One of the Known Reasons We Are All Screwed

by March 30th, 2008 - Science »

The other night, Professor Pikachu was on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell hocking his new book, Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel. I will eventually buy Pikachu’s book, likely enjoying it immensely, but will write a mini-review here:

In Physics of the Impossible, Pikachu leads his readers through a myriad of technologies and events previously held as fantasy by physicists, but now theoretically within reach of our very distant future. Truly edutainment, I was fascinated by the vivid descriptions and was left with a very cursory understanding of physics, an understanding I misunderstood to be much greater than it was as I tried to lord my newfound genius over friends in conversation, only to be revealed as the fool I am when they pressed me further, past the stolen paraphrases and found a void greater than space itself. A few months later I will have forgotten everything I thought I knew and my conversations will revert back to a pornography content of around 93%. FIVE STARS!

Of course, I’m the only one to blame in all that. I’ll make an empty promise now to follow up my reading of Physics of the Impossible, by staring at those other physics books with numbers in ‘em.

Back to the point. On Coast to Coast, Pikachu went through many of the standard fare, but still amazing science fiction facts: Teleportation, Invisibility, Time Travel, etc. And it’s all humming along with Art Bell’s masterful voice and then up springs WR 104. Art Bell, who is normally super keyed-in to such newsworthy phenomena, was ignorant of this story, raising eyebrows and ears to the radio.

As it turns out, WR 104 is a star in our galaxy that is visibly on the verge of going supernova…or BOOM! Apparently, supernovas often expel jets of energy from their rotational poles…and WR 104 has one pointing at us. It is too far away for a common supernova to harm us, but there is speculation that it might be capable of pooing out a gamma ray burst which is a power only second to the Big Bang. Because we all love Star Wars, and can only understand things in that context, Pikachu compared WR 104 to a Death Star.

Death Stars exist…are part of a remorseless alien nature…and are pointing at us. Yay?

BAD NEWS: This would not result in turning everyone on Earth into an Incredible Hulk. A gamma ray burst would completely destroy the planet Earth…and that’s where I keep all my stuff.

GOOD NEWS: The gun is aligned within 16º of the Earth. So maybe it doesn’t completely hit us, if at all.

BAD NEWS: Even a grazing shot from the Death Star would render the Earth a horrible post-apocalyptic world something worse than Mad Max, nearly uninhabitable…or at best questionable to inhabit.

So what are we going to do to defend against this? A big mirror? Rifles? God? A reflective god with rifles…maybe the one with a lot of arms…so he/she can hold more rifles?

Nope, we’ll pretty much just hope it doesn’t happen. WR 104 is 8,000 light years away. So the kicker is, it may have already happened, the light and its accompanying boom having yet to reach us. Toast upon confirmation.

We should have begun to prepare 8,000 years ago when we were already screwed. Here’s hoping the Ancient Egyptians were indeed prodded by a benevolent alien race that knew the shitstorm was coming and had the Pyramids built so that when that fateful day arrives…the pyramids…uh…turn into ass-kicking robots?! VOLTRON!? Oh…that would be awesome…but no.

So find a strong doorway arch, place a school desk there, paint it white, and huddle underneath with head between your legs. To liven the situation, make sure you are naked and oiled. It will be a way to pass the time. And should the weeks, months, years, millennia pass and we all seem to survive this, we may have all at least become ideally flexible and acquired a new, profoundly life-altering hobby, this daily averted disaster having put a more peaceful sloppy face on this…the human race.

For a scientific, more accurate and less disrespectful, sensationalist, and fear mongering view of the story read here. But still try that position I mentioned.

PS
I love Michio Kaku. So much so that I view him as a huggable plush Pikachu.
Michio Kaku! I choose you!

I’m Thomas K…and I’m not.

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