powers are available to common citizenry
nanotechnology of recent decades has conferred powers to citizens that
would be considered superhuman by 21st century standards. These upgraded
"transhumans" could perform feats regarded as Godlike to denizens
of earlier times.
upgraded individual - if transported back to the year 2000 - would be
impervious to weaponry and nearly impossible to contain. They could
morph their body into a seemingly infinite variety of forms depending
on the situation encountered.*
in a maximum security prison, for instance, they could alter their own
molecular structure, allowing them to walk through walls.* They could broadcast electromagnetic pulse waves to disable electronic
devices, vehicles and other objects. Bullets and other projectiles would
pass through them with no effect. Microscopic cameras, distributed throughout
their body, would function as an all-round 360° sensor - covering
the entire electromagnetic spectrum and making it impossible for an
attacker to surprise them.
sprint at lightning speed and cross a variety of dangerous terrain types:
even molten lava would present no obstacle to them. If necessary, they
could levitate from ground level to the roof of a skyscraper in seconds.
They could turn themselves invisible, morph into another person entirely,
or stretch their limbs like elastic.
ways, they would resemble a comic book superhero or video game character.
manipulate their environment in various ways, generating enough body
heat to light a fire, for example, or turning inanimate objects into
advanced nanotechnology tools, or modifying the properties of liquids.
They could heal a wounded person just by touching them. They could read
thoughts and emotions, or extract recent memories.
near others of their kind, they could link and combine their powers
to even greater levels – harnessing the power of local weather,
for example, or lifting objects weighing thousands of tons.
capabilities would be phenomenal. This 24th century person could view
individual atoms with the naked eye; or if they wanted to, use their
telescopic vision to see distant astronomical objects. They could hear
a whisper from miles away, or filter specific voices from a cacophony
of background noise. They could determine a precise chemical composition
just by tasting, touching or smelling it.
their various biotechnology aids and physical upgrades, they would never
require sleep. They could even survive without food and water - living
instead off the energy of their surrounding environment, which would
be absorbed into their photosynthetic, piezoelectric skin. This same
external layering would keep them at peak levels of physical performance,
as well as shielding them from the elements.
many citizens of today have abandoned their homes altogether and taken
to a nomadic lifestyle, for this and other reasons. Often, a "home"
of today is little more than a small booth or alcove in the street,
where a person can temporarily recharge and recuperate, or utilise the
greater powers of the net. Even a person's body is often temporary,
as they shift between various real world and digital environments. Much
of the Earth is now being transformed into a gigantic computer grid
where individuals can physically "plug" themselves in.
has opted to make this transition. Even now, there are segments of society
which are adamant in maintaining a natural, minimally upgraded human
body. These people are now a definite minority, however, given the practical
immortality and other benefits offered by transhumanism.
Voyager I reaches the Oort Cloud
The Voyager I probe has been travelling through space since 1977. It reached a milestone in 2012 when it departed the heliosphere and began to interact with the interstellar medium.* Its next milestone would have to wait another 300 years, however. By 2310, it has reached the inner part of the Oort Cloud – a vast collection of ancient comets and icy planetesimals, forming a gigantic sphere that surrounds our Solar System.* This begins at roughly 2000 astronomical units (AU), extending for another 50,000 AU. Its outer edge marks the end of the Sun's gravitational dominance, beyond which lie stars like Alpha Centauri. The probe has long since been passed by faster spacecraft, which have already explored these neighbouring systems. It remains drifting onward as a historical relic, taking 30,000 years to pass through the Oort Cloud.
Click to zoom out
has been terraformed
the middle of this millenium, the Red Planet has been turned from a cold,
dead world into a lush, Eden-like paradise. This monumental achievement
was the result of human collaboration on a planet-wide scale. It created whole new industries and undreamed
was initiated in the early 22nd century. From the outset, it faced major
hurdles. Aside from the sheer scale of geo-engineering an entire world,
there were political, social and cultural issues too. Many of the early
settlers on Mars actually wished for it to remain in its raw, primeval
state. Some had an almost spiritual connection to the place.
Like certain environments on Earth, they believed it held an intrinsic
worth and unique value that should never be replaced. To better it with
manmade artificial processes would somehow make it less natural, less
as they came to be known, were a potent force during the early Martian
government.* They were a thorn
in the side of planning authorities, who faced not only protests and
demonstrations, but direct sabotaging of industrial activity from some
of the more extreme individuals.
opposing side of this debate were the "Greens", initially
consisting of mostly corporate interests. They included a greater proportion of cyborgs and transhumans, who became
adapted to the environment of Mars at an earlier stage and were thus
able to survive in the lower air pressures.
the power and influence of the Greens began to dominate. Improved security
measures were introduced, guarding much of the infrastructure and terraforming
equipment from attack. Giant solar
mirrors were placed in orbit. Measuring tens of kilometres across, these
reflected and focussed the Sun's rays onto the poles.
included the seeding of artificial extremophile bacteria. These began
converting CO2 into oxygen. Vast swarms of nanobots were
later introduced, accelerating this process and offering a greater degree
of control, since they were fully programmable. They also helped to
produce nitrogen, as well as regulating the overall composition of the
of enormous "heat factories" were constructed. These belched
out huge amounts of CO2 – which was converted by the bacteria
and nanobots – but also had the effect of raising air pressure.
the volume of water on Mars, comets and ice-rich asteroids were manoeuvred
into orbit. These were made to slowly burn up as they descended, without
impacting on the ground and causing damage.
left the problem of Mars' lack of a magnetosphere, which exposed the
surface to harsh ultraviolet radiation. Giant superconducting rings
were placed around the latitude lines - focussed mainly on the equator
- and buried deep below ground. These were thousands of miles in length
and took many decades to construct, but were sufficient to create an
artificial magnetic field.
23rd century, frozen lakes and ponds were beginning to form in some
regions. This was followed by successful growing of the first lichen
and mosses, genetically adapted to withstand a harsher environment.
Entire seas and oceans began to appear in the 24th century, along with
the first trees and other flora, plus certain arthropods and insects.
of chain reactions and positive feedback loops began to accelerate the
process, fueled by even greater technological advancements. By the 2400s,
a panoply of animals were being introduced including fish, birds, reptiles
and mammals. Eventually, it was declared safe for unaided, fully biological
humans to walk on the surface of Mars. Humanity had created a second
Flash animation by Will Fox, using images produced by Daein
Nitrogen trifluoride emissions from 2000 AD have been naturally reabsorbed
Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) is a colourless, odourless, man-made greenhouse gas – most frequently used by the electronics industry in the late 20th and early 21st century. It was required mainly for plasma etching, the cleaning of chambers in which silicon chips were made, along with semi-conductor and LCD panel manufacture. A number of other important applications were also found in the photovoltaic and chemical laser industries.
Present only in trace amounts, nitrogen trifluoride was considered an environmentally preferable substitute for sulfur hexafluoride and fluorocarbons. Nevertheless, it had extremely high potential as a greenhouse gas when measured on a per molecule basis, with 12,300 times the heat-trapping ability of CO2 over a 20 year period and 17,000 times over 100 years. Despite its low concentration, emissions were also growing extremely rapidly, from just 0.02 ppt (parts per trillion) in 1980, to almost 1.0 ppt by the early 2010s, a 50-fold increase.*
Emission reduction strategies were proposed in subsequent years* to limit its use and slow its contribution to global warming. The atmospheric lifetime – defined as the length of time that a molecule resides in the atmosphere before removal by chemical reaction or deposition – was calculated at 550 years. For NF3 emitted in the early 21st century, complete reabsorption by natural means would therefore take until 2550 AD.*
and other waste products are disappearing from Earth's biosphere
of the plastics, tin cans and other waste products from the 20th-21st
centuries have decomposed by now. They caused significant harm to the
environment during their time on Earth – injuring millions of birds, fish
and other animals.* Subsequent
generations of these materials were produced in ways that minimised
now, Venus has been transformed into a habitable, Earthlike world. The
planet's entire orbit was shifted, bringing it closer to the "Goldilocks
Zone", while its day-night cycle was accelerated from 117 days
to 24 hours.
were redirected from the Oort Cloud and Kuiper Belt. These were guided
through the solar system and into the upper atmosphere of Venus, releasing
vast quantities of water.
involved the capture and removal of CO2, achieved by the
seeding of nanobots, which absorbed this and other toxic gases and replaced
them with breathable oxygen.
tropical oceans, Venus now has two large, dominant landmasses - Aphrodite
and Ishtar - along with a number of smaller subcontinents and islands.
The average surface temperature has stabilised at around 25°C.
asteroid 1950 DA is passing very close to the Earth, possibly
on a collision course
kilometre-sized asteroid was first discovered in 1950. It was observed
for 17 days, then lost until 2000 due to uncertainties in the orbit.
In 2001, new radar and optical measurements confirmed a mean diameter
of 1.1 km with a very fast rotation period (2 hours), an orbital velocity
of 21.3 km/s and a dense composition of nickel-iron.
also found to have a potentially very close approach to the Earth, on
16th March 2880. Scientists estimated a 1 in 300 chance that the asteroid
would strike the planet on this date - the highest probability of any
known asteroid at the time. Were such an impact to occur, it would be
catastrophic to civilization, given the size and velocity of 1950 DA.
If landing in the ocean, coastlines would be hit by 200 ft tsunamis,
running inland over 4 km. There would be major effects on the climate
technology is so advanced by 2880 that the asteroid can easily be moved
to a safe orbit, if required.
biological humans are typically 7ft tall now, with lifespans of 120+*
centuries now, the technological singularity has produced enormous wealth
and prosperity throughout the solar system. Across-the-board improvements
in healthcare, education and living standards have led to humans evolving
into a race of giants – 7ft tall, muscular and highly athletic, with
lifespans of 120+. Note that this lifespan refers to purely biological
(non-cyborg) humans, who comprise a small minority by now. The vast
majority of citizens have opted for genetic engineering and biotechnology
upgrades which offer practical immortality.
The Pillars of Creation are no longer visible from Earth
The Pillars of Creation were vast, towering formations of interstellar gas and dust – part of the Eagle Nebula – located around 7,000 light years away from Earth. They became famous in the late 20th century when the Hubble Space Telescope observed them in detail for the first time, showing a trio of dramatic and eerily beautiful structures. These pillars, the tallest being seven light years in height, functioned as "stellar nurseries" for newly-born stars.
Later observations in the infrared part of the light spectrum revealed a nearby cloud of hot dust, believed to be a shock wave produced by a supernova. This was gradually destroying the pillars and blowing away their contents.* The appearance and movement of the cloud suggested that it would have destroyed the pillars about 6,000 years previously, in 4000 BC. However, given the finite speed of light – and the distance of 7,000 light years to the Pillars of Creation – it would take until the year 3000 AD for this destruction to be visible from Earth.*
Click to enlarge
is becoming a Type 2 civilisation on the Kardashev scale
exponential growth of AI has allowed the manipulation of matter on scales
barely dreamed of before. The largest structure now being built in space
is a "Dyson Sphere".* This hollow
shell is of such gargantuan proportions that its radius stretches from
the Sun to beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
direction of a Godlike superintelligence, vast swarms of automated,
self-replicating ships are building it, using material from the asteroid
field, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud.
primary purpose is to harvest literally all of the energy output from
the Sun: some 386 yottajoules (YJ) per second.* However, it also serves the function of shielding our inner solar system
from gamma rays and other incoming hazards. Even the potential possibility
of alien invasion has been taken into consideration during the sphere's
walls have a gravitational field of 1G and are made from wholly new
states of matter that were unknown to science in previous centuries.
These can withstand the colossal tensile forces required to maintain
structural integrity. This curved, impossibly large surface – equivalent
to billions of planet Earths – is becoming a habitat for many sentient lifeforms,
with portions being terraformed and given stable atmospheres, oceans
and landmass. A sizeable percentage of citizens are now migrating to
these strange artificial worlds. This includes a diverse mix of biological
humans, as well as transhumans, synthetics, clones, androids, sentient
animals and other communities. A series
of additional Dyson Spheres are being constructed around neighbouring
star systems – some even larger.
begun its journey to the stars in the 22nd century, humanity is reaching
a landmark in its exploration of space. A region nearly 1,000 light
years in radius has now been settled (or about 2 percent of the total
length of our galaxy).
reversal of the Earth
reversals have occurred many times before in Earth's history - typically
every 300,000 years. The last time was around 780,000 BC. This means
the planet is long overdue for such an event.
onwards, the intensity of Earth's magnetic field was known to be declining
by six percent each century. By 3500, the poles are beginning to completely
particles from the Sun affect satellites and other near-Earth vessels
which lack adequate protection. However, plants and animals on Earth
are unaffected. During the reversal, the solar wind induces a sufficient
magnetic field in the ionosphere, temporarily shielding the surface
in the absence of the normal magnetic field.*
The Grand Unification Energy is witnessed
first particle accelerators were small, terrestrial-based
devices. In the early 21st century, they resulted in energies of only a few tera-electronvolts. By the middle of the 4th millenium, however, an accelerator covering the
entire perimeter of our Solar System has been built. This becomes the single largest experiment in history – powerful enough to accelerate
particles to a state known as the Grand Unification Energy, allowing the very earliest moments of the Universe to be simulated.
The electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear force (three of the four
fundamental forces) are viewed for the first time
at precisely the same strength: becoming effectively different aspects
of a single force. Quarks and electrons, too, become the same, achieving another unification.*
science is reaching its ultimate potential
biological and technological descendants of humanity are attaining the
perfection of computer science. Hardware and software are becoming the absolute fastest, most efficient
they can ever possibly be, within the known laws of physics. All of the knowledge to do so has now been largely achieved. From this
point onwards, computer science becomes obsolete as a field of study – the only "unknowns" left for researchers to discover will
be in other areas of science.*
19While some computer industry observers might assume that computer
science has already reached its pinnacle, Tennenhouse said he calculated
that only 2 percent of the potential of computer science has been realized
the current rate of progress it will take another 2000 years to figure
out the rest." See DOD Scientist: Lose the Humans, Wired: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1999/08/21354
Accessed 12th February 2010.