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Archive for the ‘existential risks’ category: Page 4

Feb 18, 2019

Diversity on land is not higher today than in the past, study shows

Posted by in categories: computing, existential risks

The rich levels of biodiversity on land seen across the globe today are not a recent phenomenon: diversity on land has been similar for at least the last 60 million years, since soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

According to a new study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham and involving an international team of collaborators, the number of species within ecological communities on land has increased only sporadically through geological time, with rapid increases in being followed by plateaus lasting tens of millions of years.

Previously, many scientists have argued that diversity increased steadily through , which would mean that biodiversity today is much greater than it was tens of millions of years ago. But building an accurate picture of how land diversity was assembled is challenging because the fossil record generally becomes less complete further back in time. By using modern computing techniques, capable of analysing hundreds of thousands of fossils, patterns are starting to emerge that challenge this view.

Continue reading “Diversity on land is not higher today than in the past, study shows” »

Feb 18, 2019

Asteroid the size of Big Ben is hurtling towards Earth, NASA warns

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

Uh oh…

(Via Mirror Tech)


The space rock, dubbed 2013 MD8 will make a ‘close approach’ to our planet tomorrow afternoon.

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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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