July 17, 2007

The Dept. of Professional Panic Dept.

Apparently we haven't worked ourselves up into a frothy enough panic about global warming, so the doomsayers in charge of predicting our demise have come up with something else for us to freak out about:

If we don't get a colony on Mars within the next 46 years, we are doomed. DOOOOMED!!

Well, 5,100 years from now, that is. But still! DOOOOOOMMMMMEEEEDDDD!

I believe I mentioned this a couple of years ago, but it bears repeating: I am all out of panic. Done. Fini. At this point, a live broadcast showing the sun hurtling toward earth in a sea of apocalyptic flame would probably only prompt me to shrug and head inside to await my demise in climate controlled comfort. With Doritos. And maybe some red wine.

Media? I'm looking at you, buddy. Your constant, 24/7 exhortations to freak out or mobilize or DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS OMG have bequeathed to me an apathy so complete that I doubt I could be roused to respond to an attack of flesh eating zombies on my front porch. Well, beyond offering them some Doritos and red wine in lieu of my brains, that is.

So from now on, I will respond to any future salvos in the OMGDOOM! campaign with the following: Yeah, yeah, yeah. End of days. Again.

Full disclosure - I think it would be cool to be able to hang out on Mars. For a weekend. Once. But the zero-g muscle atrophy and the massive radiation exposure and the amount of time it would take to get there? Not so much. Call me when you manage to figure out the whole light speed travel and transporter thing - in other words, when space travel becomes more star trek and less scurvy-riddled sailor.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at July 17, 2007 12:03 PM

Nah, you'll go in a ship with a rotating section to simulate gravity, populated with a fairy-tale style garden / architecture. Link Disney-Land in the sky. Mars will seem a let down after that.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 17, 2007 01:54 PM

I call no way.

The Copernican S00per D00msday Principal mentioned is a cute little toy predictor, in which lifespans are forecast on nothing more than "How long has this been here?" It predicts how long the thing is likely to last, but yields a timespan so broad as to be essentially meaningless (if you want 95% confidence). I guess it would be a useful zeroth approximation if you didn't have another scrap of data.

Anyhow, the lifetime in question is that of the human race, for which the Toy Doomsday Calculator predicts a lifespan remainder between 5100 and 7.8 million years.

This has got dog-all to do with Mars, or space colonization. Colonizing other planets will not change how long the human race has been in existence, and therefore will not change how much longer it has to last, based upon the Doomsday SWAG.[1]

Disappointing, really, because I'd like us to go to Mars. I'd even take the Scurvy Sailor Package.

Anyhow, my SWAG is that this column is due mostly to a slow news day at the NYT.

[1]Official[2] engineering acronym for Scientific Wild-Assed Guess.

[2]No, really.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at July 17, 2007 02:31 PM

Do they mention that only the people who go to Mars survive? It's hard to see how that gets a majority vote, if it requires any taxpayer money. The eat drink and be merry vote would be the competition.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 17, 2007 06:07 PM