Astrophysics: Is a doomsday catastrophe likely?

  title={Astrophysics: Is a doomsday catastrophe likely?},
  author={Max Tegmark and Nick Bostrom},
The risk of a doomsday scenario in which high-energy physics experiments trigger the destruction of the Earth has been estimated to be minuscule. But this may give a false sense of security: the fact that the Earth has survived for so long does not necessarily mean that such disasters are unlikely, because observers are, by definition, in places that have avoided destruction. Here we derive a new upper bound of one per billion years (99.9% confidence level) for the exogenous terminal… 
Putting out the dark fire : constraining speculative physics disasters
Various speculative physics disaster scenarios have been proposed, but most can be defeated by the observable lack of large-scale disasters they predict. However, this paper introduces the “dark fire
The past, present and future supernova threat to Earth’s biosphere
A brief review of the threat posed to Earth’s biosphere via near-by supernova detonations is presented. The expected radiation dosage, cosmic ray flux and expanding blast wave collision effects are
Anthropic Shadow: Observation Selection Effects and Human Extinction Risks
A significant practical consequence of taking anthropic biases into account in deriving predictions for rare stochastic catastrophic events is described, and some directions for future work are suggested.
An upper bound for the background rate of human extinction
Using only the information that Homo sapiens has existed at least 200,000 years, it is concluded that the probability that humanity goes extinct from natural causes in any given year is almost guaranteed to be less than one in 14,000, and likely to be under one in 87,000.
Probing the improbable: methodological challenges for risks with low probabilities and high stakes
It is argued that there are important new methodological problems which arise when assessing global catastrophic risks and they are focused on a problem regarding probability estimation, which differs from the related distinction between model and parameter uncertainty.
Astrophysics in 2006
Abstract The fastest pulsar and the slowest nova; the oldest galaxies and the youngest stars; the weirdest life forms and the commonest dwarfs; the highest energy particles and the lowest energy
Anthropic arguments outside of cosmology and string theory
Anthropic reasoning has lately been strongly associated with the string theory landscape and some theories of particle cosmology, such as cosmological inflation. The association is not, contrary to
The study of cosmology, galaxy formation, and exoplanets has now advanced to a stage where a cosmic inventory of terrestrial planets (TPs) may be attempted. By coupling semianalytic models of galaxy
Blurring Out Cosmic Puzzles
It is shown that adopting an imprecise framework of probabilistic reasoning allows for a more adequate representation of ignorance and explains away puzzles in the Doomsday argument and anthropic reasoning.


Review of speculative “disaster scenarios” at RHIC
This paper discusses speculative disaster scenarios inspired by hypothetical new fundamental processes that might occur in high-energy relativistic heavy-ion collisions. The authors estimate the
The Galactic Habitable Zone and the Age Distribution of Complex Life in the Milky Way
We modeled the evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy to trace the distribution in space and time of four prerequisites for complex life: the presence of a host star, enough heavy elements to form
How stable is our vacuum?
It is possible that the vacuum state we live in is not the absolute lowest one. In many spontaneously broken field theories a local minimum of the effective potential, which can be quite stable, can
Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy
Preface Content Acknowledgements Chapter1: Introduction Observation selection effects A brief history of anthropic reasoning Synopsis of this book Chapter 2: Fine- Tuning Arguments in Cosmology Does