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Thursday, Sep 23, 2021
Outlook.com

Deaf To The Countdown

How long can we live in denial of imminent annihilation?

Deaf To The Countdown
Deaf To The Countdown
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Newspapers recently carried an artist's vivid imaging of a collision of Earth and Mars that is supposed to take place some three billion years from now. As I was pondering over the image of the two planets melting into each other, I was reminded of a conversation—a real, not an imaginary one—between an astronomy teacher and his student. The teacher had suggested that the sun and the earth were slowly, but ever so steadily, moving towards each other. He said our planet, a few billion years from now, will therefore burn into a plume of vapour. The student then asked, anxiety writ all over him, "How many billion years would that take?" The teacher said, "About six billion." "Oh!" breathed the student in relief, "that's alright then. I thought it was three billion." Ours has to be the age of denial.

Natural hazards like asteroid impacts and earthquakes also perform the role of the astronomy teacher. They alert us to the laws and procedures of Planet Earth. The unmistakable signs of climate change are also our teacher. They warn us of what...

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