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Thread: Is it possible for humans to out live our sun?

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    Is it possible for humans to out live our sun?

    I have a school project and I need peoples input. I was wondering if anyone could help me answer my question.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by edaniel View Post
    I have a school project and I need peoples input. I was wondering if anyone could help me answer my question.

    Thanks
    What are your own thoughts so far?
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    Quote Originally Posted by edaniel View Post
    I have a school project and I need peoples input. I was wondering if anyone could help me answer my question.
    It might help us also if you could explain a little more about what the project entails. The reason is that normally we avoid doing people's homework for them. But if you can describe what it is exactly that your project is about, and what you have done so far, then I'm sure that people (including me) will be happy to give you feedback or alternative ideas.
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    Right now i believe that it would not be possible. The sun has approximately 5 billion years before it will turn into a red giant and destroy earth. In a billion years our oceans will start to boil and we wont be able to live on earth. I think we will have to leave before that due to pollution. Our technology in the next few thousand years may be able to help us colonize other planets in our solar system. Even if we do make it that far, we would need to find a new place to live before our sun turns into a red giant. The closest star to us would be Alpha Centauri and that would take about 80-90 thousand years with our current technology. Im not sure we would be able to survive that long in space.

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    I think you have a pretty good handle on the issue. It's apparently somewhat up to debate if the sun will vaporize the Earth as it expands, or leave something behind, but at best Earth certainly would be too hot to live on, even in underground habitats.

    Aside from the sun itself, you might want to consider the timescales involved compared to how long species last, or how long complex life has existed. Do you think humans would continue on several billion years even if the sun weren't an issue?

    On the other hand, you might also want to consider not just the possibility of living on planets but also space habitats. You might want to look up "O'Neill Habitat" and some of related space habitat ideas. Space habitats could be moved or shielded more easily than planetary habitats.

    One other thought: We will need to need to get a handle on pollution and recycling in general wherever we plan to live.

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    Note that, whether or not we survive, we won't be 'human' (or at least Homo sapiens sapiens).
    In the strictest sense of the term, whatever we are, we won't be able to interbreed with 21st century humans, so we'll be a new species.

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    edaniel, I also agree that you seem to have a good grasp of the issue. Just a couple of points to think about (not really answers, but thoughts).

    One, a lot depends on whether we eventually begin migrating to other solar systems. Once we have done a few, it becomes likely that we will expand further, and then the possibility of outliving the sun increases. So that seems a major key.

    An interesting issue is, what do you mean by "human"? Do you mean to indicate our species? Because if you do, then after we migrate to other planets it is likely that we will eventually lose the ability to interbreed, and so at that point do you mean modern humans or any descendants that we have?

    And a small issue: you brought up alpha centauri, but actually it is a trio of stars, and the largest of them is approximately the same size and age as the earth, so presumably it will burn out around the same time. There are still star forming regions in our galaxy, but many of the stars we see in the sky will actually burn out before our sun does.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    ... a trio of stars, and the largest of them is approximately the same size and age as the earth.
    the Sun?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    the Sun?
    Oops!
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by edaniel View Post
    Right now i believe that it would not be possible. The sun has approximately 5 billion years before it will turn into a red giant and destroy earth. In a billion years our oceans will start to boil and we wont be able to live on earth. I think we will have to leave before that due to pollution. Our technology in the next few thousand years may be able to help us colonize other planets in our solar system. Even if we do make it that far, we would need to find a new place to live before our sun turns into a red giant. The closest star to us would be Alpha Centauri and that would take about 80-90 thousand years with our current technology. Im not sure we would be able to survive that long in space.
    Also, keep in mind that, in the long term, planets may not be necessary. Eventually, we may build orbital habitats capable of supporting human life.

    Such a structure would need shielding against the cosmic radiation of space, and would spin to provide pseudo-gravity. See http:// https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_torus
    And http:// https://en.m.wikipedia.org/w...Neill_cylinder
    Among other designs.

    While such a permanent space station could not last forever, the population living in it could use materials in asteroids to build a new habitat, and move into it. So over time, we might develop thousands or millions of such space cities, whose citizens may never have set foot on a planet's surface. We can foresee a time when the population off Earth exceeds the population on Earth.
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    Humans have been around for a blink of an eye compared to cosmic time scales. In addition our "technological" capabilities have been around for a blink of an eye in comparison to how long humans have been around. Assuming humans do somehow survive extinction long enough to see the sun die then its very likely that we would have already colonized much of the Milkyway galaxy by then. Its a good subject to debate but unfortunately a difficult one to answer with any real certainty. I think as already been mentioned you seem to have a grasp of the concept already.
    Last edited by cosmocrazy; 2018-Dec-04 at 01:28 PM.

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    The five billion year red giant might be too hot to handle sooner than that, maybe two billion years, which always reminds me of my favourite joke from school days: the professor is discussing this question and says maybe two to five billion years. From the back there is a panicked scream "How Long?"
    "About two to five billion years"
    " Oh thank goodness, for a minute I thought you said two to five million years!"
    The serious point of that joke is that we have been able to manipulate our environment for at best a few thousand years and now we are manipulating our DNA while spoiling our climate, so to worry about the sun's life is missing an important point.
    Last edited by profloater; 2018-Dec-04 at 12:17 PM. Reason: typo
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    I wonder if the main point here is that, biologically speaking, human DNA could not possibly remain unaltered for one million years, much less five billion, so no, humans will not be around then. We'll be extinct. We might have distant descendants in that far future, but we as we are now won't be there.
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    well that's not a biological argument although I agree because it seems our DNA was still changing until recently when we got clever at allowing many poor survival traits to survive. Many species of animal have stayed the same for a million years. Now that we have started changing the genome deliberately we can expect that objections will be overcome by market forces. Whether that is more effective than traditional pair formation remains to be seen! Just now the worry is that we fall behind in the evolution race with pathogens.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    well that's not a biological argument although I agree because it seems our DNA was still changing until recently when we got clever at allowing many poor survival traits to survive.
    The implied increase in genetic "weaknesses" within the population is, by definition, evolution and therefore our DNA has changed, in the important sense that allele proportions are different.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclogite View Post
    The implied increase in genetic "weaknesses" within the population is, by definition, evolution and therefore our DNA has changed, in the important sense that allele proportions are different.
    Yes i think that is what i said or meant by “i agree” but in general a species can stay the same for very lon periods.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    And that's only counting natural evolution, not changes we'll make to ourselves. And any other sapient beings we may create. Post-humans, post-animals, AIs, mind uploads, etc.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    It will be nice if we live up to "sapiens" and not just homo multis, if we really get to be homo sapiens we might survive another millenium or so.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    It will be nice if we live up to "sapiens" and not just homo multis, if we really get to be homo sapiens we might survive another millenium or so.
    More than that, I think. Multiple hominid species once coexisted for much longer periods. We may again someday.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    More than that, I think. Multiple hominid species once coexisted for much longer periods. We may again someday.
    Yes, but likely only if we get off-planet.

    It's thought that only one highly intelligent species can exist in a limited area (such as a planet) without incurring genocidal warfare. Of course, there's no strong evidence for this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Multiple hominid species once coexisted for much longer periods. We may again someday.
    That probably worked out well, too. "Hey, Zinjanthropus! Where's your forehead? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    Yes, but likely only if we get off-planet.

    It's thought that only one highly intelligent species can exist in a limited area (such as a planet) without incurring genocidal warfare. Of course, there's no strong evidence for this.
    It's thought by who? Homo sapes and Neanderthals lasted about 170,000 years together.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    the Sapiens population is now orders of magnitude greater than at any previous epoch and has not yet united so unfortunately the cynical observation "Peace is a period of hypocrisy between wars" is still true. The very traits of tribal unity that made us so successful are now still in our instinctive behaviour. Survival is not the same as progress. What goes up can come down.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by edaniel View Post
    ... The closest star to us would be Alpha Centauri and that would take about 80-90 thousand years with our current technology. Im not sure we would be able to survive that long in space.
    I agree with the many people who say that new species will develop that won't be HSap, or that we might simply destroy ourselves and our habitat long before the Sun gets too hot for life on Earth, or replace ourselves with machine intelligence and cyborgs, BUT I'd like to focus on the trip to other potential worlds around other stars. Currently with our best technology, we could send a craft that would spend most of the trip as a cold lump with no energy left, and it would arrive in perhaps 80,000 years (maybe a bit faster, say 20,000 years, but I'm not arguing that particular point). What I am saying is that over the next few hundred years we will very likely develop technology that could speed the trip to require only a few hundred years, and potentially keep the vessel powered for the whole trip. The big question is whether anyone will feel that it is worth the expense and effort. Who knows what we'll be able to accomplish in tens of thousands of years on that front?
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    What I am saying is that over the next few hundred years we will very likely develop technology that could speed the trip to require only a few hundred years, and potentially keep the vessel powered for the whole trip. The big question is whether anyone will feel that it is worth the expense and effort. Who knows what we'll be able to accomplish in tens of thousands of years on that front?
    In principle, at least, such a drive is possible now, it's just that the technology is very unpopular. I.e. an Orion-style nuclear pulse engine.
    Selden

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    Quote Originally Posted by selden View Post
    In principle, at least, such a drive is possible now, it's just that the technology is very unpopular. I.e. an Orion-style nuclear pulse engine.
    You wouldn't need an Orion-style nuclear pulse engine. You could simply use fission (or preferably fusion) for driving an electric plasma or ion drive. Either way, we understand the principals, but are a long way from actually constructing the vessel.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    (Principles.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    the Sapiens population is now orders of magnitude greater than at any previous epoch and has not yet united so unfortunately the cynical observation "Peace is a period of hypocrisy between wars" is still true. The very traits of tribal unity that made us so successful are now still in our instinctive behaviour. Survival is not the same as progress. What goes up can come down.
    Uniting is not necessary, only a lack of mass extinction.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Clever wins the internet today with a sig line.
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