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The Seneca Ruin of the Dinosaurs – a Report from Berlin

The Seneca Ruin of the Dinosaurs – a Report from Berlin

The death of the dinosaurs as shown in the 1940 movie “Fantasia” by Walt Disney. An incredibly powerful and moving scene – a true Seneca ruin for the poor creatures walking in a hot and dry landscape. This scene is also reasonably realistic: at that time it was already clear that heat had caused the mass extinction that killed the dinosaurs (although a branch of the group survived in the form of birds). The same threat that we face nowadays: global warming generated by an enhanced greehouse effect.

I was in Berlin on March 26th to present my book, “The Seneca Effect” to the Urania Scientific Society. It was not a presentation for scientists but for the general public and I decided to have some fun by presenting an assorted series of catastrophes. That included the demise of the dinosaurs, showing a scene from Disney’s “Fantasia” movie, and the nearly obligatory scene of the collapse of the towers of the world trade center.

Of course, my talk was not just a list of collapses, one after the other. I tried to highlight the physical reasons behind the catastrophes, how the collapse of complex systems tends to follow some laws, although it cannot be described in terms of simple mathematical equations. The basic theme of the book is that there is a common core in all these cases and that the collapse of social systems, such as the Roman Empire, can be described in terms similar to those of the blowing up of a balloon.

Not everybody agrees with me on this point, some people say that humans are different, they are masters of their destiny, and that human ingenuity can overcome the laws of physics – at least in some cases.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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