Multicrisis: When will the world end? Professor Gott’s equation gives the answer! (as a video too!) | R bloggers

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The 21st century has been marked by a series of global crises – from environmental degradation and pandemics to economic instability and political unrest.

As we move into the future, it is becoming increasingly clear that the challenges we face as a species are numerous and interconnected, with the term “polychrisis” floating around. Used to be.

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These urgent issues raise the question: will humanity last long, or are we facing extinction – and if so, when? If you want to know how to predict doomsday, read on!

My colleague Professor Richard Gott III of Princeton University has developed a simple mathematical model to answer this and many other questions that suffer from high levels of uncertainty and has published his research in the prestigious journal Nature.

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The following post is based on “A Mathematical Equation That Predicts the End of Humanity” by William Poundstone, who also wrote an entire book (“The Doomsday Calculation”) on the matter.

You can also watch the video for this post (in German):

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In 1969, Gott, a recent Harvard physics graduate, was spending his summer in Europe. During a visit to the Berlin Wall, he made a quick calculation and informed his friend: “The Berlin Wall will last at least 2 and 2/3 more years and at most 24 more years.” The wall actually fell 20 years later in 1989! How on earth did he calculate and how can this method be used to calculate the arrival date of Doomsday? All this is called the Copernican method!

The Copernican method described by Gott is based on the Copernican theory originally presented by the Renaissance astronomer Copernicus. The theory states that Earth is not the center of the universe and that humanity’s position in the universe is not special or central. It is widely accepted that our Sun is an ordinary star in an ordinary galaxy, which makes humanity’s position in the universe unmistakable.

Gott applied this principle to time rather than just space, meaning that we do not occupy any particular point in time when calculating. This can be demonstrated through a simple example where the existence of the Berlin Wall is represented as a bar, similar to a video timeline with a beginning, middle, and end.

Consider a tourist who is predicting that the future span of the Berlin Wall will be between one-third and three times its previous span. If the wall is eight years old at the time of the prediction, the most likely future period will be between 2.67 and 24 more years, with a 50% chance of being correct (as an added bonus the following code allows you to plot it sort with all kinds of confidence intervals!):

Gott_plot <- function (from = 25, = 75, color = "gray", left = "", right = "", middle = "The prediction \n will be true for all \n moments in this region", main = " ") { plot(c(0, 100), c(0, 1), type = "n", xlab = "", ylab = "", xaxt = "n", yaxt = "n", main = main ) axis (1, at = c (0, from, to, 100), labels = c ("0%", paste 0 (from, "%"), paste 0 (from, "%"), "100 % "")) rectangle(0, to, 1, col = color) if (left ! = "") text ( -1, 0.5, left, position = 3, adj = 0, srt = 90) if (right) != "") text(103, 0.5, right, position = 3, adj = 1, srt = 90) if (middle ! = "") text ((+ to) / 2, 0.5, middle, adj = 0.5 , cex = 1.2) } Gott_plot(colour = "red", left = "Berlin Wall Built", right = "Berlin Wall Demolished", main = "Berlin Wall's future life span 1/3 to 3 times its past life")

So, the Copernican method is a mathematical trick that predicts the duration of an event based on its current age and the principle of randomness. The method involves creating a timeline of events and marking a region, which represents the desired level of confidence. Predictions about the future duration of the event are then made based on the length of the marked region.

Now coming to the question of when the world will end.

The human species has existed for approximately 200,000 years and has seen significant increases in population in recent millennia. As a result, survival is more likely in times when there are more humans. To reflect this, a better understanding of time can be provided by using human lives instead of years.

Imagine a list of every person who has or will ever live, sorted by date of birth. Half of all humans will be in the first part of the list, and the other half in the second part. The position of this list determines the probabilities of future events, such as a decrease in the number of births compared to the past.

If we estimate the total number of people who ever lived to be around 100 billion, it can be estimated that there will be another 100 billion births within 760 years, based on the current birth rate of 130 million per year. This means that there is a 50% chance that humans will become extinct within 760 years, i.e. around 2780:

Gott_plot(from = 50 to = 100, color = “red”, left = “first person”, right = “last person”, middle = “The prediction will be true for all\n in this part\n list”, main = “The number of future births is less than the number of past births”)

Although 760 years may seem like a lot, it is nothing compared to the past 200,000 years. 760 years is only about 25 generations in the future compared to ca. 6,700 generations before us. So, looked at this way, we are living in the end times of humanity. On the other hand, if this prediction turns out to be false, Professor Gott won’t be around to blame (one way or the other).

What do you think about this method? And what about the date it was made? Please write it in the comments below!


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