Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. The scientists of 1939 would like to add “moon explosion” and “giant meteor” to that list—and they created some terrifying paintings to show you just what humanity’s demise will look like. Popular Science published those apocalyptic illustrations, along with a very upsetting three-page article, in its September 1939 issue.
In the image above, thousands of people run from Manhattan as meteors streak down around them. But their flight is futile, because a city-sized asteroid is about one nanosecond away from obliterating the Eastern time zone. “People that it missed would still be threatened, not only by terrible earthquakes, but even more by a searing air blast of hurricane velocity that would mushroom out from the point of impact,” Popular Science explains.
Look at those stylish men and women, fanning themselves on the beach as a metropolis burns to ash in the distance. Do they know they are about to die?
If Earth manages to avoid a sun-burst, sun-death, and giant meteors, it will be our own moon that finally does us in.
Finally, Popular Science explains, the moon will get so close to Earth that it will experience “land tides,” causing our satellite to burst into rocky chunks that then rain down on Earth, “completing the destruction of anything alive.” The rest of the moon pieces will orbit around Earth in a ring, and our planet will live out its days like a grotesque version of Saturn.
Whew! Glad that’s over. Read the full story in the September 1939 issue of Popular Science.