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Humanity's Love Affair with an Apocalypse

Human beings are in love with the end. Ruined cities fill our dreams, and fears steers our thoughts through landscapes of bones and zombie hordes. In this episode, Robert and Julie examine the cognitive science behind our apocalyptic love affair. See more »

Human beings are in love with the end. Ruined cities and burning skies fill our dreams. Fears sends us steers our thoughts through landscapes of bones and even our fantasies involve decimated populations and zombie hordes. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I examine the cognitive science behind our apocalyptic love affair. See more »

Nope. As NPR covers rather nicely in this article, all the rapture and apocalypse talk on the net and on roadside billboards stems from the predictions of Judgment Day enthusiast and evangelical radio broadcaster Harold Camping. He previously thought the Biblical end times would kick off back on Sept. 6, 1994. Instead, all that happened was that British pianist Nicky Hopkins died. In other words, the world moved on. See more »

Medieval Math as Post-apocalyptic Technology

Post-apocalyptic fiction is full of scenarios where survivors sift through the bones and dust to uncover high-tech treasures they don't really understand. In "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," it was an atom bomb worshiped as a god. In "The Prince of Nothing" trilogy it was a laser weapon regarded as a magical spear. Recently I posted about the union of science and theology in Dante's 14th century classic "Inferno" (you can read it here) and it got me thinking: Is Western medieval mathematics analogous to the dusted-off super technology in our bleaker works of sci-fi? So it seems. See more »

The energy of the sun heats the Earth, churning sea and sky into motion, fueling photosynthesis and keeping it warm enough for hot pants, swimming pools and -- oh yeah -- life itself. Given this dependency, many of our most dire doomsday scenarios involve the interruption of sunlight. There's nuclear winter, in which atomic firestorms blot out the sun with rolling black clouds of soot. There are volcanic and impact winters, brought on by massive eruptions and enormous asteroid impacts. Then there's what you might think of as a giant molecular cloud winter. See more »

I find that much of what I read regarding neuroscience stirs the unsettling notion that the human experience itself is little more than an absurd dream, a strange byproduct of evolution. Canadian author R. Scott Bakker ruminates on these topics, weaving imagined worlds with philosophic discourse and neurological research. In his book "Neuropath," he refers to something he calls "the semantic apocalypse." This catastrophe occurs when science shines enough light on the human condition for reason to fail. See more »

With the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over their heads, governments, companies and even individual families invested in fallout shelters during the 1960s. If worst came to worst, they could descend into their provisioned holes and hope to eventually emerge to reclaim a ravaged world. Yet even the worst scenarios for man-made Armageddon at the time couldn't hold a candle to what Earth endured approximately 3.9 billion years ago, during the Hadean Eon. Due to a little orbital readjustment among our solar system's gas giants, our planet was pelted with a barrage of meteor strikes. The damage was catastrophic, melting the surface to magma. Our oldest rocks formed in these days, and the earliest signs of life emerged in the wake of the destruction -- or so we've long believed. See more »