And I Feel Fine

Years ago, while watching MTV on a family vacation, one of my younger cousins asked me in a fearful voice: “Could that really happen, Jason?” We’d just seen the video for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” and, as the resident nerd of my entire clan, they turned to me for reassurance.

I told them that the sun wasn’t massive enough to collapse into a black hole, but that it would eventually die, long after we (perhaps even “we” as a species) were gone from the earth. They were about 12 years old, and I about 14, so they mostly just stared at me puzzled and asked again, “So it could happen?”

I didn’t quite know what to say then, but now I could at least point them to Discover Magazine‘s piece on “Ten Ways the World Will End.” I’ve seen run-downs like this in science magazines and websites before, but this one has a handy table (and some reassuring words about meteorite impacts), so I’ve decided to share it here. Please enjoy responsibly.