I forgot that Monday is for sober threads, but most of you are probably still hung over anyway. In a recent thread, I talked about the Drake equation and the Fermi paradox. One possible explanation for the Fermi paradox is that intelligent civilizations just burn out too damn fast and go from "detectable from other planets" to "obliterated" in the cosmic wink of an eye. We sent out the first faint radio signals that were even remotely detectable from space in the 1930s (cf. the movie version of Contact with Jodie Foster), and by 1945 we had developed weapons capable of annihilating our entire species. Thankfully we have been wise enough not to use them. We still, however, continue to use and abuse the environment at an astonishing rate, and while it is likely to outlast those of us alive today, I can't really speak for how many more generations it can sustain. I saw a Discovery Channel special the other day on the extreme future of the solar system, and in a billion years or so the Sun will expand enough to boil off the oceans and that will probably be the end of life on Earth, including even the extremophiles. So I guess that's an upper bound on the apocalypse. FOCUS: What's your best guess on how long humanity will last? Do we survive our technological adolescence and expand to the stars until entropy and heat death kill us all? Or do we vaporize ourselves in the next 50 years? Provide rationale for your answer. RULES: As with other sober threads, the no politics rule is suspended here, but the no-asshole rule remains in effect. Also, this is a SOBER THREAD, which means serious replies and discussion only. Non-serious posts will be summarily deleted and repeat offenders will be sent to the cornfield. I know that your roommate's beer farts are bad, but the odds of the end of humanity coming from his anus after a bar crawl are pretty low. Save the brilliant humor for the other threads.