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Microbes to be 'Last Survivors' on Future Earth

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I don't expect this topic to light the forums ablaze with discussion, but y'all need more sciencey stuff, and I thought that the article was hella interesting, so ner.
 

Microbes to be 'last survivors' on future Earth
 
The last surviving creatures on Earth will be tiny organisms living deep underground, according to scientists.
 
Researchers used a computer model to assess our planet's fate billions of years from now.
 
They found that as the Sun becomes hotter and brighter, only microbes would be able cope with the extreme conditions that the solar changes would bring.
 
The research is being presented at the National Astronomy Meeting.
 
Jack O'Malley James, from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, said: "There won't be very much oxygen present, so they need to be able to survive in low or zero-oxygen environments, high pressures, and high salinities because of evaporating oceans."
 
Mass extinction
 
The future of life on Earth is tied to that of the Sun, and over time, our star will become more and more luminous.
 
Scientists from the universities of St Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh used this fact to create a forecast for our planet's future environment.
 
In a billion years' time, the heat from the Sun will become so intense, that the oceans start to evaporate.
 
"Once you get to this tipping point, you get a lot more water in the atmosphere and because water vapour is a greenhouse gas, that sets this runaway greenhouse effect... and you end up with the Earth heating up to 100C or more plus what we experience today," explained Mr O'Malley James, a PhD student.
 
This, he said, combined with falling levels of oxygen, would lead to the rapid loss of plants and larger animals.
 
Soon after, a group of microbes called extremophiles would be the only life forms left.
 
These tiny organisms are found on Earth today, and can cope with hostile environments.
 
These, the scientists said, would be the only creatures that could withstand the heat, aridity and poisonous atmosphere of this future Earth. They believe that they would probably be clustered around the last drops of water deep underground.
 
Eventually as conditions worsen they too will vanish, and in about 2.8 billion years, Earth will be devoid of all life.
 
'Microbial worlds'
 
The researchers said that studying the rise and fall of life on our planet could give us an insight into how life might survive elsewhere in the Universe.
 
Mr O'Malley James told the BBC: "If you were to find an Earth-like planet and to take a snapshot in time of the life living on the surface, it's more likely that you would find microbial life than you would the more complex life like we see on Earth today."
 
The researchers said that microbes cause subtle changes to the ratios of gasses in the atmosphere, and this could enable astronomers to one day detect their presence on other Earth-like planets.
 
"One of the best candidates is methane. This could be used to indicate the presence of life, although it depends on how much is produced and whether it builds up to a detectable level in the atmosphere... If we can pick up all these subtle levels of gasses on remote planets - maybe we could detect it," Mr O'Malley James said.

 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23135934
 
Also happening just over a billion years from now: The moon will finally be far enough away from the Earth to escape its orbit, and either hurtle into the sun or one of the other planets, settle into an orbit around the sun or a gas giant, or be ejected from the solar system entirely. Thereafter, the Earth's oceans will collect around the polar regions, devastating what complex life remains (which will already be having a hard enough time dealing with the sun, heat and vanishing water sources), and the planet will probably soon after become tidally locked to the sun (one side constantly facing it, the other always facing away). A billion or two years after all life vanishes even from within the Earth's crust, the sun will enter its Red Giant phase and vaporize the planet entire, alongside Mercury, Venus and possibly maybe also Mars.
 
It's a bleak future, but also rather fascinating for me because, well, it's the beginning of the end of life as we know it, and it's not coming in 4 billion years or so when the sun goes up, it starts in just a billion years' time.
 
Hopefully scientists will soon be able to predict exactly what will become of the moon, by using the data we have on the moon's orbital speeds and rate of outward movement, and that of the orbital speeds and paths of the Earth and other planets and moons' orbits too, to build models predicting what is likely or probably going to occur.

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Yeah, it's pretty depressing I guess. The whole inevitability of it all and whatnot. This kind of thing, plus the heat death of the universe, or however the hell existence in general will, well... stop existing, it honestly makes me a little glad I'm not immortal. 

 

I guess everything ceases to be eventually. Creepy.

 

On the other hand, if humanity hasn't moved the Earth's collective asses on to a bunch of self-sustaining space colonies or whatever by then, I'll be more surprised than anything. 

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What a morbid topic; predicting what will happen in a post-end of life earth :( 

 

By then though, humanity would (hopefully) set up colonies or something on near by planets/moons like Mars or Jupiter and survive without a Earth.  The sadist part is that WE are destroying the Earth already, with our pollution and waste among other factors (extinction of different species of animals/pants, destroying our forests, not adapting to solar/water power, ect). 

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What a morbid topic; predicting what will happen in a post-end of life earth sad.png

 

By then though, humanity would (hopefully) set up colonies or something on near by planets/moons like Mars or Jupiter and survive without a Earth.  The sadist part is that WE are destroying the Earth already, with our pollution and waste among other factors (extinction of different species of animals/pants, destroying our forests, not adapting to solar/water power, ect). 

And the only colonists will be fat white rich people, who will begin a campaign to harvest the universes resources in the name of profit, destroying it in the process.

 

And then aliens will eradicate them (I hope, because I'd rather the human race be extinct than be represented by the most likely to be bigoted, out of touch, and excessively wealthy and destructive people on the planet).

Edited by 743-E.D. Missile

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Yeah, it's pretty depressing I guess. The whole inevitability of it all and whatnot. This kind of thing, plus the heat death of the universe, or however the hell existence in general will, well... stop existing, it honestly makes me a little glad I'm not immortal. 

 

I guess everything ceases to be eventually. Creepy.

 

On the other hand, if humanity hasn't moved the Earth's collective asses on to a bunch of self-sustaining space colonies or whatever by then, I'll be more surprised than anything. 

The Universe will actually be a freezing death, just pointing that out. tongue.png

 

Anyway, this a pretty interesting look into the future; and what's surprising is what will happen then is similar to what happened to Mars long ago. Not particularly in the same way, but with the atmosphere basically destroyed and the planet uninhabitable by more complex life, the comparison can be drawn. Knowing humanity, by that point we probably would have gotten the hell out of dodge, but we can't escape the end of the entire universe.

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Indeed nothing lasts forever and Earth's fate isn't particularly good. This is all assuming humans don't end up destroying our planet before hand.  

 

How ironic that life couldn't exist without the Sun, and yet the Sun will be the tool that makes life extinct.

 

As for the moon it seems so insignificant, and yet if the moon was destroyed today most life on Earth would die because our planet would become an extremely volatile/hostile place to live. We have such a fragile existence.

 

If humans do master space travel one day (like Star Trek, haha), then they should leave the Earth and find a planet which supports life with a nice young star.

Edited by Metal Gear -Bender-

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If anything, this is a reminder to not take yourself so damn seriously. Because after all, one day there will be no one to remember you or humanity even existed, and your plights will be unnoticed by a changing and uncaring universe~!
.....depressing.:( Anyway, I guess it's times like these that I'm happy for being religious. At least then, I have something to look forward to and stay positive about.

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Well hopefully, assuming we're still even around that far down the road without destroying ourselves first or something, we'd have found some new home elsewhere on a new planet with another billion years life span to adapt to. Planets and everything don't last forever of course, just like everything else, so it's gotta go at some point I guess haha. Pretty interesting to take a glimpse as to what would probably happen though.

 

Makes me curious however, as the sun gets more intense over time, would eventually further away planets and moons become better livable places? I don't know if creating an atmosphere or anything like that would even be possible, but it'd be lols if we just kept hopping ship to the next furthest planet/moons over time. Forgive me if I sound like a clueless idiot because I quite frankly am at this kinda stuff haha.

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Well that was depressing. Should probably put up a warning for people with anxiety or depression, this isn't exactly unicorns and rainbows.

 

Well, maybe in a billion years we'll come up with inter-dimensional travel or some shit. 

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And the only colonists will be fat white rich people, who will begin a campaign to harvest the universes resources in the name of profit, destroying it in the process.

... Was the fat part really necessary??

 

In any case I don't really see this as too depressing. We've already known for some time that this planet won't be habitable (for humans) at some point. I just take this sort of thing as a reminder that, as a species, we should try to work on improving ourselves, and all that jazz. Oh and to research and develop reliable space travel if we want to still be around in the far future, of course.

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If there is one thing science and faith have come together to teach me, it's that we shouldn't be negative about these things. This is the natural cycle of existence: creation and destruction, perpetually feeding into each other. You know reincarnation yes? Even if spiritually it might not be true, it certainly is real physically. When you die, insects and bacteria nourish themselves from your body; those insects will then be eaten by plants and animals, who will be eaten by more animals, who will eventually be eaten by human beings. The cycle repeats without end!

Earth may die, but that matter will still be there... over billions of years, a new Sun would form from the destroyed mass, and life would eventually flourish yet again. We are seeing the same life cycle we see already, just on a grander, more epic scale that only something akin to God could comprehend.

But is he really the only one? With advances in technology the way they are, there is a possibility folks born this millennia could taste immortality... perhaps enough of a taste to move into a colony somewhere and observe the destruction of Earth billions of years from now. We will all be gone... and while we think of it as a tragedy, perhaps it would actually be incredibly beautiful, to see such intense destruction laying the seeds for another vast creation.

We will have surely found a way to live on another world by the time this occurs. Humanity will have evacuated, and we can sit back and watch the demise of our mother world just as we can casually watch solar flares or atomic weapons detonating already.

To the eager mind, death is but the next great adventure. -Albus Dumbledore

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Paah! Scientists are just trying to scare us. Besides, even if they are right, there's already travel to other planets being investigated.


There is no death of the universe, for there must be life for there to be death.

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If humanity is to find a home on other worlds, within and without our solar system, we must remember that they need to be the right kind of worlds orbiting the right kinds of stars, in the right kind of celestial neighborhood.

 

It wouldn't do us much good if we settled on worlds about to be seared clean by a nearby star going supernova, by gamma ray bursts or indeed by their parent stars dying too. Nor would we benefit at all from settling geologically inert worlds without magnetic fields. We need stable enough worlds in the habitable regions around their stars, with strong magnetic fields, atmospheres at least capable of becoming nitrogen-oxygen mixes like our own without being blown away, in relatively quiet galactic neighborhoods. I shouldn't think that this would be too hard to achieve if we research the places we travel to, so long as we don't place our eggs all in one basket, and instead try to seed several potential destinations.

 

We've got plenty of time yet, though.

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If the planet remains inhabitable for over a billion years, I would consider that more positive than negative. It's a hell of long time and, assuming that we haven't already been wiped out by something else, we will probably find some way to survive elsewhere anyway.

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Paah! Scientists are just trying to scare us. Besides, even if they are right, there's already travel to other planets being investigated.

 

My money's on us already having a handful of candidates for colonisation by the time we have adequate technology to do such. The Generation ships will be lovely experiments...

Well. Assuming we haven't discovered some sort of hypersleep or immortality by then, which negate the need for generations entirely.

Even if this took a million years we'd still have 99.9% of the time left to spend. We are both insignificant as a species, yet also marvelous when one sees how far we've come in our short existence.

 

We've got plenty of time yet, though.

Indeed, the rate of technological advance has been increasing. We're talking of energy crises looming everyday, but I bet anything we'll have fusion power before that happens.

Consider how far humans went in their first two thousand years. Now consider how far we've come in the last hundred years. Impressive no?

When we've got a billion years, we've all the time in the world. Quite literally, actually.

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Thinking about things like this don't really bother me too much, I'll be gone 80 years from now. 

 

Maybe that just shows how little I care for future generations...

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It's probably quite unlikely that mankind as a species will really exist in a billion years, anyway, but if we do stand the test of time, we will most assuredly not be the same species then that we are now. We will be aliens to ourselves.

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Thinking about things like this don't really bother me too much, I'll be gone 80 years from now. 

 

Maybe that just shows how little I care for future generations...

 

Actually you could be alive way beyond that, given how technology's working. In a few decades, the fields of nanotechnology and stem cell research will have made wonderful bounds...

 

Granted immortality is liable to be a tool of the rich at first, as is the case with all inventions.

 

Time to get rich!

 

It's probably quite unlikely that mankind as a species will really exist in a billion years, anyway, but if we do stand the test of time, we will most assuredly not be the same species then that we are now. We will be aliens to ourselves.

 

Indeed, we can already look at cavemen from just 10,000 years ago and be baffled that they are the same species. Imagine what ten MILLION years would be like...

 

If nothing else we will have proven evolution is fact.

 

What would they hope to gain from such behavior?

 

Gotta get some fun out of a life of mundane equations. Otherwise you might turn evil.

 

As Martin Luther stated, sometimes a little indulgence in evil is good to prevent a greater evil. wink.png

Edited by Ogilvie Maurice

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What sucks is that even if we do manage to settle other planets (and without FTL travel that seems highly unlikely), it will be all for naught anyway due to the universe's inevitable death. I'm sure there's no way to survive after the universe collapses, unless the concept of a multiverse is a real thing, and we find some way to travel between universes (and assuming that these seperate universes are "disconnected" and therefore will not die at the same time as ours, because if all of creation will die at once, we're screwed even THEN).

 

Argh. Now my head hurts.

 

...I think I need a Doctor.

Edited by Sarah Jane Smith

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What sucks is that even if we do manage to settle other planets (and without FTL travel that seems highly unlikely)

Well actually, with ships capable of supporting life in a self-contained environment, colonisation becomes a very real prospect. Distance is nothing if you are either immortal or can continue an entire life cycle aboard a monolithic vessel; the detail that will be most important is keeping people sane for seventy (or quite more) years aboard such a thing.

it will be all for naught anyway due to the universe's inevitable death. I'm sure there's no way to survive after the universe collapses, unless the concept of a multiverse is a real thing, and we find some way to travel between universes (and assuming that these seperate universes are "disconnected" and therefore will not die at the same time as ours, because if all of creation will die at once, we're screwed even THEN).

 

Well, heat death will probably be trillions of years (given that some stars will burn for that long) from now... perhaps by that time one will have become content to die. The main reason we don't wish to die, I believe, is that our few decades are still so little time to do and see everything. A few million or billion years of life, however? After that, the only thing really left to experience is death itself, and the great mystery of what lay beyond it. A void? Paradise or Hell? Reincarnation? Alas, no one knows, that's the fun of it!

Though multiverses sounds like a cool concept as well...

Never mind given humanity's penchant for being able to screw up everything nature throws at it, I wouldn't be surprised if in some way we became capable of manipulating the universe itself by this point in time. Sounds crazy, yes, but so did airplanes, nuclear weapons, and the internet. Never doubt what a sentient species can do given enough time to think. wink.png

On that note. There's probably a species out there somewhere that's already doing that. And if they aren't, they've got plenty of time...

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Well actually, with ships capable of supporting life in a self-contained environment, colonisation becomes a very real prospect. Distance is nothing if you are either immortal or can continue an entire life cycle aboard a monolithic vessel; the detail that will be most important is keeping people sane for seventy (or quite more) years aboard such a thing.

Try 700, 7,000, 70,000 or more years traveling through the vacuum of interstellar space. Not only would the ship(s) need to be extremely durable to last so long, they'd need to be huge and self-sustaining. The people aboard (who would need to number more and more, the longer the journey, to try and stave off eventual inbreeding) would need to be trained pretty much from the day they're born to take up one of the undoubtedly many critical jobs aboard ship. Everybody would need to be highly educated and trained in a given field, politics would have to be both rigid to maintain order and prevent dictatorships and oligarchies, but flexible enough to accommodate new trends and reward merit. It wouldn't be a free society, not really, and certain civil liberties would probably end up forfeit, but the illusion of freedom would need to be there.

BattleStar Galactica- or Mass Effect-style migrant fleets, perhaps?

 

Though multiverses sounds like a cool concept as well...

I like the idea of there being multiple enormous 'membrane' universes, lined up like dominoes, which bump against one another periodically; kick-starting fresh 'big bangs' as they collide and begin moving the other way.

 

Never mind given humanity's penchant for being able to screw up everything nature throws at it, I wouldn't be surprised if in some way we became capable of manipulating the universe itself by this point in time. Sounds crazy, yes, but so did airplanes, nuclear weapons, and the internet. Never doubt what a sentient species can do given enough time to think. wink.png

On that note. There's probably a species out there somewhere that's already doing that. And if they aren't, they've got plenty of time...

That is, of course, assuming that such feats are even possible.

I mean, for all we know, complex life giving rise to intelligent civilizations may be sort of common, but all of them/us are trapped within their home solar systems. Light-speed or wormhole travel proving illusive for all, the overpopulated civilizations resort to multi-generational interstellar sojourns. The extra-solar voyages take countless generations and consistently falling foul of shipboard societal collapses and critical systems failures. Despite their advanced states and incredible abilities to manipulate matter and whatnot, eventually the home solar systems are exhausted of all their mineralogical wealth; the glittering space ages come to an end (possibly violently as they may split apart and war over the last resources), and sooner or later all societies regress back to their pre-industrial states and are eventually toppled by some natural calamity.

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BattleStar Galactica- or Mass Effect-style migrant fleets, perhaps?

If there's one thing I believe in, it's the capacity of the human race to adapt and innovate. Every time we've been in the end times, we found some way around it. wink.png

 

I mean, for all we know, complex life giving rise to intelligent civilizations may be sort of common, but all of them/us are trapped within their home solar systems. Light-speed or wormhole travel proving illusive for all, the overpopulated civilizations resort to multi-generational interstellar sojourns. The extra-solar voyages take countless generations and consistently falling foul of shipboard societal collapses and critical systems failures. Despite their advanced states and incredible abilities to manipulate matter and whatnot, eventually the home solar systems are exhausted of all their mineralogical wealth; the glittering space ages come to an end (possibly violently as they may split apart and war over the last resources), and sooner or later all societies regress back to their pre-industrial states and are eventually toppled by some natural calamity.

By that point, I would not be surprised if the modern economy no longer exists, with most tasks being automated and thus destroying the old class order. As for finite resources, that's easily solved: you impose population limits. Sounds despotic, but in this kind of long-term society it's ultimately necessary. When population outstrips economic materials prosperity inevitably declines; the solution is to limit population when it becomes apparent there are no more rich deposits to be harvested.

With all the wondrous things humanity has accomplished, smashing every ceiling we've come across, I am confident in our future as a species. For every illness, we eventually have a cure. For every energy shortage, we have a new power source. For every diplomatic crisis, we find a resolution. For every weapon, we have a countermeasure. Necessity is the mother of invention... and I'm eagerly hoping nanotechnology and the like develops far along enough in my next 60 or so years so that I can see what lies far beyond the current lifespan. smile.png

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