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Earth Space Science

1-in-1,000 Chance of Asteroid Impact In ... 2182? 326

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-kids dept.
astroengine writes "Sure, we're looking 172 years into the future, but an international collaboration of scientists have developed two mathematical models to help predict when a potentially hazardous asteroid (or PHA) may hit us, not in this century, but the next. The rationale is that to stand any hope in deflecting a civilization-ending or extinction-level impact, we need as much time as possible to deal with the threatening space rock. (Asteroid deflection can be a time-consuming venture, after all.) Enter '(101955) 1999 RQ36' — an Apollo class, Earth-crossing, 500 meter-wide space rock. The prediction is that 1999 RQ36 has a 1-in-1,000 chance of hitting us in the future, and according to one of the study's scientists, María Eugenia Sansaturio, half of those odds fall squarely on the year 2182."
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1-in-1,000 Chance of Asteroid Impact In ... 2182?

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  • By which time... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @01:31AM (#33080056)

    We'll have a variable-focus length magnetic-field set of Fresnel rings (largest ring approx. earth diameter) that can focus the sun's most energetic output to a 1-mile spot at Pluto's orbit range - automated. The unfortunate unintended consequence will be that the same system will burn any would-be peaceful visitors just as badly...
    Gads, I should write comic books.

  • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday July 30, 2010 @01:34AM (#33080070) Journal

    I seriously doubt it. Humans are adaptable. Sure, we may go into another Dark Age in the next century or so, but the issues you show concern over would fall pathetically short of causing our extinction.

  • this is great news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GreenCow (201973) on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:26AM (#33080264) Journal

    A rock like this heading to our planet and we've got plenty of time to not just deflect the thing, but to move it into Earth orbit where it can be mined, turned into an outpost, and be used as a tether for a space elevator.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday July 30, 2010 @02:51AM (#33080336) Homepage

    Maybe not - if you're the kind of civilisation that can apply enough delta-v, to such body, to capture it safely into MEO, you might be high enough on the Kardashev scale to not care much about such exercises. If not high enough - it's probably better to move some bootstrapping machinery towards the asteroid; avoids Kessler Syndrome where you really don't want it, too (minining in basically 0g could be a bit messy)

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday July 30, 2010 @03:47AM (#33080534)

    I personally am pretty confident that cryonics works. Yes, I have a degree in a related field and I am working on an MD. When I say "works", I mean that if a patient is frozen with a well oxygenated brain within a short time period following legal death (the heart stops), and cryoprotectants are used, then I am confident that nearly all personality and memories are preserved.

    The person needs to be kept cold for 100-200 years. Already, there are people that have been kept frozen for 40 years, so this is not implausible.

  • Russian rolette (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AbbeyRoad (198852) <p@2038bug.com> on Friday July 30, 2010 @06:32AM (#33081010) Homepage

    Image 13 boxes each containing 13 revolvers.

    One revolver has one bullet in it.

    Now imagine being offered $100,000 to pick a box, and then pick a revolver and then shoot yourself with it.

    That 1000:1 odds.

    -paul

  • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:11AM (#33081168)

    > Also didn't we have all those things about 100 years ago?

    Exactly. If anything, it could almost be argued that the pollution in late 19th-century Britain, France, and Germany (and parts of America, for that matter) were noxious/toxic enough to make the most badly-polluted square mile of China look like the Garden of Eden by comparison. At least people in China don't have to rely on wood and coal-burning stoves & fireplaces for cooking and heating ON TOP of the pollution being produced by factories (at least, urban factory workers who live amidst the worst pollution) don't.

    As a species, humans are easy to kill individually, but surprisingly difficult to effectively exterminate. The dinosaurs didn't have preserved food, hydroponics, artificial lighting, and global distribution networks, so when the skies went dark and 99% of photosynthesis shut down for a few years after the impact event, they were screwed. A similar event would be an unprecedented human tragedy, but the likelihood of enough humans surviving to repopulate the Earth eventually is practically assured.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:37AM (#33081328) Homepage

    Until the first person has been woken up from cryonic "sleep", I think it is silly to have any kind of confidence in it. But everything will be wonderful when the cargo comes, right?

    Simply making a comparison to a cargo cult might be rhetorically fun but it doesn't actually help. First, almost no one is claiming that they have high confidence in cryonics. Indeed, most proponents of cryonics estimate fairly low chances of it working. For example, Robin Hanson estimates around a 5% chance that cryonics will actually work http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/03/break-cryonics-down.html [overcomingbias.com]. Indeed, when proponents have low confidence like this, claiming that there's a cargo cult mentality fails pretty miserably. Note that just because part of a technology hasn't been fully developed doesn't mean we can't make estimates about the technologies viability in the future. To use a fairly silly example, the largest hard drives today are a few terabytes. I can confidently predict that there will be 40 terabyte hard drives even though no one has made them yet. Note that cryonics proponents aren't claiming that we are anywhere near the tech level we need today. The primary claim is that from what we understand of the brain, the relevant information is preserved close to completely intact in cryonic preservation. That's the central claim. If one agrees that that is likely, it becomes highly likely that we'll eventually reach the tech level to be able to repair that functionality.

  • by belthize (990217) on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:37AM (#33081332)

    Not immediately but quite possibly it could indirectly. All the trivially accessible minerals, oil etc have been consumed. Another dark age and we're likely stuck there indefinitely, possibly forever since we wouldn't be able to boot strap through the equivalent of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

    Getting stuck in that state may prevent our ability to overcome the next hurdle. We're smart but we need resources.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:45AM (#33081386)

    Yes Cryo might even work, in a few years it might even be possible to bring back those that are now frozen... but why should we bring them back?

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