Wednesday, June 10, 2009

That low-key sense of dread -- explained!

And here I was thinking I needed Zoloft or something. But no, it's perfectly rational:
A force known as orbital chaos may cause our Solar System to go haywire, leading to possible collision between Earth and Venus or Mars, according to a study released Wednesday.

The good news is that the likelihood of such a smash-up is small, around one-in-2500.

And even if the planets did careen into one another, it would not happen before another 3.5 billion years.
It is however 99% likely that all the inner planets will survive to be devoured by the Sun as it lycanthropically swells into a red giant and scorches the Earth down to its rocky crust, 5 billion years from now. Adjust your Outlook calendars accordingly.

Representatives from Venus expressed their displeasure that the article's headline was "Earth-Venus smash-up possible in 3.5 billion years: study," completely omitting Mars's possible culpability.

... Of course, the nightmare scenario for life on Earth is a nearby supernova. I was imagining a disaster movie to that effect: gamma and x-rays suffuse the Earth, killing everyone in moments. Bit of a bummer. I'm not sure who survives for the last reel of the film. People in really deep mines or submarines?

Or, the universe could really be a vacuum fluctuation, after all.

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