1. Tatterdemalion
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    Tatterdemalion New Member

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    Would Earth be recognizable 250 million years from now?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Tatterdemalion, Jul 5, 2015.

    So, I'm currently writing a story that involves a human colony set up on 'another world' via portal-travel through what they assume to be an ancient device of alien origin - except that this world is Earth far into its future, completely reshaped in its geology, biological evolution, etc. The colonists have essentially gone on a one-way trip into the future from a 'semi-post-apocalyptic' year of 2180, to a time where all traces of their civilization have long been eroded away and other sapient species have since filled in the gap.

    My question is this - would these colonists recognize future-Earth as having once been their own planet, after having spent thirteen years there? Where the landmass is one colossal supercontinent, the day/night cycle is somewhere between 25-27 hours and the constellations have long since become unrecognizable? Would they have been able to glean it from fossil records and such, when their biggest focus the whole time has been to build a more solid foundation for themselves?
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've seen a few vids that extrapolate plate tectonics into the future. Here are a couple fo images I found just now.

    This is an extrapolation of 50 million years into the future:

    [​IMG]

    This one is right on the money for the timeline you speak of....

    [​IMG]

    Both of these can be found here: http://www.scotese.com/Default.htm

    I think the "Pangea Ultima" proposed by the creator of these extrapolations may give the astronauts pause. Star charts may also be so far off by that point that they are unusable as reference points
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If they were astronomers, and they had the tools, they would recognize the planet was in the same location in the Universe the Earth is in. You can run the clock backward when we peer out into space. The location of the objects we were looking at would be in predictable locations in 250 million years from this vantage point.

    As for recognizable, the fossil record would eventually reveal they were on Earth despite the changed locations and shapes of the continents.
     
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  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not if they had the time and tools to do proper calculations. And what about the other planets and the Kuiper belt objects?
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know the folks in this forum and they're very knowledgeable:
    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php?109409-Our-Sun-in-250-million-years
    The day will be about 25 hours due to drag on the Earth's rotation.

    It wouldn't be hard to figure out they were still on Earth. They could even calculate the approximate era.

    But there's plenty of fictional time for story until they do figure it out if an author wanted.
     
  6. Chewie
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    Chewie Member

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    I am assuming your colonists are pretty smart to be chosen to set up a new civilisation. Also if they are traveling to what they believe is a different planet then I would assume they would take the instruments necessary to figure out were they are so they could then attempt to contact earth. So I would say yes but it would take a while as they would need to set up the beginnings of the coloney first.
     
  7. james82
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    james82 Member

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    In just a few million years the average daytime temp on Earth will be up over 100 degrees due to
    the sun becoming increasingly hotter. I can only imagine what will be the result in 250 million years,
    but eventually all our oceans will evaporate. < That is something that I read and maybe something to
    take into consideration.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think that would take longer than a couple million years but the temperature will probably rise significantly in 250 million years.

    Future of the Earth
    It's worth considering that in a quarter of that time the Sun might be 2.5% brighter and therefore the Earth will be warmer.

    Other things to consider (but remember, most readers won't know this stuff):
    The Sun will eventually fuse all the hydrogen and begin fusing helium. That's when it will become a red giant. But that won't happen for 5 billion years.

    Red Giant Stars: Facts, Definition & the Future of the Sun


    This is worth noting as well:

    A Galactic Year
    So the position of the Earth relative to the Galaxy will be about the same in 250 million years.

    Of course, since the entire Galaxy is rotating, being on the other side of it, other stars will be in similar positions relative to the Earth. However, nearby galaxies would be in different positions relative to the Earth in 125 million years.


     
  9. james82
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    james82 Member

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    Another thing to consider is that the Andromeda Galaxy is supposed to collide w/ the
    Milky Way Galaxy. Again, it's millions of years away, maybe a few billion I'm not sure,
    but something to consider because Earth could get sling-shotted out of orbit due to
    this supposedly inevitable collision.
     
  10. Norm the Robot
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    Norm the Robot Member

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    That sounds pretty cool. I think that the colonists might or may not know they are on earth. Maybe it depends on who they send. Or maybe the member of the team who can figure this out dies. Or maybe there is a technology breakdown that prevents them from figuring this out. Or maybe they send the team of scientists ahead and they die for some reason and when the colonists who are regular people arrive the scientists are dead or missing so the colonists just go about with life.

    It makes me think of Dragonriders of Pern where the colonists forgot about Earth.

    I am not sure if they would discover they were on earth. 250million years is a long time and I don't know what would be left for them to discover. Fossilized humans? Maybe a fossilized city? Or a computer of some sort like in the most recent "Time Machine" movie?

    Really cool idea though!
     
  11. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    If humans have gone extinct on Earth, their cities would have crumbled to dust over the course of 250 million years.

    A collapsed sky scraper could leave behind a "fossil" from its steel skeleton, causing some of the explorers to wonder what kind of colossal worms roamed the planet.

    The warmer climate could see cold blooded animals become dominant once more, since being warm blooded in a hot environment wouldn't be a big advantage.

    Without humans, a single rain forest has grown to dominate the super-continent, with deserts to the north and south. The extra oxygen allows arthropods to grow to considerably large sizes.

    The descendants of humans could be reduced to a short species restricted to an island where the dominant predators cannot reach them from the mainland.
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This cracked me up:
    I like all your ideas there @ToeKneeBlack.
     
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  13. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Upon reading the title of this thread, my initial reaction was a resounding "NO!"
    Then after reading some replies, some good points were brought up.

    I think eventually (that being the key word here) they might be able to figure out it is Earth, but this may not be discovered for a long, long time due to how drastically different it is. It could be years, or even decades before they figure that out. That gives great potential for the discovery to be a major plot twist, like halfway through the book they just discover something that changes their whole outlook on everything and you could go "Aha, SURPRISE! IT'S EARTH!" and really toy with your readers' minds.
     
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  14. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    The link in my signature!
     
  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I think everyone is forgetting the biggest indicator that they are still on Earth. The moon isn't going to change much in 250 million years. The surface might have changed a little bit, maybe some more craters, but any human looking at it would clearly recognize our moon.
     
  16. General Daedalus
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    General Daedalus Active Member

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    There will be some significant differences. The moon will be significantly further away (tides will change dramatically, and the climate will be a lot different (not in terms of global warming- it will change anyway; more helium, variable CO2, and so on).
     
  17. Usagi
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    Usagi Member

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    Nice idea :)

    They'd recognise it as Earth if animals or plants alive now (or in 2180) had similar looking relatives alive in the future. Jellyfish evolved over 500 million years ago so its feasible they will still be alive in 250 million years. On land, maybe cockroaches would still be around? Presumably at least one biologist would be a part of the colony, who would recognise any modern-day plant descendants. Obviously most animals/plants would look different, so they would work it out slowly.

    This is just speculation, though. I don't know much about this kind of thing.
     
  18. John Calligan
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    John Calligan Member

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    No doubt. Nothing to fear though! Mars is the future.

    Once the Earth moves out of the sun's habitable zone, Mars will start to warm up.
     
  19. JadeX
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    JadeX Active Member

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    Come to think of it, the premise of this story sounds a lot like the TV show "Terra Nova", but in reverse.

    In Terra Nova, the year is 2149, Earth is overpopulated, choking to death on pollution, resources are dwindling, and the whole planet is basically on the verge of death. Scientists discover a rip in the space-time continuum, and build a portal to travel through it - to a time approximately 85 million years into Earth's past. They set up a colony called "Terra Nova" (Latin for "New Earth" - although it is actually old Earth, but you get the point) in the past to re-start human civilisation on a clean slate. Waves of colonists are sent back in time on a one-way trip through this portal to be the first settlers of Terra Nova.

    It's a really great show, you should check it out! It's on Netflix. Unfortunately it was cancelled after one season, despite getting very high ratings. Doubly unfortunate as it ended on a major cliffhanger. But still an excellent show nonetheless. It did a fairly nice job of depicting the difficulties of setting up a new-world human colony to replace a dying Earth - maybe it can give you some ideas!
     
  20. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    The short answer - yes. Our earth now will always be recognizable simply because it's a symbol. I can easily imagine some future society with avatars, logo's, etc all relegated to a past earth image. Especially when that last ship leaves and the image/pic is taken..That picture will live on and on and on. Earth is after all our home.
     
  21. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am curious why it would even matter to the colonists? Did they not realize the portal was a time travel device? I would wonder who were the first guinea pigs to use it and report: "all is well, come on over". After just 13 years they would probably be struggling to survive unless the group sending them knew just what to expect and included the right tools to make their survival odds possible.
     
  22. VioletKnight
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    VioletKnight Member

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    There's a "docmentary' called the Future is Wild, which speculates on what animals will look like after millions of years of evolution. I haven't seen it for a long time, but it was interesting. Although yours might have not evolved the same way due to the whole apocalypse thing.
     

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