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When Will the World End?

How long do we have left?

5221 day(s) ago

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By now, everyone has heard about December 12th, 2012, the mythical Mayan doomsday. This is nothing new: humans have been making predictions about the End Time for as long as we’ve been on this planet. But when will it happen? To answer this, we need to answer another question: What is meant by, “the end of the world?”

If by, “the end of the world,” you mean only the end of human existence, then the end of the world will be much sooner. According to scientists, the average life span of a mammalian species is 1 million years. That’s the average amount of time it takes for a new mammalian species to proliferate and then go extinct. Humans have been on Earth approximately 200,000-250,000 years. This means we have used up about a quarter of the average lifespan for a mammal species. Of course, scientists are now observing an alarming increase in extinction rates due to human activity, so we may have less time if we don’t shape up.

Now if by, “the end of the world,” you mean the total destruction of Earth, you can sleep a little more comfortably. To quote poet Robert Frost, “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.” If only Frost knew how right he was! Ultimately, the Earth will be vaporized by the sun. This will occur in the next 4.5 to 7.59 billion years. The sun is a star like any other in the sky, and all stars eventually burn out. This occurs because they expend all of their fuel and can no longer sustain a nuclear reaction. When our sun runs out of fuel, it will become a red giant. It will grow massive in size, eventually swallowing Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. All of this will occur in a span of 5 million years—a blink of an eye in stellar terms.

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