In California, there is a widespread belief that the state’s fault-ridged landscape is overdue for a massive earthquake. Worry over “The Big One” is often expressed as a side note to daily life or a joke referencing the 1996 movie “Escape From L.A.,” in which Los Angeles has become an island due to a series of earthquakes that separated it from the mainland. But not everyone is dispassionate when it comes to the inevitability of an apocalyptic temblor. Bob Kay believes that an earthquake is coming sooner rather than later and that it will cause unprecedented destruction in Southern California. To help his wife and daughters survive, Kay has planted hundreds of edible plants on his property and is training his 12-year-old daughter in self-defense. He says he is willing to spend $40,000 to stockpile food and is considering spending $500,000 on a helicopter — just in case his six motorcycles aren’t enough. Kay, and his plans, will be featured in the next episode of the series “Doomsday Preppers” on the National Geographic Channel. “You’ve Got Chaos” will air Dec. 11 at 9 p.m. and repeat Dec. 15 and 18.
Imagine Earth’s evolution — volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, mass extinctions and, seemingly impossibly, the rise of human beings from single-celled beings. While these images of massive upheaval and change are correct, there are some creatures that survived these big changes with little effect. In “Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms,” paleontologist Richard Fortey examines a dozen or so plants and animals that, as he puts it, “time has left behind.” Fortey, who was senior paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London until his retirement in 2006, looks at specimens including the book’s namesakes — the well-armored horseshoe crab, which lived as many as 450 million years ago and looks much the same today when encountered on a Delaware beach, and the velvet worm, whose ancestors emerged from the sea at least 300 million years ago and is now found in New Zealand. The book moves from China to Newfoundland to Yellowstone, discovering a collection of durable creatures and an inescapable truth: “In the very long term, we are all finally dead,” writes Fortey. “Even the velvet worm.”