Thursday, August 19th, 2010

So That's Why It Seems Like The World Is Ending

sci am"We all believe we live in an exceptional time, perhaps even a critical moment in the history of the species. Technology appears to have given us power over the atom, our genomes, the planet-with potentially dire consequences. This attitude may stem from nothing more than our desire to place ourselves at the center of the universe. "It's part of the fundamental limited perspective of our species to believe that this moment is the critical one and critical in every way-for good, for bad, for the final end of humanity," says Nicholas Christenfeld, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego. Imagining the end of the world is nigh makes us feel special."
-Oooh! The new issue of Scientific American is about The End. Michael Moyer writes a nice essay about a subject that has indeed been on my mind lately.

15 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

Spoiler alert.

I don't want to just die like the hundred billion saps before me. Nope, I'm gonna get raptured!

You may seek solace in the mathematical sophistry of some chap whose name I don't remember. His schtick is to wonder what are the chances that we live in he last 1% of time. Well, it's about 1%. So given the universe is at least x billion years old we don;t really have to worry. You can do it with the age of the world to great comfort as well. Please, I am not mathemagician myself so don't ask me any questions. Google it. I would but I don't have time…I still need to read some articles.

I think it may be Dennis Lindley. Point being according to his statistical analysis (I'm gonna throw the terms Bayesian and maximum likelihood out there but don't ask me what they mean) there's a greater than 99% chance that the world will last at least another many, many millions of years.

sciencemike (#6,993)

I created a login just to tell you, Mr. Address, that the first draft of the essay had a bit about the gentleman you mention, one J. Richard Gott III, Princeton astrophysicist and statistical sophist par excellence. It was cut for space. -MM

Just wanted to say I love your magazine, Mr. Moyer. Excellent piece, looking forward to reading the rest of the issue.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

I'll be taking solace in cocktails. That ought to make me feel special.

I missed out on 9/11 comfort sex. This time I'm not going to blow it.

HiredGoons (#603)

do I still have time to start a Doomsday Cult?

garge (#736)

If you do, I don't look good in purple (I'm a "spring"), so maybe try to go with something like coral?

djfreshie (#875)

If the Kool Aid is grape-flavoured I'm in. None of this Lemon-lime bullshit, and if I wanted Orange drink, I'd buy some Tang.

Grape. Whatever you're selling, I'm buying (grape)

Dave Bry (#422)

*polishes Nike Windrunners*

HiredGoons (#603)

I'm going to need creepier sunglasses though.

Annie K. (#3,563)

So we need a Galileo of the End Times, somebody to tell us we're not special?

kneetoe (#1,881)

Let's face it, no one believes that the world will continue without them. And why should we?

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