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Home > Tech Views > General Computing

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
The future

1. Page 1

The Armageddons…to follow.

Were you glad when Bruce Willis finally made it to divert the path of the awesome asteroid threatening the Earth in the “Armageddon” movie? Yet, do not be so hasty to applaud. The threats stored ahead are mightier than the “too tough to die” fella’s valor. Scientists studying the course of the Cosmos have been deep in melancholic thoughts about the future of our little planet.

Below mountain Kamyioka, Japan, there is a vast 50,000-ton water reservoir. Scientists have been watchful spectators of this huge mass, watching out for small bluish sparks. According to theory, these flashes of blue light will be created by the protons’ death. This experiment is the key to form the “Aggregate Theory of the Universe”, and is of such crucial importance that the famous Princeton theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, stated in a conference: “if we do not witness the decline of a proton soon, the entire structure of theoretical physics will have to deal with serious problems.”

Even so, the entire universe (the theoretical physicists being included in the scope) is about to face up problems if scientists finally come up against the death of some protons. That means that the cosmos has been sealed with a date of expiration. With no protons around, atoms will cease to exist, and the same is going to happen with molecules, mountains, rivers and the air we breathe. One day, everything will turn into gamma radiation. The good thing about it is that the universe will not expire in one day. We will take billions and billions of years…to attend its funeral.

Still, our neighboring super novas are more than disquieting news to our little as well as fragile Earth. No one can ever know when one of these is going to erupt, but some are already in line, and they are quite near. The Betlgeuse red giant is only 430 light years from Earth and is about to go “bang”. If that happens, the radiation bombarding the Earth will cause the destruction of the ozone layer and thus wipe out life on the planet. Nobody knows when it is going to happen or if it has…already happened. The fact that the Betlgeuse is at a distance of 430 light years from the Earth means that the star may have blown up 429 years ago and that the radiation emitted is to be received…next year.

And even if we get away with the super novas, there is a possibility that we…fry by a neighboring gamma “radiator”. No one really knows what these strange things are, but at times intense gamma radiation has been observed in different parts of the blue yonder for a few seconds or even hours and then vanished. Some physicists believe that this radiation may have its origins in the violent collision of two black holes, or a black hole and a neutron star. No matter where it is emitted from, it all has to do with sudden radiation emissions (on of these sent off such huge amounts of energy in just a couple of seconds that can be equaled by none other than the energy emitted by a galaxy within one year) and if one of these is near us, then we’ve had it.

Some theoretical physicists go further than that. We may be sitting on a “cosmic bomb”, they say. As far as their theory goes, the “energy density” in our part of the universe creates a “pseudo-vacuum”. The trouble starts if there is another part with lower energy level in our vicinity, which would be capable of “swallowing” our part, including us. In theory, the potential of such a grim prospect might be realized even tomorrow. In practice there is no way to find out… but wait and pray.

“ New Millennium”, November 15th, 1998.

By Pashos Mandravelis.

email to P. Mandravelis

 




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