Popular Science

Apocalypse When?

Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive

Authors: Wells, Willard

  • Provides a unique analysis of the chances of human survivability in the short and long term
  • Develops a formula for survival based on four separate measures
  • Gives the numerical estimates of human survival
  • Substantiates analysis with statistical models of similar processes
  • Refutes the existing Doomsday argument
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eBook $19.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-09837-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $29.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-09836-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
About this book

This book will be a key trailblazer in a new and upcoming field. The author’s predictive approach relies on simple and intuitive probability formulations that will appeal to readers with a modest knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and statistics. Wells’ carefully erected theory stands on a sure footing and thus should serve as the basis of many rational predictions of survival in the face of not only natural disasters such as hits by asteroids or comets, but perhaps more surprisingly from man-made hazards arising from genetic engineering or robotics.

Any formula for predicting human survival will invite controversy. Dr Wells counters anticipated criticism with a thorough approach in which four lines of reasoning are used to arrive at the same survival formula. One uses empirical survival statistics for business firms and stage shows. Another is based on uncertainty of risk rates. The third, more abstract, invokes Laplace’s principle of insufficient reason and involves an observer’s random arrival in the lifetime of the entity (the human race) in question. The fourth uses Bayesian theory.

The author carefully explains and gives examples of the conditions under which his principle is valid and provides evidence that can counteract the arguments of critics who would reject it entirely. His deflection of possible criticisms results from two major premises: selecting the proper random variable and “reference class” to make predictions, and the recognition that if one does not know the law that governs a process, then the best prediction that can be made is his own formula.

Reviews

From the reviews:

“After introducing the reader to key ideas in probability and statistics, Wells starts to develop ideas of probability based first on random-hazard rates … and then ideas based on our own history of survival as a species, and as a civilization. … the book reasonably accessible to the general reader … . The book is well organized, and is written in an easy style … .” (Robert Connon Smith, The Observatory, Vol. 131 (1222), June, 2011)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $19.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-0-387-09837-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $29.95
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-0-387-09836-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Online orders shipping within 2-3 days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Apocalypse When?
Book Subtitle
Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive
Authors
Series Title
Popular Science
Copyright
2009
Publisher
Praxis
Copyright Holder
Praxis
eBook ISBN
978-0-387-09837-1
DOI
10.1007/978-0-387-09837-1
Softcover ISBN
978-0-387-09836-4
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
200
Number of Illustrations and Tables
25 b/w illustrations
Additional Information
Jointly published with Praxis Publishing
Topics