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Armageddon – Episode 1

The end of the world is imminent.

If you believe all the hype then December 21st this year is IT, so we better make the most of the 10 Months we have left.

With this is mind I thought what could be an interesting feature for my blog would be, on the 21st of eah month, to bring you the ten most popular theories on the collapse of civilisation as we know it, although to be on the safe side I think I shall post Decembers a day early.

With so many ways in which mankind could meet its downfall it’s hard to pick a top 10 and between now and December I’m fairly sure some new ones may well come along and there is every chance that I will change my mind as to what order they should go in, which makes the critical choice of which one to start with pretty daunting.

As it was this episode of Eureka that inspired this idea I figured I might as well start with this one.

NEMESIS 

Nemesis is a hypothetical Star, orbiting the Sun, somewhere beyond the Oort cloud

The idea was first put forward in 1984 to explain the cycle of mass extinctions which seem to occur roughly every 26 Million years.

This idea was put forward by two scientists (David Raup and Jack Sepkoski ) in a paper in which based on various time series analysis they identified 12 extinction events .

So what does Nemesis do? Why could it signal the end of our existence?

In Muller’s words, “Suppose there is a companion star that orbits the sun. Every 26 million years it comes close to the Earth and does something, I’m not sure what, but it makes asteroids hit the Earth. Maybe it brings the asteroids with it….”

Science at its best!

Critiques of the theory (SOURCE)

  1. The “regular” mass extinctions were never “regular” at all. In fact, there is really no periodicity to the data. Using much the same data that was available to Raup and Sepkoski, you get variance from the 26 million year cycles, with some occurring much sooner and others far longer than “average”.
  2. Astronomers can show that the predicted effect, that of Nemesis disturbing the Oort Cloud and causing a “rain of comets” which produced the extinctions, could have occurred from the many “close passes” or “near misses” by the many stars in our Sun’s neighborhood. As a demonstration of this, in about 10,000 years, Barnard’s Star will cozy up to our Sun’s Oort Cloud. Will this red dwarf cause a mass extinction? No one knows, but it is certainly a possibility, without any Nemesis existing at all.
  3. Neither a red dwarf nor brown dwarf companion has ever been detected for our Sun, even though IR surveys have detected brown dwarf stars as far away as 20 light years.

 

However it does seem that there is a chance that it does exist, after all SPACE is a really, really big place and the discovery of Sedna in 2003 by Michael Brown does lend at least some credit to the idea that there is something out there.

“Sedna shouldn’t be there,” said Brown. “There’s no way to put Sedna where it is. It never comes close enough to be affected by the Sun, but it never goes far enough away from the Sun to be affected by other stars.”Brown therefore postulated that a massive unseen object may be responsible for Sedna’s anomalous orbit.

As it stands there is no “Proof” that Nemesis exists, at the same time there is no proof that it doesn’t, however even if it does exist it looks like it has another 15-21million years until it is going to be close enough to do us any damage.

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  1. March 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm
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