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U07d1, u07d2, & u07d3 - Coursework Example

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At that point, Mars will be a reasonably habitable world for a few billion years longer. As the sun grows ever hotter and its diameter begins to expand, Mars will enjoy ever more abundant solar energy resources, as well as milder surface temperatures. Of course, with its puny atmosphere and total absence of any planetary magnetosphere, it will offer little protection against the eruptions of radiation from the increasingly bloated solar corona, but underground habitats on Mars should be quite sustainable for a very long time. About 4 billion years from now, the Sun will become a full-blown red giant, with a diameter large enough to swallow the Earth. At that point, there might be some viable space colonies maintainable in the asteroid belt. The Sun will be blowing off huge clouds of its outer atmosphere and the attendant radiation will make it rather a toxic environment for life; the vast amounts of electrically charged plasma flowing outward from the sun, and the contorted magnetic fields accompanying it, would also make things difficult for any unshielded electronic devices. Also, the massive outflows and increased radiation output from the Sun are likely to destabilize the Kuiper belt, and send lots of new comets zooming through the inner solar system, and smashing up the inner planets (Mars included). But of course, eventually the solar system will have to be abandoned altogether before the Sun finally goes nova and shrinks down into a white dwarf. With no nearby planets left (all swallowed by the Sun during its red giant stage), the remains of the solar system will become frigid and pretty much uninhabitable. Hence we can say that the migration of life away from the Sun will be gradual. Sun's activity will "squeeze" life out toward the outer planets and from there onward toward nearby solarsystems. 2. "Unknowingly, we plow the dust of stars, blown about us by the wind, and drink the universe in a glass of rain." —Ihab Hassan, Egyptian theorist. What does this quote mean to you? How is it, or can it be, related to astronomy, and to what you are learning? To me there is no greater mystery than the fact that we inhabit a universe so incomprehensibly vast, yet so devoid of obvious signs of intelligent life.  There is something so haunting about this immense emptiness; it is as if we have lit a candle in the dark, only to discover that what we thought was a cozy hut built just for us is really a yawning, alien cathedral without worshippers, architects or gods.  Galaxies swarm around us like fireflies in every direction, containing billions of trillions of suns, untold quadrillions of worlds across billions of years in time.    While the “cosmic shock” problem has been tackled by many other serious thinkers since those early visionaries of the post-Hubble age, it remains essentially unsolved.  Perhaps it will require a mystic — some modern Buddha or Mohammed, meditating in a metaphorical cave, contemplating the mysteries of the universe revealed by science — to arrive at some new set of revelations for our cosmic age.  That may sound like dangerous nonsense to some, but stranger things have happened before.   Scientist-mystics like Sagan and Clarke have come as close as anyone to make us feel at home in this strange Cosmos, but the Great Silence still looms.  Perhaps if there is contact and childhood’s end there will be a resolution to this crisis; until then we are left speculating, wondering and groping for ...Show more
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Summary

1. Humanity in A.D. 5,000,000,000. Do you think it is likely that humanity will survive until the Sun begins to expand into a red giant 5 billion years from now? Why or why not? By some estimates, the Sun has about another 500 million to 1 billion years left in it, until it starts to heat up…
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