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Cyberstorm vs Rogue Black Holes

Sometimes I think we are just like ants. Too small and with lifespan too short to make a valuable difference. Our civilization I mean. After reading another book or watching another movie or documentary it's difficult not to notice that there are far too many 'apocalyptic scenarios' capable to put 'the end' sign in the thin air. Far too many boots to step on our little fragile anthill. This november thanks to Matthew Mather, one of the definitely greatest stars of the Earth's science fiction realm, I am 'proud' to announce two more ways of how to kill the Earth. Two more latest addition to this blog Post-Apocalyptic thread.

Black hole and Sun direct collision with Earth close by

I know you are now wondering about this above image and already expressed couple of frowns and disbelief looks, but before diving into rogue black holes, let's first glimpse the first scenario from the title. If nothing else, then just to ease things a little bit and to meet one apocalyptic way of destruction that is still not something we should fear too much today. While Matt's novel "Cyberstorm" is still very frightening from certain point of view, the very technological background that was causing it is still not believable to the point of becoming apocalyptic threat, capable of triggering something big and worldwide. In the past I already wrote a little about Internet of Things in post Daemon of WarGames, speculating about the near future possibility that everything might go online, including your chandelier or your water valve in your bathtub. While, even today, the most important communal systems, like power plants or water supplies are pretty much automatized, they are far away from not having back doors or manual overrides. I am sure that there is no city on Earth that has fully and only internet-controllable communal system and they are most certainly all manufactured in a way to easily go back with manual functionality in case of any disasters, human made or inevitable. Same goes for all those military facilities with nuclear or heavy-duty armory - I think the probability of launching a nuclear missile or any other for that matter just by hacking some computerized network is very much zero and within all the armies worldwide.

Nevertheless, "Cyberstorm" is one of the kind novel and I enjoyed it very much. All the gadgets and technology used are from today and yet, it perfectly portrays that even the small(ish) cyber attack(s) triggered against couple of communication dataflows, in addition to real nature hazards, can cause a devastated miniature apocalypse. It also demonstrates how deeply we are dependable on digital communications in this stage of our civilization and how easily our own animosities can deceive us unbelievably. That's all I will say. I truly hope the upcoming movie will be able to spread the same message the book does.

Miniature apocalypse of the island of Manhattan in Cyberstorm

However, Matthew's latest novel trilogy is what inspired me for this post and this weekend activity. His Nomad series is perhaps one of those science fiction works that already scored one prediction right. "Nomad" is actually a binary system containing two primordial black holes gravitational bonded to each other, that was created at the beginning of the universe as we know it in the process of hyperinflation just after the Big bang. Combined they have mass of around 40 Solar masses entering Solar system with speed of about 8000 km per second*. The path, velocity and mass of the Nomad are inevitably changing the shape of Solar system, the orbits of planets and most importantly triggering violent apocalyptic events on all planets affected by encounter. As with policy not to spoil the content of the books all I can say is that the plot is strictly following the science of the encounter and for me that is the best part of the story.

The prediction I mentioned was with author using LIGO (The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) data in the book to detect upcoming Nomad, that in real life, just a year after the Nomad was published, detected gravitational waves, from two ~30 solar mass black holes merging about 1.3 billion light-years from Earth. That's amazing, along with super intense and great story. I am definitely looking forward for the third book in series that is around the corner.

Not many novels and movies was that inspirational and beyond entertainment like Matthew's "Nomad". For me this is because of this blog and one of its thread where I am sorting out all the posts with apocalypse and doomsdays. But not just that - in the novel, the main character was using a piece of simulation software that actually exists and available for download. It's called "Universe Sandbox" which I recommend highly along with Matt's books. This amazing application took away from me entire last weekend providing endless entertainment and fun. Well, if by "entertainment and fun" can be called numerous simulations I played with in order to see how Solar system reacts and often being destroyed by immediate threats and rogue objects bulleting right into it's inner ring.

It was surely educational, to say the least, to monitor what happens with planets colliding with other planets, asteroids and comets but simulating 'Nomad like' intruders gave me couple of stomachaches with brutal awareness of how fragile our neighborhood actually is. For example, in above video I created three different trajectories, for a small black hole with mass of exactly one Solar mass, and projecting one through the Solar system (crossing the ecliptic plane in between Mars and Jupiter orbits), second passing just above the Solar system directly above the Sun and third one on collision course with our mother star with Earth with close encounter with upcoming black hole. "Luckily", the Earth staid in first two cases in the habitable zones and in stable orbit around the Sun, but third scenario ejected the Earth out of the Solar system that eventually became a binary system of the Sun and black hole. The introduction image above is a snapshot of one of such simulations.

Nomad - novel series by Matthew Mather***

Well, even though Nomad was way massive than the black holes in my simulations, it came with super speed and its trajectory and position of the Earth at the closest encounter produced more or less happy ending for the book's plot, but I can't get rid of the feeling that this kind of fictitious apocalyptic scenarios are not far from being the real danger. In the past there were five of mass extinctions I already wrote about in post The Sixth Great Dying and while it is difficult to understand what really caused them in the first place, it is not far from logic that at least one (if not all) was triggered by some large object transpassing Earth orbit or entire inner system of rocky planets.

Yesterday, I couldn't hesitate not to make one more simulation that originated from one of my older posts as well. Couple of years ago when I was writing Aliens & UFOs, I recalled the story from some online challenge, with a question of what would happen if the Sun was replaced with 37 Geminorum - the Sun's twin from Gemini constellation. 37 Gem, actually is not part of the Universe Sandbox's default library so, to test it out, I just enhanced the Sun's mass to match 37 Gem's, which is estimated to be 1,1 Solar mass. In the simulation result, within hours and days, the Earth's orbit changed and the Goldilocks zone expanded producing the average temperature to jump from cozy fifteen degrees to more than fifty. I am not sure that there is a physics process in existence to create something like this, but this fragileness gave me another stomach twitching nevertheless.

Well, and in conclusion, I warmly recommend Matt's books and Universe Sandbox application. Both works are still in progress - Nomad series is getting more sequels and the application is constantly updating with more and more features and fixes. More importantly - you don't have to be science geek to follow both. With extraordinary thriller background and family based story I am more than sure Nomad will not disappoint even the most demanding readers and Universe Sandbox is simply the application your Steam library would greatly miss if not installed. Both worth every penny.

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