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The Signposts Perspectives
6,001 AD and Beyond:
The ultimate destiny of the universe
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[Caution: Extreme speculation ahead; this section mostly created for "What If?" entertainment value. For instance, the chances of human civilization actually surviving more or less intact to 6,001 AD may be exceedingly remote (refer to The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy for an outline of the challenges which we'll face). If humanity survives without major setback merely to 2,500 AD or so (and advances as expected technology-wise too), the Earth itself may not survive the species' collective impulses. Much longer than that, and even the Sun and remainder of the solar system too may fall prey to our whims (as described elsewhere on site). However, for this section of Perspectives we will often (but not always) assume that the Sun and Earth survive regardless of humanity's fate. Among other things, this means most if not all of the fictional storylines from earlier perspectives pages will be largely ignored here. Freeing up this section from requirements for consistency with those fictions makes it easier and faster to present to readers the views and ideas of many scientists, scholars, and research projects concerning what may or may not transpire in the furthest reaches of the universe and its future. Enjoy!]

Approximately 9,000 AD: The ice sheets of Antarctica may be collapsing, causing a rise in global sea level of perhaps six meters

This is likely a very conservative estimate, as it is based on late 20th century trends which likely worsened considerably in the 21st and possibly 22nd centuries. Beyond that, even if all other pollution problems combined were remedied, the Earth would likely still be overheating in the 23rd century and successive periods, due solely to the heat produced from human technology itself. Thus, the ice sheets may have already collapsed millennia before now.

-- Nature blamed for melting ice By Alex Kirby; BBC News | Sci/Tech; October 7, 1999; http://www.bbc.co.uk/

Another source states that if ALL the ice in Antarctica melted, global sea levels would rise 228 feet.

--"Antarctic Ice Melt May Come In Next Generation" By Andy Soloman, Reuters/Yahoo, 1-27-99

The U.S. Geological Survey has said global sea level rose roughly 4 inches during the 20th century. And that in the event all the glaciers presently on Earth melted, sea levels would rise by 260 feet.

-- Antarctic ice shelves said to be breaking up faster than expected; Antarctica - Part 3 ["http://www.crystalinks.com/antarctica3.html"], citing Maggie Fox and Reuters (no datestamp was given)

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,000 AD- 12,000 AD: Sometime during this period the immense star Eta Carinae 7500 light years from Earth possibly erupts in a hypernova explosion

Life on Earth may be at risk from sporadic waves of gamma radiation coming from the explosion of Eta Carinae.

The star Eta Carinae is one of the largest and most powerful stars known in the universe, some 100 times the size and five times the power of our Sun. It first caught our attention in the 1840s with a massive flaring in brightness. Today it seems to be acting in a worrisome and unpredictable fashion, perhaps leading to a hypernova explosion sometime in the next 10,000 years.

-- "Astronomers perplexed by star's weird behavior", Associated Press/CNN, found on or about 6-7-99

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 10,200 AD: Human-derived civilization has possibly colonized a 400 lightyear diameter spherical region of the galaxy by now...

...assuming they faced no alien opposition, or insurmountable cosmic obstacles-- and also avoided destroying themselves over the past ten thousand years.

Our first colonization missions to two close stars might require 100 years, given present knowledge and expectations of propulsion technologies. Assuming an average delay of 400 years before a newly formed colony launched its own two fresh colonization missions further into space, humanity could command every solar system inside a 400 lightyear diameter sphere centered on Earth just 10,000 years after the first mission. The whole galaxy would require less than 4 million years.

-- Scientific American: COLONIZATION OF THE GALAXY: July 2000 ["http://www.sciam.com/2000/0700issue/0700crawfordbox3.html"]

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 26,974 AD: A purposeful message beamed into space by humanity in 1974 AD has traveled 25,000 lightyears into the void...

...to finally be received by...no one.

The reason no one receives the message is that humanity took great precautions to insure that the message wouldn't be received. Though the original stated target was the globular cluster Hercules, Messier 13, some 25,000 lightyears from Earth, the human senders in 1974 well knew that natural galactic rotation would move the cluster to another location entirely by the time the message arrived. Thus, nothing but empty space greets the message signal at its appointed rendezvous.

-- First Message To ETs Sent Twenty-Five Years Ago By Bill Steele, 15-Nov-1999, http://www.unisci.com

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,100 AD- 100,000 AD: Sometime during this period Mars is rendered habitable via terraforming by humanity

The large time-range given is due to uncertainty as to what technologies humanity finally decides to use for Mars terraforming, as well as the upfront investment they are willing to make. A no holds barred crash course by 21st century humanity almost worldwide to terraform Mars ASAP could make it habitable as soon as 2100 AD. But such a rapid transition would ruin the prospects of much scientific study into Mars' past, as well as severely damage or even kill any native biosphere which may exist on the red planet prior to mankind's arrival. Such accelerated terraforming might also make vast regions of Mars into toxic industrial waste dumps.

The costs alone would seem to make a single century of terraforming prohibitively expensive. So 200-300 years at minimum would seem more practical from an economic point of view. Add in the scientific and environmental concerns touched upon above, and the process might be extended still further. However, we must keep in mind the likely fast pace of technological innovation over this same period, which would be greatly reducing related costs while also showing us ways to reduce the negative impacts of terraforming in regards to science and the environment. Then there's the large increase in world population and competition during this same period to consider, which might increase humanity's desire to explore and colonize other worlds, thereby increasing public support for Mars terraforming, among other things.

-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,000 AD- 50,000 AD: Life on Earth may be in danger from cosmic clouds of gas and dust

If the solar system encounters a sufficiently thick cloud of space dust or gas, sunlight arriving at Earth could be severely curtailed, leading to mass extinctions, and perhaps even the end of humanity itself.

-- "NOT WITH A BANG BUT A WHIMPER" From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/"] #107, SEP-OCT 1996 by William R. Corliss, citing Ray Jayawardhana; "Earth Menaced by Superbubble," New Scientist, p. 15, June 22, 1996

Around 2015 the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes will have to pass through several shock waves and an enormous "wall" about 50 au thick in space made up of somewhat dense hydrogen gas, according to Gary P. Zank, a theoretical astrophysicist at Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware [Astronomical Units; one au is equal to the distance between the Earth the Sun; about 150 million km].

The wall is actually a boundary layer between our solar system's heliosphere and the rest of space. Our sun's solar wind creates a bullet-shaped protective bubble about the solar system called the heliosphere, which (among other things) helps make the climate on Earth conducive to life. However, our heliosphere can shrink in size and effectiveness when we pass into a region of denser gas in space (or impact a gas cloud).

For some time now (5 million years) we've enjoyed a fairly big heliosphere because we were traveling though a very low density region of space, where our heliosphere could easily push off the scant hydrogen gas of the void. However, that's going to change sometime in the future-- possibly without warning.

We could hit a cosmic cloud at least a hundred times denser than our present space anytime. Such an event could expose us to damaging cosmic radiation and substantial climate changes, as it essentially sweeps away our protective heliosphere. One almost certain impact could come within 50,000 years via a cloud from the Aquila Rift. There's also the Local Fluff, or random cloud clusters much nearer to our present location than the Aquila Rift monster-- and almost impossible to detect for reasons of warning or analysis of possible impact consequences before-the-fact, due to our instrumentation not yet being sufficiently sensitive for such things.

-- "UD Space News: Cosmic Cloud Could Burst Earth's 'Breathing Bubble,' New Bartol Computer Simulation Shows", 28 May 1998, University of Delaware

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,000 AD- 100,000 AD: Sometime during this period Earth suffers a major asteroid impact

Life on Earth may be at risk from a major cosmic impact.

If we're lucky, we won't see a major asteroid impact on Earth until around 100,000 AD. But if we're unlucky, we could be struck just one year from now.

It's now estimated that only half as many objects ranging from 1 to 10 km in diameter possess orbits bringing them near to the Earth, as were previously thought. 700 is the latest estimate.

A 10 km object (such as may have killed the dinosaurs) could cause worldwide extinctions and threaten the existence of humanity itself. A 1 km object's damage would at least be limited to the region impacted, under many circumstances. The 1908 Tunguska impact may have involved an object smaller than 1 km.

By around 2015 scientists should have mapped out 90% of the threatening asteroids in the void (comets are another story). It is expected that the Earth will be struck by an object somewhat smaller than 1 km perhaps every 10,000 years. By a 10 km object, once every 100 million years.

-- No escaping asteroids Dr David Whitehouse, Sci/Tech BBC News, 12 January, 2000, http://www.bbc.co.uk

-- Massive tsunami sweeps Atlantic Coast in asteroid impact scenario for March 16, 2880 ["http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-05/uoc--mts052703.php"]; eurekalert.org; 27-May-2003; Contact: Tim Stephens; stephens@ucsc.edu; 831-459-4352; University of California - Santa Cruz

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,000 AD- 500,000 AD: Sometime during this period the red super giant star Betelgeuse 430 light years from Earth possibly erupts in a supernova explosion

Life on Earth may be at risk from sporadic waves of radiation coming from the explosion of Betelgeuse.

-- Peculiar Bulges Detected on Giant Star in Orion by MALCOLM W. BROWNE April 14, 1998, the New York Times

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 200,000 AD- 8,000,000 AD: If a human-derived civilization makes it this far, now may be the time range in which it finally ends...

...at least according to one researcher, cited below. Note that one way it can end is by a more advanced species (or even machines) permanently replacing it.

The Copernican Principle is simple: that Earth and humanity represent nothing special in the Universe. Darwinism is a similar idea applied to biological lifeforms. Using these as guides, one scientist has estimated that the lifespan of the human race is very likely to be somewhere between 200,000 and eight million years. He also projects that we probably won't colonize the galaxy simply because lifeforms rarely fulfill their ultimate potential.

-- "ALREADY, NOW, WE ARE FORGOTTEN ON THOSE STELLAR SHORES" From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/"] #88, JUL-AUG 1993 by William R. Corliss, citing J. Richard Gott; "Implications of the Copernican Principle for Our Future Prospects." Nature, 363:315, 1993, with article title apparently taken from a Stephen Spender poem.

Using the same formula which allowed him in 1969 to successfully predict the timing of the Berlin Wall's fall 20 years later, Princeton astrophysicist J. Richard Gott III estimates that humanity will almost certainly (95% probability) continue to exist in some form for anywhere from roughly 200,000 to 8 million more years.

-- We're All Gonna Die! But it won't be from germ warfare, runaway nanobots, or shifting magnetic poles. A skeptical guide to Doomsday ["http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.07/doomsday.html"] By Gregg Easterbrook; wired.com; Issue 11.07 - July 2003

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 1,000,000 AD- 50,000,000 AD: If the descendents of humanity still exist and thrive, they are becoming a Karadashev Type III civilization sometime during this period, heavily dominating and more or less in control of the entire Milky Way galaxy...

...according to some estimates, anyway (and assuming they don't encounter alien opposition or unexpected cosmic barriers to high speed transportation).

Star faring civilizations may be classified according to the scale of energies they command, in a ranking termed as Karadashev levels or types I, II, and III. A type I civilization is able to utilize the power output of an entire planet. A type II, an entire star, type III, an entire galaxy.

By 1,000,000 AD humanity will reach Karadashev Type III civilization status.

-- pages 291 and 312, The Millennial Project by Marshall Savage; Little, Brown, and Company, 1992, 1994

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 2,000,000+ AD: Pioneer 10, launched from Earth in 1972 AD, may be passing by or through the solar system of the star Aldebaran now

-- Pioneer 10 gets new lease on life in outer solar system By Richard Stenger, CNN Interactive, March 2, 2000

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 4,000,000 AD: Human-derived civilization has possibly colonized the entire Milky Way galaxy by now...

...assuming they faced no alien opposition, or insurmountable cosmic obstacles-- and also avoided destroying themselves over the past several million years.

Our first colonization missions to two close stars might require 100 years, given present knowledge and expectations of propulsion technologies. Assuming an average delay of 400 years before a newly formed colony launched its own two fresh colonization missions further into space, humanity could command every solar system inside a 400 lightyear diameter sphere centered on Earth just 10,000 years after the first mission. The whole galaxy would require less than 4 million years.

-- Scientific American: COLONIZATION OF THE GALAXY: July 2000 ["http://www.sciam.com/2000/0700issue/0700crawfordbox3.html"]

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 20,000,000+ AD: The solar system is passing closer than usual to some other star systems now (just 3-4 lightyears intervening distance); the gravity effects may loose an extra 100,000 comets into our solar system from the Oort cloud

This may dramatically increase the frequency of comet impacts suffered by Earth.

-- The Anomaly Pages Archive 1 ["http://www.strangemag.com/anomalyarch1.html"]

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 40,000,000 AD: Australia joins with Asia

-- Common questions: Gondwana and continental drift; FAQ - Gondwana ["http://www.earth.monash.edu.au/dinodream/faq/faqgond.htm"], Monash University Earth Sciences Monash Science Centre Ziggurat Creative & Technical Publishing, found on or about 7-8-2000

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 100,000,000 AD: If humanity suffered a catastrophic decline or extinction sometime between 2,000 and 3,000 AD, there would still remain some subtle fossilized signs of their existence on Earth even now

Assuming humanity ends abruptly sometime soon, around 100 million AD some fossilized human skeletons may still exist, primarily due to our practice of burying our dead, and there being so many of us on Earth before our extinction. Unfortunately, the best preservation may require an underwater environment-- something which will be an unlikely place of entombment for a significant number of people, fossil-wise.

In dryland settings, encasement in amber worked for some insects, but not for others (intestinal bacteria often consume all but the outer layer of an amber-trapped insect). Freezing, mummification, or submergence in a bog can offer lengthy periods of preservation-- but nowhere near the 100 million year range. Because environmental conditions almost certainly will change enough to disrupt the preservation process over such a lengthy time-- unless such relics enjoy some sort of artificial arrangements in addition to the others listed.

Some concrete and steel portions of our buildings constructed underground, such as foundations, sewers, subways, and the like, may still exist in somewhat identifiable form. Cables and pipelines may also be preserved in protected underground locations.

Some remnants of coastal cities may be somewhat preserved due to sinking into the ocean early on, or being drowned by rising sea waters. But such inundation would only be preservative if it happened quickly; otherwise wave action and storms would destroy the relics before they could be saved for posterity by natural forces. However, growing sedimentary pressures above may crush or flatten many works, while some geochemical and biochemical forces may corrode the relics completely or partially away, while others slowly cover up or distort artifacts by way of accretive processes.

Bricks and concrete may survive relatively well underground. Glass fragments may lose their transparency but still continue to exist. Many plastics may turn black and sooty, but still present good representations of their original forms.

Pollution in the biosphere will be a long lasting legacy. Metals in soil and the bottoms of oceans and other bodies of water will remain for a long time to come.

-- Buried treasure ["http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980627/features.html"] by Jan Zalasiewicz, From New Scientist, 27 June 1998; a supplement to the above ("Flesh and blood") seems to have been written by Kim Freedman

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 150,000,000 AD: Humanity's ultimate descendents or replacements on Earth may now be meeting their own end

The dinosaurs flourished at the top of the food chain for about 150 million years before a massive cometary impact ended their reign. By 2000 AD humanity had dominated the planet for arguably as much as a million years-- though most signs pointed to them destroying themselves within only another few decades or centuries at most, at the time.

If humanity managed to survive without major setbacks past around 2650 AD or so, then some form of the civilization may have continued on, even up to today. Of course, such a civilization likely would be unrecognizable to its ancestors. It might perhaps be wholly machines-- a race of robots.

On the other hand, if humanity injured itself badly enough before 2650 AD, or some external force like a comet impact did something similar, human civilization may have been set back severely at the time, perhaps never to fully recover. Or a whole new civilization might have arisen over thousands or tens of thousands of years, based upon largely different technologies than the first (due to resources like easily accessible minerals and fossil fuels having been depleted by the previous generations). The necessity to invent new technologies not dependent upon the same elements prior civilization used (and the greater possible difficulties therein) may have even delayed the rise of the second civilization by a million years or more. This new human civilization might have little or no idea of the first-- legends of entities like 21st century USAmerica, Russia, and China might be their own versions of Atlantis. If this were so, that would be unfortunate, as it might lead to them repeating the mistakes of their forebears, to begin a new cycle of catastrophe and regeneration. Eventually of course humanity might not recover from one of these cycles, going extinct instead.

Indeed, the probabilities seem to be that humanity suffered practical extinction as early as the 21st century, or no later than 2700 AD-- if they went the way of most other potential star faring civilizations. And in the wake of that extinction, a new species may have arisen to claim the title of dominance over the planet. Perhaps one of humanity's primate cousins did so-- a species of monkey or ape. Or maybe bears or elephants. If no land species claimed the crown over the next 10-30 million years, an aquatic species (such as dolphins or squid) may have done so.

150 million years would be enough time for 25 different non-human civilizations to come and go, if they required only roughly the same 6 million years or so humanity did to arise from its ape forebears. Or, if the succession was of slight variations of human beings, requiring maybe one million years between them for evolutionary changes, there could be up to 150 different human variant civilizations rise and fall over the same period. Each separated from the other by hundreds of thousands of years in terms of artifacts and relics. The evolutionary changes might involve growing resistant to high levels of radiation from nuclear war, or to various biological weapons or toxic pollutants loosed by previous generations. Or they might entail shrinking in size due to chronic food shortages. Or using a combination of technology and natural evolution to adapt to living undersea, due to increased radiation from nuclear wars or distant star explosions afflicting the Earth's surface. Many sorts of changes could be forced upon mutated human beings, depending on what humanity itself does during this time, and what the cosmos itself decides to throw our way.

In any or all these cases, if any civilization whatsoever exists today on Earth, it may be meeting its own end now, for a variety of reasons-- primarily perhaps because of the cosmic craps game turning up a most unfortunate roll. A massive comet or asteroid impact may do them in. A super volcanic eruption may ruin the planet. The Sun may turn rogue much earlier than anyone expects, or at least unleash a horrific solar flare which fries the Earth. An unanticipated black hole or dead star may pass near the solar system, disturbing planetary orbits and ruining the Earth in that fashion (by flinging it off into interstellar space or driving it into the Sun, or merely nudging it into a hotter or colder orbit than it enjoyed before; i.e., Earth may suffer a fate similar to what Mars or Venus endured much earlier).

By this late date there's also a much greater chance than before of advanced alien intruders discovering Earth and willfully wiping out the life they find there.

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


2,000 AD- 200,000,000 AD: Sometime during this period the pair of stars making up the binary star system KPD1930+2752 collide, producing one of the largest supernova explosions the Universe has ever seen

Earth may be bathed in lethal gamma radiation. If the blast lasts only a few minutes, perhaps only half the life on the planet dies. The Earth's biosphere could require a long time to recover-- even from a short blast.

-- BBC News | SCI/TECH | A 10 billion billion billion megaton bomb in space ["http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_845000/845239.stm"] By Dr David Whitehouse , 21 July, 2000

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 500,000,000 AD: The Sun is getting steadily brighter and warmer-- which means things are getting warmer on Earth as well

The extra heat causes the weathering cycle of Earth's silicate rock to accelerate, more rapidly converting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to calcium carbonate stored in the oceans. This helps reduce the impact of the hotter Sun for a time, but eventually the Earth runs too low on atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the cycle grinds to a halt. Long before the cycle stops, much plant life on Earth has died due to the dearth of carbon dioxide in the air. Long before the majority of plant life dies, most animal life perishes, as plant food supplies dwindle, first killing plant-eating animals, which starves out meat-eating animals.

After 500,000,000 AD, 95% of all Earth plants (including trees and most human food crops) begin to die out. This will eventually leave only plants derived from tropical grasses such as sugar cane and corn still alive. However, even these may die off relatively quickly for other reasons, since they alone will be unable to sustain the Earth's biosphere to continue the growing conditions to which they are accustomed. Earth is fast becoming a desert world despite still possessing substantial oceans.

-- Earth's oceans destined to leave in billion years, EurekAlert!, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 750,000,000 AD: By now the Milky Way galaxy is colliding with and begun to absorb the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy

-- explorezone.com NEWS: A tourist's guide to the Milky Way By Robert Roy Britt, explorezone.com . 01.05.00, http://www.space.com/

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 1,000,000,000 AD: Little more than lakes, ponds, and puddles are left of Earth's once mighty oceans today. A brighter, hotter Sun has evaporated them away into space

Evaporated water first became a major portion of the atmosphere when global temperatures began averaging around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Once this happened, the vapor tended to migrate to the stratosphere, and from there, into space.

-- Earth's oceans destined to leave in billion years, EurekAlert!, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

However, a substantial quantity of water remains hidden deep within the Earth at this time, and for quite some time to come. It's very plausible that any civilized elements still living on Earth now will be exploiting this underground water supply. It may be that virtually all higher lifeforms on Earth are retreating to subterranean regions of the planet to live.

Assuming a more or less steady rate of technological progress for at least some elements of Earth society since 2000 AD, certain parts of any Earth-bound civilization existing today might care little about the tremendous decline in Earth habitability over the past billion years-- for they are well protected by their technology.

-- TWO REALLY DEEP OCEANS from Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/"] #96, NOV-DEC 1994 by William R. Corliss, citing Carl Zimmer; "The Ocean Within," Discover, 15:20, October 1994, and Martin Redfern; "Lost Ocean Found Deep in the Earth," New Scientist, p. 16, September 3, 1994

Between 750 million BC and 2,000 AD the Earth's surface sea level will have dropped some 1,968 feet due to loss of water to subterranean regions..

-- "The world's oceans seem to be draining away" by Peter Hadfield, Tokyo, New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"] issue 11th September 99, http://www.newscientist.com, 8 SEPTEMBER 1999, EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"]

To see more about these strange realms (as well as other matters related to the inner Earth and its caverns) click here.

[Caution: Extreme speculation ahead; this section mostly created for "What If?" entertainment value]

Note that it's also possible that humanity (or some sentient race which replaced it) has postponed this particular form of heat death for the Earth by moving the planet further out from the Sun.

A billion years from now, when the Sun begins in its old age to threaten the existence of life on Earth (with a 10% plus increase in luminosity), humanity might move the Earth further out from its solar companion to protect the planet and its lifeforms.

Such a change in Earth's orbit might be effected with judicious use of a large (100 km) asteroid. The same technique could also be used to make other rearrangements of this or other solar systems. The asteroid would be engineered into a path taking it close to both Earth and Jupiter. Several passes later Earth will have been successfully nudged into an orbit more distant from the Sun. The asteroid passage near Earth might occur once every 6000 years, if the orbital change was calculated to gradually be made in synchrony with the Sun's brightening.

The Sun is expected to continue to increase in brightness beyond the next billion years; to increase by 40% over today by three billion years from now. Such an increase might turn an unmoved/unprotected Earth into something like 20th century Venus.

Some believe such manipulation of planetary orbits would be an easier and more cost-effective manner of increasing the inhabitable real estate in the Solar system than terraforming Mars.

-- Planet Earth on the move By Dr David Whitehouse, 5 February, 2001, BBC News Online

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 1,500,000,000 AD: Our galaxy is beginning to be distorted by the gravity effects of the larger Andromeda galaxy which is on a collision course with our own

-- End of the galaxy (but don't hold your breath) ["http://www.lineone.net/express/00/01/12/news/n2120galaxy-d.html"] BY MICHAEL HANLON SCIENCE EDITOR, 12 January, 2000, Express Newspapers

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 3,000,000,000 AD: Our galaxy is undergoing a full-scale collision and merger with the considerably larger Andromeda galaxy, at approximately 300,000 mph

Sol system could find itself near the center of the newly forming child galaxy of the two giants, and highly vulnerable to exploding supernovae and increased cometary impacts. There's also the near certainty that the massive black holes at the cores of both galaxies would seek to merge somewhere near our location as well. The resulting chaos and energy would make the night sky on planets like Earth nearly as bright as day. The gravity-based acrobatics of this time might even result in Earth's solar system being flung out into intergalactic space-- which might save it from the worst of a core merger, but put much more distance between it and neighboring star systems. The impact of such gravitic distortions on the level of individual lifeforms possibly inhabiting Sol system at the time is uncertain. The process may be so gradual that effects are imperceptible-- or they could be literally earth-shaking and even rate as mass extinction threats.

Due to more localized catastrophes by this time, humanity or its progeny are likely to be extinct, living altogether elsewhere, or at least moved off Earth onto planets further out from the Sun within the local system.

-- End of the galaxy (but don't hold your breath) ["http://www.lineone.net/express/00/01/12/news/n2120galaxy-d.html"] BY MICHAEL HANLON SCIENCE EDITOR, 12 January, 2000, Express Newspapers

-- explorezone.com NEWS: A tourist's guide to the Milky Way By Robert Roy Britt, explorezone.com . 01.05.00, http://www.space.com/

Another source puts the closing speed between galaxies presently at 500,000 km an hour. Andromeda was about 2.2 million lightyears from our galaxy in 2000 AD.

-- Astrophysicist Maps Out Our New Galaxy ["http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000417171734.htm"], 4/18/2000, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/04/000417171734.htm, Source: University Of Toronto (http://www.utoronto.ca), Contact: Janet Wong , News Services Officer, Phone: (416) 978-6974; Email: jf.wong@utoronto.ca, CONTACT: Prof. John Dubinski, U of T Department of Astronomy, (416) 978-8494, dubinski@cita.utoronto.ca

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 3,500,000,000 AD to 5,000,000,000 AD: The Earth is becoming so hot from the warmer, swelling red giant which used to be a much friendlier Sun, that it is becoming impossible for high biological life to survive on the planet without advanced technological aids

The Sun is exhausting its hydrogen fuel supply and therefore exiting the main sequence of star life; it soon begins to swell into a red giant

Beyond this point it begins to redden and swell, eventually growing large enough to swallow Mercury. Around this time Venus loses its atmosphere, and its surface is roasted. Earth will not be far behind, as the Sun continues to swell.

Around 4,500,000,000 AD, when the Sun is swelling into a red giant, it may grow so large that the atmosphere and outer layers of the Earth are peeled away, leaving behind only the nickel and iron core (in an even worse scenario the Sun swallows the Earth completely).

-- The Earth could be in for an electrifying time By Hazel Muir, From New Scientist, 1 August 1998

-- Earth's oceans destined to leave in billion years, EurekAlert!, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

There's the possibility that by this time a close encounter between an alien star and Earth's solar system has disturbed the orbit of Jupiter, perhaps slingshotting Earth out of the system and into interstellar space, to become a rogue planet. This might save Earth from the worst charring-- replacing burning with death by freezing.

-- Earth's long-term future is grim, scientists say By PAUL RECER, Nando Media/Associated Press, February 20, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

Up through around 3,500,000,000 AD there's a 1 in 100,000 chance of a passing star system disrupting Jupiter's orbit and flinging the Earth either into the Sun or outwards into interstellar space.

Thrown into space, the oceans would require about a million years to freeze solid. Hydrothermal vents on the sea floor would sustain some life from the ongoing radioactive decay within the Earth.

Solar system's ultimate fate, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Sally Pobojewski pobo@umich.edu 734-647-1844 University of Michigan

4-2-99 Newz&Viewz: The recent flood of new data on distant solar systems is conflicting with established ideas for how systems form and what 'average' system patterns might be

Rather than finding a nice and neat bunch of alien star systems basically similar to our own, instead we're discovering chaos incarnate. Bizzarre warped mutations of our system abound.

Apparently many systems suffer internal mass imbalances or disturbances from large masses passing nearby which prevent them from assuming or maintaining arrangements like our own system enjoys.

For instance, lots of the alien planets suffer scorching orbits nearer their host stars than our own Mercury, while others endure elliptical orbits similar to our own comets which mean part of the time they're baked in the vicinity of their home star and the rest of the time they're frozen in the outer reaches of their system (some worlds may even be thrown out of their home systems entirely by inopportune gravitic slingshot effects). Lots of the planetary bodies we've detected so far appear to be even larger than our own Jupiter (up to eleven times!), which poses a whole new set of challenges for order and potential biosphere development in a planetary system.

Jupiter-like worlds in long period cometary-like orbits could spell doom for smaller planets in a system which otherwise held the potential for developing biospheres. How? Whenever the immense Jupiter peer came careening into the inner system its mass would perturb the orbits of all the other planets, possibly even changing their orbits, throwing them out of the system entirely, or destroying them (a direct collision wouldn't be necessary; gravity alone could do the job in a near-miss, ripping a planet apart like Jupiter did the Shoemaker-Levy comet on that body's near miss of the gas giant in the months preceding the final collision). Fortunately, 95% of star systems may be free of such disasterous conditions...

-- "Search for New Planets Yields Confusion" By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, March 2, 1999, The New York Times

-- "Lost Worlds? Exiled Planets Might Support Life"By Deborah Zabarenko, (Reuters)Yahoo! News Science Headlines, June 30 1999

Even our own Earth could have a potential rogue sibling or two out there somewhere.

"Scientist says Earth may have a long-lost 'twin'" By WILLIAM McCALL, June 30, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com, Nando Media/Associated Press

-- "Lost in Space" by David Watanabe, http://www.exosci.com/ exosci.com, July 01, 1999

The total mass of a proto-solar system's dust disk determines the speed by which planets will form. Less mass delivers much slower formation times, such as 10 million years or thereabouts, while more mass leads to more rapidity and violence in formation-- perhaps in as short a time as one million years. By implication, mass would also determine to a great extent the general composition of the resulting planetary system.

-- Early planet formation triggers planet offspring ,8 DECEMBER 1999, EurekAlert! Contact: Janet Wong jf.wong@utoronto.ca 416-978-6974 University of Toronto

It appears logical to assume that the more rapid and violent the planetary formation process is, the more unbalanced the resulting system-- with the consquences possibly being inimical to higher lifeforms. So perhaps those systems which tend to form fastest are also those which end up with the Jupiter-like worlds in planet-killing cometary style orbits. And perhaps these conditions only extend to some 5% or so of star systems, as described before.

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 7,000,000,000 AD: The Sun is collapsing into a white dwarf star

Up through around 3,500,000,000 AD there's a 1 in 100,000 chance of a passing star system disrupting Jupiter's orbit and flinging the Earth either into the Sun or outwards into interstellar space.

Thrown into space, the oceans would require about a million years to freeze solid. Hydrothermal vents on the sea floor would sustain some life from the ongoing radioactive decay within the Earth.

-- Solar system's ultimate fate, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Sally Pobojewski pobo@umich.edu 734-647-1844 University of Michigan

When the Sun previously swelled into a red giant, it may have peeled away the atmosphere and outer layers of the Earth, leaving behind only the nickel and iron core (in an even worse scenario the Sun swallowed the Earth completely).

Eventually the Sun reversed course, shrinking down to the size of Venus, becoming a white dwarf star. Some white dwarfs possess very strong magnetic fields. Thus, enormous electrical currents may be incurred in metallic planetary cores such as the remnant of Earth, with currents possibly passing between the Sun and Earth core through a medium of ionized gases separating them.

Could this mean an observer might see mighty lightning bolts passing between the naked core and the Sun? Perhaps.

-- The Earth could be in for an electrifying time By Hazel Muir, From New Scientist, 1 August 1998

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 10,000,000,000 AD: By now the hybrid Andromeda/Milky Way galaxy has collided with and begun absorbing the lesser galaxies of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds

-- explorezone.com NEWS: A tourist's guide to the Milky Way By Robert Roy Britt, explorezone.com . 01.05.00, http://www.space.com/

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 22,000,000,000 AD: One theoretical end scenario for the Universe has it ending now in a 'Big Rip'

According to this early 21st century idea, the Milky Way galaxy meets its end around 21,940,000,000 AD, while individual planets everywhere blow up just 30 minutes before the end of everything (including constituent atoms). This concept is based on one variation of notions concerning the nature of dark energy in the cosmos. If anything like human beings still exist at this time, they might survive as witnesses to the event right up to the very end, when their own atoms finally explode into subatomic shrapnel.

-- The dark destroyer ["http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_medical/story.jsp?story=408193"] By Marcus Chown; 21 May 2003; news.independent.co.uk

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


10,000,000,000 AD- 60,000,000,000 AD: The Sun is a steadily cooling white dwarf star. It cools sufficiently that life may actually develop upon the Sun

There are plentiful heavy elements in the Sun's composition to allow for this.

-- Solar system's ultimate fate, 20 FEBRUARY 2000, EurekAlert! Contact: Sally Pobojewski pobo@umich.edu 734-647-1844 University of Michigan

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press; New Scientist, 21 August 1999

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 AD (One followed by 15 zeroes): The "Degenerate Era" of the Universe begins

White dwarfs and brown dwarfs are dominating the stellar landscape. Black holes and neutron stars comprise most of the rest of the Universe's mass now. Most other galactic stars have ended in collisions with others or slowly burnt out. There remains the corpses of cold dead planets spread across every galaxy-- although they are eventually widing up for the most part inside black holes. Births of new stars are occuring at a negligible rate, as the galaxies are running on empty in regards to hydrogen gas.

Eventually dark matter becomes the main fuel of the remaining solar furnaces.

-- The five ages of the universe By Peter N. Spotts; The Christian Science Monitor; July 15, 1999

As this Era progresses, the surviving stars gradually become cooler and cooler, until at some point the temperatures are sufficiently low to support life (yes, temperatures comparable to planets). The white dwarfs also boast plenty of heavy elements from which life might form, and enormous spans of time within which such development could occur. The brown dwarfs too may offer harbors for new life development.

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press; New Scientist, 21 August 1999

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 AD (One followed by 40 zeroes): The "Black Hole Era" of the Universe begins

All the dark matter has been consumed. The decay of protons and neutrons has resulted in the collapse of most mass into its constituent atomic particles, but for black holes.

Even black holes evaporate, via Hawking radiation. Such radiation is now the biggest energy source for the Universe as a whole.

-- The five ages of the universe By Peter N. Spotts; The Christian Science Monitor, July 15, 1999

There may be lifeforms structured from various combinations of black holes now. The very low free energies of this time might impose severe restrictions on the living processes of such entities however-- in effect making them very, very slow to respond to stimuli.

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press; New Scientist, 21 August 1999

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Approximately 100, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 AD (One followed by 101 zeroes): The "Dark Era" of the Universe begins

The last of the greatest black holes in the universe has evaporated to nothing by way of Hawking radiation.

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin; New Scientist, 21 August 1999

The still expanding universe has become cold and extremely dilute. There are virtually no concentrations of free energy left, and enormous distances between appreciable mass concentrations (and we're talking possibly microscopic mass accumulations here-- objects like planets, asteroids, and stars no longer exist; their very mass has decayed into their constituent atomic elements).

This may represent the long, drawn out end of the universe-- ending with a whimper rather than a bang. Or, it may set the stage for the universe to make a phase change of sorts to a whole new reality. Physicists speculate that sometime during this Era the terribly low energy state of the universe might enable it at last to tap into the energy of the quantum vacuum-- and thereby perform a 're-set' of sorts for the universe entire. That is, a wholly new universe, with a fresh and different set of physical laws, might spring into being. Perhaps even via a repeat of the Big Bang.

Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press; New Scientist, 21 August 1999

-- The five ages of the universe By Peter N. Spotts, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, July 15, 1999

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


Something like the process described above may have been what led to the creation of our own Universe, as the result of the death of another. In that particular case we know...

...what happened next...

-- Is God in the Details? From cosmic coincidence to conservative cosmopolitics. By Kenneth Silber, REASON, July 1999, http://www.nekotech.com/Reason/

It's getting more and more difficult to prove the impossibility of time travel into the past (and so its close relation as well: faster-than-light transport)-- at least under some pretty extreme conditions.

Closed time loops (or "closed timelike curves") look possible according to quantum theory. In such loops a traveler's own perceptions of time would continue to seem normal (including the time kept on their clocks), even as they proceeded towards and ended up in the same spot/point in spacetime from which they began.

In the particular type of loops investigated here, travel into the past does not/cannot change the events of the timeline. The concepts do not suggest an artificial means for time travel could be built. Instead, they may point to ways to resolve various uncertainties regarding the Big Bang which created our universe-- i.e., such loops might allow a universe to give birth to itself (and perhaps others too).

-- Evading quantum barrier to time travel by I. Peterson, April 11, 1998, Science News Online, http://www.sciencenews.org/

Signposts Perspectives 6,001 AD and Beyond Contents


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