I Believe in MiraclesHow Technology will Save our Planet Media Presentation Mark John Fiddes Shipston Social Impact of Technology – GNED1022 - 33 Inst. Emily Brett Thursday, August 9th, 2012
I Believe in MiraclesHow Technology will Save our Planet • Abominable Asteroids • Perilous Pandemic • Villainous Volcanoes • Ultimate Unknown "The Blue Marble” photograph of Earth, taken from Apollo 17
Abominable Asteroids• What is the Risk? The question is not if but when! NASA estimates that they have found 20- 30% of the ~4,700 PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids) in near Earth orbits Effects range from Incidental Damage to Global Extinctions Most famous example was the Dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period Tunguska event in Russia was ~1,000 times the destructive power of Hiroshima
Abominable Asteroids• What is being done? The skies are being watched by • The Near Earth Asteroid Tracking Team • SpaceWatch • The Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazard Group Numerous fly-bys including the NEAR Shoemaker landing on asteroid Eros Preliminary designs for Solar Sail pushing asteroids off collision course Preliminary designs for “Tractor Beam” technology to tow asteroids off collision course• Downside Low likelihood of event within near future so the return on investment is unclear
Villainous Volcanoes Volcano Year Deaths Major cause of deaths Tambora, Indonesia 1815 92,000 Starvation Krakatau, Indonesia 1883 36,417 Tsunami Mount Pelee, Martinique 1902 29,025 Ash flows Ruiz, Colombia 1985 25,000 Mudflows Unzen, Japan 1792 14,300 Volcano collapse, tsunami Laki, Iceland 1783 9,350 Starvation Kelut, Indonesia 1919 5,110 Mudflows Galunggung, Indonesia 1882 4,011 Mudflows• What are the Risks? Vesuvius, Italy 1631 3,500 Mudflows, lava flows Vesuvius, Italy 79 3,360 Ash flows, falls Papandayan, Indonesia 1772 2,957 Ash flows Again, the question is not if but when! Lamington, Papua New Guinea 1951 2,942 Ash flows El Chichon, Mexico 1982 2,000 Ash flows One in twelve people live within striking distance of an Soufriere, St. Vincent Oshima, Japan 1902 1741 1,680 1,475 Ash flows Tsunami active volcano Asama, Japan 1783 1,377 Ash flows, mudflows Taal, Philippines 1911 1,335 Ash flows Mayon, Philippines 1814 1,200 Mudflows Property Damage, Death, Global Climate Change Agung, Indonesia 1963 1,184 Ash flows Cotopaxi, Ecuador 1877 1,000 Mudflows Pinatubo, Philippines 1991 800 Disease Komagatake, Japan 1640 700 Tsunami Ruiz, Colombia 1845 700 Mudflows
Villainous Volcanoes• What is being done? Remote Data gathering from satellites and robots are increasing the accuracy of the information and safety of the scientists Increases in Computational speed are making predictive models more accurate and more timely Technologies include • Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar • Seismic and geodetic measurements • High-resolution Digital Elevation Models • Imaging Spectroscopy• Downside Despite historical evidence and scientific research, societies will not relocate and the usefulness of predictions is restricted
Perilous Pandemic• What are the Risks? You know what is coming, not if but when! Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed between 15 and 100 million people Viruses are constantly mutating due to solar radiation and random re-sequencing which nullifies our immune systems efforts to protect us Increasing urbanization and high-speed global transportation provide multiple vectors of infection
• What is being done? Perilous Pandemic Genetic research is revealing ways to tailor make vaccines to suit an outbreak New DNA vaccines • Abandon the weakened pathogen model • Delivering the genes (or proteins) that are used by the body to recognize the invading virus. • Encourages the body to manufacture antigens rapidly and with little risk of reaction Advanced diagnostic techniques can isolate cases before a widespread outbreak• Downside Genetic research is cited by many conservatives as high risk research - escaping pathogens and moral issues
Ultimate Unknown• What are the Risks? The point is we don’t know… anything could happen If there are extraterrestrial beings and we meet them how can we prepare Space borne disease could take any form and have any imagined consequence What happens when our sun dies
Ultimate Unknown• What is being done? New generations of computers are allowing us to investigate and perhaps begin to understand the large and small scale structure of the universe The internet, social media, and spreading access to data germinates ideas at an ever-increasing rate• Downside Our knowledge is starting to penetrate mysteries of the universe that have always been the purview of religious authorities. Most of the research and technological development to prepare for an unknown future is in areas where there are no immediate results to validate the expense
ConclusionWhether our race, the planet, or our whole solar system will someday face annihilation, there is no other defence than the development and use of new technologies. Technology and the knowledge and curiosity that drives its development are the keys to our future ReferencesBaalke, R. (n.d.). The Probability of Collisions with Earth. Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology. Retrieved from http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/sl9/back2.html.Blong, R. J. (1984). Volcanic hazards: a sourcebook on the effects of eruptions. Sydney: Academic Press.Chandra, S., Kuljanin, G., & Wray, J. (2012). Mortality From the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919: The Case of India. Demography, 49(3), 857- 865. doi:10.1007/s13524-012-0116-x.Coffey, J. (2010). Arenal volcano at night [Photograph] [Modified]. Retrieved from http://www.universetoday.com/59287/costa-rico-volcano/.Corpses. (1918) [Image]. Retrieved from http://dickinson-enb150.blogspot.ca/ 2011/05/spanish-flu-1918.html.Cowen, R. (2000). History of Life. (3rd ed.). Boston: Blackwell Science.Cowen, R. (2004). EXTINCTION. Retrieved from http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/education/events/cowen1a.html.
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