Armageddon and Catastrophe to Blow Your Mind Unless No Questions Asked #doomsday #end #poetry #history

end of the world coming - or not

Prophesying

Doomsday always interests,
Fascinates, attracts.
People from across the globe
Just gotta click on that.

A preacher on the radio
Foresees apocalypse.
Or ancient Mayan calendars,
Our future’s bleak from this.

You’ll view a post on YouTube
That says the end began,
And now we all just have to watch
Unfurling of god’s plan.

Planet X is hiding
On the far side of the sun,
To pop out when the prophet says
Disaster has begun.

Really, people, really?
So often said, a bore
When someone warns the end is here.
We’ve heard it all before.

Earthquakes and every comet
Lead to such predictions.
Storms will ravage, plagues do kill,
Through natural conditions.

Always keep an open mind
But don’t let your brains fall out.
Be skeptical and think it through,
Belief comes after doubt.

by Kate Rauner

I don’t understand why people seem weirdly delighted at the end of the world – maybe the same reason they watch horror movies. Relax with space.com, and check some history on rationalwiki.

Ultimate Geologic Hazard – Supervolcano #science #geology #volcano #supervolcano #disaster

From USGS - this is not going to happen in our lifetimes - not even close

From USGS – this is not going to happen in our lifetimes – not even close

Supervolcanoes have repeatedly carved Earth’s landscape and bioscape over the eons. Almost two dozen of these monsters are scattered across the Earth today, recharging magma and gases, waiting to erupt again when they grow big enough. They’re sleeping giants that blow once every 100,000 years on average.

But that’s not a very precise forecast.

A study of the beautiful crystal patterns from past eruptions suggests these volcanoes will give us a warning.

Just before the magma breaches the overlying rock in an eruption, there will be an accelerating drop in pressure as dissolved gas begins escaping from the liquid magma… from the end of the chamber’s recharge period to the point of eruption, no more than a year of time passes.” iflscience.com

Imagine the US government announcing that Yellowstone will erupt within the next year. Geologists would probably offer a range of times – suppose they said that between six and eighteen months from now, hundreds of cubic miles of rock, dust, and volcanic ash will be ejected into the sky.

Imagine a circle about 500 miles (800 kilometers) across surrounding Yellowstone; studies suggest the region inside this circle might see more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) of ash… The ash would be pretty devastating for the United States, scientists predict. The fallout would include short-term destruction of Midwest agriculture, and rivers and streams would be clogged by gray muck. livescience.com

Suppose the government told everyone from the West Coast all the way east to Chicago they should get ready for ash-fall. But those aren’t the people in the greatest danger. Within that circle is a more deadly area ranging from Missoula, Montana to Denver, Colorado, including Boise, Billings, Casper, Rapid City, Cheyenne, and Salt Lake City.

Suppose the government said that, within this kill-zone, you all must leave. It’s possible you’ll never return. Your homes, businesses, and everything you leave behind will be worthless, destroyed under ash. Imagine ten or twenty million people about to join 100 million in that wider ash-fall range under many inches of ash.

Would anyone believe the predictions? Would anyone evacuate? Should people be forced to leave? Would the “safe” Atlantic Coast or northeast Canada be willing or able to absorb the refugees? What would happen as everyone sat – waiting – waiting for weeks or months – as geologists posted pressure readings? Should we spend money planning for such a cataclysmic event, and if we should, how much money should we spend?

Fortunately for America, the answer is – no, don’t worry about Yellowstone. It seems far from an eruption, and you can follow the Yellowstone supervolcano at volcanoes.usgs.gov. But the rest of the world may not be as lucky with their sleeping giants.

I’ve rhymed about supervolcanoes in one of my most popular poems – Because They’re Big. Own that

More science-inspired poems i includes the popular Because They're Big super-volcano poem

More science-inspired poems i includes the popular Because They’re Big super-volcano poem

poem and more in Rhyme and Reason Two (on Amazon, B&N, Apple iTunes, Kobo, and other on-line retailers.)

Thanks to iflscience.com and a new study in PLOS ONE, the analysis of an ancient supereruption in eastern California.

“The #moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason” #FridayReads

sevenevesWhat a great first sentence.

Neal Stephenson offers a suggestion for why the moon broke up, initially into seven pieces, but his novel Seveneves is about the aftermath. It’s really two stories.

The first, about 447 pages in my Epub edition, follows the horrific couple years after the moon blows up and the pieces continue to collide, shatter, and fall to Earth. This first book takes place in our near-future, mentioning Twitter, #hashtags, and Batman. The book provides a tour of the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station – though an expanded ISS with an asteroid attached at one end and a rotating torus section at the other. There are familiar cell phones: As the moon breaks up, people call each other and “a large number of telephones were singing their little electronic songs. Including his. The birth cry of a new age.”

The second story, 232 pages, is about the distant aftermath, 5,000 years in the future, with a new set of characters, technologies, and problems. The book’s title is realized in this story.

This is not a book I could sit down and read straight through, it’s just too long and the descriptions require attention. But, science fiction fans, take it on vacation or a couple long plane trips. Or stage it on your bedside table over the rest of the summer.

972 reviews for the hardcover edition on Amazon, 73% four and five star ratings. NOTE: Any SPOILERS that follow are no worse than what you’ll find on the back of the book and the first few dozen pages of either story.

This epic takes its time, shows us the moon’s explosion through the eyes of five different characters, and offers discussions of orbital dynamics, ham radio, space stations, robotic swarms, etc. – be prepared for mini-seminars, tales of preparing for doomsday, and where and how humanity will survive.

My favorite character is an astronomer who popularizes science. I can’t even recall how Stephenson described him because I’ve got the image of Neil deGrasse Tyson stuck firmly in my mind – I can hear Tyson’s voice as the character explains the coming apocalypse to the US President: trillions of pieces of the rubblizing moon will, in two years’ time, rain annihilation on the Earth. (I went back and looked – I think Stephenson had Tyson in mind, too.)

Stephenson never gets maudlin about the billions of deaths in his story – some people will find that a bit cold.

With the destruction of life on Earth as its driver and familiar characters, the first story (divided into two parts) feels more exciting. The portion set in space can be read independently of the portion set on Earth. The second story builds a new world, and hypothesizing the future a decimated humanity might create is interesting. You could easily read one story or the other by itself, depending on your tastes. Personally, I skimmed quite a few sections. An Ebook edition, where you can search for a name, makes it possible to track the story of a favorite character if you get impatient with Stephenson. If you really get impatient, there’s a plot summary on Wikipedia. The summary won’t hurt your reading experience and may help you decide which parts to read in full, because the point of the book is Stephenson’s broad and deep descriptions. If you can’t get enough of Seveneves, you can buy a Summary and Analysis and unofficial fan sidekicks.

Space Weather and Solophobia

space_weather_dialsHave you noticed reports from time to time (for example, here) warning of “huge expulsions of magnetic field and plasma” from the sun, perhaps accompanied by dire predictions that satellites will be destroyed, the electrical grid disrupted, or doomsday is upon us? I hope you have also noticed we are still alive. Predictions of the apocalypse are common and many people take them seriously. Some scenarios are crazy, and it’s not just the sun that frightens people – remember the Nibiru or Planet X 2012 Doomsday scare? But “fear of the sun” probably deserves its own “phobia” term – maybe solophobia.

If you are interested in solar activity, you’ll find many scientists share your interest. I found a nice site to monitor the sun’s activity: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/index.html

Scroll down to the gages showing the sun’s magnetic field, solar wind speed, and dynamic pressure. Without studying these terms, you can watch the gauge move from green to yellow to red. Relax when everything is green, and take comfort from the occasional excursion into the red: we’re still here. Click around the site and learn more about space weather.

I don’t mean to disparage reasonable preparation. From earthquakes to hurricanes, there are disasters that can leave you off the grid and beyond help for days. I live in southwest New Mexico on a ridge surrounded by dry forest. Wildfires are common and any fire around me is likely to run straight up the slopes to my house. I keep my home firewise and have a “bug out” list pinned to my bulletin board – a prioritized list of things to do or toss in the car if I need to evacuate. Everyone should be ready to take care of themselves in an emergency.

When you make your own emergency plans, consider two risks. The danger from whatever event you prepare for, and the opportunities you’ll lose by living in a bunker.