We know, or at least strongly suspect, that Earth’s landmasses variously coalesce and drift apart over hundreds of millions of years, to either form massive, single bodies, or smaller, separate continents, such as those that we are familiar with presently.
Currently, both the African and Eurasian plates are moving away from the North American and South American plates, but at the same time the African plate is moving north, into the Eurasian plate – this is why the Alps exist. Small subduction zones have already been found in the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar, that are migrating as this happens.
Flat earth society takes readings from the stylus of topographic radar, cuts them into vinyl and then plays them back with a stylus. Phonographic hills-and-dales grow into the Alps, Andes, Himalayas, Grand Canyon, Great Steppe, Great Rift Valley, Great Outback and the Lesser Antilles. Where Enrico Caruso and Nellie Melba once sang one hears the Baja Peninsula, Antarctic Peninsula, and the bathymetric pauses of the Red Sea and Baffin Bay. Peaks and valleys, spikes and wells, spires and troughs, aspirations and depressions, all have their gradations in mythical and actual landscapes.
Earth has been menaced by a couple of asteroids and meteorites of late. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of these threats for a while, but it raises the question of how to deal with such objects, especially if there is some sort of advance warning that they are on the way.
Thankfully there are a couple of options on the table. Scientists in California for instance say it is possible to use laser beams to evaporate asteroids, or failing that, move them into less threatening orbits:
Described as a “directed energy orbital defense system,” DE-STAR is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth. It is equally capable of changing an asteroid’s orbit – deflecting it away from Earth, or into the Sun – and may also prove to be a valuable tool for assessing an asteroid’s composition, enabling lucrative, rare-element mining. And it’s entirely based on current essential technology.
Meanwhile, Sung Wook Paek, a MIT graduate, says splattering white paint on the surface of asteroids would also help alter their course:
Paintballs themselves could impart a slight momentum change to the asteroid, diverting it only slightly, but not enough to avoid Earth. The main effect would come from the paint’s increase in reflectivity on the asteroid. Thus, the pressure of photons coming from the sun, acting over enough time, could result in a large shift in course. Paek concluded that the course of asteroid Apophis, a 27-gigaton rock that is expected to pass close to Earth in 2029 and in 2036, could be changed enough to miss Earth. He estimated that 5 tons of paint would be sufficient to cover the 1,480-foot-diameter asteroid.
Climate change, peak oil, rising sea levels, we have more than a few challenges ahead of us if the world our grand children will be living in is to be anywhere near habitable. Now I read topsoil, where crops and the like, or the sources of much of the food we eat, looks to be running out:
A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded – the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone. Because of various farming methods that strip the soil of carbon and make it less robust as well as weaker in nutrients, soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished. Even the well-maintained farming land in Europe, which may look idyllic, is being lost at unsustainable rates.
The world isn’t going to end on 21 December as per misguided understandings, or otherwise, of the Maya Calendar, but I can tell you that I will be suspending posting here at disassociated.com while I take a two-week break from writing over the year-end holiday.
And even though – barring some unknown, totally left-of-field happening beforehand – we’ll still be here on 22 December, it has to be said the ways some people saw the world ending were colourful to say the least… if nothing else there’s likely some sound inspiration for sci-fi writers amongst it all:
However, if we (wrongly) assume that 12/12/2012 is the end of the world, then how will it supposedly happen? Most of the “theories” I’ve seen involve a lot of nonsense about (1) alignment of planets and the galactic center; (2) the close pass of some dark star or large planet to Earth (e.g., Nibiru); (3) complete random rubbish. So, as to try to quell some of the rumors out there, I thought I’d do a brief Q & A about the Maya Apocalypse because a lot of the ways the world ends involves earthquakes and volcanoes.
The broad spectrum sounds recorded in the summer of 1997 are consistent with icequakes generated by large icebergs as they crack and fracture. NOAA hydrophones deployed in the Scotia Sea detected numerous icequakes with spectrograms very similar to “Bloop”. The icequakes were used to acoustically track iceberg A53a as it disintegrated near South Georgia Island in early 2008. Icequakes are of sufficient amplitude to be detected on multiple sensors at a range of over 5000 km. Based on the arrival azimuth, the iceberg(s) generating “Bloop” most likely were between Bransfield Straits and the Ross Sea, or possibly at Cape Adare, a well know source of cryogenic signals.