Our solar system orbits around the Milky Way roughly every 200-250 million years and researchers at Cardiff University suggest that periodically, in cycles estimated at every 37 million years or so, we encounter dangerous ‘speed bumps’ with life-extinction-causing asteroids.
Millions of ricocheted rocks whiz by during these cycles, and many collide with planets, including Earth. Impact craters recorded worldwide show correlations with the cycle of these journeys through the galactic plane, including the one thought to have eliminated the dinosaurs two cycles ago.
Professor William Napier and Dr. Janaki Wickramasinghe have completed computer simulations of our sun’s movements in its outer spiral location in the Milky Way, and determined that we are now entering a danger zone where the odds of asteroid impact on Earth go up by a factor of ten.
Ten times a tiny chance might not seem like much, but when risk of extinction is on the table, it looks much more imposing.
In addition, asteroid impact is not our only danger. University of Kansas professors Mikhail Medvedev and Adrian Melott have charted the Milky Way’s movement through the universe and they discovered that our solar system is frequently exposed to cosmic rays that generate a shock front when our galaxy hits rough spots as it makes its way through the cosmos.
As we get closer to those rough spots, our galaxy becomes more exposed to the danger of increasing radiation that can destroy species, forcing evolutionary epochs. This theory also matches in time with the dinosaur extinction.
Either way, Stephen Hawking and Ray Kurzweil are right; we need to get off this ‘3rd rock from the sun’ as fast as possible and begin scattering our populations to the stars. Are you ready to turn Star Trek into reality and “go where no man has gone before?” I know I am.
Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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