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The Far Future of Our Solar System

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the entropy's-long-con dept.

Space 122

An anonymous reader writes "Sure, the Universe is expanding, the galaxies are accelerating away from one another, and it's looking more and more like they'll never re-collapse. The timeline of the far future looks pretty grim on large scales. But what's to come of our Solar System: of the Earth, our Moon and our Sun? This tour of the far future of the Solar System, scaling the timescales to the Big Bang being '1 Universe year' ago, puts it all in perspective."

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What about the future of Slashdot? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867183)

A more pressing matter is the future of Slashdot. It doesn't look particularly bright, especially after being forced yet again to use the goddamn beta site.

The beta site seriously needs to go. It is just plain bad. Everything about it is bad, bad, bad.

The problems with it are obvious. The appearance is hideous. It's far slower to load for me. The ability to hold discussions has been absolutely destroyed. The story images are pointless and too fucking big. The fonts are all frigged up. The comment reply popup has a broken layout.

Forget the future of our solar system. Slashdot won't have a future if this beta site goes live. It'll be like Digg v4 all over again. Yet another vibrant community destroyed due to half-assed, hipster-inspired "web design". Please don't let this happen! Please toss the beta site into the rubbish heap, where it belongs!

Re:What about the future of Slashdot? (1, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45867235)

"half-assed, hipster-inspired "web design"."

LOL

Re:What about the future of Slashdot? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867515)

Funny thing is, the new beta is neither "half-assed" nor "hipster-inspired," and that's the worst part - that somebody obviously put a lot of effort into that horribly-designed, utterly unnavigable, visually confusing kludge of shit. The misprioritization of the beta design is Ballmer-esque in scale, as all of the things that made Slashdot good (strong sense of community, lack of censorship, elegant simplicity) are deliberately being phased out and in their place being put paid shills and inline ads; topped off with a UI so horrible that, unlike every other damn site on the 'net, cannot be avoided or made better by script-blocking.

Wanting to be another ZDnet or whatever just might have worked if Slashdot had that big corporate visibility from the get-go, but the only way to go from here is pissing off the small but fierce fanbase which made Slashdot great, without all the big corporate visibility required to maintain a site like ZDnet. Good going, Slashdot, you've fucked yourself. But you will be vindicated -- when your baby finally tanks, and you are laid off or reassigned to writing paid-shill articles and product-placements full-time and comments have been abolished entirely, you can sit in your skid-marked office chair with a smug grin and mutter to yourselves,

" Heh heh heh, good riddance Ethanol-fueled...you'll never troll me again! "

Re:What about the future of Slashdot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867249)

I think I complained about the current layout when it came out. But that won't stop me from complaining about the shitty new beta.

Try "?nobeta=1"

How long will that last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867313)

How long do you seriously think that that bypass will last?

We've all seen these kind of redesigns before. Even when it's blatantly obvious that it's going to be a disaster, most of the backers don't have the guts to admit that they're wrong, and then they refuse to cut their losses. The switchover happens, the users are driven away, and it's exceedingly rare to ever switch back to the system that worked.

My expectation is that the Slashdot beta site will go live at some point. The so-called "classic" site will no longer be available. That toggle will become irrelevant.

At least I can say I did my part and spoke out against this ruinous idea, before it happened, rather than just closing my eyes and using a query string parameter to temporarily pretend to make the real problem go away.

Re:How long will that last? (0)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 10 months ago | (#45871381)

Wait..... was this comment concerning Slashdot, or about Obamacare?

Re:What about the future of Slashdot? (2)

srobert (4099) | about 10 months ago | (#45868557)

Indeed. CmdrTaco must be rolling in his grave. ...What? He's still alive. They tell me. Well, of course he is. How could he be rolling in his grave if he was dead? The disturbing part is that he's in a grave. Someone really should get him out of there. What? He apparently refuses to come out until Slashdot ditches the beta.

I think I saw this movie... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867185)

Somebody turns off the simulator?

Re:I think I saw this movie... (3, Funny)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 10 months ago | (#45868165)

No way, the simulation has produced Justin Bieber and Microsoft 8, yet it's still running. If there is an OFF button, it is jammed.

Re:I think I saw this movie... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45868931)

God is Justin Bieber, and he's running us on Windows 8. Sorry about that.

Re:I think I saw this movie... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 10 months ago | (#45872513)

Why do I suddenly feel doomed, and that life is futile?

You are a scary, disturbed person. :-)

Starts with a bang (5, Interesting)

Adam Colley (3026155) | about 10 months ago | (#45867223)

Aye, his blog is pretty damn excellent.

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/ [scienceblogs.com]

Unfortunately after a billion years or so there'll be no humans left to see it, hopefully at some point we'll have moved some of our eggs elsewhere, perhaps with generation ships if Einstein was right and there's no other possibilities...

Re:Starts with a bang (5, Insightful)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45867297)

Over that time scale genetic drift alone would mean we wouldn't see them as human.

Re:Starts with a bang (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 10 months ago | (#45867383)

sure we will, because somebody will figure out how to clone a human, then the super-wealthy will decide they don't need the rest of us when heading out into space, and rely on cloning instead.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

CalzKwon (2892541) | about 10 months ago | (#45867413)

Several computer systems are getting toward it.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867551)

Cloning isn't viable over the long term, even if you made it so, that implies a stagnant society.

Let me put that last bit to you like this, if you're super wealthy and going to space are you going to take all the scumbags hanging out on the street with you?

I think not.

Long term (2, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 10 months ago | (#45867671)

Cloning isn't viable over the long term, even if you made it so, that implies a stagnant society.

Let's make some different, very likely, assumptions. Today's nascent cloning technology is unlikely to even slightly resemble that of the future; today's human (and pet) genome, with all of its flaws, is unlikely to resemble that of the future; We'll no longer be farming animals for food, perhaps not even vegetables; AI will be here, as will robotics without AI (service class machinery); planets orbiting stars will not be the only viable human environment; technology in general will be almost unrecognizable in its power and efficacy; a system of more than enough for everyone will replace a labor based economy; overall, just with those few changes, no prediction based on today's extant situation is likely to come even close. Life spans may be quite extended. And that's not even counting the unpredictable changes -- for instance, in 1900, even later, no one had any idea what silicon electronics would do for us. Near term major change tech includes ultracaps, fusion (20 years out, no doubt at all, lol), driverless vehicles, significantly better building materials, the erosion of superstition and the rise of generations focused on objective reality instead of imaginary friends.

if you're super wealthy and going to space are you going to take all the scumbags hanging out on the street with you?

Wealth only has meaning in an economy of scarcity. I strongly suspect that the latter is going away, which in turn will eliminate the former. It's just going to be a very rocky transition. For my part, I live far better than my parents did, expect to live longer, am healthier, and have far more cool stuff. And that's within a wealth-based economy. And the funny thing? My parents had considerably more money. :)

As for "scumbags", if people have enough resources, and the genome is cleaned up to eliminate stupidity, ugliness, weak critical thinking skills and greed, why would there be any?

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867895)

Wow, full-on techno-utopia delusion. I was like that too at 21. Get back to me in 20 years and compare notes, shall we? Meet you on the self-assembled 3D printed private Mars colony? Say, afternoonish?

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868801)

Once again, as I often say over at your Fark.com stomping grounds, I'm sorry that your body and life have gone to shit over the last 20 years. But it's not that way for everybody else, not matter how widely and bitterly you threadshit about it.

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868939)

Like *I* said, in 20 years we'll compare notes. If reality won't finally sink in by *then*, I'll declare to everyone I was wrong. So, Starbuck's on Mars on Musk Lane? You delusional fucknut.

Re:Long term (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 10 months ago | (#45869559)

Get back to me in 20 years and compare notes, shall we?

Why would I do that? I didn't set a 20 year horizon. You did. (Other than the joke about fusion.... you got that, right? LOL and all? Fusion is always 20 years out) So go meet yourself and have a self-congrats fest with your strawman. It'd be meaningless to me.

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868069)

and the genome is cleaned up to eliminate stupidity, ugliness, weak critical thinking skills and greed, why would there be any?

And what do they call it when you clean up a genome? I sincerely doubt humanity has the brain power or ethical strength to create Iain M Banks "Culture".
Possibly the machines we make could, but then who controls that? We are just as likely to end up living in the Matrix as cruising around in GSV and partying with drones.

Re:Long term (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868179)

And what do they call it when you clean up a genome?

Genocide.

Re:Long term (1, Troll)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 10 months ago | (#45869545)

If you think yanking, for instance, Alzheimer’s, from the genome is "genocide", you have failed to engage your brain.

Some genes are bad. The whole meme that the genome is, or should be, untouchable is utter horseshit. Politically correct dung.

Does it need to be done with care? Of course. No one has suggested otherwise.

Re:Long term (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 10 months ago | (#45869803)

ah, slashdots most fun thing: moderators on crack.

Hi modz!

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45869817)

Whoosh.

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45870023)

Please describe this "yanking of Alzheimer's" from the genome. You're going to invent this fabulous magical technology, and give it away to every human so they no longer produce offspring with Alzheimer's? Oh do tell, I can't wait to compare notes with you in 20 years, assuming your brain ever matures.

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45870127)

> You're going to invent this fabulous magical technology, and give it away to every human so they no longer produce offspring with Alzheimer's

Genetic manipulation is not very hard to do (and therefore will be affordable for the foreseeable future). The hard part is understanding and mapping interactions.
It's not a technology, it's just a matter of waiting for the information to be found. Now it's possible that Alzheimer's isn't based in genetics, but a combination of genetic and environmental or just environmental. The evidence isn't really going that way. Eliminating Alzheimer's may have a tradeoff of pre-centennial heart failure which may be fixed with genetically matched organ replacement.

Most of your responses are hostile and intentionally ignorant. So I would think you'd look forward to the day you could get that fixed.

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45870579)

It is very feasible to produce a genome that produces a lifeform that will never get alzheimer's. However removing most of the brain to minimal levels is such a daunting task.

Re:Long term (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45870171)

and the genome is cleaned up to eliminate stupidity, ugliness, weak critical thinking skills and greed, why would there be any?

And what do they call it when you clean up a genome? I sincerely doubt humanity has the brain power or ethical strength to create Iain M Banks "Culture". Possibly the machines we make could, but then who controls that? We are just as likely to end up living in the Matrix as cruising around in GSV and partying with drones.

Have you read many of the Culture novels? (I've read them all, dammit, and since Banks left us so suddenly last year there won't be any more.) The AI's *do* control just about everything. They only seem to consult with humans because... because... I don't know why. The just seem to like humans (see "Meat Fucker").

Re:Long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45870109)

Someone spent a lot of points to mod this to troll. I give it a +1 for a sane future outlook that isn't "rosy" by any means, but simply pragmatic.

Re:Starts with a bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867843)

sure we will, because somebody will figure out how to clone a human, then the super-wealthy will decide they don't need the rest of us when heading out into space, and rely on cloning instead.

So the Lawyers and Coiffeurs are going to go into space ?
Hey that's a great news, we should help any way we can.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45870173)

sure we will, because somebody will figure out how to clone a human, then the super-wealthy will decide they don't need the rest of us when heading out into space, and rely on cloning instead.

So the Lawyers and Coiffeurs are going to go into space ? Hey that's a great news, we should help any way we can.

Let's hang on to the phone disinfectors, please.

Re:Starts with a bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867919)

They likely have big heads, with pulsating veins and supreme telepathic powers. They probably like to put primitive humanoids into cages with the purpose of partner selection and procreation.

Re:Starts with a bang (5, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#45867823)

There have been hominids for 5m years, proper humans for only 200k years, civilization for just 20k years, and in 100 years we invented a lot of things (from nukes to biological agents) that could end mankind any day, while going rampant sabotaging the earth ecosystem... and things keeps accelerating. What make you think that will be humans around in not in 1 billon nor 1 millon, but only 10k years in the future being very generous?

Yes, laying eggs somewhere else could improve the chances, self-sustaining space colonies is the way to try it more than generation ships, if any of them is ever possible. But that don't have a chance to happen with current culture where profit in the present is more important than having a future.

To put an example, an asteroid impacted earth 2 days ago that wasn't detected till that moment [slate.com] , how much you think is "invested" on mapping any potential space threats compared with, i.e. spying on ourselves, bailing out banks or even denying climate change [wired.co.uk] ? When the federal government had budget problems one of the first victims was the NASA program to detect space debris [universetoday.com] (a good example of a surveillance system that worth it), while the pentagon wasted 5.5billons the night before the shutdown [cnbc.com] (if we are talking about our survival, that was a waste), And always will be an "emergency" that will divert efforts and attention to something else, even if we have to create it. Unless we figure out a practical, safe way to travel (far) into the future (yes, we could done it doing a relativistic speed trip, or some suspended animation process could be developed, but nothing practical and for masses yet) we should not worry about what will happen in a millon years, is just too out of the reach of mankind.

Re: Starts with a bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868139)

Excellent opinion I enjoyed reading. Thank you

Re:Starts with a bang (3, Interesting)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45868291)

I think you're right on, but I think saying that man will be around for another 10k years is not generous, but silly. No other species that we know of has ever been as selfish, and foolish as mankind. Hell, crocodiles have been here for 200 million years, and they never bothered to invent a lay-z-boy recliner, a blender, or even TV! And if you look around the planet at the humans that are here and happy, they have learned to live with Nature, and not against it, as mankind has for the last 200 years or so.

It does seem that Nature has some intelligent design to it, that sort of self-repairs when things get out of whack, and when species try to play god, they self-destruct. There does seem to be a small push toward a more Natural living these days, despite being laughed at by the masses. An interesting book that I found on this subject is called "Darwin's Unfinished Business" by Simon G. Powell. He also has some interesting youtube videos. Here's one based on the book that I just mentioned:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff1Z8nGGebs [youtube.com]

I'm not trying to advertize, but bring to light a new way to approach Nature - with respect. And you seem like a fit personality.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 10 months ago | (#45868817)

> No other species that we know of has ever been as selfish, and foolish as mankind.

Have you gotten to know any other species well? Altruism is a very sophisticated behavior. So greed is pretty much built-in, along with deceit, rape, and genocide. Foolishness.... you have to have pretty sophisticated behavior and intellect before you even have anything to acuse of oolishness.

Re:Starts with a bang (2)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45869455)

Have you gotten to know any other species well?

Yes.

Altruism is a very sophisticated behavior. So greed is pretty much built-in, along with deceit, rape, and genocide.

I think you have these backwards. Altruism is a simple matter of not being selfish, and even dogs do it. [youtube.com] I feel that is built in. Of course greed, deceit, rape and genocide (hell you forgot to mention murder) are a part of nature, but they're things that, when viewed from a humane perspective (the one with altruism built-in), are looked down upon as barbaric, or things that are done by those with less evolution.

But you're taking what I said out of context. The next time you see or hear of anything except for mankind knowingly ruining the entire planet for it's own personal and very temporary gain, hit me up and I'll buy you a drink.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45870221)

The next time you see or hear of anything except for mankind knowingly ruining the entire planet for it's own personal and very temporary gain, hit me up and I'll buy you a drink.

How about this? http://science.slashdot.org/story/14/01/04/2057206/the-far-future-of-our-solar-system [slashdot.org]

I didn't have to go very far, either. This is an elegant summary of what humans have discovered (in only a few hundred years) about the development and likely future of the observable universe. It is based on millions of person hours of effort directed at discovering how things work. It is elegant and beautiful. The human impulse to learn that produces things like this also produces the inventions that have extended human lifespans, reduced the misery of existence, and will give us the chance to escape this rock and give humanity an indefinite future.

You seem overly smitten by the "natural" world, and every species except for Man. I really like my Boston Terriers, but their favorite occupations (aside from being with us) seem to be licking their private parts. There's not much comparison.

About that drink... I'll take a Balvenie, neat.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 10 months ago | (#45871973)

Dogs are quite sophisticated, and they've also been strongly trained by humans. Beetles, bacteria, worms, etc. are not, and they certainly outmass us. Altruism, as opposed to greed, is admittedly a fascinating biological and psychological subject, and I may have oversimplified the needs to show genuine altruism. But greed? Greed is built right into the concept of "desire", and applies to the desires for territory, food, and sex. The idea that "desire" is good, while "greed" is not, for example, is core to many philosophies and social structures, and would include what you mean by "altruism". The idea that this is a matter of "level of evolution" is as silly as as calling rich people "more evolved" than poor people.

The idea that altruism is "built-in" to anything is a fascinating concept. It's certainly necessary for civilizations, or the greedy would eat all the stored food for the winter or the dry season. Societies that failed to control greed would fail very quickly. So it's absolutely necessary for societies beyond a certain size to evolve, as societies. But that's social or even cultural evolution, not biological. Its role is often confused with that of biology, but they're not automatically linked together.

As for lifeforms "ruining the planet", I suggest you look into the evolution of photosynthetic life altering the oxygen level of the entire atmosphere. The result was devastating, and unavoidable worldwide. The "knowingly" part of that process, I suggest is unnecessary. While there are many things Robert Malthus got wrong, the tendency for species to breed until they overwhelm the available resources is built into most evolutionary models, The results are often disastrous, poisoning the ecosystem in which the original organisms evolved.

Humans are an extreme example. Our adaptability, and very large population, and control of our environments are are a startling combination contributing to the _scale_ of our ecological effects. But genocide and greed collapse small ecosystems _all the time_. If you don't believe they can devestate the planet's ecosystem, then look at the evolution of photosynthesis. It _changed the atmosphere of the whole planet_ to include roughly 20% of a searing, chemically reactive, and quite poisonous gas to the rest of the ecosystem. The results were _devastating_ worldwide.

Re:Starts with a bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45869177)

No other species that we know of has ever been as selfish, and foolish as mankind.

What is this supposed to mean?

No other species that we know of is sentient. So how can they be selfish or foolish?

If we speak only of instinctive behavior, the Dodo was very foolish. Pheasents are foolish. In fact, any animal you can name will be 'foolish' if you take it out of its natural environment.

If you want to remind us all that human beings have done stupid things, fine. But don't hold up animals as noble savages. Doing so makes you look stupid!

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45869515)

If you want to remind us all that human beings have done stupid things, fine. But don't hold up animals as noble savages. Doing so makes you look stupid!

I'm not holding animals up as noble savages, you came up with that "clever" concept. However, you and I may just be defining "foolish" differently. No other part of nature has ever sensed that it has inflicted damage to the natural environment, and just carried on, multiplying the same efforts. To whatever degree this foolishness exists, to that same degree, an imbalance with Nature exists.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45870253)

...No other part of nature has ever sensed that it has inflicted damage to the natural environment, and just carried on, multiplying the same efforts...

"parts of nature" don't "sense that (they have) inflicted damage to the natural environment..." This makes no sense at all, because you are anthropomorphizing "nature" which is not an organism at all, and does not sense or reason, or make decisions. Perhaps you are referring to individual species? Please, give an example of a species "sensing" the damage it's inflicting on the environment, and what steps it took to rectify the problem.

I mean, aside from Man. I direct your attention to the Clean Air Act of 1970, http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/ [epa.gov] , a very successful "sensing" by humans of the damage they inflicted on the environment, and steps taken to reverse the damage.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45871779)

"parts of nature" don't "sense that (they have) inflicted damage to the natural environment

What about the Clean Air Act of 1970?

...because you are anthropomorphizing "nature" which is not an organism at all, and does not sense or reason, or make decisions.

You're right. And I don't think that Nature is an organism either. However I don't think you're giving Nature enough due credit. After all, it's this very Nature that has evolved everything that we understand, and even our capacity to understand. Nature, to me, is justifiably the most intelligent thing/process that exists. And it's much more important to stay in tune with It's needs, than to dream up our own needs and try to stay in tune with them.

Please, give an example of a species "sensing" the damage it's inflicting on the environment, and what steps it took to rectify the problem.

Well to be fair, you gave a great example (Clean Air Act of 1970), and I'm sure that there's more, but they'll all be along the same lines; "human countering their own actions". No other part of Nature, that I've ever heard of, has ever damaged it's own environment that it depends on. I guess when a crocodile (that's existed quite in tune with Nature for over 200 million years) builds a factory that pollutes the environment to such an extent that it begins to link that pollution with it's own sicknesses, then I'll be more equipped to provide an example. But as it stands, no other species has polluted the environment. Which only supports my claim that no other species is foolish like mankind.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45872393)

And I don't think that Nature is an organism either... ...Nature, to me, is justifiably the most intelligent thing/process that exists. And it's much more important to stay in tune with It's needs...

Well to be fair, you gave a great example (Clean Air Act of 1970), and I'm sure that there's more, but they'll all be along the same lines; "human countering their own actions". No other part of Nature, that I've ever heard of, has ever damaged it's own environment that it depends on. I guess when a crocodile (that's existed quite in tune with Nature for over 200 million years) builds a factory that pollutes the environment to such an extent that it begins to link that pollution with it's own sicknesses, then I'll be more equipped to provide an example. But as it stands, no other species has polluted the environment. Which only supports my claim that no other species is foolish like mankind.

You're still doing it, anthropomorphizing Nature. Nature is not "intelligent". Nature does not have "needs".

Non-human populations crash all the time due to overbreeding and using up the available food supply. That's the same as "damaging it's (sic) own environment".

You also said, "when species try to play god, they self-destruct", so you're contradicting yourself there, with that extraordinarily fuzzy idea - please tell me how a river otter can "try to play god".
And you said, "Nature has some intelligent design to it, that sort of self-repairs when things get out of whack", and "I don't think that Nature is an organism either", so I can't imagine how you can reconcile those two thoughts.

The bottom line, is that with your anthropomorphizing "Nature", claiming it's intelligent, that non-humans don't damage their environments, and that humans are somehow not part of the natural world, you're not only not correct, you're not even wrong. Nothing you have expressed makes any sense or correlates to a scientific understanding of the world.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Mathinker (909784) | about 10 months ago | (#45871499)

And if you look around the planet at the humans that are here and happy, they have learned to live with Nature, and not against it, as mankind has for the last 200 years or so.

This myth, again? Humans in the middle ages were somehow happier than we are today? Did you ever learn any history? And even without thinking about all of the cruelty that people imposed on each other (let's assume that that hasn't changed since the middle ages), for most of human history one out of every two children (if not more) died before the age of five. Yeah, I'm sure all those parents, long ago, were really much happier than we are, with all our modern technology and modern medicine.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Tom (822) | about 10 months ago | (#45869625)

Yes, laying eggs somewhere else could improve the chances, self-sustaining space colonies is the way to try it more than generation ships, if any of them is ever possible. But that don't have a chance to happen with current culture where profit in the present is more important than having a future.

It really is very simple. If you sum up everything we know about human history and psychology, there is one basic conclusion and two basic paths we can take.

The basic assumption is that evolution has resulted in a species that prioritises short-term survival over long-term progress and reacts more strongly to outside dangers than to internal abstract goals.

The two basic paths we can take are a) find a way to re-program our minds, a proposal of uncertain results as we are talking about a self-modifying program that is known to be flawed at the start or b) we find an actual, serious, short-term outside danger like an alien species that wants to wipe us out.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#45869951)

We should forget about the emergence of aggresive outsiders, if the rules of the universe are as they seem so far contact between civilizations of different stellar systems is very improbable. We don't need an outside danger when we have so much inside dangers that could wipe us out, the problem is reacting when that insider danger is in a position of power, either military or culturally. But as an incoming apocalypse will be an excellent opportunity to make profit (how much people could pay to live a bit more, even if its not sustainable in the middle/long term?), it won't be prevented, in fact probably will be promoted.

We have created very persistent memes into our culture, probably the most pervasive of them is the concept of money, as something accumulable, and with attached power. While something with those attributes can't be removed from our culture the base problem will keep being there, things seems to derive to have money as the ultimate goal instead of the common good.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

Tom (822) | about 10 months ago | (#45871435)

Apparently I wasn't clear. An outside, alien danger is essential in order to trigger the "us vs. them" instinct we humans all have. We are social animals that instinctively group up in the face of danger. That is why an outside danger would forge us together while inside dangers just split us further apart.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#45871659)

The problem is that will be no "them", traveling between star systems is pretty expensive if ever possible (and the odds of having someone close enough capable of making it possible are very very low). And there is no "them" when the threat is an asteroid, a disease, or a supervolcano. We have our own "us vs them", through all the history we basically have not recognized as humans beings (or that deserved human rights, ask the NSA) people with different language, skin color, religions, countries and so on. Even if something involves the fate of mankind or the planet, is always their fault, not ours. No single water drop feels responsible for the flood.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45868183)

Perhaps somebody can enlighten me on this:

If the universe is expanding, does that actually mean that the universe has a border? Or does it mean that the universe is infinite, but its coordinate system (so to speak) is expanding?

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45868213)

(and if it has no border and is infinite, then how did the universe pop into existence during the big bang?)

Re:Starts with a bang (5, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 10 months ago | (#45868499)

Here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space#What_space_is_the_universe_expanding_into.3F [wikipedia.org]

It's kinda sorta expanding into itself . . .

If you smoke some weed, listen to an old "Yes" album from the 70's and do some whippets, you understand it all and it becomes really clear, but you forget again when the whippets wear off.

Re:Starts with a bang (3, Interesting)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 10 months ago | (#45869485)

That's a answer we don't know, and might never. The actual "edge" is probably beyond our light cone, which means it's further away than the light can get to us. As for your question below, during the beginning of the universe it expanded faster than light, so the information from the "edge" is beyond our line.

Some theories have our universe is just one of many, along interconnecting "branches" or something. So our spacetime, with it's physical laws, is expanding into the greater multiverse space, along with other universes with other sets of laws of physics. Just like our blood viens resemble tree branches in a fractal way, and how the galaxies connect together in a fractal way, some think the rest of the universe might be the same.

Of course, beyond our universe lies madness, incomprehensible physics our bodies couldn't survive in and our minds can never understand without snapping. You could always take a boat down to a particular island in the South Pacific, if you are allowed to you might find "someone" who can explain the Outerverse to you...in a land of non-Euclid geometry and negative-energy warped spacetime.

Re:Starts with a bang (1)

pantaril (1624521) | about 10 months ago | (#45869787)

If the universe is expanding, does that actually mean that the universe has a border? Or does it mean that the universe is infinite, but its coordinate system (so to speak) is expanding?

Most astrophysics think that universe has no border like a surface of the sphere has no border. Space-time of the universe is similar but has one more dimension so imagine it like some kind of inflating hypersphere. The exact geometry is not clear so it's probably not hypersphere but something more fancy, perhaps dodecahedron [wikipedia.org]

I'm a fan of the Big Crunch (1)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45867227)

If only for the fact it sounds delicious.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Crunch [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm a fan of the Big Crunch (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 10 months ago | (#45867275)

With all the latest craze about nerds, I really wonder why there's no breakfast cereal by that name yet.

Re:I'm a fan of the Big Crunch (2)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45867305)

(Queue repetitive commercial music) BIG CRUNCH *chorus* it's gonna squash your brain* BIG CRUNCH "Start your morning as a singularity"

Re:I'm a fan of the Big Crunch (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 10 months ago | (#45868429)

Ok, kids, who let the door open and allowed the markedroid to slip in?

Duude..... (1)

mellon (7048) | about 10 months ago | (#45867231)

I need a unicorn chaser!

(But that was pretty awesome.)

When will homo sapiens go extinct. (1)

LaughALot (3463309) | about 10 months ago | (#45867265)

I am sure we will go the way of the neanderthals and the denisovans and the whole bunch of bipeds in our region of the evolutionary tree. I suspect that there may be other beings that use their brains for more than just moving around in earths future. Perhaps we may be able to upload and download our consciousness and employ various new senses.

Re:When will homo sapiens go extinct. (1)

koan (80826) | about 10 months ago | (#45867309)

Why not Johnny Depp did.

Evolution is by necessity or what reproduces (1)

voss (52565) | about 10 months ago | (#45867431)

If neoteny provides any clues "homo animus" or the anime man may be our likely future.

humans a few million years down the line will be looking like eurasian anime characters
with cuteness not intelligence the most dominating feature although as they say looks
can be deceiving.

The human race will be okay...for now.
 

In AD 802701, war was beginning (2)

tepples (727027) | about 10 months ago | (#45867553)

humans a few million years down the line will be looking like eurasian anime characters with cuteness not intelligence the most dominating feature

That or the Eloi from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.

Re:In AD 802701, war was beginning (1)

LaughALot (3463309) | about 10 months ago | (#45868993)

AD has also been superceded by CE (common era). Neanderthals were around for a paltry million years. The thought process in producing this drivel I am spouting here does not really require smell, taste or touch. I have to see and try to hear what I am saying.

Re:When will homo sapiens go extinct. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45870157)

Since we've gone out of our way to stop natural selection within our species and have blown the door wide open for the propagation and persistence of genetic disease, I would say we have, at most, about 50-100 generations before we can no longer survive.

In the last 100 years alone the rate of cancer has increased so much that more than 50% of all human beings will get some kind of cancer in their lifetime.

What's even more ironic is that we try _even harder_ to "save" cancers because of "the children!" Our medical system will fight 10 times harder to save a cancer-ridden child, who will grow up to spawn more cancer-prone humans.

Genetic disease is the mechanism by which a species makes itself stronger and more viable. We have tried our best to stop that process, and the result is that in a mere 100 years we have basically shat in the gene pool to the point that our future is murky at best.

Roughly when Obamacare will work (-1, Offtopic)

gelfling (6534) | about 10 months ago | (#45867489)

Give or take an epoch.

Re:Roughly when Obamacare will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868351)

Thank you for adding your politically biased opinion to a scientifically inspired discussion. Your contribution is both worthwhile and appreciated.

Re:Roughly when Obamacare will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45872523)

You are an embarrassment to your UID.

Take this with a grain of salt (4, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 10 months ago | (#45867517)

I made an edit a while back in reference to the "4 billion year mark", because it was inaccurate, even via the cite it provides:

"Median point by which the Andromeda Galaxy will have collided with the Milky Way, which will thereafter merge to form a galaxy dubbed "Milkomeda".[46] The Solar System is expected to be relatively unaffected by this collision.[47] "

If you actually look at the citation (originally, the previous one had something to do with collisions of clouds and particles) at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/milky-way-collide.html [nasa.gov] , it DOES NOT SAY that it will be "relatively unaffected". To Quote:

"Although the galaxies will plow into each other, stars inside each galaxy are so far apart that they will not collide with other stars during the encounter. However, the stars will be thrown into different orbits around the new galactic center. Simulations show that our solar system will probably be tossed much farther from the galactic core than it is today. To make matters more complicated, M31's small companion, the Triangulum galaxy, M33, will join in the collision and perhaps later merge with the M31/Milky Way pair. There is a small chance that M33 will hit the Milky Way first."

While the sum contents of mass *may* be the same within our solar system, everything will be jumbled pretty good to where it won't even kind of look the same.

Take this timeline with a grain of salt. It is pretty apparent the moderators do little in terms of verification

Re: Take this with a grain of salt (2)

Joehonkie (665142) | about 10 months ago | (#45867645)

That link doesn't say any of the things you think it says. It's talking about stars in their relative orbits to each other. No party of your quote mentions the contents of the solar system.

Re: Take this with a grain of salt (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 10 months ago | (#45867715)

That link doesn't say any of the things you think it says. It's talking about stars in their relative orbits to each other. No party of your quote mentions the contents of the solar system.

Well, if it doesn't mention it, it's still correct. The sun will go red giant around the time of the merger -- Some say 5 billion, some estimates say 4 or a bit less. Simulations I've seen put our Earth at at least 50% chance to be thrown clear out of the galaxy. Ever run a gravitational sim? Gravity slings a lot of approach trajectories out beyond the system, never to return. Jumble up things, and give it a bit of time, sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Re: Take this with a grain of salt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868189)

Escape velocity from the galaxy is about 15 times the orbital velocity of the Earth, while escape velocity out of the solar system for the Earth is only about higher than its orbital velocity. Getting flung out of the galaxy is a lot harder than just out of the solar system.

Re:Take this with a grain of salt (2)

dryeo (100693) | about 10 months ago | (#45868775)

My understanding is that when Andromeda merges it will trigger a huge amount of star formation due to the shock waves in the interstellar medium which will increase the radiation in the galaxy due to many Blue giants and the resulting supernovas.
Long before that (500 million+ years) the Sun is going to get too hot for the Earth to have oceans and advanced (any?) life. Of course we could move the Earth or mankind could migrate elsewhere and there is even a chance of a close encounter with another star perturbing the Earths orbit into a better position.
What will probably cause the extinction of Home Sapiens will be climate change. Through most of its life the Earth has been in hot house conditions and we evolved for ice house conditions. If we don't cause climate change, then things like the continents rearranging themselves will long term.

...galaxies are accelerating away from one another (1)

Froeschle (943753) | about 10 months ago | (#45867717)

If this is the case why are the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies approaching each other? Shouldn't the space between them be increasing rather than decreasing? Does this present any contradiction?

Re:...galaxies are accelerating away from one anot (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 10 months ago | (#45868803)

The Milky Way, Andromeda along with 50+ other galaxies and dwarf galaxies are gravitationally bound. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Group [wikipedia.org]

Ice age? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45867731)

What's with the ice age it talks about? I thought the sun will gradually get warmer (before it bursts).

Re:Ice age? (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 10 months ago | (#45868813)

The Sun is warming up very slowly relatively, perhaps causing the Earth to get a kelvin warmer every 10 million years. The exact amount is unsure but the heating itself is caused by the Sun getting denser as hydrogen is transmuted to helium. The figures I've seen vary from 500 million to 2 billion years before the oceans boil.

Re:Ice age? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 10 months ago | (#45869067)

Okay, but it didn't say what caused the ice-age anywhere I could find. My best guess is that it's referring to natural climate cycles and that we will probably have at least one (more) ice-age before the sun bursts due to such natural cycles.

Re:Ice age? (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 10 months ago | (#45869403)

I'm not an expert and my understanding is probably incomplete, what I do understand is that over the really long term the configuration of the continents has a large input to the climate. As the continents move around they affect the ocean currents, winds and amount of precipitation. Also as the continents rearrange mountains grow and get weathered down and the ocean changes in depth. All these have large affects on the global climate. Ocean currents sometimes transfer heat north and south, other times not. Same with winds. Winds affect the amount of precipitation along with mountains and how extent the oceans and seas are. Precipitation is important as it releases heat and also allow for weathering which removes CO2 from the atmosphere. All the limestone in the world consists of CO2 removed from the atmosphere through rainfall on land and weathering.
Over a shorter timescale changes in the Earths orbit has a large affect. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles [wikipedia.org] . These are probably largely responsible for the current inter-glacials interspersed with ice ages.
There are other affects such as life, the first forests sequestered huge amounts of CO2 in the form of coal causing one of the earliest ice age, huge volcanic eruptions which can both increase CO2 and also cause global dimming from dust and various chemicals and even asteroid strikes.

Universe cannot expand forever (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45867743)

Each unit volume of space-time must have a constant amount of zero-point energy (this is already known today even though the amount itself is not).
Conservation of energy is probably the most basic law of physics (unfortunately most physicists are ignoring when it comes to expansion of universe).
So unless we assume there is constant energy input to universe from outside (highly unlikely!) expansion must stop someday!

Since dark energy driving the expansion, this reasoning implies amount of dark energy must be decreasing since the Big Bang.
(There are already observations underway to calculate amount of dark energy in the past actually which I believe will confirm my reasoning.)

Hawking radiation (5, Interesting)

Max Threshold (540114) | about 10 months ago | (#45867831)

Hasn't it been shown that only the least massive black holes will evaporate from Hawking radiation? The radiation emitted by larger ones is less than the mass/energy they absorb from the CMB, so they will continue growing...

Re:Hawking radiation (5, Informative)

mark_osmd (812581) | about 10 months ago | (#45867897)

That's true right now, the 3K background is higher than the tiny temperature of the black holes. But the background temperature will get lower and lower as the universe expands, eventually it would get lower than the hawking temperature of even the largest black holes. At that point all black holes will be shrinking.

Stuff that matters (0)

mapkinase (958129) | about 10 months ago | (#45867925)

Can somebody explain why this stuff matters? I mean speculation without a chance of experimental verification?

Re:Stuff that matters (3, Insightful)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | about 10 months ago | (#45868267)

Can somebody explain why this stuff matters? I mean speculation without a chance of experimental verification?

Thinking about things -- why they happen, how they may happen -- in great detail without actually experiencing them is one aspect that makes us human beings. Thinking about the eventual fate of the universe and our current home is something that we should all do at some point.

It also is several notches above the other rampant speculation without experimental verification here and lifts the profile of /. a bit from where you have to shovel down to the level sometimes.

Re:Stuff that matters (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868687)

I guess that means we can't talk about sex in your case either?

Re:Stuff that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868717)

Because without this kind of thing, we would be stuck in the Dark Ages, ruled over by religious or monarchal decree, subject only to the philosophical or delusional whims of those with power.

Andromeda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45868223)

Isn't the Milky Way scheduled to collide with Andromeda at some point?

Not much 'future' after that, but someone will get to name a new galaxy I guess.

Re:Andromeda (4, Informative)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 10 months ago | (#45868321)

When the Milky Way and Andromeda "collide" no stars will collide. Star formation will begin a new due to the exchange of interstellar gases and the two galaxies will merge.

So that isn't exact the "end" of anything, just the start of a larger galaxy.

Re:Andromeda (3, Funny)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 10 months ago | (#45868337)

Of course, when the Milky Way and Andromeda do merge, Galactic taxes will likely go up and this could lead to the Trade Federation complaining and threatening a planetary embargo ... but this just conjecture.

Re:Andromeda (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45869289)

"no stars will collide.."

You seem pretty sure of that. Is there a reason why not?

Re:Andromeda (1)

toddestan (632714) | about 10 months ago | (#45872067)

Galaxies are mostly empty space, so chances are no two stars will collide with each other. But it is possible.

Re:Andromeda (1)

Mars729 (3469921) | about 10 months ago | (#45871819)

When the Milky Way and Andromeda "collide" no stars will collide. Star formation will begin a new due to the exchange of interstellar gases and the two galaxies will merge..

I disagree. While the spaces between the stars are enormous making star collisions very rare -- there should be at least a few star collisions among the two galaxies combined (approximate) 1.3 trillion stars. Even if there are not, some stars will surely come close enough to wreck havoc on the orbits of planets.

In the dense environment of globular clusters most of them have some star collisions. These stars are called Blue Stragglers due to the extra fuel a star gets from a collision.

I LOL'd, nobody close to hear it, so I picked on u (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 10 months ago | (#45869767)

According to the time line
500,000[b] Earth will have likely been hit by a meteorite of roughly 1 km in diameter, assuming it cannot be averted.[15]

[b] This represents the time by which the event will most probably have happened. It may occur randomly at any time from the present.

[15] uses this as a reference http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html [nickbostrom.com] "existential risks"
Which states: There is a real but very small risk that we will be wiped out by the impact of an asteroid or comet
This is in turn referenced to morrison, D. et al. (1994). The Impact Hazard. In T. Gehrels (Ed.), Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.

So 500,000 is just filler
--- just for that answer, I hit Trax3001BBS gold ---

"existential risks" itself http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html [nickbostrom.com] says were all doomed and then goes into a huge list. "In this paper we shall discuss risks of the sixth category, the one marked with an X. This is the category of global, terminal risks. I shall call these existential risks. Did I mention it's a very large list?

"Existential risks"... One can have so much fun with this link, that it's easy to get carried away.

It so serious, yet it asks the question " How likely is it that superintelligence will come before advanced nanotechnology?" all the thought going on and nobody thinks of Drake equation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation [wikipedia.org] , then putting a bit of thought into the results. - more than likely just the question is more sensational.

I could go on and on, "existential risks" is an incredible piece of work just asking to be ridiculed.

no hubris there (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 10 months ago | (#45869927)

The laws of nature are almost completely understood in a few, very important senses. We know that our Universe is about 13.8 billion years old, despite having human experiences and observations that range from only a few fractions of a second to a handful of years. Our investigations of the laws of nature today allow us to look back into the distant history of the Universe, and understand what it was like 13.8 billion years ago, and how that gave rise to our Universe today.

We believe we know that stuff. Obviously we can't verify it experimentally.

Re:no hubris there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45869991)

I *believe* flipping a coin is 50-50 odds, but of course I didn't verify every single coin in existence. Therefore it's little more than faith.

Re:no hubris there (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 10 months ago | (#45872407)

I *believe* flipping a coin is 50-50 odds, but of course I didn't verify every single coin in existence. Therefore it's little more than faith.

Get back to me when you've run a few universes through a few billion years.

Quite interesting (1)

amanaplanacanalpanam (685672) | about 10 months ago | (#45870291)

though the time compression idea to make long timeframes a bit more comprehensible loses its usefulness with ludicrously long timeframes. By the author's own admission, at that point "the difference between “regular” years and Universe years isn’t so big". Chances are you won't find 10^140 much easier to grasp than 10^150.

I'd like to see a logarithmic representation all the way out, sort of a temporal version of Powers of Ten [powersof10.com] .
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