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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, '09, 9:18 pm 
According to this BBC news story, it has been known for ~20 years that planetary orbits are not entirely fixed, but show slight natural fluctuations. Recently, astronomers J. Laskar and M. Gastineau have developed numerical simulations of the evolution of the Solar System. In ~1% of these solutions, the eccentricity of Mercury's orbit increases to the point of allowing collisions with Venus or the Sun. Still more alarming is the scenario in which a subsequent change in Mercury's orbit destabilises all the terrestrial planets, with consequent collisions of Mercury, Mars or Venus with the Earth.

This "complete devastation" only arises in a tiny minority of simulations, and wouldn't happen for several million years, but the possibility is nonetheless disturbing... :sweat:

Nature: Existence of collisional trajectories of Mercury, Mars and Venus with the Earth

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, '09, 1:40 am 
I'm not surprised to hear of something like this possibly happening one day. After all the movies I've seen on sci-fi about Asteroids falling to Earth, etc., etc., etc., it really makes you think about what some of these dangers may be. And with all that space junk up there and everything else, you never know.

Scary, but there's nothing we can do about it. :bang:

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, '09, 2:10 am 
I JUST read about this on my BBC RSS feed. I find it interesting...and scary. But it's highly unlikely...but if it did happen, yup, we're screwed.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, '09, 2:20 am 
There are so many doomsday scenarios that I'm surprised we've made it as far as we have. Asteroids, planetary orbits, climate change, super volcanoes, freak science experiments making black holes... seriously, it's like there's one for every day of the year.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, '09, 3:14 am 
Seems a more dignified way to go than with the death by zombie apocaplypse scenario that's predicted for when the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012. :wink:

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