How will the world end? We dodged the 2012 doomsday predicted by the Mayan calendar, but scientists have provided several possible scenarios for the world's demise. Hollywood has its own set of ideas, from zombies to giant earthquakes to alien invasions.
According to Ron Miller, former art director for the Albert Einstein Planetarium at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C., it's not just earth's destruction we have to worry about. He told The Huffington Post in an email:
From the end of civilization we go to the end of human life on Earth, then to the end of life of any kind, then to the destruction of the planet itself. But it can get even worse than that. After the Earth is gone, the solar system itself will eventually be destroyed, the sun will become a dark, cold cinder and, after many billions of years, will come the heat death of the entire universe.
Click through for his images of our world's end. Story continues below.
The Yellowstone super-volcano has erupted, burying much of the western U.S. under heavy ash. Here, a group of scientists brave the conditions to examine Mt. Rushmore. Meanwhile a nuclear winter has settled over earth, lowering temperatures and causing mass die-offs of crops and animals world-wide.
Rising sea levels due to global warming slowly inundate low-lying cities such as London...
A massive solar flare cooks the earth. We've already suffered the effects of solar flares many times in the past: they have been responsible for many massive power failures.
A swarm of meteors -- perhaps the remnants of a disintegrated comet -- slams into New York. One has already made a crater this size in Arizona.
It's entirely possible we may bring about our own destruction.
A Godzilla-sized earthquake strikes Tokyo, catastrophically leveling the city.
Statue Of Liberty
The collapse of an underwater mountain in the Azores sends a tidal wave thundering into New York harbor.
The passing of a rogue planet disrupts earth's orbit, sending it millions of miles further into space...and further from the sun.
There are any number of apocalypses we don't have to worry about, although every year someone dreams up some new fantasy. A persistent one is the devastation that will be caused by a close approach of Planet X, aka Niburu. Fortunately, Niburu is entirely imaginary.
Three billion years from now, the sun will balloon into a vast red giant star. It will gradually absorb the nearer planets, roasting the earth as its red-hot surface draws nearer. As seas evaporate and mountains melt, the last remaining human artifact is, ironically, a Mayan stele.
The impact of an asteroid today -- the size of the one that killed off the dinosaurs -- would have just as devastating an effect on life today. Like the eruption of a super-volcano, vast amounts of ash and dust thrown into the upper atmosphere will shield the earth from the light and warmth of the sun and a winter will set in that will last for years.
A black hole strays past the earth, sucking our planet into oblivion.
Gamma Ray Burst
A nearby star erupts, sending a beam of gamma rays zapping toward earth. Some 450 million years ago a similar event occurred and nearly 60 percent of all life on earth died.
In about 4 billion years our galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy will run headlong into one another. The two galaxies will unwind one another and finally merge into a giant elliptical mass of stars. In the process, the sun and its planets may be flung into intergalactic space.
Ron Miller has created many other engaging science image series -- including what our planet would look like with Saturn's rings, how planets in our solar system would appear to us if they were as close to earth as the moon, and what it would look like if our sun died.