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deni's avatar

Realistically, what would happen if we knew the world was going to end in ten years?

Asked by deni (23141points) February 8th, 2012

Say an asteroid is headed towards Earth, and we have some miraculous machinery that can tell us that it is for sure going to hit us, and our dear planet will be erased from history. What would humans do? Would we start trying to colonize the moon? Would we just accept it and start being nicer to each other? In ten years, could we build something to travel out into the far reaches of space and stop the asteroid in its path? (I’m pretty sure something like that is impossible, but hey its just hypothetical.)

So, what would we do?

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24 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think most people would pay much attention until a few months beforehand. They’d go on the same as they are now. There’d be prophets of doom and there’d be deniers, all going at each other, but most people would ignore it until it came to the top of the evening news. Then they’d blame the politicians.

The very rich would have a way out, and the rest of us would not hear about it.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Lots and lots and lots and lots and loads and loads of fucking.

Failing that, get building a gravety tractor would be nice

LuckyGuy's avatar

Assuming it is going to hit and be a total wipe out? Nothing. People still have basic needs and will continue to satify them until the very end. Theyneed to eat, sleep, stay warm and dry. Maybe the last week or two would encourage the masses into some activity.
Scientists teamed with the military would try to detonate it with some weapon, deniers would say it was a scam, religious fanatics would say it was prophesied in their book, preppers would hoard more water and food, the poor would still be poor and the rich would still be rich.
Most of the population would be watching TV, remote in hand, when it hit.

longtresses's avatar

It has been from my observation that people do not change until they really, truly hit the rock bottom. Even then, there may not be a turnaround..

The abstract-minded, used to entertaining hypothetical situations, would be fanatic about it. The rest of us mortals…. back to watching soccer games..

thetas49's avatar

I’d take a loan of as much money as I possibly could to be repaid sometime in the future, using whatever collateral is required…...................and live like a king!

SABOTEUR's avatar

Talk about it.

6rant6's avatar

F*** dieting

CWOTUS's avatar

I wouldn’t associate with anyone “who knew the world was going to end” at a certain time or because of a certain event. If I believed that the event was really going to occur, then I’d be associating with organizations and people who believed – however hopelessly – that there was some way to stave off “the end of the world”.

I play games to the end; I don’t give up and I don’t play well with those who do.

wundayatta's avatar

There are already plans about how to divert asteroids from hitting the earth. We would divert it.

But the principle of the thing is what matters. If the earth was going to be destroyed in 10 years and we could do nothing about it, then we would do as @LuckyGuy said. Exactly what we are doing now.

Well, I suppose there would be the disaster preparedness group who would head for the hills and dig down deep and stock up for years. Or maybe not. They probably wouldn’t believe the reports.

Blackberry's avatar

Come pick you up, and jump on a one way to Ibiza.

YARNLADY's avatar

As the event came closer and closer, people would all stop working at jobs they hate, and services would fail completely. Most people would be helpless to defend themselves and their belongings.

deni's avatar

@Blackberry Hahaha hell yeah! Nice choice.

King_Pariah's avatar

What @wundayatta said, if it’s an asteroid, we’ve already developed technology to divert it. Otherwise 10 years? For most of it I’d see us carrying on as usual and only in the last couple months or so go totally berserk and fall into a pretty anarchic state. Humanity has this lovely way of not giving a damn ‘til the last second.

deni's avatar

@King_Pariah What is that technology and where can I read about it?

King_Pariah's avatar

@deni There’s a whole list of stuff, none I believe have actually been practiced though the theories and math on some of these show that they’d work (Though then again, some of these are unrealistic with modern tech or extremely energy and resource consuming)

Nukes (who would have guessed)
Gravitational Tractor
Ion Beam
Solar energy beam (can you say giant magnifying lens?)
Solar Sail
Mass Driver
Attaching a propulsion system onto asteroid (resource consuming much?)

There are also quite a few that depend on the Yarkovsky effect (use of photons to exert a force upon an object or in this case, an asteroid) or altering the center of mass of the asteroid like attaching a tether and some sort of ballast.

King_Pariah's avatar

I stumbled across this which reminded me about this question.

mattbrowne's avatar

Realistically, we don’t know.

CWOTUS's avatar

More doomsday cults.

Nullo's avatar

@King_Pariah I once read about an idea to arrange the mass driver so that it would function as a propulsion system, digging bits out of the asteroid and lobbing them away, using Newton’s Third Law to push the asteroid onto a different trajectory.

6rant6's avatar

Wouldn’t it take at least three generations for everyone to believe it? Didn’t it take 500 years to get people to believe the earth was round? So any changes would be marginal, I think.

Nullo's avatar

@6rant6 This article suggests that European confusion about the shape of the Earth was cleared up pretty early on, and didn’t resurface.

kritiper's avatar

Ever see the movie “On the Beach”?? That.

kritiper's avatar

Besides shitting our pants…

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