The Doomsday Handbook: 50 Ways to the End of the World

Alok Jha

Tuesday, April 2 2013 at 7:00PM

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Alok Jha

What's the talk about?

From predictions of sin, fire and brimstone in ancient stories, to asteroids, viruses and climate change in films today, the human race has long speculated - and dramatized - about how it will all end. Yet no matter how creative our stories are, science, Alok Jha will tell us, offers us even weirder possibilities.

Some of them are cosmic in origin, such as a monstrously large magnetic storm from the Sun; or from the Earth itself, such as a catastrophic volcano or a reversal of our magnetic field. Others are due to the human race's own advancements: drugs, terrorism, cyborgs - or even some of these combined, such as a solar storm affecting our communications and electrical technology. Or, if we're really unlucky, we might wander too near a black hole or a (so far) hypothetical particle called the strangelet, which is able to turn all particles it encounters into a copy of itself - and could do this to everything on the Earth over a matter of hours.

Is this anything to worry about? Alok Jha has spoken to various people who think it might be. 99% of species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct - and the Sun itself will become a red giant one day. "Humanity as a whole does not invest much in improving its thinking on how to enhance its own survival," he reports. Come and hear how, if we can't put off The End, it might at least be a lot more interesting than we thought.