Poof goes the sun. Can humans survive?

Brought about by this here thread.

Now granted, if we found out in eight minutes that the sun just kinda fizzled out. . . it’d be pointless. We’d all be people-sicles by nightfa. . . well, pretty damn quick. But what if we had a year’s warning or so? Would humanity survive? What would you end up doing?

Me? Dig deep. Real deep. To mag-mah.

That would be the only choice, wouldn’t it? The radioactive decay of elements in the earth’s core, and the heat therefrom, would be the major source of heat available. And we’d have to generate all our energy from that heat, or from fossil fuels, or radioactives in the earth’s crust. No solar power after Nightfall, no wind after the atmosphere freezes.

We’d have to create vast covered cities with thick insulated roofs and interior lighting, and bonsai up an entire land/air ecosystem in them. I’m not sure whether we could do the same with even a small sea… wait for the top to freeze, then put lights on the bottom of the ice?

This reminds me of that short story: A Pail of Air.

The atmosphere freezes in layers of “snow” after the earth is torn faraway from its orbit. With frozen nitrogen on the bottom and frozen oxygen on the top. the protagonists would have to scoop a pail of frozen oxygen every so often to resupply their living quarters with air.

If this were to actually happen, we would have to be driven underground, perhaps with enclosed bubbles on the surface in order to survive; harvesting the frozen oxygen would be tantamount to sustaining life.

If by “survive” you mean some alien species finds some viable DNA not destroyed by freezing and manages to clone some individuals, then yes, we will survive.

Previous threads on this topic:

[POST=7917600]The Sun turns off! How long do we have?[/POST]
[POST=8336056]What Would Happen If The Sun Burned Out?[/POST]
[POST=8751425]How long do humans survive if sun stops producing light?[/POST]

At best, you have a few days before the only liquid water on the planet is hundreds of feet through solid ice. The atmosphere will start to condense within a couple of weeks or less. Ultimately, there is no way humans can survive except in hypothetical tightly sealed vaults deep within the Earth’s crust, and then only by relying on geothermal energy or nuclear power generation to provide all of our heating, energy, food growing, and recycling needs, for which we just don’t have sustainable technology.


Aaah, leave it to me to rehash a subject that’s already fizzled out. Thanks, man.


I absolutely do not think that humanity could arrange the right infrastructure in time. I mean, we’re talking about billions of people who are about to die - are they going to suddenly act constructively towards some sort of solution that will end up saving less than a single percent of them? No.

In fact, if a few very smart and expedient people started to construct a structure that would allow some quantity of humans to survive, it would probably be subject to attacks. People are generally stupid. In the face of imminent death, they would not sit down and consider their actions logically.

Well…going off of trade articles (The Matrix) we create a new city underground near the earth’s core.

We would also dance in slow motion and have sex.

With sufficient time, you could construct a shelter. You could get your power from nuclear reactors, build greenhouses, living spaces, oxygen generators, and build the industrial capability to repair problems as they arise.

But “sufficient time” is measured here in YEARS. It’d be an awesomely complex and expensive undertaking to save enough people to keep a breeding population going - it would be the biggest industrial undertaking in human history. We’re not talking about a “Shelter,” really, we’re talking about constructing something as large and as complicated as a big city. To ensure truly self-sustaining capability it’s got to be very big, awesomely complex, and capable of further exploiting the Earth’s chilly resources. And it’s got to be big, big, big - big enough to have all the technical, industrial, and social skills included among the saved population.

The complexity of keeping the reactors going, just that, is hideously complex. If you want to keep your reactors running you need metal parts. So you need a machine shop. A machine shop needs tools. The machines themselves need lubricants and oils, so you need a way to make or recycle those. You need a way to manufacture wire, which means processing copper, making plastic… well, it goes on.

There’s no theoretical reason it can’t be done, but you’d need a LOT of advance warning.

Peepsicles! I love it.

Realistically, not enough people would believe the evidence to coordinate and get anything done. We’re screwed.

“After science has spent the last ten years trying to convince us of global warning and melting ice caps, now we’re supposed to believe we’re all gonna freeze unless we build real deep tunnels and nuclear reactors? Screw that. I’m gonna hole up with some beef jerky, Jack Daniels and a shotgun and see what happens.”

Mine would be “so no matter what I do I wontg get to live in an underground city? And there is no way my children or any of my family will either? And you want me to work on it? Fuck you guys, I’m not helping with anything.”

What would be the optimum amount of advance warning, though? Not enough and we can’t build the shelters in time and we die. Too much warning and we ignore it all and party on.

I’m thinkng maybe thirty years would be good.

Way too long. Elected officials will just leave the problem for the next guy. 3 years, or 4 at most, so the people in office at the time would have to deal with it.

Even then, the only way anything would be done is if there was undeniable evidence it was happening – the sun would have to start flickering like a bulb that’s about to burn out.

I have to admit, even though I’m an engineer, I hadn’t given thought to the complexity of our new underground havens. RickJay, you’re right, they’d need to be complex organizations with no outside replenishment except for perhaps solar power panels from the surface.

It makes me wonder though, how long humanity would really want to live in a hovel in the ground before he wanted to find something new. I mean, documented history has people frolickin’ out in the sunshine. We’d be wanting to build some sort of “ship of the stars” to get us off the frozen rock. . . How many generations before we wanted to do that? Maybe two or three?

We’ve got underground silos for missiles and rockets now. We’ve explored the cold vacuum of space before. Both of these challenges we could overcome on the surface of the new Earth, so I don’t think short-term periods of survival on the surface would be out of the question. Question is, how long before people get ‘cabin fever’?

It’ll probably take the Starfleet Corps of Engineers eight months to carve out the initial caverns.


And the solar panels would do…what, exactly? :slight_smile:

I think Boyo Jim hit the nail on the head – if scientists can’t get people to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, I’m pretty sure they’re not going to convince them to build an underground city. People will just argue and squabble until it’s too late to do anything, and then everyone dies.

On the plus side, I think it’s pretty unlikely we could set up a fully sustainable underground ecosystem, even with all the time in the world, so it would just be postponing the inevitable.

Wow. Yeah. Complete brainfart in the AM without a cup of coffee. :smack:

Um, I think is example enough of why I should not be put in charge.

Well, given big-enough reflectors, you could collect starlight…

Hey, another sun might come along.

I say we need a giant set of jumper cables, with one end attached to a nuclear plant here, so we can try to jump start the sun.