Letters of Intent received in 2019

LoI 2021-2089
GA Symposium: Astronomical hazards for life on Earth

Date: 16 August 2021 to 19 August 2021
Category: GA Symposium
Location: Busan, Korea, Rep of
Contact: Gonzalo Tancredi (gonzalo@fisica.edu.uy)
Coordinating division: Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology
Other divisions: Division A Fundamental Astronomy
Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science
Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics
Division E Sun and Heliosphere
Division F Planetary Systems and Astrobiology
Division G Stars and Stellar Physics
Division H Interstellar Matter and Local Universe
Division J Galaxies and Cosmology
Co-Chairs of SOC: Francisco O'Reilly (philosopher) (University of Montevideo)
Daniel Hestroffer (IMCCE - Observatoire de Paris)
Pete Riley (Predictive Science, San Diego, California)
Chair of LOC: None (None)



End of life
Astronomical hazards
Mass extinctions
Near Earth Objects (NEOs)
Sun activity
Sun evolution
Space weather
Solar neighborhood
Fate of the Universe
Space facilities
Historical and philosophical for the end of life



Symposium "Astronomical hazards for life on Earth"

The end of humanity has been a topic of great concern across ages and civilizations. This is reflected in the wealth of references throughout many cultures and religions. Over the last several decades, studies have allowed us better understand the most likely threats to life on Earth, both in the past and the future. Mass extinctions, which have thus far been caused by natural phenomena, have most substantially affected life on Earth. This symposium will focus on a comparative analysis of natural threats, caused by astronomical phenomena, which could lead to a new extinction, and not the anthropic causes. Current and future mitigation strategies will also be discussed.

We plan to cover all potential hazards caused by astronomical phenomena. Thus, this is multi- and cross-disciplinary topic, encompassing almost all IAU Divisions. A preliminary list with the corresponding Divisions includes:

Solar System: Near Earth Objects (NEOs), Earth magnetic field - Div. F, Div. A
Sun: Activity, Evolution - Div. E
Passing stars, SN, Black holes - Div. G
Cosmic Rays, GRB - Div. D
Passage through IM, Motion in the Galaxy, Galactic center - Div. H
Galactic collisions, Fate of the Universe - Div. J
Social aspects, Historical and philosophical perspective - Div. C
Effects in Telecommunications, Space facilities, ... - Div. B

This list of astronomical phenomena covers many temporal and spatial scales, yet from a philosophical and theological perspective, questions concerning the end of life exceed even these scales, reducing it to an even more fundamental problem.

Questions concerning the ultimate end and meaning of life were for long regarded as religious issues. This has been recently challenged. Moreover, the idea that the world will come to an end supports a nihilistic view towards life, since there would be little meaning to it. However, we propose that carefully exploring the distinction between cosmological, religious, and philosophical interpretations of the ‘end’ of life may reveal a deeper understanding of both the individual’s and society’s place within the cosmos.

To achieve this objective, we would assemble a team of subject matter experts including astronomers, philosophers, and theologians, who would work together to address this central question for Humanity.

Colleagues from other IAU Divisions are being invited to participate in the SOC.