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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category

Feb 14, 2019

Tardigrade: The micro-animal scientists can’t kill

Posted by in categories: existential risks, life extension

They’re little battlers, the greatest survivors on the planet and you may have them in your garden, writes Lana Hart.

They’ve been boiled, frozen, put in vacuums, starved, and exposed to unbearable pressures and radiation — but scientists can’t kill this creature.

They are the only animal to have survived all five of earth’s mass extinctions. This incredible feat is due to their development of unique survival mechanisms not seen in other parts of the animal kingdom.

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Feb 12, 2019

The real purpose of Russia’s 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device

Posted by in categories: existential risks, military

  • Russia is said to have built a new 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device, and it has threatened the US with it.
  • The device goes beyond traditional ideas of nuclear warfighting and poses a direct threat to the future of humanity or life on Earth.
  • Nobody has ever built a weapon like this before, because there’s almost no military utility in so badly destroying the world.
  • But an expert on nuclear strategy told Business Insider the weapon might have a larger role in helping Russian President Vladimir Putin break down NATO with the threat of nuclear destruction.

Since 2015, when images of a Russian nuclear torpedo first leaked on state television, the world has asked itself why Moscow would build a weapon that could end all life on Earth.

While all nuclear weapons can kill thousands in the blink of an eye and leave radiation poisoning the environment for years to come, Russia’s new doomsday device, called “Poseidon,” takes steps to maximize this effect.

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Feb 12, 2019

Insects are dying off at record rates — an ominous sign we’re in the middle of a 6th mass extinction

Posted by in category: existential risks

Forty-one percent of the world’s insects are in decline as part of the sixth mass extinction. If the decline continues, Earth could be devoid of insects in 100 years.

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Feb 5, 2019

Russian media threatens US with 100 megaton nuclear doomsday device after key arms treaty fails

Posted by in categories: existential risks, geopolitics, military, treaties

With the dropping of the INF treaty, Putin and Trump have brought the dangers of nuclear war back into a more realistic possibility. I’m not posting this to engage in a political discussion but nuclear war is definitely a lifeboat type of issue.


Russia’s military and state-sponsored media have reacted with a fire and fury of their own to the news that the US will exit the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaties, one of the last barriers to a full-on Cold War-like arms race in Europe — and there’s already talk of a nuclear doomsday device visiting the US.

The INF treaty banned land-based nuclear capable missiles with a range between 300 and 3,200 miles in 1987 when Russia and the US had populated much of Europe with intermediate-ranged nuclear missiles. The ban eliminated this entire class of missiles and went down as one of the most successful acts of arms control ever.

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Feb 3, 2019

The Search for New Physics & CERN’s FCC Future Circular Collider

Posted by in categories: astronomy, engineering, environmental, ethics, existential risks, particle physics, physics, quantum physics, science

It is a few years since I posted here on Lifeboat Foundation blogs, but with the news breaking recently of CERN’s plans to build the FCC [1], a new high energy collider to dwarf the groundbreaking engineering triumph that is the LHC, I feel obliged to write a few words.

The goal of the FCC is to greatly push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 TeV, in the search for new physics [2]. Below linked is a technical note I wrote & distributed last year on 100 TeV collisions (at the time referencing the proposed China supercollider [3][4]), highlighting the weakness of the White Dwarf safety argument at these energy levels, and a call for a more detailed study of the Neutron star safety argument, if to be relied on as a solitary astrophysical assurance. The argument applies equally to the FCC of course:

The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC : https://environmental-safety.webs.com/TechnicalNote-EnvSA03.pdf

The LSAG, and others including myself, have already written on the topic of astrophysical assurances at length before. The impact of CR on Neutron stars is the most compelling of those assurances with respect to new higher energy colliders (other analogies such as White Dwarf capture based assurances don’t hold up quite as well at higher energy levels). CERN will undoubtedly publish a new paper on such astrophysical assurances as part of the FCC development process, though would one anticipate it sooner rather than later, to lay to rest concerns of outsider-debate incubating to a larger audience?

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Jan 24, 2019

Eve of Destruction: Doomsday Clock Hovers at 2 Minutes to ‘Midnight’

Posted by in category: existential risks

Today (Jan. 24), experts with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) updated the imaginary timepiece, which measures the proximity of humanity’s destruction based on the position of the clock’s hands relative to midnight — the hour of the impending apocalypse.


The hands on the hypothetical Doomsday Clock suggest the world is still in dire risk of apocalypse.

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Jan 23, 2019

$225 billion drug giant Novartis is taking a fresh approach to cancer treatment, and it could help prepare it for a ‘doomsday scenario’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, existential risks

Pharma giant Novartis is developing drugs that could prevent cancer before patients get it. One big question: how will we pay for them?

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Jan 23, 2019

Don’t Bring Extinct Creatures Back to Life

Posted by in categories: biological, existential risks

What if woolly mammoths could walk the planet once again? De-extinction – or the process of creating an organism which is a member of, or closely resembles, an extinct species – was once a sci-fi fantasy only imaginable in films like “Jurassic Park.” But recent biological and technological breakthroughs indicate that reviving extinct creatures could become a reality. Even if advancements get us there, should we do it?

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Jan 22, 2019

Asteroid Impacts Increased Around Time of Largest Extinction Event

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

Dinosaurs never stood a chance once asteroid impacts more than doubled some 290 million years ago.

By studying the Moon, an international team of scientists revealed that the number of asteroids crashing into Earth and its satellite increased by two to three times toward the end of the Paleozoic era.

Contrary to popular belief, most of the planet’s more primitive asteroid-produced craters were not erased by erosion and other geologic processes.

Continue reading “Asteroid Impacts Increased Around Time of Largest Extinction Event” »

Jan 22, 2019

NASA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

  • If an asteroid were to head towards Earth in the foreseeable future, we would be quite defenceless.
  • To change that, NASA has approved a mission to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.
  • The aim of the project is to establish whether we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact.

If an asteroid were to head towards Earth, we would be quite defenceless as we have not successfully developed a method that could reduce the impact of — or entirely avert — a devastating collision.

However, that may be about to change. NASA has approved a project called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the aim of which is to throw a “small” asteroid off course in October 2022.

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