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Armageddon – Episode 5

OK so this segment is getting somewhat harder to write, despite the copious amounts of websites related to the supposed end of the world, when it comes to the theories on how, people have been somewhat less prolific.

Most theories that have come across whilst trying to find inspiration for tonight’s post have essentially been slightly differently worded versions of what I have written about in previous episodes.

For those of you who haven’t read them and would like to, they can be found below.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

So I was struggling to find a topic for tonight’s Episode, then I came across this one. All of the theories that I have so far posted are at best unlikely and at worst wild speculation and tonight’s is no different, although I’m pretty sure it falls closer to the latter end of the spectrum, and especially so when tying it in with 2012.

 

Grey Goo Hypothesis

 

Grey Goo is an end of the world scenario based on the emerging technology of nano robotics, essentially it is a scenario whereby out of control self-replicating nano robots consume all matter on earth whilst building more of themselves.

The term was first coined by Nanotechnology Pioneer Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation, although he has since stated that he wished he had never used the term.

In chapter 4 of his book, Drexler explains quite how fast these tiny machines could work.

 

Imagine such a replicator floating in a bottle of chemicals, making copies of itself…the first replicator assembles a copy in one thousand seconds, the two replicators then build two more in the next thousand seconds, the four build another four, and the eight build another eight. At the end of ten hours, there are not thirty-six new replicators, but over 68 billion. In less than a day, they would weigh a ton; in less than two days, they would outweigh the Earth; in another four hours, they would exceed the mass of the Sun and all the planets combined — if the bottle of chemicals hadn’t run dry long before.

 

Now imagine that the bottle of chemicals is Earth, potentially scary stuff.

 

 In chapter 11 he goes on to describe “Grey Goo”

 

Early assembler-based replicators could beat the most advanced modern organisms. ‘Plants’ with ‘leaves’ no more efficient than today’s solar cells could out-compete real plants, crowding the biosphere with an inedible foliage. Tough, omnivorous ‘bacteria’ could out-compete real bacteria: they could spread like blowing pollen, replicate swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop — at least if we made no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.

 

Like I said scary stuff, but we have no need to worry just yet, first of all more recent research has discovered that a scenario like this is much less likely than first thought, and to be honest the chances where pretty slim in the first place. Secondly its has since been widely accepted that such self replicating nano robots are not needed and last of all, as far as I can tell nanotechnology of this type is very much in its infant stages and so is highly unlikely to make it in time for December!  

That’s not to say that these tiny machines are totally safe, whilst the Grey Goo Hypothesis may not be a very likely scenario there are still a number of concerns around nanotechnology all of which are far more likely and in some cases equally as concerning.

Dangers of Molecular Manufacturing

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