Cue the cult ceremony music from Eyes Wide Shut and prepare for morbidity. This is not a happy topic, but it is a fun one. End of times speculations are healthy, especially as we careen towards December 21st, 2012, when the Mayan calendar comes to a hauntingly abrupt end.
We like to be realistic. A single nuclear bomb is not going to kill us all. Now, if a machine uprising triggered the detonation of every nuclear device on Earth that would be something, but doesn’t that technically count as an apocalypse via machine uprising, not a nuclear holocaust. Specificity is the key.
So hey, read this and think about the incredible diversity of mortality events the universe has presented us. So many apocalypses, so little time:
The zombie apocalypse would technically have to be some kind of disease or government experiment gone wrong, so we’re tempted to put it in the pandemic section. We’ve all seen enough mentions of bath salts in the news this year to accept that having a zombie survival guide isn’t as ridiculously stupid as we previously thought. Go stream The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Quarantine, or Dawn of the Dead (the remake) and pray your face isn’t eaten off in your sleep.
Watson Gone Wild
By this time you’ve probably heard that computers are now smarter than us at Jeopardy. Technology is growing exponentially and the ever-cantankerous digerati predict a convergence of AI, nanotechnology and Dyson spheres that won’t stop until machines are converting raw matter into computronium.
This will go well beyond both Terminator and Battlestar Galactica–this will be a technological Singularity that will restructure the universe itself…or so the post-human pundits say.
Global Flu Virus
A global pandemic could create a zombie uprising-like scenario, or it could just slowly kill us all by the billions. Innovations in biotechnology raise the possibility of containing such a disaster; it also raises the specter of out of control pathogens shredding our immune systems like viscera jack-o-lanterns.
This is one of the more bleak end of days scenarios and, unfortunately, one of the more statistically likely ones. Most disease specialists say that waiting for a global pandemic is like waiting for a an earthquake—it’s only a matter of time before the ‘big one’ hits.
Turn off your lights and sit in the darkness. Stop over-consuming; deal with the void. Support alternative energy and stop whining about a carbon tax. We’re past the tipping point and may soon be answering to bi-polar bears.
Reality Breaks Down
Soundgarden, not Stephen Hawking, first prepared us for the idea of a black hole apocalypse with the masterwork “Black Hole Sun.” Chris Cornell spoke to us earnestly, warning that a black hole could consume our hearts and minds.
Or who knows, maybe aliens from another universe will come to harvest resources from ours, bringing a wrecking ball to our sense of order. Or maybe the post-human machine artilects will do this in their endless spaceward expansion. The Singularity does essentially call for the end of our current understanding of reality.
Either way, our confidence in this wacky universe being able to indefinitely sustain its own laws of physics is probably overwrought.
Whether you believe in the apocalypse 2012, voluntary human extinction, the honey bees of the colony collapse disorder, or zombie and machine uprisings popularized by our sci fi, the end of times will get here eventually, so learn to swim. It may be billions of years from now, when space/time itself contracts, or it may be tonight, when you open your bathroom door to the hysterical zombie you once called “babe.”