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Space Science

Asteroid 2004 MN4 May Hit Earth After All 857

Posted by timothy
from the take-evasive-action-spaceship-earth dept.
ControlFreal writes "Asteroid 2004 MN4 was introduced earlier on Slashdot, and although scientists are now fairly certain that is will miss earth on April 13th, 2029, the modification to its orbit caused by Earth's gravity may still cause an impact one or a couple of orbits further down the road, the Times reports; the impact probabilities in 2035, 2036 of 2037 will not be known until the exact modification to its orbit is known; in 2029, that is. By then it may be too late for effective counter-measures. An impact would cause an energy release equivalent to about 1 Gigaton of TNT (~4e+18 Joule), and while that won't cause a massive extinction event, it causes widespread devastation. More info on 2004 MN4 can be found here and here."
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Asteroid 2004 MN4 May Hit Earth After All

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  • Good! (Score:2, Interesting)



    From the summary:


    An impact would cause an energy release equivalent to about 1 Gigaton of TNT (~4e+18 Joule), and while that won't cause a massive extinction event, it causes widespread devastation.

    I hope this rock hits our planet. I really do.

    This may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late. It would be an unprecedented catastrophe, but still survivable, and it seems like this is the only way we're going t

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I've got a list of politicians and patent lawyers all ready and waiting for it.

      The only problem is, I'm not sure whether we should be on it or they.
    • Our Eulogy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Alaren (682568) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:23PM (#12273552)

      No.

      The only Eulogy the human race gets is "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

      • by joe_bruin (266648) on Monday April 18, 2005 @05:27PM (#12275153) Homepage Journal
        NOT EARTH, that's where I keep all my stuff!!!
      • Re:Our Eulogy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JWSmythe (446288) * <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:48PM (#12277819) Homepage Journal
        There will be no eulogy. Humanity will die quickly.

        Denial will reign, as no preparations are done to evacuate the planet. Some will say there is no way to evacuate everyone. Others will say there's nowhere else to go. The real thinkers will know, if we had started years ago, we would have had a chance.

        Most will die from the intial impact.

        The impact will crack the planet's crust, resulting in volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunamis, which continue for years.

        Many will die due to the dependance on transportation systems, or more specifically the failure of them.

        A very few will survive in the cold dust and ash filled atmosphere, through the shaking ground, and giant destroying the costal areas. They will survive for many months on their preserved food reserves, and filtered air. Alone, they will consider themselves the lucky ones.

        In the end, none will survive.

        Many millennia later, other civilizations will have grown in far outlying areas of the universe. They will look at the dry and barren planet, covered by rocks and dirt, and say "nothing could have ever lived here. It's always been a dead planet"

        Eventually, despite taunts, archeologists will find disputed traces of life on the planet. Some artifacts will be found. They will be found frozen in the ice of the polar ice caps, or burried in the sands of the vast deserts. Still others will be below hundreds of feet of dirt, on the iced tops of frozen oceans.

        The artifacts will be carefully examined for many years. There will be many theories to what they are, and what the markings may mean. Could there have been life on this far distant planet? Could a civilization have thrived in this desolate place? Maybe these creatures could be a clue to our ancestory?

        In the end, their markings will be considered random discolorations. The artifacts will be labeled as "common rocks", and thoughtfully put into storage well away from public sight.

        No, as egotistical as we are, there will ne eulogy. There will be no memory of anything we've accomplished. We will be part of the dust on a barren planet, spinning slowly around a dying star.
        • Re:Our Eulogy (Score:4, Insightful)

          by loraksus (171574) on Tuesday April 19, 2005 @05:00AM (#12279708) Homepage
          Not that I disagree, but damn...
          Perhaps someone should read a little less Nietzsche.
        • Re:Our Eulogy (Score:3, Interesting)

          by pizzaman100 (588500)
          The real thinkers will know, if we had started years ago, we would have had a chance.

          Speculation here, but likely what ever condition we have on earth after an asteroid impact would still be better than the current conditions on the moon or on mars. If we can design a self sustaining mars colony, we can probably design a self sustaining post apocalype earth society as well.

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Momoru (837801) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:26PM (#12273602) Homepage Journal
      Establishing an off planet colony isn't exactly the same as getting up to turn the TV off, even if we started really focusing on this idea now, without some new propulsion technology i doubt even by 2029 we will have this option.
      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:41PM (#12273840) Homepage Journal
        without some new propulsion technology i doubt even by 2029 we will have this option.

        New propulsion technology? You mean like Nuclear Pulse [wikipedia.org], Nuclear Thermal [wikipedia.org] (also in Trimodal [nuclearspace.com] for low atmospheric work), Nuclear Salt Water [wikipedia.org], M2P2 [wikipedia.org], and hundreds of other mature, semi-mature, or proposed methods that we haven't used because it's "too damn expensive to get off this rock"?

        Propulsion is *not* the problem.
        • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

          by delong (125205) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:55PM (#12274053)
          The problem with those designs is legal - the US, Britain, and (through the former USSR) Russian are prohibited by the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the Outer Space Treaty from exploding nuclear devices in space. That prohibition may also cover engines like Nuclear thermal if it releases radiactive material. I'm all for nuclear propulsion, but those pesky international treaties get in the way.
        • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

          by InfoVore (98438) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:58PM (#12274836) Homepage
          New propulsion technology? You mean like Nuclear Pulse

          I posted this to my local SF group boards a while back. Hope you like it:
          10,000 Tons of Launch Weight: $500 million.

          2000 Mini-nukes: $1 Billion
          Finding a country to let you launch: Priceless

          For normal trips to LEO, there are chemical rockets.
          For everything else, there's Project Orion.

          Several guys in the group work for Lockheed and want it on a T-shirt.

          Cheers,
          I.V.
    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:26PM (#12273617)
      The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.

      How do we know that? Who says they didn't? All of human history would barely register on the fossil record. An intelligent saurian race could well have evolved, had a catastrophic world war, etc. and we'd be none the wiser... except maybe a large extinction event...
      • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DickBreath (207180) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:16PM (#12274325) Homepage
        How do we know that? Who says they didn't? [who says the dino's didn't have a space program.]

        In all the fossil record, we never find one screw nor washer, no bolts, not a single microchip, no industrial manufacturing complexes, etc. There you have it. Proof in the form of lack of evidence :-), in the best tradition of sco.
      • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by STrinity (723872)
        If every human on the planet disappeared tomorrow, our foot-print would be visible in the fossil record for megayears to come. Even if every screw and bolt, nut and washer were crushed beyond recognition by geological processes, they'd still leave behind very distinctive mineral deposits.
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:27PM (#12273620)
      The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.
      - Larry Niven


      Wouldn't it be funny if they did have a space program and just haven't bothered coming back?
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Camel Pilot (78781) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:32PM (#12273697) Homepage Journal
      In general terms, having your collective dna stuck at the bottom of a gravity well relying on the "stability" of a single biosphere is not a a good long term policy.
    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zapadoo (807744) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:32PM (#12273702)
      I hope this rock hits our planet. I really do. This may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late.

      Personally, I think we should focus our efforts on keeping the planet we live on viable. If some big rock later undoes the hard work, so be it.

      Meanwhile we're hell-bent on destroying a perfectly viable planet with our own home-grown stupidity - at the rate we are going we'll eventually finish the job whether or not an asteroid beats us to the punch is just a matter of timing.

    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Funny)

      by darkstar949 (697933)
      More likely is that people will ignore it until a week before it hits because they would treat it the same way as global warming - it doesn't exist until it begins to affect them, and then it sits in committee for awhile while people decide what to do about it.
    • by AliasMoze (623272)
      Even if we had an off-planet colony, how would we populate it? We can't even get a hundred people into space let alone a thousand, let alone a million, let alone a billion.
    • Good opportunity (Score:3, Interesting)

      by armed ahmed (868166)
      So 2035 would be a good time for a scientific instrument to hitch a ride on an asteroid, then?

      Would be a good chance to put a digger on an asteroid, maybe even park a HST-like observatory on it...

      ...almost as good as a lunar base...

    • I really hope not (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:00PM (#12274123) Homepage
      This may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late. It would be an unprecedented catastrophe, but still survivable, and it seems like this is the only way we're going to learn.

      If the sole reason you want a space program is paranoid fear that we might be hit by a rock, that's a pretty sad reason.

      I'd like to visit the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. I'd like to see other star systems. I'd like to advance our knowledge of the galaxy and universe and try to find other life forms.

      I mean, if people were dying left and right by micrometeorites hitting the earth and blowing out people's skulls but no one in power cared, I'd be concerned. That's not the case here.

      Let's keep the fearmongering to a dull roar here. How sick does our society have to be when someone start's talking like a bad sci-fi thriller about the end of the world?

      The sole purpose of any space program should be like any other science program, to make the unknown known and to expand the horizons of human understanding.

      Frankly, if the meteor is coming in 2035, my opinion is that it's pretty much too late now. Get out your sandbags and automatic rifles and prepare for the armageddon (not the movie!).
      • by Enigma_Man (756516)
        That's obviously not the sole reason someone of intelligence would want off this rock, but sometimes to get the unwashed masses moving on something, you've got to light a fire under them (or drop a gigantic rock on them at a few thousand miles per hour).

        Joe sixpack doesn't care about science, or exploration unless it directly affects him. The only reason a lot of the "space race" happened is because people were afraid of the commies. Now that there isn't such a fear, things like NASA get their budget slas
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LaCosaNostradamus (630659) <LaCosaNostradamus@ m a i l .com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:22PM (#12274416) Journal
      "I hope this rock hits our planet [since it] may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late."

      I strongly doubt that. Such a catastrophe will push many governments and citizen groups over the edge of accepting Fascism as a survival tactic. Within such regimes, the ability to look outward to the liberties of space is very repressed. In effect, there will always be a constant reward for killing people and taking their stuff ... and that environment isn't conducive to all the social prosperities and stabilities that we relied upon to even have a space program in the first place.

      2004MN4 would merely whack Humanity back to the social depravities of the Middle Ages. It will take many hundreds of years before cultures rediscover the wonderful benefits of letting your neighbor live long enough to invest in -- and profit from -- your enterprises.
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Funny)

      by scotch (102596) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:47PM (#12274717) Homepage
      mankind has a notoriously short attention span.

      Notorious to whom? Short compared to attention spans of what other species? Compared with animals? Do dogs and cats sit around behind our backs and say shit like this:

      Dog: mankind has such a short attention span
      Cat: tell me about it. me and my feline brethren have been working on catching mice for thousands of years. Some of our members have been known to study a mote of dust for upwards of 4 hours
      Dog: I hear you - it's almost as if mankind is famous for having a short attentions spam. Infamous you might say. Heck, I'd go so far as to say they are notoriously short attentioned - wait, where's my tail? Did you seem my tail?

      Or maybe you're communicating with aliens.

  • by thewiz (24994) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:19PM (#12273483)
    My bet is it will hit Earth on April 13, 2029. After all, it's a Friday!
    I wonder if Jason http://www.fridaythe13thfilms.com/ [fridaythe13thfilms.com] will show up.
    • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12273537)
      Not to worry. As I learned from the movie Armageddon, we can just sent a couple construction workers to the asteroid, plant a dynamite on the asteroid itself.... blow it up before it hits earth. They'll have no problem volunteering as long as they never have to pay taxes again.

  • Orion Project (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:19PM (#12273485) Homepage Journal
    in 2029, that is. By then it may be too late for effective counter-measures.

    Bull. 2029 to 2035 gives us ~6 years to prepare. If the asteroid actually posed clear and present danger, then a crash program to build an interceptor could be accomplished. With apologies to Pournelle and Niven [amazon.com] (warning, associates link), the catch-22 is that we would have to give up our fear of the Orion [wikipedia.org]. Using standard building practices + what we know of advanced hydrogen bomb design, we could potentially launch an Orion within three years. The options would be to either send it on an unmanned kinetic-impact course with the asteroid, or to send a team ala "Armageddon" (or some other lame stop-the-asteroid movie) to manually plant and detonate the charges.

    If I'm reading the info correctly, the asteroid is a mere 46 gigatonnes. So as long as we get to it fast enough, there shouldn't be any difficulty in nudging it into a higher orbit. Of course, we may only be able to buy some time in the short term. Orbital mechanics is tricky, and not as simple as just "pushing" the asteroid out of the way. We may actually have to push it toward earth to slingshot it into a more acceptable trajectory.

    One way or another, we have the tech. It's just scary as all hell to behold, and in a crash program would almost certainly add a small amount to the nuclear pollution that already exists on our planet. But if it's a choice between three random deaths from cancer or millions dead from a massive impact, I think the choice is fairly clear. Especially when the former is theoretical and the later is firm.
    • Re:Orion Project (Score:5, Insightful)

      by c0d3h4x0r (604141) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:35PM (#12273744) Homepage Journal
      Bull. 2029 to 2035 gives us ~6 years to prepare.

      You've never had any experience trying to get the government to actually do anything concrete, have you?
      • Re:Orion Project (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pinkoir (666130)
        You've never had any experience trying to get the government to actually do anything concrete, have you?

        You want an example of the technological progress a government can make in 6 years? Compare a tank from 1939 with one from 1945 (or for a more extreme example, compare an atomic bomb from 1939 with one from 1945). The military technology used by the combatants in WW2 improved massivly over the 6 years of the war and this is while several of the countries were having the crap bombed out of them. When
      • Re:Orion Project (Score:5, Insightful)

        by delong (125205) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:00PM (#12274122)
        You've never had any experience trying to get the government to actually do anything concrete, have you?

        The US did Mercury and Appollo in timeframes that short. And global catastrophe wasn't a motivator then.
      • Re:Orion Project (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ubergrendle (531719) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:07PM (#12274214) Journal
        WWII was fought over a 6 year timespan. That's with technology that consisted of vacuum tube electronics. And it was in a destructive manner...trying to destroy your opponent's means of production. Plastic, RADAR, laser, jet technology, atomic weapons... all developed in 6 years.

        Motivate the human race enough and its ridiculous what we can accomplish. We're 3 generations removed from 'total war' economy. An extinction level event would be sufficient motivation for us to see such economic focus once again.
    • by stlhawkeye (868951) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:59PM (#12274115) Homepage Journal
      We not only have the technology, it's hard to predict what our situation will be as 2030 approaches.

      We all could be gone by then.

      For all we know, the United States of Arabia, formed in 2013, will be the world's lone superpower, we will be driving around in our fuel efficient hydorgen-powered Sayyarrah Ansar 4-doors, created by the Sayyarrah Motor Co in response to rising fuel costs after the world's industrial nations burned through most of the cheaply-accessible Arabian oil, leaving the United States sitting on top of the largest intact oil reserves in the world, which it stubbornly refuses to share. The USA (the Arabian states, I mean) will work with the Brazilians space program and the Federal Chinese States (formed after the Chinese Civil War in 2018) to launch an "asteroid-killer" probe at this thing from the secondary pad at Artemis International Station [asi.org] in the north polar region of the moon.

      Or it'll just, like, Africa, or Canada, or some other place nobody cares about, and we'll just live with it. Or the environmentalists will protest that it likely contains spaceborne elementary life forms and that it's an immoral sin of human arrogance to attempt to save our species by eliminating theirs.

      Print this post out now and re-read it in 20 years, it'll be fun!

  • yikes! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    That's it. I'm moving. This neighborhood is really starting to suck.
  • Bummer (Score:2, Funny)

    by pfizzle (862806) *
    So...let's party like it's 1999?
  • *cue music* (Score:5, Funny)

    by blew_fantom (809889) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:20PM (#12273507)
    ~~Don't wanna close my eyes. Don't wanna fall asleep. 'Cause I'd miss you, baby. And I don't wanna miss a thing. Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do. I'd still miss you, baby. And I don't wanna miss a thing~~~
  • by charon_1 (562573)
    **puts on tin foil hat**
  • 2037... (Score:5, Funny)

    by athakur999 (44340) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:21PM (#12273518) Journal
    I'll be 59 in 2037 which is when I can start withdrawing from some of my retirement accounts.

    I guess I should go ahead and blow my money on a car or something instead since how big my 401k is isn't gonna matter when the monkeys take over the Earth.

  • Other effects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plover (150551) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12273531) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if anyone's thought about the effects if the asteroid doesn't directly strike earth. Could it cut a swath through the geosynchronous satellites, destroying one, two or dozens directly? Might it perturb their orbits enough to destabilize the whole lot of them?

    I wonder how close it would have to come to have an effect like that, and what those probabilities would be like?

    As it is, I'm not losing sleep over a %0.042 chance that this puppy will shorten my retirement.

    • by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) * <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:39PM (#12273822) Homepage Journal
      "Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the drug store, but that's just peanuts to space."

      As a geek, you ought to be ashamed that you even suggested that a tiny little rock would take out dozens of satellites. I can see how an English major or a Journalist could make that mistake, but you are on SLASHDOT here, and you should know some basic things about the space and how big it is.

    • by maotx (765127) <maotx AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:49PM (#12273969)
      I don't know about you but with these numbers from NASA [nasa.gov] I'm getting ready to move to Mars.
    • Re:Other effects (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rorschach1 (174480) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:51PM (#12273992) Homepage
      Well, it's only going to intersect the proper altitude at two points, right? Remember that geosynchronous satellites occupy a very narrow band over the equator. The asteroid may not intersect that plane at all. Even if it did, it'd be unlikely to hit anything.

      I'm not sure what standard spacing is out there, but I'm sure it's at least a few hundred km. The chance of a 1 km object hitting one of these widely spaced, small objects is not great.

      As for perturbation, I'm sure it's negligible. Even if it wasn't, the satellites should have sufficient station keeping ability to stay put.
    • Re:Other effects (Score:4, Informative)

      by stlhawkeye (868951) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:12PM (#12274284) Homepage Journal
      I wonder if anyone's thought about the effects if the asteroid doesn't directly strike earth. Could it cut a swath through the geosynchronous satellites, destroying one, two or dozens directly? Might it perturb their orbits enough to destabilize the whole lot of them?

      That's a lot of space. Geosynch orbit is 22,000 miles. Tack on 4,000 miles for the earth's radius, and it's a shell of space with a surface area of 8.5 billion square miles. Let's pretend we've got 50,000 satellites in that area by 2030. That means 1 sallite per 170,000 square miles. That suggests one satellite occupying a square of space 500 miles x 500 miles, and this thing is under a half mile across, probably less than a quarter-mile. The chances of it impacting anything in that orbit is incredibly tiny.

      Caveat: my math may be off, but the point stands. This object occupies a TINY region of space, and satellits occupy an even TINIER region of space. There's no cloud of buzzing satellites around the planet, they're sparsely populating a huge shell around the planet.

  • 2035 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12273542)
    I knew the Republicans were lying about there being a Social Security crisis in 75 years. Now I don't have to worry about it. Whew.
  • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12273543)
    I reckon if we gather up as much lead and place it by the Oval Office, we might just be able to alter the asteroid's trajectory and save ourselves from self-anihilation.

    So let's start collecting lead! Who's with me?

  • Ha! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sairret (786685)
    I knew my Y2K shelter would come in handy. Who has all the Spam now!?
  • by NekoXP (67564) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:22PM (#12273549) Homepage

    19th January 2038 half of us will be dead! Who needs to count the seconds after
    that? :)
  • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:23PM (#12273558)
    I have no way of knowing, but at the rate technology is going right now, we'll probably have something capable of blowing the thing into gravel by 2035. Or at least something that we can knock it out of the way with.

    I can't even imagine what things will be like in another 30 years...I mean, if in 1915 you told someone that in 30 years a bomb would be built powerful enough to flatten a small city, they'd laugh at you.
    • by grozzie2 (698656) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:31PM (#12274526)
      I have no way of knowing, but at the rate technology is going right now, we'll probably have something capable of blowing the thing into gravel by 2035.

      Check out the timeline for the us space program, and you plot the trend.

      5 may, 1961 - Freedom 7, first manned sub-orbital flight
      20 feb, 1962 - Friendship 7, first manned orbital flight
      21 Dec, 1968 - launch Apollo 8, first manned lunar orbit
      21 July, 1969 - First manned lunar landing
      12 April, 1981 - First launch of space shuttle
      1 feb, 2003 - shuttle fleet grounded

      There isn't much advancement in this curve, and there is a whole lot of retreat. A once proud program, that had the capability to put a man on the moon, just last week, outsourced to get one of thier folks into low orbit. That is a rather telling 'detail' as to just how much advancement is really happening.

      Technology may be advancing, but I wouldn't be counting on anything the usa is developing to be useful in dealing with an asteroid collision scenario. The current administration has priorities higher than space travel, and, the debts they are running up to achieve those goals, will prevent future generations from persueing any meaningful space program during the timeframe in question.

  • by matth1jd (823437) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:24PM (#12273568)
    So this asteroid may not hit the Earth but one will probably slam into us eventually. So why not use this one as a practice run?

    From TFA:

    "This is most likely not the object with our number on it, but one day we will have to address this question and we'll need the technology."

    So let's develop the technology now, when a screw up won't mean utter devastation of part of the planet.
  • by Eunuch (844280) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:24PM (#12273571)
    The Asian earthquake was some magnitudes greater than that. Of course it's all in how the energy is dissipated.
  • by Daravon (848487) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:27PM (#12273619)
    Lets have Microsoft patent asteriod collisons and then we'll send all the lawyers after the asteriod to deliver a cease and desist order. Worst case scenario is that we're out a few lawyers.
  • Bunkers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:29PM (#12273658) Journal
    The exact effects of any impact would have varied based on the asteroid's composition, and the location and angle of impact. Any impact would have been extremely detrimental to an area of thousands of square kilometers, but would have been unlikely to have long-lasting global effects, such as the precipitation of an impact winter.

    I wonder if people will build more bunkers. I know a person who owns a house, and there is a bunker in the back yard, from the days of a USSR nuclear strike threat (Back in the 70's and early 80's the drill for a nuclear strike was to climb under the desk in the school). It looks kinda flimsy to me, I am guessing the salesperson was real good. It looks more like a shed that is half way in the ground.

    But, if someone wanted to make a good bunker, not just to ease the mind, but something to survive in, how deep would it need to be? I live on flat land, so I can not tunnle into a mountain, which I would assume to be the best choice. What is needed for a good oxygen supply, can you generate your own, or do you need an exhaust? How long would you need to stay underground, and where would you store the water and food? And would you have more than one exit out of the bunker, in case one side suffers damage and is burried under?

    I think it would be cool to have a series of bunkers, with some pre-picked neighbors, people you trust. Have 7 or 8 bunkers, maybe a mile apart, each one acting as a node. The chances for survival would increase, and the time would pass quicker.

    • Re:Bunkers? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NightWulf (672561) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:40PM (#12273827)
      This reminds me of that episode of the Twilight Zone, where this block is having a block party, and then they believe the world is going to end with an attack from Russia. The entire episode revolves around the fact that one family has a bunker, and the other neighbors on the block start fighting to get in. Eventually comparing how they should survive over anyone else. The key to having a bunker is to not tell a soul, keep it from the family too if it's at all possible, so no risk of your kids blabbing it.
    • Re:Bunkers? (Score:4, Funny)

      by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:00PM (#12277402) Homepage Journal
      I personally love the idea of building a sock-rolid bunker that is so perfect that I am 100% certain to survive the impact.

      Then, when all my friends and relatives in my section of the hemisphere are dead, I'll enjoy struggling for my own survival without clean, readily available running water and food. And then when I get sick after running low on my own hefty (let's be generous and say it's a 12 week supply) of water, I'll be proud of how I struggle to survive with complications from even the most minor of ailments after my modern drug supply is exhausted or proves ineffective.

      When I use my most awsome shortwave radio, I'll be pleased to see how my important politicains (those who lived, that is) are the ones who are rescued first, and will shrug my shoulders as I look at the wreckage of my antennea array from the blast, hoping my small antennea doesnt eat up my power supply before someone can here me.

      I'll be happy to have fully productive days, too, fending off what might be left of others who managed to survive but were less planful as I, as I count my ammunation running lower every day. I'll be thankful my hungry neighbor (the one living in a bunker right next to me) doesn't have a bigger gun than me, either.

      I for one agree that life after a massive asteroid blast would be well on the high odds of survival and most likely fully worth living. After all: With God, all things are possible 8-D.

  • by houghi (78078) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:31PM (#12273683)
    They know it will be close in the other years, so why not start planning NOW so that if we know it by 2029 for sure we can either use whatever we worked out or use it for something else.

    The reason it will not happen is because it will still not be eminent and it will be something only those earth saving tree huggers could work with.

    Others have more importand things to do, like making money and the plan of the company only looks ahead 5 years, not 50.

    Well, it was nice knowing y'all.
  • by Aspasia13 (700702) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:32PM (#12273694)
    The following NASA page contains an impact risk summary of several near-earth object:

    http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/ [nasa.gov]

    Note that this one is in the top three, but with due respect to Douglas Adams, "Don't Panic" appears to be in order.
  • Homer: It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
    Reverend Lovejoy: Run for your lives people We don't have a prayer!
  • by IronChefMorimoto (691038) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:33PM (#12273724)
    For Christ's sake, scientists -- MAKE UP YOUR FRIGGIN' MIND ABOUT THESE GLOBAL KILLER ASTEROIDS!

    I just went through paperwork HELL getting the "Asteroids, Meteorites, and Other Heaven-to-Earth Bodies" coverage removed from my AllState homeowners insurance. This after I put it on there when you FIRST told us it was going to hit us!

    Then I had to call Jean, my agent, and f*cking tell her to shred that whole contract and contact my mortage lender when you f*cking scientists said, "Whoa -- wait -- it might NOT hit after all. Our bad." But, of course, the fax machine at my office was on the fritz that week (screw all-in-one concepts, HP!), so I had to take a 2 hour ride through traffic BACK to my house to get the paperwork and OVER TO Jean's office.

    Now, after FINALLY getting the signature pages right, 'cause Jean's assistant can't friggin' spell "interplanetary" for sh*t, I gotta do the whole g'damn thing again.

    Christ -- I'm going to just leave it on there this time and pay the extra 20% on my homeowners insurance premiums this year. It's not friggin' worth going through all that hassle, having to take time off, explaining to my boss what why I'm having to factor "global extinction" into my homeowner savings plan, etc. Dammit.

    I guess, now, that those f*ckers from Homeland Security are going to change the f*cking color of the alert this week too. Then I'll have to go back and talk with Jean about that "Dirty Bombs, Biological/Chemical Agents, and Other WMDs" clause. Dammit.

    IronChefMorimoto
  • by cbiffle (211614) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:36PM (#12273761)
    If we don't have time for effective preparations, where do I donate toward the ineffective preparations?

    I, for one, want a massive Wile E. Coyote-style flag to pop out of the Earth immediately before the asteroid hits. Preferably reading "Yipe!"
  • by Drexus (826859) on Monday April 18, 2005 @03:58PM (#12274092) Homepage
    I look at this and know that, like many people, this is a cash vehicle and a licence for the US government to do what always wanted to do. With a big scare like this, the US government can get all the funding it wants to put a nuclear spacecraft into orbit. This will allow them to pour trillions of dollars into the "greater good". While they are at it, they will have a nuclear missile platform in space to control any government it so chooses.... with the "permission" of any partnered countries! "Either you with us, or your terrorists".

    Now NASA gets a blank check to research and develop anything it wants. .. It will be convenient for the US government to use this new "planet saver" platform for other "very important" military moves against "terrorist" organizations.

    Kinda like someone fending off "killer minnows" in a bucket of water using a shotgun and a paint mixer.

    I bet a case of Beer that the US government will make an announcement to develop a space vehicle that has the ability to blast something. Not really thinking that all you need to do is give the big rock a shove, so that it never comes near the earth.
  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:00PM (#12274128)
    Earth's geologic history is pretty clear: It says, quite frankly, that single-planet species don't last. Right now we're a single-planet species. We need to fix that.

    John Young [chron.com]
    Astronaut

    Houston Chronicle
    2004-12-17

    Okay, the Extinction Level Event may never happen in our lifetimes (except on the silver screen)... but why don't we just prepare as if an asteroid was to hit us in the near future anyway? History has shown how the innovation spurred by space programs pays off in unexpected ways over decades (the U.S. kept its technological edge for the rest of the century), and this time, ironically, this might even encourage improvements in the more controversial (e.g. nuclear and defense) technologies with a focus strongly on "saving the planet". The investment it triggers should also help economies around the globe - threshold countries want to go to space for a reason even today, as they have realised the beneficial side effects of such programs. Even if all we ever get out of it is only the "usual, boring stuff" like affordable spaceflight, a boost to astronomy and advances in all fields of technology, clean power on earth and a holiday resort on the moon etc., in preparing for an impactor that never comes... it still sounds like "A Good Thing (TM)".
  • by chopper749 (574759) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:03PM (#12274165) Journal
    4x more likely to hit then in 2035. Impact risk [nasa.gov]
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Monday April 18, 2005 @04:45PM (#12274696)
    I can already see cold war style nucular* shelter companies going around and installing shelters underneath folks' houses.

    But what the U.S. government is already doing may be the very same safety measure that is needed: The renewed interest in a moon base, missions to Mars, etc. This exact same space program, I believe, is being put into effect to install a gigantic weapons system in orbit, very similar to the Death Star in Star Wars. This type of weapons system will be sufficient to blow up this silly little asteroid.

    There are about twenty years left to prepare. NASA, you can rest assured, will come up with all kinds of devices to blow this thing out of the sky. And I'd bet you that the government, with all its supercomputers and whatnot, knows exactly when and where this thing is going to strike, and they're not just sitting around waiting for it to happen.

    In the meantime, I know I'll be stocking up on canned foods and bottled water, and I need to buy more ammo for my handguns. If this thing starts coming down in my back yard, I'll shoot at it myself. Or I'll shoot at any looters that come around looking for trouble.

    * I spelled "nucular" correctly. It's spelled according to the pronunciation of the guy I elected.

  • by emtboy9 (99534) <{jeff} {at} {jefflane.org}> on Monday April 18, 2005 @05:08PM (#12274951) Homepage
    There is plenty of time now. NASA has all the time in the world now to develop a new super secret shuttle, and train a small flight crew. Then they will have plenty of time to hire a rag tag bunch of wise cracking oil drillers to send on said super secret shuttle, while first stopping off on Mir to visit with a crazy cosmonaut and refuel. Once they approach the asteroid, despite all their natural personality classes, they will come together and drill the required distance to the center of the asteroid, deposit a nuke or two, detonate said nukes, thus splitting the asteroid in half and getting each half to go its own seperate ways... and then Morgan Freeman will make a public speech glorifying the heroics of this intrepid band, and we will get to see hollywood make movies about their journy and adventure... oh wait... that already happened. Damn... guess we are fucked then.
  • For a frame of reference, I Gigaton of TNT explosive yield is about the size of 20 Tsar Bomba class nuclear explosions [wikipedia.org]. If the asteroid was kind enough to hit us somewhere on land and thinly populated, such as the Sahara Desert or Siberia, the main effect would be a volcanic winter, such as what happened after the explosion of Santorini, in about 1650 BC [wikipedia.org] or Mount Tambora in 1815 [wikipedia.org]. Not a lot of fun, but civilization would probably go on as usual for most places.

    If it hit in the middle of the ocean, a Tsunami could conceivably wipe out many of the major cities on the Pacific Rim or Atlantic and European seacoasts. Tens of millions could die, and many of the developed world's major cities would be laid waste. Whole countries would be crippled, and the ensuing chaos would disrupt world trade, and potentially destabilize entire regions.

    A direct hit on a major population center, such as Southern California, the area around Bejing, China, or Bombay, India would cause millions of casualties and huge suffering, but the effects would be local enough that the rest of civilization would find a way to get by, even if important industries were wiped out. Such a hit would be a relative longshot, but could happen.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @07:51PM (#12276767) Homepage Journal
    The Earth Impact Effects Calculator [arizona.edu] lets you calculate the destructive effect of various asteroid impacts.
  • by WarmBoota (675361) on Monday April 18, 2005 @07:58PM (#12276829) Homepage

    It looks like we won't have to put in overtime on that 2038 Bug [2038bug.com] w00t!

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