Not Academic; Please Run and Panic

Sun ExplosionSometimes I just get amused at news stories. The one in the New York Times was obviously written by a journalist who doesn’t understand the words he’s using. The article, Earth Might Survive Sun’s Explosion, begins –

What happens to planets when their stars age and die?

That’s not an academic question. About five billion years from now, astronomers say, the Sun will run out of hydrogen fuel and swell temporarily more than 100 times in diameter into a so-called red giant, swallowing Mercury and Venus and dooming life on Earth, but perhaps not Earth itself.

It’s not an academic question? It’s not scholarly, hypothetical, speculative, or conjectural? Shall I take decisive, immediate action? And if so, what? Is there something I can do to prevent it? Some sort of legislative maneuver, or a particular brand of sun block?

Actually, I’m trying to figure out if I care. If the sun swells and burns up all life on earth, there’s a good chance I’ll be dead. I’m still a young man, a spritely 46, but I’m not sure I’ll make it to 5,000,000,046 years old. And if I’m dead and burned to a crisp, should I care if the Earth survives as a glowing hunk of rock?

This is not an academic question, after all. I think I should run in circles and panic. If not now, then at least by the time I turn 4 billion.

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