)

has been watching too much Discovery Channel

Stars are dangerous! (1)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021407)

Funny, the Sun being unsuitable for life is one of the ideas behind Passages in the Void [kuro5hin.org] , a series of SF short-stories about (among other things) living long-term.

In the long term, living around a star that will eventually gobble up your planet isn't a good idea. Better go make a home in the interstellar (or better, intergalactic) void where chances of stray asteroids or supernovas are much smaller.

On a serious note (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021421)

If true, our existence is quite incredible. Life on earth is thought to have taken between 2 and 3 billion years to evolve to the current biosphere extant today. Obviously, that means it took the process of evolution all this time to design creatures as complex as humans, as well as the other sophisticated life on this planet.

More than likely, humans will develop technology that will allow humans (or more likely, human creations) to spread beyond this star to the broader universe beyond. Yet, had evolution been a mere billion years too slow, or had random accidents meant that intelligent life was never evolved, then this would have never happened.

Hurry up before its too late!!! (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021427)

I am now offering a special deal to all slashdot members, send me your credit card number and in just 4,192,391,234.5 payments, you too can be a prime real estate owner in our closest neighbour Alpha Centauri.

*Disclaimer* Moving costs and expenses are the sole responsibility of the customer

Everyone have to die (1, Insightful)

rmansuri (1190437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021443)

This is something coming up from devil's mind which keep changing every decade...I don't bother with these kind of news as one day everyone have to die.

Rubbish, of course it is. (5, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021453)

the Sun may not be the ideal kind of star to nurture life, and that the Earth may not be the ideal size

Since life evolved to suit the conditions, this statement is silly. The Sun and the Earth are perfect for life as it is found in the Sun/Earth system.

Its not a problem.... (3, Interesting)

jozmala (101511) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021459)

Lets put it this way, by that time, technology has advanced a lot. And we probably have colonized rest of the planet system.
You can put a huge mirror slightly closer to sun than lagrange point (to compensate by gravity the idea of having huge solar sail) Then target that somewhere where extra solar radiation would be useful, outside of earth. Perhaps even, targeting small portion if to its shadow on earth, so that the darkness wouldn't come to its shadow in day light, but simply day being less bright. Anyway There are thousands of different ways of doing that thing. Only thing that could prevent us surviving this would be some other catastrophe for instance a nuclear war, that takes all the options of making such things impossible. By the time its a problem IF modern human civilization is still around then we can pretty much block it, and probably with better method than could be imagine from current technology. With modern technology we COULD make a sun screen should we pool earths resources to that project so that it would be finished within 100 years.

What about Pluto? (1)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021485)

This is the same group that changed the definition of planet to exclude Pluto [wikipedia.org] . A bunch of them seem unhappy with how they went about it [wikipedia.org] so will they fix it?
Leave the doom and gloom predictions for the experts (bums on the sidewalk) and deal with issues that matter, please.
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