Not the end of the world

The big story this past month is not that one of our big stars (Miley Cyrus) is twerking, but that one of our medium-sized stars may someday stop working. I am talking about our sun, but Miley’s prospects for future employment might also be dimming.

This end-of-the-world prediction comes courtesy of astro-biologist Andrew Rushby, a PhD candidate at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain, where life already ended unofficially for fellow students three weeks ago when the administration began prohibiting drinking Guinness in the college dorms.

Rushby used what he calls “classic models” to help make his futuristic predictions. Here are a few examples of what those models suggested about the timing of the demise of the sun:
Kathy Ireland: 1.5 billion years
Claudia Schiffer: 2.3 billion years
Tyra Banks: 3.5 billion years
Averaging it all, Rushby’s final conclusion is that earth will be uninhabitable somewhere between 1.75 billion years and 3.25 billion from now.

At first, this prediction really scared me because I thought it said a million years. Whew! Rushby, who first trained as a meteorologist, is also saying that the final day the earth exists, whenever it is, will be cloudy with scattered showers and a really good chance of record heat. Yes, it’s hard to imagine complete and total desolation. Think Antarctica in the winter or MCL Cafeteria at 9 p.m.  By the way, it’s going to happen on a Friday, so dress casual.

How exactly will it all end? This British scientist claims that “high temperatures will lead to more evaporation, creating unbearable humidity, and ending finally in catastrophic scorching.” By the way, this is also how people die in a tanning salon.

There is some good news.  Rushby says that if we are good stewards of the earth we could squeeze out an extra weekend or two, which may not seem like much, but for those on spring break that year, that’s really a huge difference.
Assuming we have at least a couple hundred thousand years’ notice, Rushby has a few ideas “where earthlings might want to move.” It’s hard to take this advice seriously because the only time I ever hear the word earthling is when I’m watching “Twilight Zone” reruns.  Mars will probably be habitable longer than Earth, so before this world ends, we will have plenty of time to move to Mars.  Then in a truly optimistic note he claims that the Red Planet would be a great place to watch the sun go through its final self-destruction. Remember, it’s never too soon to get tickets for these kinds of events.  Personally, I’m not a fan of watching the final death throes of anything, although I did enjoy the last Rolling Stones concert.
Rushby is also a big admirer of the exoplanet Gliese 581d as an alternative to Earth, and really, can you blame him? This life-sustaining globe is only 20 light years away (about 120 trillion miles), which, like the college you attended, is close enough to home in an emergency but far enough way to prevent your parents from bugging you.

Rushby will officially get his doctorate in June 2014 and his professors say he is a brilliant student with a great future. Asked by some local journalists what his plans are after graduating, he admitted that he just isn’t sure. “It’s difficult,” he said, “to think that far ahead.”