The sun will destroy Earth a lot sooner than you might think

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The sun will destroy Earth a lot sooner than you might think

There are plenty of ways Earth could go. It could smash into another planet, be swallowed by a black hole, or get pummeled to death by asteroids. There’s really no way to tell which doomsday scenario will be the cause of our planet’s demise.

But one thing is for sure — even if Earth spends the rest of its eons escaping alien attacks, dodging space rocks, and avoiding a nuclear apocalypse, there will come a day when our own sun will eventually destroy us.

This process won’t be pretty, as Business Insider’s video team recently illustrated when they took a look at what will happen to Earth when the sun finally does die out in a blaze of glory.

And as Jillian Scudder, an astrophysicist at the University of Sussex, explained to Business Insider in an email, the day might come sooner than we think.

Bleeding Earth dry

The sun survives by burning hydrogen atoms into helium atoms in its core. In fact, it burns through 600 million tons of hydrogen every second.

And as the sun’s core becomes saturated with this helium, it shrinks, causing nuclear fusion reactions to speed up — which means that the sun spits out more energy. In fact, for every billion years the sun spends burning hydrogen, it gets about 10% brighter.

And while 10% might not seem a lot, that difference could be catastrophic for our planet.

“The predictions for what exactly will happen to Earth as the Sun brightens over the next billion years are pretty uncertain,” Scudder said. “But the general gist is that the increasing heat from the sun will cause more water to evaporate off the surface, and be held in the atmosphere instead. The water then acts as a greenhouse gas, which traps more incoming heat, which speeds up the evaporation.”

Before it ever even runs out of hydrogen, the sun’s high energy light will bombard our atmosphere and “split apart the molecules and allow the water to escape as hydrogen and oxygen, eventually bleeding Earth dry of water,” Scudder said.

And it doesn’t end there. A 10% increase in brightness every billion years means that 3.5 billion years from today, the sun will shine almost 40% brighter, which will boil Earth’s oceans, melt its ice caps, and strip all of the moisture from its atmosphere.

Our planet, once bursting with life, will become unbearably hot, dry, and barren — like Venus.

And as the steady thump of time drums down on our existence, the situation will only get more bleak.

The sun’s death rattle

All good things eventually come to an end. Every book has a final chapter, every pizza has one last bite, and every person has a dying breath. And one day, about four or five billion years from now, the sun will burn through its last gasp of hydrogen and start burning helium instead.

“Once hydrogen has stopped burning in the core of the sun, the star has formally left the main sequence and can be considered a red giant,” Scudder said. “It will then spend about a billion years expanding and burning helium in its core, with a shell around it where hydrogen is still able to fuse into helium.”

As the sun sheds its outer layers, its mass will decrease, loosening its gravitational hold on all of the planets. So all of the planets orbiting the sun will drift a little further away.

When the sun becomes a full blown red giant, Scudder said, its core will get extremely hot and dense while its outer layer expands … a lot.

Its atmosphere will stretch out to Mars’ current orbit, swallowing Mercury and Venus.

Although the sun’s atmosphere will reach Mars’ orbit, Mars will escape, as it will have wandered past the reach of the sun’s expanding atmosphere.

Earth, on the other hand, has two options: either escape the expanding sun or be consumed by it. But even if our planet slips out of the sun’s reach, the intense temperatures will burn it to a sad, dead crisp.

“In either case, our planet will be pretty close to the surface of the red giant, which is not good for life,” Scudder said.

Although more massive stars can begin another shell of fusing heavier elements when this helium is exhausted, the sun is too feeble to generate the pressure needed to begin that layer of fusion, Scudder explained. So when the sun’s helium dries up, it’s pretty much all downhill from there.

From red giant to white dwarf

Once the sun has emptied its fuel reserves, it will become unstable and start to pulse.

With every pulse, the sun will shrug off layers of its outer atmosphere until all that’s left is a cold, heavy core, surrounded by a planetary nebula.



X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI

With each passing day this core, known as a white dwarf, will cool and fade hopelessly out of existence as if it didn’t once host the most lively planet ever discovered in the sweeping canvas of the universe.

But who knows. Maybe the aliens will get to us first.


Stone Age mummy still revealing secrets, 25 years on

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Simon Sturdee,AFP Sat, Sep 17 11:39 PM PDT

Bolzano (Italy) (AFP) – When police heard about the frozen corpse up in the Alps in September 1991, they opened a criminal probe. Murder it was, but the crime was rather old — and the ultimate cold case.

The dead man, found by hikers 25 years ago this week a snowball’s throw from the Austrian-Italian border and put in a wooden coffin at a nearby police station, turned out to have died more than 5,000 years ago.

Mummified in the ice, “Oetzi”, as he was later nicknamed, was a sensation, providing invaluable scientific insights that a quarter of a century later show no sign of abating.

“The iceman is without doubt one of the most outstanding mummy discoveries in the history of mankind,” said Angelika Fleckinger, director of the museum in Bolzano, Italy, where the mummy is on display.

“It’s a unique window into the prehistoric era, and gives us an incredible amount of information,” she told AFP.

– Shot in the back –

To put it into perspective, when Oetzi died around 3,350-3,100 BC, Stonehenge in England and the first Egyptian pyramids were still hundreds of years from being built.

He lived during the Late Neolithic or Copper Age when mineral extraction and copper smelting, which spread to Europe from the Near East, was fundamentally transforming human society.

Perhaps the resulting upheaval explains his still mysterious death. That he came to a sticky end was confirmed by the arrowhead lodged in his shoulder, only found in 2001, showing he had been shot from behind.

He would have bled to death in minutes and was possibly finished off with a whack on the head. He had at least had a large meal including barbecued ibex around 12 hours earlier, the contents of his stomach showed.

And his untimely demise high in the mountains meant for scientists that he was incredibly well-preserved, allowing detailed studies.

Unlike other ancient mummies, Oetzi is “damp”, meaning there is still humidity in his cells and his body is untouched by funeral rites. Egyptian specimens are generally without brains and other organs.

The findings include that Oetzi was lactose intolerant and genetically predisposition to heart disease, as shown by his hardened arteries, something thought of before as a modern phenomenon.

The 30 types of pollen in his intestines and the isotopic composition of his tooth enamel suggest he lived just south of the Alps.

He was from a genetic subgroup now extremely rare in Europe but relatively common in Corsica and Sardinia, meaning that people there and Oetzi have common ancestors.

Albert Zink, director at the EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, said that studying the bacteria in his stomach could help advances in modern medicine.

For instance Oetzi’s intestine contains H. pylori, a bacteria present in 50 percent of humans’ guts today and which can lead to stomach ulcers or even cancer.

“Maybe this was a positive bacteria that helped with the digestion of raw meat and later turned into a pathogen,” Zink told AFP. “Clinicians are very interested (in our research).”

– Lean and tattooed –

Oetzi was around 46 when he died, a good age for his time. And with not an ounce of excess fat, he must have been fit. He had brown eyes, a beard, long hair — and 61 tattoos.

But these were not ornamental but medicinal. They were where there were signs of wear, and correspond to pressure points used in acupuncture today.

Before Oetzi was discovered, it was thought this technique originated 2,000 years later in Asia.

What he did have though was an axe with a copper blade, which would have been a coveted object — the iPhone 7 of his day — as well as a wealth of other equipment.

This included a quiver of arrows, a dagger, two types of tree fungus, one probably for lighting fires and another medicinal, and a pencil-like tool for sharpening arrows.

His clothing is also well preserved, including leggings and a coat made from goat hide, a hat of bear fur, shoes of tree bast netting, hay and deer skin, and even a backpack and possible cape.

All this, plus Oetzi himself inside a special air-conditioned container, can be seen in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, which attracts 260,000 visitors a year from the world over and where queues are often long.

“We could say that Oetzi has put Bolzano/Bozen on the map,” said Roberta Agosti from the Bolzano tourism office. In fact a new, bigger museum is planned.

– Tip of the iceberg? –

And 25 years after his discovery, scientists continue to learn more things about Oetzi, helped by the advent of new technologies.

Indeed on Monday a major mummy congress begins in Bolzano revealing new findings including on the bacteria in Oetzi’s stomach and the circumstances surrounding his death.

And one upside to global warming is that more treasures may be discovered, like the snowshoe found nearby that was recently revealed to be 500 years older even than Oetzi.

“People are more aware now that there could be more mummies in the mountains, and the melting of the glaciers makes us hope or maybe believe there could be more,” Zink said.

Getting around Indonesia by Boat

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Getting around Indonesia by Boat

“this is an article sent in by Sally Thomas ”

Getting around Indonesia by Boat

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Whether you’re a tourist or a native, one of the very best ways to explore and travel around Indonesia is by boat. So much of the culture of the region focuses on water vessels, with fishing being one of the most significant industries in the area, and many of the larger islands in the group are connected by regular car ferries. As an archipelago made up of over 17,000 islands, it would be near-impossible for tourists to explore the incredible beauty of the region without travelling by boat. Here are a few hints and tips for getting around Indonesia by boat and making the experience as safe and enjoyable as possible:

Think Safety First


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It is important that if you choose to travel around Indonesia by boat, you ensure that the boat you are traveling in is well maintained and has adequate insurance protection, to keep you as safe as possible. Although boating accidents in Indonesia are not a daily happening, they do occur relatively regularly and it is important to minimise your risk of involvement.

Just last week, an accident lead a tourist boat in Bali to explode (the result of a battery malfunctioning above the fuel tank) leading two tourists dead and eighteen tourists to be injured as a result.

Last year an incident which occurred just off Bali lead to 25 tourists being injured when a fire broke out on the fast ferry between the islands which was carrying more than 120 passengers.  Water vessels in Indonesia historically do not have a great safety record, and this is largely due to poor maintenance: a good rule of thumb is that if a vessel looks unsafe or poorly maintained then you should not get on board. You may also wish to consider the time of day at which you travel, as during the busiest periods the boats are crammed full, with passengers in every available space, including on the deck, the stairwells, the passageways that you might normally expect to be left clear.

Enjoy the Experience

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Taking a ferry in Indonesia is an experience unlike any other, and considering your journey a part of the adventure of your vacation will enhance how enjoyable you find it. Many visitors suggest you haven’t really visited Indonesia until you’ve been out on the water! Enjoy the experience and try to get as much as possible out of it. Don’t be afraid to choose a smaller, private boat, particularly if you don’t want to travel to one of the larger ferry-bound islands or have a specific journey in mind.  Remember that it is OK to negotiate the price that you pay: the price offered to locals is often different to the price offered to tourists. If possible, try to find out what the local price is for the journey you want to take, and use that as the starting point for your negotiations: whilst it is unlikely you will get that low local rate, you are likely to negotiate a better deal if that is your opening offer. As in much of the region, negotiation is expected and should be seen as part of the fun.

Take Advice on the Weather

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Storms at sea can kill, particularly if you’re travelling in a fairly basic vessel, or travelling during rainy season. The local people are often best-placed to predict the weather and let you know if it’s safe to travel: take advice from a native third party who has no financial or vested interest in your onward journey to ensure that you will enjoy smooth sailing. There is nothing more incredible that watching the sun go down whilst you’re on the sea, so pick the right weather to enjoy the experience to its fullest. Whilst boat and ferry rides in Indonesia can be a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that the increased popularity of air travel means that it is often more convenient and affordable to journey between the region’s main island by air. If the weather is bad, visibility is poor, and the travelling conditions simply aren’t favourable for a journey by boat then consider reassessing your transportation mode, and enjoy that boat ride at a later date instead.

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