The apocalypse is approaching rapidly, according to a wide variety of media outlets. It is therefore the first responsibility of the systems engineering community to model it correctly. In a technical note published entirely coincidentally on April Fool’s Day, we contribute to that important work. Links to the technical note and downloadable SysML models are available at the end of the post.

Modeling How The World Ends

In Figure 1, we model potentially world-ending threats in terms of three factors, the source or origin of the threat, the nature of the threat, and the target of the threat.

Basic structure of the End of the World - How The World Ends

Figure 1 Basic structure of the End of the World

In Figure 2, we show a variety of threats, ranging from Asteroid Strike to Singularity, the subordination of humanity to artificial intelligence.

threats to the end of the world - How The World Ends

Figure 2 Threats

Having specified the possible threats, MBSE also provides means to quantify them. The SysML model created includes parametric diagrams where we calculate the normalized risk of a threat, the product of its risk of occurrence, coverage of population and impact. The model recognizes that threats are not uncorrelated, for example, even a limited nuclear war may give rise to climate change through global cooling. Figure 3 shows a solved instance for this scenario, with the comforting result that total cumulative risk per decade is no greater than 2.6%.

Cumulative risk of nuclear war and climate change end of the world - How The World Ends

Figure 3 SysML parametric analysis, cumulative risk of limited nuclear war and climate change

Technote: How the World Ends

SysML Models:

About the Author

Dr. Dirk Zwemer ( is President of Intercax LLC (Atlanta, GA), a supplier of MBE engineering software platforms like Syndeia and ParaMagic. He resides in an underground bunker in an undisclosed location.

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