Planet 9, if it exists at all, doesn’t come any closer to Earth than two hundred times the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and takes twenty or thirty thousand years to complete an orbit. How this thing is going to whack us out of existence next week, or at all, is something only prestigious scientific journals like the UK Sun and Maxim magazine have a grip on.
The planet itself is not going to change course and give us the astronomical whupping that we deserve; rather, as it comes in from the boonies of the solar system, it dislodges comets from their regular orbits and sends them hurtling toward Earth. These bad boys are going to do the apocalyptic damage, wiping us all out as they did the dinosaurs back in the day.
Or not—they could miss. Space is, after all, mostly space, and Planet 9 could chuck asteroids at us for millions of years and not put one over the plate. To use one of those analogies that astronomers love, if the Earth was the size of a tennis ball, Planet 9 would be the size of a softball, and if you were holding that tennis ball, the softball would be really, really far away—possibly on the surface of the Moon. The killer asteroid would be the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Planet 9 may really want to reduce civilization to ashes, but it would be like standing in Los Angeles and trying to strike out a batter in Tokyo.
Apparently there is some evidence that big chunks of sky fall on us in a cycle of once every twenty-seven million years or so, and this unsettled space weather could be caused by Planet 9, but the bad news for those of you hoping not to have to pay the cable bill next month is we seem to be stuck right in the middle of that cycle and pretty much have nine million or so years to go before Planet 9 wipes us out.
A lot can happen in nine million years, to put it mildly, and so we are almost certain to eliminate ourselves before then if we try vigorously enough. Scientists are working overtime to create artificial intelligence, with the ultimate goal of creating robots smart enough to figure out they don’t want us for anything. We’re probably going to need them to really exterminate ourselves, because global warming or nuclear warfare or both probably aren’t going to do a thorough enough job, leaving a few Mad Max types running around in scanty clothing and souped-up ATV’s trying to finish each other off.
A massive solar flare that destroyed the Internet would probably only destroy America. For most Americans, that would likely be satisfying enough, but from a permanent extinction of mankind point of view, it’s not getting the job done.
Of course, nine million years gives Jesus, the Ultimate Terminator, plenty of time to show up again, and give us the Apocalypse we really deserve and have been pining for, but at the rate He’s going, He might need it. He’s two thousand years late and counting.
The guy might as well be on Planet 9.