If America comes to a catastrophic end, what will the causes be? Josh Levin of Slate wants to know. He's created a "Choose Your Own Apocalypse" web-based application that lets you select five causes from a collection of "144 potential causes of America's future death." Based on your choices, Slate will tell you what kind of a doomsayer you are. People who take the poll are also asked to supply age, gender, zip code. On Friday, Slate will publish the results.
I picked Peak Oil, China Unloads U.S. Treasuries, Deficit Spending, Peak Water, and Megadrought, which makes me a "humanitarian internationalist." Compared to the average Slate reader, I believe more people will survive and that the disaster is more man's fault than nature's.
If and when America expires, we probably won't agree on the cause of death. For proof that autopsies of empires are inconclusive, consider the case of Alexander Demandt, the German historian who set out in the 1980s to collect every theory ever given for why Rome fell. The final tally: 210, including attacks by nomads on horseback, blood poisoning, decline of Nordic character, homosexuality, outflow of gold, and vaingloriousness.
In tribute to Demandt, I've gone looking for every possible reason why America could fall. I've paged through the work of scholars who have studied the characteristics of declining and failed societies. I also collected theories from futurists, doomsayers, separatists, economists, political scientists, national security experts, climatologists, geologists, astronomers, and a few miscellaneous crazy people. The result: a collection of 144 potential causes of America's future death.
Choose Your Own Apocalypse
As you may have noticed, a number of bird species have proven capable of mimicking snippets of sound they overhear, be it a melody, the wail of an ambulance or a dirty phrase taught to them by some drunk fella at a party. But here’s the thing: most mammals suck at it. Not so seals. […]
In the New York Times, Kenneth Chang reports that NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has detected high amounts of methane, a gas that is commonly a signature of life. From the NYT: “Given this surprising result, we’ve reorganized the weekend to run a follow-up experiment,” Ashwin R. Vasavada, the project scientist for the mission, wrote […]
As part of research on how to make better prosthetic legs, Vanderbilt University engineers put people on a treadmill and made them stumble. Over and over. By better understanding peoples’ stumble reflex, they hope to improve the computer-controlled stumble response in prosthetics. But to learn how people catch themselves, they had to trip them first. […]
When it comes to large computer systems, not one of them is fully secure. Even with constant updates to the platforms that keep vital networks humming, there’s always a back door. And companies are willing to pay handsomely to effective bouncers that can keep an eye on them. Call them ethical hackers or white hat […]
So you’ve visited the Kennedy Space Center every year. You’ve watched “The Right Stuff” for the 95th time. There must be something to do while you’re waiting to join Space Force for the next manned mission to Mars or the moon. Here’s a combo that should raise a salute from any fan of space or […]
Looking for a new tablet? If you haven’t upgraded in a while, it might be time to check out the latest iPad Pro for two very good reasons. First, the 2018 model is a real workhorse. The 12X Bionic chip processor means it can handle any task you set out for it, and still have […]