Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Earth Will Burn Up And That'll Be It

I was watching the great Science Channel tonight. Being the scientist I am (not), I personally discovered this channel about two weeks ago. I went on an expedition of discovery with the remote one day and found the channel, immediately jabbing a tiny flag where the remote button had been and claiming it for America.

Now I'm the monarch of the Science Channel in our house. The family knows we're getting down for business when I come out of my room with a white lab coat, Poindexter glasses, and a clipboard. In a few minutes, then, we're off to galaxies that are literally out of this world. Next stop: Planets we can only discern by the wobble in their star!

I love all the shows about Venus and Jupiter and the planets that are close enough that we can actually see them. None of these places is fit to go to, although one of the big moons -- I can't think of its name -- is a little more earth-like, except that everything there is methane. Too bad about that one detail.

Tonight I was watching it and there was some projections about the earth's ultimate demise, starting around a billion years from now, with things getting progressively worse for the next billion. It's a sobering thought, Picassos, the Mona Lisa, my Beatles CDs, and everything else, going up in smoke. But they had it vividly portrayed, with the planet as we know it, then the seas turning to brown dirt, and everything becoming like a cinder.

And even though it is a billion years away, it's still sad. Because you really take it for granted, even if you know you'll be dead, that at least everything else won't change that much. And the fact that it's a billion years away isn't that big a comfort, because we've already had nine or 10 billion years in the past. Did you notice how fast that went by? Time's on a real tear when you're not here to witness it.

Then, by coincidence, or on an unrelated subject, I happened to see a few minutes of "Hoarders." They showed the usual assortment of troubled folks who surround themselves and bury themselves in clutter, because they haven't got the psychological stomach to throw anything away. I'm a little like that, but not technically. I throw away garbage quite willingly. Anyway, I'm thinking about the earth burning up, then I see people hoarding dog food cans and the unused core of heads of lettuce (let's say), and I think, "Don't you see how crazy that is? The whole earth is going to burn up and you can't throw away your trash?"

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