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Can we really predict when doomsday will happen? - William Poundstone © Getty Images

William Poundstone: Can we really predict when doomsday will happen?

Published: 05th July, 2019 at 19:51
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How long does the human species have left? William Poundstone explains the controversial formula that thinks it might be sooner than you think (or not).

In this episode of the Science Focus Podcast, we’re going to try to guess when the end of the world will happen.


Don’t worry, it’s not as gloomy as it might sound. Those people waving ‘The End is Nigh!’ placards are probably completely wrong about an imminent doomsday… Probably.

There is a formula that has circulated for the last 50 years which suggests we can pinpoint the end of something with a reasonable amount of certainty. It has been used to predict any number of things, including successful stock market investments, the run of Broadway shows and even how many Harry Potter books go missing from local libraries.

But since the 1990s, it has sparked considerable debate among theorists about when humanity as we know it will come to an end.

We ask William Poundstone - whose new book How To Predict Everything (£12.99, Oneworld) explains the history of this enigmatic equation - how long we have left as a species on this planet, whether we can shift the odds in our favour, and how we can predict, well, pretty much everything else.

How long do you think we have left, and why? Let us know on Twitter at @sciencefocus, and don’t forget to rate and review us wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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Alexander McNamaraOnline Editor, BBC Science Focus

Alexander is the former Online Editor at BBC Science Focus.


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