Top 10 Doomsday Prophecies


The Sun Becomes a Red Giant, 7.6 billion years from now

Not all apocalyptic predictions are steeped in religious fervor or science fiction; some are based solidly upon respected science. Most scholars agree that 7.6 billion years from now, the sun will enter its red giant phase when it has converted all of its hydrogen into helium. This will cause the sun to expand to a size 20 percent greater than that of Earth's orbit and shine 3,000 times brighter [source: Appell]. Once this stage is complete, the sun will then collapse into a white dwarf.

Whether this process will actually destroy the planet is a topic of debate in the scientific community. If Earth were to stay in its current orbit, it would undoubtedly be engulfed and vaporized by the expanding sun. However, as the sun swells it will also lose mass, meaning that Earth will drift further away from it and perhaps escape total destruction. Either way, this process would destroy life as we know it, that is, if there were any life left to destroy.

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  • Appell, David. "The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth--Maybe." Scientific American Magazine. Sept. 8, 2008. (June 15, 2011)
  • Brumfiel, Geoff. "No Black Holes Formed at Large Hadron Collider." Scientific American. Dec. 14, 2010. (June 15, 2011)
  • Burke, Garance. "Doomsday Date Was Miscalculated, Says Harold Camping." May 26, 2011. (June 15, 2011)
  • Crawford, Kathryn. "Tick Tock: The Year 2000 Problem." Microsoft. May 4, 1998. (June 15, 2011)
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  • Johnson, John Jr. "The End of the World As We Know It." Los Angeles Times. April 13, 2008. (June 15, 2011)
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  • "One Year Later, Heaven's Gate Suicide Leaves Only Faint Trail." CNN. March 15, 1998. (June 15, 2011)
  • Onishi, Norimitsu. "After 8-Year Trial in Japan, Cultists is Sentenced to Death." The New York Times. Feb. 28, 2004. (June 15, 2011)
  • Overbye, Dennis. "Asking the Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More." The New York Times. March 29, 2008. (June 15, 2011)
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  • Purdum, Tom S. " In Serene Setting in California, A Suicide Investigation Unfolds." The New York Times. March 30, 1997. (June 15, 2011)
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Why King Tides Are Flooding Coastal Cities More Often

Why King Tides Are Flooding Coastal Cities More Often

Is climate change to blame for king tides flooding coastal cities more often? Some scientists say yes. Find out why at HowStuffWorks.