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Expiration Date For Earth

The Earth is falling apart: species dying, volcanoes erupting, droughts everywhere, ocean levels dropping. You, along with the remainder of the human population is terrified and helpless. The sun is expanding. In a matter of years, the solar system will be erased from the cosmos.

The Chinese film The Wandering Earth directed by Frant Gwo , tells the story of a family living through the long predicted expansion of the sun. The year is 2061, the Earth only has about 300 years left, and humanity has never been closer together. The solution: fly the Earth out of the solar system and 4.2 light years away to Alpha Centauri…no biggie. In the very beginning we meet a 4-year-old, Liu Qi, and his dad, Liu Peiqiang. Liu Peiqiang prepares his son for his departure as he will be aboard the pathfinder ship for the journey. They also have a little talk about a whole bunch of hydrogen on Jupiter which is important later…. Earth begins it’s journey using massive thrusters. Suddenly, the Earth stops rotating. This sets of tsunami’s everywhere, effectively reducing the human population to a mere 3 billion. As a result humans are forced to live underground so they can keeping moving onward. That’s when we meet Liu Qi, now 21, his adopted sister, and his grandfather. Qi and his sister break out from the underground using their grandfather’s keycard and steal a patrol vehicle. They get caught, and when their gramps tries to bail them out, he gets thrown in jail too. Back to the status of Earth. Earth is approaching Jupiter for an assist. All is well…Wait a minute, strike that. Jupiter suddenly undergoes a “gravitational spike” which causes massive earthquakes all over the Earth, disabling many thrusters. As a result, the Earth drifts dangerously close to Jupiter. Back to prison. They escape, return to the surface, and steal another patrol vehicle. This one, however, is set for an emergency mission to transport a “Lighter Core” to restart an Earth Engine in Hangzhou. Upon arrival in Shanghai, they find the city in ruins. Their vehicle gets frozen and they are forced to leave with the “Lighter Core.” They climb what’s left of the Shanghai Tower to look for hope. Along the way, gramps is frozen and dies. The bad news keeps coming when they learn Hangzhou is covered in magma and the engine is destroyed. That’s when they find a crashed cargo plane with a vehicle attached. Inside is a survivor, Li Yiyi, an engineer. Yiyi convinces them to transport another “Lighter Core” to Sulawesi. When they arrive, the engine is fully restored. In fact, nearly every engine on Earth is restored. Even so, the Earth is still getting closer to Jupiter. Qi remembers a conversation he had with his dad about the abundance of hydrogen on Jupiter. If they were to ignite it, the blast would propel Earth to safety. Yiyi builds a light beam from the engine that should do the job, but they can’t push the firing pin. Rescue and repair parties arrive and the engine is fired up, but it falls short of being able to ignite the hydrogen. Liu Peiqiang proposes flying the space station into the plasma jet and detonating the space station’s fuel to ignite Jupiter’s hydrogen, but the MOSS, the space station’s AI thinks thats a bad idea. After disabling MOSS using a fire started with a bottle of vodka, Liu Peiqiang manually overrides the control and apologizes to his son over failing his promise to return. He then pilots the space station into the plasma jet and sacrifices himself as the ignition succeeds. Earth is saved from destruction and continues towards the destination star system. In the end, we don’t know it they make it, but Qi ends on a hopeful note.

Ok guys, I know the trailer is in Mandarin, I couldn’t find a dubbed one, BUT there is a full dubbed version of the movie on Netflix. (Go watch it, highly recommend.) Now for the science. This movie has a lot to unpack, so let’s get started. It has been long predicted the sun will expand. That’s the star cycle. You can even read a whole chapter about it in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s book, Letters from an Astrophysicist. Stars begin in a stellar nebula. Boom star. In our case, the sun was made into G2V…basically and average-smallish star. It will have a lifespan of about ten billion years. Then it will rapidly expand to the about size of our solar system and become a red giant. After another supernova, it will be a neutron star. We have seen this before. That being said. This movie takes place in 2061. Our sun still has about 5 billion years left, we should be safe 40 years from now. Let’s move on to some bigger fish…could the Earth migrate? For this I am going to reference an interview with the NASA engineer, John Elliot. ( In order for 10,000 engines to propel the Earth fast enough to get to Jupiter in 17 years, you would need 2.5 x 10^15 pounds of thrust. That’s a lot. In comparison, the F-1 engine used on Saturn V is the most powerful rocket engine ever made. A single F-1 engine that puts out 1.5 million pounds of thrust. Not even close to the one’s in The Wandering Earth. On top of that, the engines are about 6,000 feet taller than Mount Everest. As of now, we have no conceivable way of building anything that tall. We probably won’t have a way in 40 years either.

All in all, I’m pretty convinced this movie is a scientific bust. That being said it was definitely worth watching. I normally hate dubbed movies because it bothers me when the lips don’t match the words, but I really enjoyed this one. The Wandering Earth was the 3rd highest grossing film in China ever and 3rd non-english film worldwide in 2019. This made realize how small our little part of the world is and there’s a whole other part full of movie for us to watch…and pick apart to disprove. I hope you get the chance to watch this one!


They’re Coming for Us!

Alright, this week’s post is about something just a little different..ZoMbIeS. Remember Walking Dead, Zombieland, and World War Z a few years ago. The zombie apocalypse was everywhere. I know, I know, nothing really space related. BUT, I was doing some research on this and it’s actually pretty interesting. So, here we go.

You’re with your family in your car stuck in your average city traffic. Then, out of nowhere, a motorcycle rushes past taking your side mirror with it. But, that was just the beginning. Chaos had erupted everywhere. The zombies are coming!

In the 2013 movie, World War Z, Brad Pitt…I mean, Gerry Lane and his family move from New York City to Newark, New Jersey to escape noise-attracted zombies. There, they get rescued by the UN, an organization Gerry used to be a member of. They find refuge on a ship in the Atlantic where scientists and military personnel are assessing the outbreaks and working to find a plan. They soon learn that a virus is to blame for the rise of Zombies. The brilliant people aboard, however, could plausibly create a vaccine, they would just need to know the origin. After being threatened by the UN, Gerry agrees to leave his family and help find a cure. Gerry is assisted by Andrew Fassbach. This partnership, however, is short lived because upon arrival at the South Korean base, they were attacked and Andrew slipped, fell, and accidentally shot himself in the head. After being rescued by survivors, Gerry is told to go to Jerusalem. So naturally, he goes. On the way to the aircraft, Gerry and his team were attacked and only him and the pilot survived. Once they arrived in Israel, they soon found how officials knew to quarantined Jerusalem: their government had known about the Indians fighting zombies. This sanctuary didn’t last long. The singing of refugees caused the zombies to attack. Gerry narrowly escapes on an airliner. Just as the plane was about to land a stowaway announced itself and began to attack. Gerry killed it with a grenade. Obviously, however, that also crashed the plane. After making it to the health facility, they discover that zombies don’t go after those who would make bad hosts: terminally ill or injured. Before they could test the theory properly, Gerry injects himself with an unknown pathogen. Luckily for him, it worked! It kept the zombies away AND it didn’t kill him. They disperse the pathogen much like a vaccine throughout the world. Gerry reunites with his family and hope is restored.

Ok, can a zombie apocalypse happen? Traditional Zombies, like the ones that rise from the dead, not gonna happen. BBBBUUUUUUT, a virus that puts people in a zombie like state is entirely possible. Well, a little unlikely, but plausible. Dr. Schlozman AKA Dr. Zombie, a professor at Harvard, has dedicated his entire career to, you guessed it, zombies. In order for a virus to create a classic zombie, it would need to enter the body in a specific place. Somewhere that would only affect certain parts of the brain. This perfect place: the olfactory nerve. The olfactory nerve is the nerve in your nose responsible for smelling. Once the virus entered the body, it would infect the Ventromedial Hypothalamus, which is responsible for telling your body you are full. So, basically, you’d be hungry all the time. After that, it would travel Amygdala. This part controls your emotions and memory. Finally, the virus would reach the Frontal Cortex which handles morality, problem solving, and inhibiting impulsive actions. So basically, you are left, with a super hungry person, who doesn’t remember anyone or anything, and has no morals. Meaning they would have no problem with feeding on human flesh. Sound familiar?

This means the movie was actually pretty close. There are two main flaws: 1. They are attracted to sound. In reality, they would just go wherever their stomachs lead them. 2. The whole the don’t attack the weak because they are bad hosts. No! They’ll eat whatever seems like there next meal. Yum.


Ready or not here we come! This week, you are a super smart, fancy scientist who finds something horrifying wrong with Earth…the magnetic fields are about to collapse. Can you and your team fix it or will the planet face its doom?

 In the movie, The Core, scientists Dr. Josh Keyes, Dr. Serge Leveque, and Dr. Conrad Zimsky find an instability of Earth’s magnetic field after a series of bizarre events. They conclude that the Earth’s core, which generates this field, has stopped rotating and the magnetic field will collapse. Which would have detrimental effects on the planet. Backed by the U.S. government, Keyes, Leveque, and Zimsky create a plan to restart the rotation with a series of nuclear explosions. They gain the help of a mildly crazy scientist Dr. Ed “Braz” Brazzelton, who has devised a vessel that can withstand the heat and pressure within the Earth’s crust and convert it to energy. Construction starts immediately. They compile a crew of pilots, scientists, and a hacker to board the vessel aka a giant laser drill thing that moves and saves the planet. Shortly after the launch, the team drills the a giant geode structure. This damages the lasers and causes the geode to crack, sending magma to fill the cavern. The crew repairs the laser, but just before they can enter the ship, a crystal shard falls on one of the member’s head, killing him. Meanwhile, on the surface, the public becomes aware of the situation after a lightning superstorm and ultra-violet radiation from the sun destroys major cities. Finally, the team reaches the core. To their surprise, the density of the core is far different than expected. Because of this, they knew their plan wouldn’t work. As a substitution, the US government deploys “DESTINI” (Deep Earth Seismic Trigger INItiative), which is the ‘secondary protocol’. Finch relays his information to Keyes, who discovers that Zimsky was one of DESTINI’s lead scientists. DESTINI, was used to try to stop earthquakes, this caused the core to stop to begin with. Keyes is convinced the result will be disastrous. They delay the deployment of DESTINI by hacking into its power system. After trying various ways to get enough energy, the team decides to leave a compartment behind, sacrificing another member. The cores natural state is restored! After the team narrowly escapes into the ocean, the crew releases the information on DESTINI to the public via the internet.

So, could our core, that spins inside of the Earth, really stop? The short answer is no, at least not for a billion years. That being said, let’s find out what would happen. According to the NASA archives, the results depend on how long the Earth’s core took to slow down. In this case, it would have been immediate. If the Earth stopped spinning suddenly, the atmosphere would still be in motion, maintaining its original rotation speed of 1100 miles per hour. Anything not attached to bedrock would be swept from the Earth. This means rocks, topsoil, trees, buildings, your pet dog, and so on, would go into the atmosphere. Life on Earth would seize to exist.

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say the movie’s a little off. I mean, everyone would know if the core stopped spinning because they’d all be floating off into the atmosphere. To that point, there would be nothing they could do to reverse it because of how ill prepared they would have been. It’s not like they had the ship pre-made. Overall, however, I think this movie seems pretty interesting, even if it has very little factual information.

Collision Course for Earth

So, you’re listening to the news and what do you hear? A rogue star is hurdling towards Earth. What can you do about it? Join a group of survivalists to build and ark to travel to a distant planet.

In the 1951 movie, When Worlds Collide, Dr. Cole Hedron uncovers top secret South African files about a rogue star named Bellus on a collision course for Earth. Hedron immediately notifies the United Nations. He pleads for funding to make arks to bring people to Zyrus, the sole orbiting planet of Bellus, to save the human race from extinction. The UN claims the whole ordeal as a load of rubbish. I mean, who wants to hear the world is ending in 8 months? Though the UN refused to help, Hedron sparked the interest of a rich humanitarian group. They found and gave land to Hedron for a construction site. For constructing funding, he is forced to accept money from Sidney Stanton, a wheel chair bound businessman. As the star approaches, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis sweep the earth. They begin to stock the ship. Food, medicine, tools; the essentials. Knowing human nature he also stocked weapons. As riots begin around the ark, they blastoff just in time. The crew goes unconscious do to g-force and they miss the destruction of the Earth. When the crew wakes up, they realize they have been deceived. Dr. Frey is already awake and piloting the ship! After a brief struggle, Randell takes over and glides the plane into safety.

Science Time! Soooo the likelihood of a star hitting earth is super small because of the gravity within solar systems. Consequently it was difficult to find any information on them. As a substitute, I am going to talk about what would happen if a neutron star hit the Earth. A neutron star is the leftovers of a star after a supernova. They are really really hot, about 6 million Kelvin. For comparison, our sun is 5,778 Kelvin. Alright, lets go to the beginning. As the star approaches the surface temperature of Earth would rise. As a result, the oceans would evaporate. Getting closer, life on Earth would begin to burn. Shortly after, our planet will return to molten lava, much like how it began. Finally the neutron star hits the Earth, obliterating everything its path. The remnants of Earth would begin to orbit the star.

Now for the real question…would a ship be able to escape Earth like in the movie? Well no. It would be so outrageously hot they would burn leaving the atmosphere, especially considering how close they left to the impact of Earth…

Black Holes, yeesh

Alright guys, you’re exploring space. The spaceship has just begun it’s turn around. That’s when you see it; a giant black hole. What’s even more astonishing? The space ship hovering right next to it, unaffected by the black hole’s gravitational pull.

In the 1979 movie, The Black Hole, Captain Don Holland and his crew decide to investigate the miracle ship. Upon further inspection they identify the ship as the long-lost USS Cygnus. As they get closer, they see an odd force field around the Cygnus. When trying to enter, the ship gets badly damaged and drifts into the black hole’s gravity. The crew somehow manages to escape and find it’s way back to the Cygnus. This time, they find themselves able to dock. Reluctantly, the crew enters. Soon, they find Dr. Hans Reinhardt and his crew of faceless droids. Reinhardt explains how he sent the crew away in an escape pod when they came across an asteroid belt. However, over time, Holland notices the strange human-like behaviors of the droids. One of the robots, B.O.B tasks off his mask and reveals they are in fact the crew of the Cygnus. When they refused to stay in space with him, Reinhardt lobotomized them and forced them into helping him. Kate and Durant, two of the crew members, attempt to escape. Durant is shot down and Kate gets kidnapped and is sent to be lobotomized. Just in time, Holland swoops in and rescues Kate. While this is going on, Booth, the last remaining crew member, leaves in an emergency vessel. Seeing this, Reinhardt orders for him to be shot down. The small ship flails into the Cygnus, ruining it’s force field mechanism. Without this, the Cygnus is pulled into the black hole. The remaining crew manages to get out on their broken spaceship. However, his victory becomes insignificant when the black hole sucks them in too. Reinhardt gets weirdly merged with his last loyal drone and is consumed by the black hole. Holland and crew, however, are “saved” by an angel that emerges through an arch. The crew gets brought out through a white hole and see a bright planet next to a star. And that’s the end. (I know right???)

So, what would really happen if you were pulled into a black hole? A black hole has an escape velocity at or greater than the speed of light. That means there is absolutely no way of escaping, as we can not get that fast. Now for the more gruesome part…A second or so, about 5,000 miles from the hole, you would accelerate really really fast. At this time, you are still conscious and aware of what is going on. Then gravity would begin to pull you in all directions. It would probably feel like like weight hanging from your hands and feet. At the same time you would be stretched sideways. At about 1,500 miles from the black hole, it would feel like 1,600 pounds. This pressure would make you pass out. This, however, is a blessing, as black holes destroy everything starting at about 500 miles away…

I know this one isn’t about the end of the world, but I watched the trailer for this and I had to…I really really want to watch this movie, so I will hold off on all true judgements until then. However, as fas I can tell, the science doesn’t match up at all. As you read before, the affects of black holes start at about 5,000 miles away. There’s no way a ship could hover right next to one. Remember, when they miraculously swerved out of it? Yeah, no way. Unless they have a way of traveling faster than light…Regardless, I feel like the ridiculousness of this plot is enough to make anyone watch it.

Alien Attack!

It’s just another day in your small town…a carless street, seemingly empty buildings. Then, out of the sky, a ball of fire comes barreling toward you. It crash lands a mere mile away. As you approach, you notice it wasn’t just an asteroid after all. Aliens have just touched down on Earth.

In the original 1953 movie, War of the Worlds, scientists Clayton Forrester and Sylvia Van Buren, are the first to arrive at scene similar to this one. The duo’s awe only last for a brief moment when the ship opens to reveal an alien war machine. It begins to disintegrate any person in sight. Simultaneously, the entire town is shut down. The Marines are soon called in as identical machines land all over the world and destroy major cities. Sadly, the Earthly weapons are no match for their “Heat-Rays,” and “Skeleton Beams.” Where are our main characters in all of this? They escape in an abandoned plane and crash land near a farm. Since they are two people trapped together, they obviously fall in love. Soon after, they too are attacked. Forrester, however, wounds one of the Martians just enough to collect a blood sample, in hopes of finding a way to stop them. Once the Martians have taken over too many of the World’s key cities, the US drops an atomic bomb. This does literally nothing. Hope has officially run out. In the chaos, Clayton and Sylvia get tragically torn apart. Their equipment has been destroyed, ruining their chance of studying the blood. In defeat, Clayton looks for Sylvia in a church she had previously mentioned. There, they romantically reunite. Just as the church was about to be invaded, the martian controlling the machine drops dead. How? Deadly bacteria. I know right? After years of evolution, humans were immune to such bacteria. Martians, however, were not.

Alright, science time. Not gonna lie, we have no idea what aliens may do if they were to ever land on Earth. I can, however, tell you about the possibility of aliens. According to Death From the Skies, by Phillip Plait (Again), the likelihood of aliens existing is good, but not 100%. Let’s break it down a little. The Drake equation, named after Frank Drake, categorizes what life requires and the probability of them all happening. For example, the Milky Way has about 200 billion stars. 10% of these are like our Sun. (Similar mass, size, etc) That gives us 20 billion possible stars. These stars are likely to have planets around them. However, for a pessimistic view, lets give a super small probability of there being other planets and an even smaller one for them being Earth-like. Even with ridiculously low probabilities, there are still millions of planets like Earth. From there, you can go on to how many have life, can that life have technology for space travel etc. Each steps gets a little shakier. The most pessimistic view, however, still shows we aren’t alone. Ok, so why haven’t we seen them? Why haven’t they found us? Maybe life just doesn’t want to seek advancement. Maybe it’s rare for life to want to adventure into the beyond. At the same time though, you have to wonder…If there were millions of alien species, we would know. Right? The galaxy is old, at least 12 billion years old. The Earth, 4.5 billion years. That ‘s a lot of time, wouldn’t they have visited? Or called…I mean we’ve been able to send signals to space since the 1930s. In conclusion, aliens probably exist, just not in massive quantities.

Is this a good thing? What sparks technological advancements more than anything else? War. The first Cro-Magnon to hit a guy over the head, was more likely to survive. The army with rifles is probably going to beat spears, missiles will probably beat cannons. Drones, spy satellites, and instant communication can out maneuver those without. Aggression fuels advancement. By that logic, species that actually make it to space won’t be very nice.

That being said, the movie probably had it right. If aliens were going to land on Earth, they most likely wouldn’t have good intentions. Not going to lie, I haven’t seen this movie. (I know, I’m a fraud) However, I watched the trailer and have seen the remake. From that, I’d say it’s a good movie (Considering it’s from the 50’s) and I hope to watch it soon.

Target Acquired: Earth

Picture this: An asteroid hits the Earth and a wave of fire is coming your way. Mass chaos erupts everywhere. People are scrambling, clinging to one another. You have about 12 hours before the blaze reaches you and destroys everything you have ever known and loved. Your future seems more inevitable than ever before. What do you do?

In the 2015 Australian movie, These Final Hours, directed by Zak Hilditch, Freddy, a self-obsessed 20 year old, is faced with this exact situation. What does he do?He plans to attend the most epic rager the world has ever seen; the party to end all parties, so to speak. However, Freddy faces one more problem; an ethical one. On his way there, he meets a little girl looking for her father. Does he help her or help himself? After choosing to help her, he is taken on a true adventure of a lifetime. Freddy learns death is inevitable, it is everyone’s fate. Whether it be 12 hours or 50 years, no one knows. He finds himself discovering time shouldn’t be wasted even when you only have 12 hours of it left.

Now, for science… In, These Final Hours, the situation is relatively straight forward. An asteroid collides with Earth, undoubtedly this must mean a wave of fire is going to make its way around the entire planet, right? Wrong. Well, sort of. Not quite. That may be how the apocalypse went down in the movie, but what would really happen in real life? The answer can be found in the book, Death From the Skies, by Philip Plait PH.D. Let’s start at the beginning, or rather, a beginning… An asteroid is barreling towards Earth. You can see a bright disk of white light moving across the sky faster than airplane. You see it descend slowly, until it finally reaches the horizon. Not but a second later, a soundless flash sweeps over the entire Earth. It’s so bright, it’s almost blinding, but not quite. Pain surges to your eyes as they struggle to take in all of the light and they begin to water uncontrollably. Then, in the horizon, something that looks like smoke appears at the skyline. Almost on cue, it becomes hot. For the first time, you have a moment to feel it truly sink in, you are doomed. The heat builds and builds to an unbearable level. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, the earth quakes a violent jolt, knocking you to the ground. Then, as you look up through the now broken window, you see the unidentified wave approaching. What you don’t know? The wave is a tsunami of pure sound and energy ripping through the atmosphere. It flattens everything in it’s path. The energy sets the Earth beneath it for ablaze. Only for a second though, until it is blown out and shattered, just like the glass from your windows all around you. All you can do is stare at your doom barreling towards you. As it approaches, it gets bigger and bigger. The wave seems to make a wall right in front of you, mocking you. It curls, like a wave around a surfer. In an instant, the loudest thunderclap you’ve ever heard beats down around you. It doesn’t really matter though, because the asteroid has just claimed you as well. You, your house, and everything inside of it, has been pulverized to nothing but dust. The wave will go all the way around the Earth twice before its finally over.

Now, let me put your mind at ease. This is all granted the asteroid is big enough to wipe out the entire planet. The chance of an asteroid hitting the Earth are pretty slim, let alone the Mount Everest sized asteroid that would be needed. Often times, asteroids don’t even make it through our atmosphere.

Back to the movie. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. Considering the movie is more about Freddy’s psychological journey than the actual science behind the end of world, I really liked the storyline. As far as the science goes, it had the general effect. The wave of fire, though it would be sound, was pretty accurate. The main thing it was missing was the aspects that came before the sound tsunami. The flash of light, earthquake, etc. Regardless, I would recommend watching this movie.