In this season of ghosts, goblins and zombies, the UH NASA Astrobiology Institute and the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa present, It’s Not a Zombie Apocalypse: Scientific Views of Threats to Humanity. This Frontiers of Astronomy Community Event will take place on Tuesday, October 23, 7:30 p.m. in the Art Building Auditorium. Admission is free, parking on campus costs $6, and costumes are optional.
- Karen Meech, an astronomer at IfA and the head of UH NAI, will speak about the life and death of planet Earth. She takes the long view: “Our Earth is 4.5 billion years old and may live for 12 billion years, but it has not always been hospitable to advanced forms of life.”
- Larry Denneau, a member of the Pan-STARRS team at IfA, will address the threat from near-Earth objects and asteroid impacts. He says, “Unlike humans, asteroids have been wreaking havoc on the Earth for billions of years.”
- Professor Mike Mottl will talk about the threat from within Earth—volcanism. He says that we don’t know when the next supervolcano will erupt, but when it does, “we will all wish we were someplace else!” In the past, these events have caused major changes in the climate and perhaps even mass extinctions of species.
- Associate professor Rich Gazan will explain how information technology represents a threat: “As information technology encompasses more and more of our lives, and creates ever better simulations, will there come a point where people prefer it to reality? Are we there already?”
- Steve Freeland will discuss biological threats. He declares, “The greatest imminent threat to our species’ continued existence comes from within. Exponential growth cannot go unchecked, and we are living on borrowed time.”
This event is co-sponsored by the Friends of IfA. For more information, visit the Institute for Astronomy’s website.