This month’s episode is about what it would take to sterilize the Earth, and why you might want to figure that out in the first place.
First we talk to the authors of a paper that tries to figure out this exact question. David Sloan and Rafael Alves Batista are the authors of a paper called “The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events” (along with Avi Loeb). No, they’re not evil scientists, just interested in what it might take to find life on other planets.
They explain their calculations, and how we mostly don’t have anything to worry about. Plus, cool facts about tardigrades!
Then we talk to science-fiction author N.K. Jemisin who is the author of The Broken Earth trilogy. Which is very good! She explains her thinking behind the books, why the Earth is out to get her characters, and how humans banding together to survive is more interesting to her than the lone ranger making it on his own.
What Would It Take to Completely Sterilize the Earth?
The Resilience of Life to Astrophysical Events
Did a gamma-ray burst initiate the late Ordovician mass extinction?
NASA: Gamma-ray Bursts
Flash Forward: The Supernova Next Door
'The Fifth Season,' by N.K. Jemisin
N. K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science Fiction and Inspiration From Dreams
The Tardigrade: Practically Invisible, Indestructible ‘Water Bears’
Tardigrades return from the dead
Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.
And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! We have a Patreon page, where you can donate to the show. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help.
That’s all for this future, come back next month and we’ll travel to a new one.
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