Saturday July 29, 2017
Scientists figure out how to wipe out all life on Earth
more stories from this episode
- Why we're fighting mosquito-borne diseases - with more mosquitoes
- Who's in charge of geoengineering the planet?
- Fish that are stressed out are less likely to get caught
- Scientists figure out how to wipe out all life on Earth
- How your t-shirt could charge your phone
- A game-changing blood test for concussion diagnosis
- Full Episode
Our world has been through a lot - asteroids, solar flares, ice ages, events which have caused major extinctions, like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.
But even after spectacular catastrophes, life has always managed to bounce back, which made one group of scientists wonder - what would it take to kill everything?
- Research paper: The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events
Dr. Rafael Alves Batista, a physicist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford, and his colleagues did the math and some modelling - to see how big a disaster they would need to obliterate life completely. They didn't look at human life though. When it comes to major doomsday scenarios, like massive asteroids, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts, we're just a wee bit too fragile. Instead they focussed a much tougher life form: a tiny animal called a tardigrade, which is ridiculously hard to kill.
Animation of a tardigrade