Sci-Fi Years From Now (Timeline Excerpts)


An Old Friend
I love reading timelines.
Science fiction timelines are so satisfying to me but I also love scientific ones.

Future of the Earth, the Solar System and the Universe
If a failure of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin "ice plug" in the next few centuries was to endanger the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, it will take up to this long to melt completely. Sea levels would rise 3 to 4 meters. (One of the potential long-term effects of global warming, this is separate from the shorter term threat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet).
The rugged terrain of Badlands National Park in South Dakota will have eroded away completely.
1.4 million
The star Gliese 710 will pass as close as 13,365 AU (0.2 light-years to the Sun) before moving away. This will gravitationally perturb members of the Oort cloud, a halo of icy bodies orbiting at the edge of the Solar System, thereafter increasing the likelihood of a cometary impact in the inner Solar System.
100 million
Earth will likely have been hit by an asteroid comparable in size to the one that triggered the K–Pg extinction 66 million years ago, assuming it cannot be averted.
1 billion
The Sun's luminosity has increased by 10 percent, causing Earth's surface temperatures to reach an average of ~320 K (47 °C, 116 °F). The atmosphere will become a "moist greenhouse", resulting in a runaway evaporation of the oceans. Pockets of water may still be present at the poles, allowing abodes for simple life.
50 billion
If the Earth and Moon are not engulfed by the Sun, by this time they will become tidelocked, with each showing only one face to the other. Thereafter, the tidal action of the Sun will extract angular momentum from the system, causing the lunar orbit to decay and the Earth's spin to accelerate.
10^12 (1 trillion)
Low estimate for the time until star formation ends in galaxies as galaxies are depleted of the gas clouds they need to form stars. The universe's expansion, assuming a constant dark energy density, multiplies the wavelength of the cosmic microwave background by 1029, exceeding the scale of the cosmic light horizon and rendering its evidence of the Big Bang undetectable. However, it may still be possible to determine the expansion of the universe through the study of hypervelocity stars
10^15 (1 quadrillion)
Estimated time until stellar close encounters detach all planets in star systems (including the Solar System) from their orbits. By this point, the Sun will have cooled to five degrees above absolute zero.
Estimated high time for all nucleons in the observable universe to decay, if they don't via the above process, through any one of many different mechanisms allowed in modern particle physics (higher-order baryon non-conservation processes, virtual black holes, sphalerons, etc.) on
time scales of 10^46 to 10^200 years.
Around this vast timeframe, quantum tunnelling in any isolated patch of the vacuum could generate, via inflation, new Big Bangs giving birth to new universes.
Because the total number of ways in which all the subatomic particles in the observable universe can be combined is 10 10 115 {\displaystyle 10^{10^{115}}} 10^10^10^56, a number which, when multiplied by 10 10 10 56 {\displaystyle 10^{10^{10^{56}}}} 10^10^10^56, disappears into the rounding error, this is also the time required for a quantum-tunnelled and quantum fluctuation-generated Big Bang to produce a new universe identical to our own, assuming that every new universe contained at least the same number of subatomic particles and obeyed laws of physics within the range predicted by string theory


An Old Friend
Future of humanity
Most probable estimated lifespan of technological civilization, according to Frank Drake's original formulation of the Drake equation.
Time required to terraform Mars with an oxygen-rich breathable atmosphere, using only plants with solar efficiency comparable to the biosphere currently found on Earth.
1 million
Estimated shortest time by which humanity could colonize our Milky Way galaxy and become capable of harnessing all the energy of the galaxy, assuming a velocity of 10% the speed of light.
100 million
Maximal estimated lifespan of technological civilization, according to Frank Drake's original formulation of the Drake equation.
1 billion
Estimated time for an astroengineering project to alter the Earth's orbit, compensating for the Sun's increasing brightness and outward migration of the habitable zone, accomplished by repeated asteroid gravity assists.

Spacecraft and space exploration
Pioneer 10
passes within 3.8 light-years of Barnard's Star.
2 million
Pioneer 10
passes near the bright star Aldebaran.
1 billion
Estimated lifespan of the two Voyager Golden Records, before the information stored on them is rendered unrecoverable.

Technological projects
Planned lifespan of the Long Now Foundation's several ongoing projects, including a 10,000-year clock known as the Clock of the Long Now, the Rosetta Project, and the Long Bet Project.
Estimated lifespan of Memory of Mankind (MOM) self storage-style repository in Hallstatt salt mine in Austria, which stores information on inscribed tablets of stoneware.
1 million
Planned lifespan of the Human Document Project being developed at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
1 billion
Estimated lifespan of "Nanoshuttle memory device" using an iron nanoparticle moved as a molecular switch through a carbon nanotube, a technology developed at the University of California at Berkeley.
more than 13 billion
Estimated lifespan of "Superman memory crystal" data storage using femtosecond laser-etched nanostructures in glass, a technology developed at the University of Southampton.


An Old Friend
Human Constructs

Estimated atmospheric lifetime of tetrafluoromethane, the most durable greenhouse gas.
1 million
Current glass objects in the environment will be decomposed.

Various public monuments composed of hard granite will have eroded one meter, in a moderate climate, assuming a rate of 1 Bubnoff unit (1 mm / 1,000 years, or ~1 inch / 10,000 years).

Without maintenance, the Great Pyramid of Giza will erode into unrecognizability.

On the Moon, Neil Armstrong's "one small step" footprint at Tranquility Base will erode by this time, along with those left by all twelve Apollo moonwalkers, due to the accumulated effects of space weathering.
100 million
Future archaeologists should be able to identify an "Urban Stratum" of fossilized great coastal cities, mostly through the remains of underground infrastructure such as building foundations and utility tunnels.

Astronomical events
13,000 years
By this point, halfway through the precessional cycle, Earth's axial tilt will be reversed, causing summer and winter to occur on opposite sides of Earth's orbit. This means that the seasons in the northern hemisphere, which experiences more pronounced seasonal variation due to a higher percentage of land, will be even more extreme, as it will be facing towards the Sun at Earth's perihelion and away from the Sun at aphelion.
6 million
Comet C/1999 F1 (Catalina)
, one of the longest period comets known, returns to the inner solar system, after traveling in its orbit out to its aphelion 66,600 A.U. (1.05 light-years) from the Sun and back.

Nuclear power
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, for nuclear weapons waste, is planned to be protected until this time, with a "Permanent Marker" system designed to warn off visitors through both multiple languages (the six UN languages and Navajo) and through pictograms. (The Human Interference Task Force has provided the theoretical basis for United States plans for future nuclear semiotics.)
15.7 million
of iodine-129, the most durable long-lived fission product in uranium-derived nuclear waste.
60 million
Estimated supply lifespan of fusion power reserves if it is possible to extract all the lithium from seawater, assuming 1995 world energy consumption.
5 billion
Estimated supply lifespan of fission-based breeder reactor reserves if it is possible to extract all the uranium from seawater, assuming 1983 world energy consumption
150 billion
Estimated supply lifespan of fusion power reserves if it is possible to extract all the deuterium from seawater, assuming 1995 world energy consumption.


An Old Friend
200,000 (2,000th century)
The period of the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. Earth is at its height, covered with megacities, with five Moons and a population of 96 billion, the centre of a galactic domain that covers a million worlds and a million species. However, its development is retarded for 91 years by the manipulations of news space station Satellite 5, until it is put back on track by the Ninth Doctor (Doctor Who - The Long Game).

The Solar System is destroyed as the Human race leaves its cradle for the last time (Babylon 5).

The world is in an ice age, Africa and Spain have joined and the Amazon rainforest has vanished. The world is ruled by giant sea birds, lizards with sticky frills, killer birds and huge, carnivorous bats. (The Future Is Wild)

The 57th Segment of Time, when solar activity wipes out all life on Earth. Refugees of humanity leave for the planet Refusis (Doctor Who - The Ark).

The Time Traveler stops on a shoreline, finding a dark world where intelligent life is wiped out, the day/night sequence has vanished, the air thinner, and the Moon gone. Shivering, and with darkness and falling snow, he stares as a solar eclipse begins - and a single football-shaped creature hops about near him - H. G. Wells' novel The Time Machine

After humanity's final extinction, an insect-like race arises on Earth and becomes the dominant species. They are possessed by the Great Race of Yith, who have been forced to leave their previous home on a planet near Taurus. At some point in the future, this race will also die out, and the Yithians will be forced to relocate again to Mercury, taking over the bodies of a plant-race living there. (H.P. Lovecraft)
Homo Sapiens have completely died out along with large predators and herbivores. The primary predators are descendents of rodents, appearing as new forms of bears, wolves, and large cats. Even penguins evolve into a kind of small whale - Dougal Dixon 's After Man, 1981

The world is very hot due to increased volcanic activity, the continents are barely recognizable and Antarctica is in the tropics. The world is ruled by enormous tortoises, amphibious squid, bird-eating insects and four-winged, UV-resistant birds. There is a mass extinction around this time. (The Future Is Wild)

Events of A. E. van Vogt's The Book of Ptath (1943).
The world now contains one continent (much like Pangea) and one global ocean. Most of the world is a desert. The world is inhabited by many species of worm, flying fish, arboreal intelligent squid and hopping snails. (The Future Is Wild)

Events on a chunk of Michigan that's traveling through space. (Sharr White's Safe From the Future)

The year 5.5/Apple/26, when the Sun's expansion is finally allowed to consume the Earth (Doctor Who - The End of the World).
100 trillion
The stars and suns have burnt out at the end of the universe approaches. The remnants of the human race live in silos, trying to get to the last paradise, Utopia. the events of Doctor Who (utopia)

The End of Time
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in the novel by Douglas Adams.
  • The Inquisitor decides there is no afterlife or god, and that the only purpose in existence is to lead a worthwhile life. So, he constructs a time machine to judge every person in history. (Red Dwarf)
  • The guru Gaspar and the God of War, Spekkio, await the ones who will slay Lavos and its spawn. (Chrono Trigger) (However, the timeline of Chrono Trigger is completely independent of our Earth's).

Beyond the End of Time
The climax of Isaac Asimov's story The Last Question takes place. The end of time itself is said to be ten trillion years in the future, and the climax of the story occurs even later, after a "timeless interval".