The old Cole Porter song goes:

Have you heard? It’s in the stars
Next July we collide with Mars
Well, did you evah?
What a swell party this is!

Well, it won’t happen next July—so far as anyone knows—but a study in the journal Nature suggests such a collision might well occur by and by. As told in the San Francisco Chronicle :

For many millennia, the scientists say, the orbits of the solar system’s eight planets will remain stable, just as they are today, but eventually small eccentricities in their flight paths around the sun could cause Mercury, Mars, Venus and Earth to smash into each other, either one at a time or all at once - the ultimate chaotic disaster.

But because that predicted chaos is so far in the future, the scenario actually “sounds a note of definite cheer,” and the planets will be safe for a long, long time, said Gregory Laughlin, an astrophysicist at UC Santa Cruz whose written commentary accompanies the French scientists’ report in Nature.

The “long, long time” in question is about five billion years.

The thing is, somewhere around that same time the sun is expected be running low on hydrogen and entering its inital death throes by expanding into a red giant, so spoiling the weather around these parts pretty thoroughly.

Ah, well. We can hope and pray to be in the most secure possible arms by then.

The classic version of Well, Did You Evah? is surely the one by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby in the film High Society . Not the greatest of films, perhaps, but it certainly features what amount to some superb music videos, like this one of the aforementioned Sinatra/Crosby performance.

Articles by Sean Curnyn

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