With everything that’s happening this year – from countless calamities to the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic raging all throughout the globe, people are not keen on hearing what would happen that is possibly worse than what everybody’s handling with at the moment.
If one will picture how the world could possibly end, from flesh-eating zombies roaming around the globe to catastrophic calamities, the one thing that would surely put the cherry on top is a cosmic event so grand that it can wipe all forms of life as we know it.
A system model, devised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and astrophysicist Daniel Tamayo of Princeton University, aims to predict such an event, in particular on how could exoplanets on our universe might collide with one another and wreak havoc to other heavenly bodies surrounding them.
The model, which is dubbed ‘Stability of Planetary Orbital Configurations Klassifier’ or SPOCK is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that aims to map the orbits of exoplanets on our galaxy.
Exoplanets or known as extrasolar planets are planets outside our Solar System. There are a lot of them out there with more than 4,000 worlds recorded.
Because each planet has its own orbit pattern, it sometimes occurs that there are others that are unstable which can cause collisions to neighbor exoplanets. The impact may not be completely predictable but the repercussions may affect everything around it – even our planet Earth may not be safe.
SPOCK will be able to identify which exoplanets and orbits are unstable just based on their orbital pattern recorded by the system. It first records the first 10,000 orbits of a particular exoplanet and then there’s a machine that will take over the process. The machine is ‘trained’ and will eventually ‘learn’ of the exoplanet’s orbit based on the data fed to it earlier.
We don’t need to worry though as these exoplanets are millions of lightyears away from us here on Earth and SPOCK is not an ominous instrument that will tell exactly which way our world’s going to end.
As its creator puts it in a press release, “We can’t categorically say ‘This system will be OK, but that one will blow up soon.”
“The goal instead is, for a given system, to rule out all the unstable possibilities that would have already collided and couldn’t exist at the present day,” he added.