From life on Earth lớn the planet itself, there are four ways our planet will actually experience "the end," no matter how we define it.


The Ivy Mike nuclear thử nghiệm was the world’s first thermonuclear device: where fission và fusion reactions combine to create a more energetic yield than a fission bomb alone can achieve. Unlike the bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki, where the yield was measured in the tens of kilotons of TNT, thermonuclear devices can reach tens or even hundreds of megatons of TNT-equivalent.

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1.) The extinction of humanity

This is not just prophesy; this is an inevitability. Although there are over seven billion of us (and growing) today, humans have only been around in our current khung for under a million years, with all of the great apes having existed for only a few million years. Evolution may be slow khổng lồ occur in our species on the timescale of a single human lifetime, but over millions of years, it’s inevitable.


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As the Earth changes, the pressures on different species lớn survive will change as well, all while random genetic mutations occur. Some mutations are beneficial to surviving the present pressures, and those are the genes that are most likely to lớn get passed on.

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Evolutionarily speaking, human beings – or homo sapiens – have been around for a cosmic blink-of-an-eye: under half a million years. Based on how evolution works, it is unlikely there will be any humans left even just a few million years from now.

Whether the offspring of humanity millions of years from now remain sentient, as we know it, is beside the point; the point is that millions of years from now, even if the descendants of humans are still around, they won’t be human any longer. Humans themselves face pressure from all sorts of factors, including:

a changing planet with limited resources,from other humans (in the form of war, as well as nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons),and from the natural world (in the khung of disease).

Whether an out-of-this-world catastrophe, like an asteroid strike, occurs or not, the eventual demise of humanity is inevitable. Whether we have descendants that survive or not is immaterial; we will go extinct on this world eventually. On geological & astronomical timescales, this is likely to lớn happen sooner than later, and will be the first “end of the world” for us.

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Today on Earth, ocean water only boils, typically, when lava or some other superheated material enters it. But in the far future, the Sun’s energy will be enough to vày it, & on a global scale.

2.) The boiling of Earth’s oceans

It’s such a fortunate cosmic coincidence that our planet is the kích thước and mass it is, with the atmosphere it possesses, at the distance it is from a star exactly as massive as our own. Only the right combination of all of these parameters has given us a life-supporting planet with copious amounts of liquid water directly at the surface. If any of these properties were significantly different from what they actually are, the diversity và variety of life that our planet possesses simply wouldn’t be here today.

For billions of years, Earth has been an ocean-covered world, with simple và complex life originating in the seas & only coming onto land relatively recently. Yet thanks to lớn the future evolution of our Sun, our oceans won’t be around forever. As helium builds up in the Sun’s core, the region in which nuclear fusion occurs, it expands with dire consequences for us.

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This cutaway showcases the various regions of the surface & interior of the Sun, including the core, which is where nuclear fusion occurs. As time goes on, the region of the bộ vi xử lý core where nuclear fusion takes place expands, causing the Sun’s energy output to increase. A similar process occurs in the interior of all stars.

Over time, as it begins to lớn exhaust the hydrogen available for nuclear fusion in its core, the Sun heats up và expands, becoming more luminous and emitting more power as time goes on. After another one-to-two billion years at the most, the amount of energy the Sun gives off will increase to a certain critical point: high enough that the amount of energy hitting a water molecule in Earth’s ocean during the day will be sufficient to boil it.

As the oceans boil and the atmosphere fills with water vapor, the greenhouse gas effects will take over, causing Earth’s temperature lớn rise catastrophically. Our planet will become more lượt thích Venus than lượt thích Earth today, becoming totally inhospitable to lớn life on the surface. Only, perhaps, a few simple organisms will survive high in the cloud-tops, but life as we know it will kết thúc on our world. The cosmic experiment of complex, differentiated organisms will have come to its natural end.

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After approximately five to seven billion years from now, the sun will exhaust the hydrogen in its core. The interior will contract, heat up, và eventually helium fusion will begin. At this point, the sun will swell, vaporize Earth’s atmosphere, và char whatever’s left of our surface. But even when that catastrophic event occurs, Earth may not be swallowed, remaining a planet, albeit a very different one from the world we know today.

3.) Reduction lớn a barren rock

You thought having our oceans boil was bad? How about the prospect of having every atom of atmosphere ejected from our world; of everything that ever lived on the surface reduced lớn charred ash; of the record of everything that living creatures left behind turned into dust? With enough heat và energy, that’s exactly what would happen to lớn any world, with Mercury, the closest planet lớn the Sun, being a prime example.


In another five-to-seven billion years, this is exactly what will happen lớn Earth, as the Sun fully runs out of hydrogen fuel in its core. When that occurs, the core will contract & heat up, causing the outer layers of the star khổng lồ swell. As it expands, it cools, but also becomes far more luminous, all while the vi xử lý core continues lớn contract and heat up, on the path to begin fusing helium. As the Sun transitions from a main sequence star to a subgiant, & then from a subgiant to a full-fledged, helium-burning red giant, nothing on Earth will withstand this solar onslaught.

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As the Sun becomes a true red giant, the Earth itself may be swallowed or engulfed, but it will definitely be roasted as never before. However, if we can migrate Earth away from the Sun prior khổng lồ this, not only could we avoid being consumed, but life on our planet could thrive for billions of additional years than if we simply did nothing.

The Sun will swell to lớn almost a hundred times its current diameter and will become thousands of times as luminous as it is today. The Earth will be stripped completely bare, while simultaneously being pushed away from the Sun in its orbit. The inner worlds, Mercury and Venus, will be totally devoured.

Although helium-burning will last a very long time — hundreds of millions khổng lồ billions of years — eventually the bộ vi xử lý core will run out of helium as well. When this occurs, the core continues to contract & heat up, but no additional fusion reactions will ensue. The Sun will soon die, being reduced khổng lồ a trắng dwarf, while its outer layers are blown off into a planetary nebula. If the Earth doesn’t get swallowed during the red giant phase, và the jury is still out on that one, our planet will remain as a rocky, roasted remnant, floating through space in its orbit around a stellar corpse.

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Particular configurations over time, or singular gravitational interactions with passing large masses, can result in the disruption and ejection of large bodies from stellar và planetary systems. In approximately 1% of simulations of the next 5 billion years of our Solar System, 1 or more of the inner planets gets ejected due to lớn gravitational instabilities.

4.) Swallowed or ejected?

Even though it’s been cleared of life, boiled, then charred và evaporated, and finally bombarded with quadrillions of years’ worth of cosmic rays, our corpse of a planet will still continue khổng lồ exist. It will remain intact, orbiting around our central, stellar corpse, until one of the following things happen:

An object collides with the Earth, either destroying it or engulfing it, depending on the kích thước and tốc độ of the collision. Our galaxy is a very sparse place, but we’ve got all the time in the Universe.A massive object passes close by the Earth, gravitationally ejecting it from the Solar System và the galaxy entirely, where it wanders in obscurity throughout the empty cosmos for eternity.Or it remains bound to lớn the Sun’s corpse, and slowly, over countless orbits, spirals into our stellar remnant, where it’s swallowed by the đen dwarf that dominates whatever’s left of our Solar System.
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After the Sun dies, its remnant chip core will contract down to lớn become a trắng dwarf. Over timescales of 100 trillion years, it will fade away, eventually becoming a black dwarf. Any surviving planets in orbit around it must survive gravitational encounters in order to lớn remain. If they can last long enough, eventually gravitational radiation will cause those worlds to be devoured by the stellar remnant.

The world will most certainly end. And it is not mere speculation that all four of these ends will come to pass, but the robust predictions of the pinnacle of our scientific achievements. The far future of Earth is known; the near-term future is up khổng lồ us to create.

What will our choice, collectively, be as a species? Ideally, we’ll guide our planet’s future with our feet firmly planted in scientific reality, using the best knowledge & most successful theories we have khổng lồ guide us, using our capabilities khổng lồ ensure the safety, security, freedom, and prosperity of all humanity. It’s the ultimate dream of a scientifically literate society, and the one hope we have of pushing out that first “end”—the extinction of humans—as far into the future as possible.