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You are a normie on 2019 Earth and suddenly you can't find anybody. You've searched for a few hours, tried spamming out emails, random phone calls - no response. What would be the most jarring evidence that everyone in the world has disappeared?

You would be looking for assurance that you are alone, I imagine. By "most" I will settle for the largest number of people by some proxy like land area.

I imagine things like: 1) Within a few days it would be "dog eat dog" as wandering pets try to adjust to lack of pet food. 2) Within a week it would be "Lord of the Flies" as insects make food stores impossible to enter. 3) Within a few weeks it would be "trial by fire" as the stores of flammable material eventually ignite.

But I'm struggling to build the world of the first few hours, the first few months, the first few years, etc.

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closed as off-topic by Mołot, elemtilas, JBH, SPavel, Anketam Apr 25 '18 at 12:28

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    $\begingroup$ In this scenario it is immediately clear that most of the people are indeed disappeared. What is not certain is whether all people have gone. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 23 '18 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ The Quiet Earth: imdb.com/title/tt0089869 $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Apr 23 '18 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ So wait! This isn't a 'fringe' episode where the physical laws of nature are falling apart in an alternate universe from the one we are in? This is about the same universe? How boring :D $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Apr 23 '18 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ have you try pizza delivery hotline? forget the bank they are most probably using recorder and emergency they are just busy... i'm just saying. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Apr 24 '18 at 1:26
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    $\begingroup$ Well, if most but not all of the people disappear wouldn't Twitter have the trending topic of #whereiseverbody with a ridiculously low threshold for trending? $\endgroup$ – hszmv Apr 24 '18 at 20:43

10 Answers 10

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Go to StackOverflow and see if a question was posted in the last minute.

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    $\begingroup$ Better yet, post an off-topic question and see how long it takes for it to be put on hold. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 24 '18 at 12:42
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    $\begingroup$ Faster better yet - post a question on Stack Overflow under the c tag. If it isn't downvoted-with-snarky-comment-referencing-obscure-paragraph-in-the-C-standard within 60 seconds, either A) the end of the world has occurred, or B) a new release of the C standard has come out and the language lawyers are having a holy war regarding obscurata that no one else would notice or care about. $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis Apr 24 '18 at 16:55
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    $\begingroup$ @BobJarvis: And I'm not sure which of the two options is worse. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Apr 24 '18 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @BobJarvis You can up that one by adding the [c++] tag as well and mentioning a "C/C++ compiler". ;) $\endgroup$ – Siguza Apr 25 '18 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ Or you can just go to reddit.com/r/all, sort by new and see if something has been posted recently. Same thing, but far more users. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Apr 25 '18 at 8:29
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Turn on the news.

This may seem obvious when what you want is to get informed about the world, but it should work fine for this. Most of the biggest news channels-- CNN, Fox, MSNBC-- have 24-hr news cycles, meaning somebody is always on the air discussing something. Allowing for commercial breaks, you should see someone doing a live broadcast within a few minutes.

If nobody comes on, this doesn't necessarily mean you're the only person left alive, but it does mean there are an awful lot of people dead or gone.

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    $\begingroup$ This is one of the first things the surviving pair in Bokeh do upon waking up to a seemingly deserted Reykjavík. Followed by live webcams of various locations around the world. $\endgroup$ – rek Apr 23 '18 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ Shortwave or longwave radio news would be more reliable than TV, since nationwide TV networks require quite a bit of infrastructure. The failure/destruction of a few choice satellites, say from a solar storm, or malicious jamming, would take out these networks. Indeed, the story is that British nuclear subs are supposed to listen for BBC Radio 4 on longwave to check for the destruction of their country. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Apr 23 '18 at 23:06
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 Agreed, but the OP specified that "electricity in most of the areas you've made phone calls to is still working and most websites are still up." So I was assuming that all of that infrastructure still works as well. $\endgroup$ – PlutoThePlanet Apr 24 '18 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @PlutoThePlanet As I said nationwide broadcast TV is sent by geostationary satellite, so an event like a space weather storm could permanently disable them and make quite a mess. (In 1998, the Galaxy IV satellite failure took out 80% of US pagers, CBS, Reuters, NPR) The power grid is somewhat susceptible to space weather (and somewhat reliant on GPS), but the Internet/phone networks are fundamentally terrestrial fiber optics and would be unaffected. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Apr 24 '18 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ If you are gonna check the News, why not check Twitter instead? They get an embarrassing amount of their news from there, anyways... $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Apr 25 '18 at 8:16
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Listen to the radio and wait for the power to go out.

Checking satellite orbits isn't a feasible way to check for other humans. Such things are done autonomously and even if not, the process would require special access to the exact place where the adjustment would be done or special equipment to determine any deviations. And, if you are indeed a "normie" in 2018, you're not going to know anything about how to identify a satellite let alone track its orbit with any precision.

Power plants will shut down within hours or days without human intervention though. So waiting for the power to go out will be a good sign that at least the people responsible for that job are now gone.

Alternatively, just listen for radio broadcasts. Significantly more people in the world have access to radio transmission equipment than access to satellites or power plants. If no one is broadcasting on any frequencies, then you'll have a much better evidence for there being no one else left in the world.

Finally, if the power really is staying on and the internet is still active. Just check Reddit (or some other heavily used site) and sort by new posts. If other people are out there, they'll post something online, just as you might be doing.

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    $\begingroup$ Interestingly enough whether the Britain's Radio 4 channel is broadcasting is a test used to indicate whether London has been hit by an attack (presumed nuclear). If Britains nuclear submarines find no broadcast on Radio 4 for a number of consecutive days they it is to be assumed that the UK has been attacked and sealed envelopes are to be opened with the Prime Minister's orders on what to do next. $\endgroup$ – simon_smiley Apr 24 '18 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ @simon_smiley Interesting, do you have a reference for that? $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Apr 24 '18 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ Power (and other utilities) is the key. If they are not human attended they will fail soon. Sewers will overflow from failing pumping stations and leaks and overflows in tanks and whatnot. Nuclear power stations will have some scary percentage go critical when automatic shut-down sequences fail. Nuclear submarines (and missile silos) may launch strikes when headquarters fail to respond. Basically you will have destruction rather fast and rather big until the flammable stuff is consumed. $\endgroup$ – KalleMP Apr 24 '18 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ @notstoreroughtdirt, Taped? Radio 4? you heathen. $\endgroup$ – JCRM Apr 25 '18 at 6:11
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    $\begingroup$ @notstoreboughtdirt BBC stations have a dead-air fallback system which is active at all times. If there is more than a certain duration of dead air, the station automatically switches over to playing a looped recording. Even if that fails, there's a difference between dead air (carrier signal still running but no audio on it) and off the air (no carrier signal). $\endgroup$ – Graham Apr 25 '18 at 12:16
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Assuming you still had a working internet connection and a steady power supply, you could get a view of the globe by watching a live feed from the ISS and comparing it to a previously recorded video. If everyone had indeed disappeared (and not just the people close to you), you should should be able to observe a lack of light pollution in the areas where cities used to be.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, but wouldn't normie be losing power at the same time as everyone else? So, he would detect the disruption of power grids less stable than his own that are on the night side of the planet, but that method would end when his own power went out. But this limitation is true of all the other answers, so @Bdrs wins the prize, I think. $\endgroup$ – Dave Babbitt Apr 24 '18 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ @DaveBabbitt I read the answer as implying that nobody would be there to turn the lights on at night, so the night side would be darker. $\endgroup$ – J F Apr 24 '18 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ "Darker", indeed, but not "dark". I assume (without even trying to seek for any sources to confirm) that at least 50% of our nowadays light pollution comes from automated systems, that will turn the light out as usual, without taking much care that there is no one (or that there is only one person at all) to observe or make use of that light. So the good question is, whether a regular normie, not a professional astronaut, ever before watching ISS broadcast or NASA's light pollution images, is able to tell the difference (that night is "darker")? $\endgroup$ – trejder Apr 25 '18 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ I would expect a much larger portion than 50% of the light pollution to be coming from the automated systems (mostly outdoors), and a very small part from manual systems (mostly indoors). And @DaveBabbitt, it's customary to wait at least 24 hours to accept an answer, or you'll exclude half the globe from giving it a chance. $\endgroup$ – pipe Apr 25 '18 at 6:00
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Bizarrely enough, Tinder may be the solution for your problem.

Some social networks such as Facebook and G+ (or whatever Alphabet is up to now) have features to find people near you, but the distance in which they search is usually fixed, non-disclosed, and doesn't go beyond a city. Tinder on the other hand allows you to hook up with strangers in another continent if you set your forever alone radius search radius large enough.

Don't forget to match everybody you see. Also keep in mind that:

  • The fact that they are matcheable does not mean they are online.
  • The more matches you make, the more chances you have to contact someone.

Since this seems like a life or death situation, you might set your preferences for both men and women to increase chance of contact. Then hope that you are not just having a bad trip from spoiled acid and have to explain stuff to your spouse when you're sober again.

You may also try some popular sites where anyone can post. Just remember, if the site has "chan" in its name, then whatever answers you is probably not human.

As for satellites, all a new orbit would tell you is that a satellite has been moved, but unless you work as a satellite operator that does not tell you why, when, nor how. Skip that.

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    $\begingroup$ That would tell you if their PHONES were still there... if Johnny popped out of existence whilst trolling for a good time... he is going to show up. Twitter seems like a better bet. After an hour or so, any hashtag is going to be trending if you are the only person posting stuff. $\endgroup$ – OhkaBaka Apr 23 '18 at 22:44
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    $\begingroup$ You can be the only PERSON posting stuff, but a lot of Twitter Bots will still keep posting. $\endgroup$ – Chaotic Apr 24 '18 at 14:14
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    $\begingroup$ '...if the site has "chan" in its name, then whatever answers you is probably not human.' Correct, mostly just trolls. $\endgroup$ – Tophandour Apr 24 '18 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Chaotic That's an interesting idea... If all the real people logged out and Twitter was left to the bots, what would the conversations look like after a while? Come to think about it, would we notice any difference? $\endgroup$ – Oscar Bravo Apr 25 '18 at 9:46
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Use both the oldest and newest technologies at the same time:

I hate to say it, but FaceBook is the busiest site on the planet, so just fire off friends requests to all of the friends of your friends...

The phone: don't call randomly, but go by address: As web sites are still up, go to your country's equivalent of whitepages.com, start looking in your own zip code, and your own street, go to the streets around you and widen your search geographically the less response you get.

In no time you'll know whether 90% (1 in 10 responds) 99% (1 in 100), 99.9%, ... has disappeared. A couple of days of searching would mean 99.95% has disappeared.

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    $\begingroup$ This method would not find me even if I'm alive since I don't answer random friend requests or unknown calls. Not sure how many people it would work on these days. $\endgroup$ – pipe Apr 25 '18 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ @pipe It wouldn't work on me neither as I'm not on Facebag and have a private mobile number... that's why I started with "I hate to say it but..." $\endgroup$ – Fabby Apr 25 '18 at 12:16
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Light a Large Fire

Inspired by the Eruption of Mount Edgecumbe prank.

Head to the nearest junkyard and light a pile of tires on fire. Tires make thick black smoke that can be seen for miles.

Lighting a big smelly fire that can be seen for miles would alert anyone left around. A smoke signal is a time honored and ancient way of getting people's attention at a distance.

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    $\begingroup$ Good but... as I read that I realized that if the population just vanished you are going to have airports and cities on fire as fuel laden cars and aircraft just crash willy nilly into whatever is closest. $\endgroup$ – OhkaBaka Apr 23 '18 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ It might take a while for people on other continents to notice. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Apr 24 '18 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ No, this seems to be a weak answer. OP says to check, if everyone on Earth has disappeared. Putting a fire on even a largest pile of garbage you can image or even setting a fire on entire airport won't bring you to the answer "is there anyone there on the other continent" even a bit. $\endgroup$ – trejder Apr 25 '18 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ Lighting a fire makes people know that you are alive - you have no idea about anyone else. $\endgroup$ – pipe Apr 25 '18 at 6:05
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You can't tell not by any means quickly. Most of the world doesn't have unrestricted internet access. Most of the world is very poor. If nearly everyone in China and North Korea and other restrictive countries had disappeared, it would take a long to find out. It would take a long time to find out about disappearance of the poor people in less restrictive countries. All the other answers are about tiny percentages of the world's population disappearing.

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    $\begingroup$ As much as North Korea is on the news these days, I’m not sure that if all of her citizens disappeared that we wouldn’t notice. As for a “tiny percentage” - I’m pretty sure the entire Western world is a bit more than a “tiny percentage.” Most, perhaps not, but tiny? $\endgroup$ – DonielF Apr 24 '18 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ @DonielF : Correct - the EU alone is ½ billion people - about 6.6% of the world's population. Once you add in USA, Japan, rich people in India etc, etc, I suspect you'd get up to about 25% of the world's population. $\endgroup$ – Martin Bonner Apr 24 '18 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ Also, connectivity is way up. In 2013, 6 out of every 7 people had a cell phone (more than toilet access). newsfeed.time.com/2013/03/25/… $\endgroup$ – user3082 Apr 24 '18 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Still the question is detect the non-presence of most of the world's population presumably quickly not a percentage less than 50%. How do you contact everyone with a cell phone at once? $\endgroup$ – user2617804 Apr 25 '18 at 0:54
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Call a major technology company's Tech Support. If nobody replies, or there's almost no hold music, you're in trouble.

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    $\begingroup$ Nobody replies? That's normal. You mean, if I can reach tech support, everybody except tech support has disappeared. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 25 '18 at 15:14
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You could do like "The Last Man On Earth" TV show with Will Forte, drive around, leave messages on billboards, finally settle down and see if anybody finds you.

"In 2022, a cataclysm strikes Earth, seemingly wiping out the population save for former family man and bank employee Phil Miller. Sad and very lonely, Phil travels the United States, Canada and Mexico in his RV searching for other survivors. Striving to hold onto hope that there is at least one other living person, he tries to make the best of circumstances until his path finally crosses with that hoped-for other survivor -- and all becomes more comforting that the person happens to be a woman. As more survivors turn up, complications arise and Phil finds it difficult to co-exist with others again."

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