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Monday, May 15, 2006

Armegeddon the reality

--posted by Tony Garcia on 5/15/2006

Sometimes Hollywood actually comes close to getting it right, I guess.

We remember the two movies, Armegeddon and Deep Impact, about an asteroid and a comet colliding with the Earth. Those were 8 years ago. Were you scared enough then?

An article from last year (link no longer available) which I had in my e-mail mentioned an asteroid that was threatening to hit the Earth.
A giant asteroid the size of three football pitches will make the
closest flyby of Earth in recorded history for an object of its size,
scientists said yesterday.

It will pass between the Earth and the Moon and will even come closer
than the orbit of many telecommunications satellites, although
astronomers insisted that there was little chance of a collision with
the massive rock.

Anxious Earthlings need not worry too much for another 24 years,
however, because asteroid 2004 MN4 is not due to make its closest
approach to Earth until about 10pm London time on Friday 13 April
2029.

The latest calculations of the rock's orbit suggest that it will come
so close that it will probably be visible to the naked eye from
Britain. It will shine in the sky as a dim, fast-moving star - the
first asteroid in modern times to be clearly visible from Earth
without the aid of a telescope or binoculars.
So what are the grim chances?
The asteroid was first discovered in June 2004 and calculations of its
orbit made by astronomers last Christmas Eve suggested that there was
a one in 60 chance of it colliding with the Earth. However, within a
week this was revised down to virtually zero probability of a
collision.
Now before we move on I want to point out that the scientists thought as of 12/24/04 there was an 1 in 60 chance of a collision and then as of the date of the article (2/15/05) they said the chance of collision was "virtually zero".

I decided to follow up on the story and found this one from 5/6/06...just a few days ago. The asteroid has been renamed to Apophis and the chances for impact went from "virtually zero" over a year ago to this:
Currently, the risk of impact is set at 1 out of 6,250, but observations scheduled this weekend could take some of the uncertainty out of the orbital predictions.
Nervous yet?

Not me. I say it's time to take up seriously heavy cigar smoking so we can die before that even becomes a worry.

The best part of the article is the comments about the United Nations.
Schweickart told the audience here that a third leg of the triad for protecting Earth from NEO impacts is probably the most challenging, albeit subtle.

β€œIt is complicated by two related facts,” he said. NEO impacts are a global threat, not a national one, and the only decision-making body representing, essentially, the whole planet is the United Nations β€” a body not known for timely, crisp decision making, he added.
Apophis. Wonder where they got THAT name from. Ah, here we go. "Apep--Other Names: Apophis, the Destroyer. Patron of: evil and darkness." Interesting.

Just some food for thought.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

I think whoever named it is a "Stargate: SG-1" fan.

May 16, 2006  
Blogger Mayor of Tommyville said...

Or reads the book of Revelation. Apollyon perhaps?

May 16, 2006  

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