10 April 2014

Everything's running down

There are some gems in this article on James Lovelock by Stephan Moss for The Guardian...

 "Everything's running down, so enjoy it while you can. It's not a gloomy thought at all. You wouldn't have energy to do things unless things were running down." He is thinking of planets as well as people. "Earth is about as old as me if you look at it in comparative terms. It doesn't have long to go. It could be as little as 100m years, though I think it's more likely to be about 500m. As things age, they become much more vulnerable to disturbance. If someone as old as me gets pneumonia, it'll probably kill me, whereas if you're young you'll shrug it off. It's the same with planets. If there was an asteroid impact as big as the one 65m years ago, it would be quite dodgy. The older a planet gets, the less capable it is of resisting such an event. Life gets more complex and more vulnerable to disturbance."

Shouldn't this news worry us? "Of course it shouldn't worry us. If we [as a species] are still around in 100m years, it would be amazing." He doubts whether anything resembling man will still be around, but even that can't dent his essential optimism. "I don't mind the thought that a hundred progeny from now I'll be unrecognisable," he says. There will, he reassures me, be a bit of us left in whatever emerges, just as the DNA of those first cells from 3bn years ago feature strongly in our own DNA.

Click here to read on...

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