The Hard Science Of Hard Sun
♦ BBC’s new sci fi thriller Hard Sun from the brain of Luther‘s Neil Cross starts in January and here’s a chat with its scientific advisor Professor Brian Cox
How did you become part of the Hard Sun team?
I got involved through the BBC. They put me in touch with Neil, who wanted to have a chat about different apocalyptic scenarios. He wanted to get an idea of the probability of such a scenario, and establish whether a five-year timescale was conceivable and whether you would get that kind of notice.
So is that idea conceivable?
Yes, there are conceivable apocalypses which you’d have notice of. There will be one in the future – the question is just when.
What do you think is the most likely apocalypse we might face?
The most likely apocalypse is one we cause ourselves by wiping ourselves out through ignorance. We are potentially the only civilisation among two billion stars in our galaxy. The most likely outcome is that we will wipe ourselves out by being stupid. But assuming we find a way to stop being stupid, we may still face an apocalypse. But at least we’ll know there’s nothing we can do about it.
Does the possibility of an apocalypse scare
No, in fact, quite the reverse. It tells me that we’re extremely lucky. Understanding nature should tell us that we are astonishingly fortunate to be here. There may be very few places in the universe where beings can say that. That should inform us that we should study Nature. The only insurance policy we have is to understand Nature.
What conclusions might we draw from watching Hard Sun?
That we live in a dangerous universe. In fact, it’s quite remarkable that Earth has survived for 4½ billion years without a major catastrophe wiping out all life!
And here’s the other Hard Sun chats we have run as well
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