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Introducing Asteroid 2004 MN4 633

Numerous readers wrote in with bits about a potential asteroid collision: "The recently discovered asteroid 2004 MN4 is currently listed as having a 1/233 chance of hitting the Earth. It is 420 m across and if it strikes the Earth it will release an energy of 1,900 Megatons of TNT (the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, Tsar Bomba had a yield of only 50 Megatons). It is also the only asteroid that currently has a Torino scale value of 2." So, in summary, there's a 1-in-233 chance of the worst disaster in recorded history happening on April 13, 2029, and a 232-in-233 chance of nothing happening. Have a nice day! Update: 12/24 22:14 GMT by M : The rock is now rated a 4 on the Torino scale, or a 1-in-62 chance of impact.
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Introducing Asteroid 2004 MN4

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  • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @01:39PM (#11177090) Journal
    >Otherwise, our fate is just in the hands of luck.

    Just like the previous thousands of years?
  • by temojen ( 678985 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:02PM (#11177243) Journal
    If we start now, we have 24 years to figgure out how to deflect it's orbit. If it's not on a collision course after all, then we still have learned how to deflect a large asteroid.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damiam ( 409504 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:03PM (#11177250)
    Instead of one rock, there would be a bunch of them

    Many rocks have many times the surface area of a single rock, so much more of them would be burned up in the atmosphere.

  • The problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:08PM (#11177277)

    The problem is that there are at least 232 OTHER asteroids that have only a 1/233 chance of hitting earth.
  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:33PM (#11177404) Homepage
    Which part of the earth will it hit anyway. I dont think it will directly affect the whole world, beside the atmospheric affects, which can be dealt with, as opposed to dealing with the asteroid directly.. for example starting growing mushrooms...

    I'd wanna emigrate to the country directly opposite of the impact, start a business and buy farms (critical for survival). Also important will be buying of important real estate, for example if its hitting the oceans, buy higher land areas in Bangladesh and start building apartments. Heck just buy the land, let others build apartments close to doomsday.

    Shares of companies researching food sources that do not require sunlight, or low light will jump...
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:35PM (#11177414)
    Use the info from this [] site over here [] to make your own doomsday scenario with this chunk of happy fun rock.
  • by LaCosaNostradamus ( 630659 ) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['mai' in gap]> on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:49PM (#11177528) Journal
    Despite the humorous tone (regardless, you were modded Humorous), this is a good idea at its core. Humanity has made NO preparations to survive a Chixculub-sized event. Picking out 1 million people from the world's 6100 million, and then making some preparations to move all those people quickly to secured sites, is a better move for preserving the Human race than just doing nothing. The sites could be put to dual-usage to not waste resources (since they could be otherwise sitting unused but maintained, for thousands of years), and as time passes "the million" will steadily die off and have inductions of new members.
  • by danshapiro ( 529921 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @02:52PM (#11177539) Homepage
    We are clearly capable of tracking things through space with very, very low margins of error. For example, we predict the trajectories of space probes through space decades in advance with very tiny margins of error.

    Now, I realize that it's one thing to track an object from earth, and another to track something that's a light year or farther away. But it would still appear to be a straightforward task: get enough pictures that you can tell where it is and where it's going, and interpolate.

    So what's the bottleneck here? Poor imaging? Not enough photos? Bad angles? Something else?

  • way of life? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DreadSpoon ( 653424 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @03:04PM (#11177605) Journal
    How will putting people in deep habitable mines protect our "way of life" ?

    Last I checked, my way of life definitely does *not* include deep habitable mines. It doesn't even have any shallow habitable mines. I can't remember any kind of mine, actually. Pretty mine-free over here.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steve_bryan ( 2671 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @05:33PM (#11178281)
    "maybe they boil off a significant part of the oceans as they cool down"

    Why maybe when all the numbers are available online? Ten million megaton of TNT equivalent of energy is enough energy to vaporize 2 x 10^16 kg water. The Atlantic Ocean by itself has 3 x 10^20 kg of water. That is about 1 part in 10,000 of just the second largest ocean.

    That's a lot of water but a very small fraction of the total.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:16PM (#11178489) Homepage Journal
    junk science (n.): Any science which comes to conclusions which have political implications with which the person using the phrase disagrees.
  • by Barto ( 467793 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @06:55PM (#11178681) Journal
    Asteroid 2004 MN4 is a 440m diameter, ~3500kg/m^3 (unless I've got my maths wrong), 12.59km/s impact velocity asteroid. Impacting on a 45? angle on a continental shelf, at 100km away buildings would shake, glass windows would shatter, chimneys shanty towns would collapse, ejecta would arrive in scattered fragments.

    At 10km away, everything gets blown up by the earthquake, ejecta and blast wave. So, if it DOES hit, you'll probably be ok unless you happen to live close to the impact site.
  • Re:but where? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TimToady ( 52230 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @07:03PM (#11178714)
    Well, you can figure it out. The impact time is roughly 9:30 UTC which is about noon in Alaska. It's coming from outside the earth's orbit, so whatever is on the other side from Alaska is the target. I make it somewhere between Iraq and India, give or take half a planet.
  • by PMoonlite ( 11151 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @07:46PM (#11178877)
    I'd like to compare the danger reported here with that of the recent earthquake in Australia.

    Asteroid: It is 420 m across and if it strikes the Earth it will release an energy of 1,900 Megatons of TNT (the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, Tsar Bomba had a yield of only 50 Megatons).

    Earthquake: Geoscience Australia said an earthquake measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale releases energy equivalent to about 10,000 atom bombs like the one that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in World War II.

    I dunno, this asteroid threat doesn't sound like anything particularly worrisome, unless you happen to live right where the thing falls.
  • by dnixon112 ( 663069 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @08:35PM (#11179058)
    CNN has reported on their website about the initial warning that pegged the threat on the Torino scale at 2. But they haven't updated it yet for the increased threat. Probably they're waiting for the next round of observations before making any doomsday type claims and looking silly when nothing happens.

    CNN Article []
  • by brassman ( 112558 ) on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:16PM (#11179185) Homepage
    I ran the calculation at the same site, but using the size of the one we're supposedly talking about, porous rock instead of dense rock or iron, and I dropped it into the mid-Atlantic, the earth being 74% covered by water after all.

    It broke up, there was no fireball, and I could make more impact overpressure (I chose to be 1,800 km from the impact site) by clapping my hands real hard.

    Then again, an impact like "mine" happens every 4,000 years or so.

  • too fast (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday December 24, 2004 @09:17PM (#11179189) Homepage Journal
    "Impact Velocity: 17.00 km/s = 10.56 miles/s"

    from the JPL link:

    Vimpact 12.59 km/s

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson