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Sun, Apr. 5th, 2009, 10:03 am
The End is Nigh

Science fiction authors have dreams of the world's last days, and our distant descendants watching the sun flame out about four billion years from now. They're living in fantasy land. There's no way we're going to last even close to that long.

You see, the sun is getting hotter as it approaches flameout, and the earth is slowing down in its spin on its axis as tidal forces drag it down. As the earth's spin slows down, the cycle between day and night will become longer. A mere billion years from now the earth will stop spinning completely, and the light side will turn into smolding embers while the dark side will become a truly frozen wasteland. Long before that the day/night cycle will become so long that peak daytime temperature will surpass the boiling point of water, causing moisture to get into the upper atmosphere and get blown away by the solar wind, depleting the oceans while cooking all the water-based life forms during the day.

There is only one way to avoid this. We must force the earth's temperature down until the oceans freeze, thus stopping tidal forces and allowing the earth to continue with its current length of day/night cycle indefinitely and allowing us to live an extended, if slightly chilly, existence. Anyone opposed to this plan is engaged in strictly short term thinking.

Sun, Apr. 5th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)

This enterprise should be powered entirely geothermally, as friction between the mantle and the crust is also a significant worry. Though to be fair, the oceans would not remain frozen on the relevant time scale if we were to ignore the molten rock beneath, so merely performing the one would force the other.

Sun, Apr. 5th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)

Large rockets firing at an angle out of the ground. It's all we need. Cartoons don't lie. :P

Mon, Apr. 6th, 2009 12:05 am (UTC)

I was thinking throw asteroids at the equator at a low eastward angle. Hard on the rainforests, admittedly.

Mon, Apr. 6th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)

Or anyone who cares too much about this plan is very focused on a museum when 99.99% of humanity lives nowhere in the neighborhood.

Mon, Apr. 6th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC)

You think any humans will be on Earth a billion years from now? If humankind makes it that long, we will be living elsewhere.

Mon, Apr. 6th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)

I lol'd

Mon, Apr. 6th, 2009 02:50 pm (UTC)

I don't even know what I'm going to have for lunch today.

Tue, Apr. 7th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC)

I think

that this is the single greatest thing

you've ever posted.

Tue, Apr. 14th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
elijah169: sorry, next!

freezing the oceans would NOT stop tidal forces. Have you noticed the moon is tidally locked with the earth already ? (i.e relative rotation stopped, as you describe earth with sun.) See any water there? Tidal forces do their magic on rock just as nicely. :-)

SF authors since c 1938 have not written stories like you mention as they know better.

and other commenters are right of course, there are easier ways to save us - move off planet

But If we don't like travel and we want to try something ambitious we could always see about a dyson sphere or a ringworld ala NIven.