For a WSU professor and author, nine different catastrophes could spell the end of the world.
A small group gathered into the Neill Public Library Tuesday afternoon as WSU professor and local author Dirk Schulze-Makuch spoke about his new book,"Megacatastrophes!: Nine Strange Ways the World Could End."
Schulze-Makuch is a professor of the WSU School of Earth & Environmental Sciences and director of the Laboratory for Astrobiological Investigations and Space Mission Planning. He co-wrote the book with David Darling, Ph.D., of Dundee, Scotland.
The event started with discussions of his previous work which included topics such as cosmic biology, extraterrestrial life on Mars and alien invasions.
“I have no editor so I can write whatever I want,” Schulze-Makuch said. “I like to do different kinds of things.”
He then went on to discuss his new book which contains nine scenarios in which planet Earth could experience mass extinction. Each scenario is ranked from 1-10 with one being around one billion people dead and 10 meaning complete extinction, he said.
Some scenarios covered in the book include super volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts and pandemics. He said the book tries to focus on those main catastrophes that could take out the human population.
“I wanted to see how I could make it most dramatic, but still see it from a scientific stand point,” Schulze-Makuch said.
After his talk, participants asked him questions about several topics including ancient civilizations, advanced societies and nano-technology. He said there have reports of toxicity to the immune system in working with nano-technology and the rise of the machine mind is becoming more prevalent.
When asked about pandemics, he said the only survival tip would be to find a lonely island with enough food to last a long time. People do not understand that even if we have power or hospitals, emergency workers are affected too because they treat infected people, he said.
“If there is a new swing flu coming and it starts spreading, then you can quarantine those areas that don’t have it yet,” Schulze-Makuch said.
Stephen Johnson, employee of WSU Crops and Soil Department, said he would have liked to hear about nuclear warfare in the presentation because he thinks it is a major catastrophe.
After the discussions, he said he would like to learn more about the issues. He found Schulze-Makuch’s theories to be interesting and reasonable.
“I commonly hear about the overuse of antibiotics and it is a pretty big issue,” Johnson said.
Sarah Morrison, library division manager of adult services at the Neill Public Library, said the title of the book drew her into the discussion. She learned more about the moon and the tidal forces being developed over time, she said.
She wishes more people would have come to the event, but said the event was not lacking anything in content.
“There have been a lot of books about the end of the world being published and I’m very interested now,” Morrison said.
Copies of the book are now available to purchase online and through The Bookie.