Some popular science! No pictures, sorry!
A few hours ago I was sitting in a room unknown to me, many unknown people around me, only with somehow known voices in my head..
It was a lecture about an issue that science is not always trusted to answer. The issue: could planet Earth as we know it be destroyed on December 21, 2012?. Will it end in 2012, as some believe Maya calendar predicts?
Diana Krivcovaitė (Lithuanian Astronomers Union) gave an interesting and thought-provoking presentation full of pictures, facts and scientific knowledge.
There were 4 plausible issues discussed:
- Sun’s activity
Scientists say that it’s very likely that activity on the surface of Sun will increase in 2012. But that is nothing unexpected, since it has bean really quite recently(in terms of >1000 kilometers-ish spots, sometimes visible to naked eye, some bigger than Earth itself). We should be more serious about what temporary effects does the burning Sun trouble us with. The Sun will literally swallow Earth only when it becomes a Red Giant, a few billions of years from now, astronomers agree!
Once in XIX century the activity of Sun caused telegraph’s to stop working: what trouble did that bring? There was an incident even some 7 years ago, when due to “Wind of Sun” electricity was no more for three days in some parts of North America.
There was even a person in the audience who was a witness of it – he said: “..After two days we went out of gas, after three all food was rotten..”.
Why did Sun affect earth? I don’t know, but scientists certainly have some clues!
- Comets like Hale..
This was soon ridiculed since no disaster-like comet is due to cross Earth on it’s way in next few years. Yet those are real threats for future(but any meteor that’s <50 meters in diameter explodes while entering Earth’s atmosphere)..
- Nibiru crash
Nibiru seemed like poor science fiction when I heard about it. Maya thought that there existed a big planet somewhere farther away than Pluto. Therefore, it will crash Earth on December 21, 2012. How come then astronomers discover almost Earth-size planets light-years away?
- Solar planets parade
This is what will happen in December 2012: all Solar planets will make a nice line in space, and that will trigger something. Yet it happened before and nothing triggered!
So, there were 4 issues discussed and scientists have answers for all(yet what I post here is not really a direct representation of astronomers views).
It was not the end! We also had some 20 minutes for question time/discussion, and it really surprised me to hear many questions and shared thoughts!
I personally asked three direct questions:
- Can scientists compare Sun’s activity to other star’s, is it similar (the answer was partly no, because the nearest start Proxima Centauri is too far out for our tiny telescopes).
- What was a possibility of undiscovered Solar planet to exist, maybe in the dark somewhere(the answer was 0%).
- How can one observe planets parade from Earth, since some planets(like Mercury) are closer to Sun than Earth, some farther? (According to Diana, you can barely see Mercury at all, so the answer is no..)
Oh, and the lecture was free for everyone to come!( There was even a God-loving God-fearing old lady, shouting some of her remarks during question time, yet our lecture had nothing to do with religion)..
I hope that event’s like this lecture happen as often as possible, they are needed and very positive!
Last note.. What other dangers Earth face, from a perspective of science?