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Chook
2003-Dec-14, 07:55 AM
OK - we've just officially heard the terrifying news that, despite an attempted news blackout, re-calculations have just confirmed that a 300meter asteroid will strike the earth, probably somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, on Tuesday, December 13th. 2005, at 11.13am.

Scientific authorities confirm the data, and world leaders reassure their people that - " … all will be done to minimise the effects of the impact."

Predictions of Doomsday follow - from tsumi-only damage; to a kilometers-thick dust mantle swaddling the earth causing years of darkness and freezing temperatures.

Initial unbelief is followed by the numbing reality of this desperate doomsday situation.
The rich compete for inclusion in a plan to either escape to the moon; or to live in an underground city - complete with all resources. Everyone else contemplate the alternatives.

Within weeks of the news Survival Shelters are being advertised for $1,000,000 each. Banks are being robbed on a daily basis and anarchy is showing its ugly face in most developed countries.

You have two years to do something. What?

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-14, 10:08 PM
Have you been watching Deep Impact again?

No world leaders have said anything of the sort and there's been no looting here in England... no Survival Shelters either...

Would you care to explain - or better yet, provide a URL?

Planetwatcher
2003-Dec-14, 10:56 PM
And then when we get the URL, add it to the Bad Astronomy website.

Chook
2003-Dec-14, 10:56 PM
:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :D :blink:
DippyHippy - you're REALLY not taking this imaginery scenerio seriously are you!
It COULD happen - and I, for one, would be very interested to examine the various propositions that bright people, like yourself, come up with in order to survive.
Personally - I would opt for the Personal Survival Shelter - with several years' supplies of water, oxygen, preserved food, vitamins and whatever can grow in the dark. Several cases of a good red wine would be a comfort; as well as an electrical generator, fuel to make it run, and a collection of CDs and good books.

Your turn ... <_<

Chook
2003-Dec-14, 11:05 PM
PS - I just made this up before going to bed last night. Geez - I should write a book and make more money than I do now&#33; Cheers&#33;

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-15, 01:22 AM
Ah, well, silly me obviously missed the bit where you stated in your original post that it was IMAGINARY because otherwise, as Planetwatcher has said, it belongs on the Bad Astronomy site.

The thing is, there are silly stories about "doomsday" asteroids and comets, conspiracy theories and the-end-of-life-as-we-know-it floating around all the time. Since you didn&#39;t say it was a fictional scenario, you can hardly laugh at us for thinking it was just another one of those silly stories. After all, if we&#39;d believed you, we would have said "OMG&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; I must cash in my life insurance and sell the house and enjoy what few days I have left&#33;&#33;"

Try being a little clearer in your posts and don&#39;t make assumptions - if you don&#39;t say it&#39;s an imaginary scenario, then we&#39;re not going to know. We&#39;re not mindreaders.

Chook
2003-Dec-15, 02:25 AM
I understand - sorry mate&#33;

Matthew
2003-Dec-15, 04:41 AM
Personally - I would opt for the Personal Survival Shelter - with several years&#39; supplies of water, oxygen, preserved food, vitamins and whatever can grow in the dark. Several cases of a good red wine would be a comfort; as well as an electrical generator, fuel to make it run, and a collection of CDs and good books.


How many would be left to die? A PSS (Personal Survival Shelter) couldn&#39;t accomadate 6 billion people, you couldn&#39;t build them big enough or as many enough. Unless you had decades to plan and build these PSSs.

jimmy
2003-Dec-15, 05:02 AM
For what it&#39;s worth Chook, I understood your scenario, I don&#39;t know what I&#39;d do, but I don&#39;t think we would have a two year advanced warning. Didn&#39;t a fairly large asteroid pass within a few hundred thousand miles of us a few months ago? And we didn&#39;t even see it till it was past&#33;&#33;&#33; Kind of scary, isn&#39;t it?

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-15, 05:02 AM
Chook, okay, no problem.

matthew, I&#39;d say you&#39;d have to have a lottery like in Deep Impact...

jimmy
2003-Dec-15, 05:26 AM
The article is in UT, Oct.6. It was a very small asteroid (3 meters or so) and it passed like 88,000 miles from us. Sorry, I thought it was bigger.

Chook
2003-Dec-15, 06:07 AM
I agree with JIMMY - we would probably only have several months&#39; warning before the hit.

Sorry (again) DippyHippy - Unfortunately I have neither heard of, nor seen, Deep Impact. (I live a very sheltered life&#33;)

However the possibility of a future large-asteroid hit is real and the matter of personal survival is worthy of examination.

MATTHEW is quite right - only those with considerable resources may have a chance of survival and the great majority of mankind may perish as a result of the conflagration caused by the asteroid hit.

Dangers will soon emerge after the announcement of "Doomsday" -
Although DippyHippy said - "OMG&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; I must cash in my life insurance and sell the house and enjoy what few days I have left&#33;&#33;", the REALITY will be that looting and violence will immediately begin because there will be no fear of punishment. Shops and banks will close within days. Public utilities will break down - and as soon as electricity stops EVERYTHING stops - computers, access to fuel, lifts, pumps, lights and power - you name it.

So what should we do to survive? We only have a few (very dangerous) months to prepare.

That&#39;s the question I ask the Forum …..

jimmy
2003-Dec-15, 06:45 AM
For starters, anybody(including me) living near just about any north american, western european, mediterranean, west african, eastern south american, west indian(by this I mean the West Indies) coast, as well as greenland, iceland, U.K., well you get the idea: there would be a humongeous(big) tidal wave.
So I would pack my wife and whoever wanted to come into my motor home, along with whatever food and money I could muster. My guns (two shotguns and two pistols, and a bb gun): in case I had to hunt for food, and to protect against looters and crazy people in the anarchy. I&#39;d probably head for the mountains of Tennessee where there might still be game to eat and clean water for a while.
I think from then on I&#39;d have to play it by ear.
P.S. I hope we never have to make those decisions&#33;

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-15, 10:16 PM
I actually quite liked Deep Impact - far better than the awful Armaggedon - it basically portrays the scenario you&#39;re describing Chook. If you haven&#39;t seen it, I do recommend it. Be warned; it does take a little artistic licence but what film doesn&#39;t nowadays? :blink:

In that, just as you&#39;ve described, there&#39;s looting and general mayhem but they have a national lottery because they&#39;ve built shelters in the mountains but they can only hold X number of people.

Soooooo... let&#39;s say they build shelters to house 1 million people (that&#39;s a very small percentage of the population for most countries)

In the film, they reserved places for eminent scientists and key political figures - ie, the President, the VP etc. Let&#39;s say they pre-chose 100,000 people - that leaves 900,000 people from the general population. They automatically discounted anyone over the age of 50, I think (it might have been 60), because obviously they&#39;re looking for people young enough to have children.

So they randomly picked 900,000 social security numbers out of those who were eligible and the army would come and pick them up for safe transit to the shelters. By this time, there were curfews, a freeze on prices and payrises etc but generally, chaos reigned.

A friend and I were once talking about the film and we decided that if it were to ever happen, we&#39;d want Morgan Freeman to tell us LOL Because in the film, as President, he made you feel alright LOL

I particularly liked the line (I know it pre-dates the film) "God hears all prayers, even if sometimes the answer is &#39;no&#39;" - very poignant.

Chook
2003-Dec-15, 11:10 PM
I&#39;ll try and take the opportunity of seeing Deep Impact - sounds VERY interesting. As described by DippyHippy, though, the unreality seems to be that everything is very well organised.

I would suspect that, in this imaginary scenerio, the situation would be very much brutish Law of the Jungle - every man for himself. (I&#39;d like to hear what Tinaa says about all this - she&#39;s up on psych.).

I mean -in a deep economic depression - if your family is short on food I suspect that any red-blooded father/husband would nick some spuds from Farmer Brown to save his brood from suffering. How much more in extremis&#33;

So the spectacle of all soldiers/policemen/public servants acting like gentlemen is unrealistic - they will grab at any chance of improving their chances of survival just as savagely as anybody else - and that would probably include murder.

A hit in an ocean would probably mean - "Everybody to Them Thar Hills&#33;" - with very good chances of survival - so Jimmy and his family would probably be OK.

A hit on earth would be the killer. Not much time, and lots to do quickly. Stocking up on resources and fortifying the house would be the aim of the game - I think. :unsure:

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-15, 11:17 PM
I wrote a short article about this kind of scenario too... you can find it (plus some very interesting posts on the same subject) here (http://www.universetoday.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=332&st=0&#entry1112) :)

I interviewed Brian Marsden of the Minor Planet Center over the phone for this... he&#39;s the kiddy when it comes to this kind of thing because new discoveries go through him... anyway, I asked him what plans, if any, the UN have for this kind of contingency and he said none at all.

seeker372011
2003-Dec-16, 01:22 AM
Cool article Dippy,

So the threat is real. It has happened before -witness the extinction of the dinosaurs as just one example-and will happen again.

So what do we propose to do? Alternatives seem to be:

Option 1;
do nothing;Pray

Option 2:
Ensure the survival of the species by constructing an artificial habitat for a select few and hope that the stockpiles last long enough .. most species will die out and most people will as well

Option 3
Use technology to find, track deflect or destroy the threat. This needs funding and the political will-which only can follow from public awareness and interest.

So how does the Mainstream media -and politicians get interested in this issue without the whole issue being dismissed as crackpot theories and lumped with little green men and UFOs?
seeker

dnav
2003-Dec-16, 01:33 AM
Actually - while Gas Giant&#39;s little scenario does smack of Deep Impact, Armegeddon, and various Urban Legends floating around he&#39;s not so far off the mark in-so-far as this sort of thing being taken serious.... thanks to News Media scratching for readers...

CNN ran the following headline on September 2, 2003:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A giant asteroid is heading for Earth and could hit in 2014, U.S. astronomers have warned British space monitors.

Of course, they do go on to explain that has time passes the chances of an impact diminish:

[Asteroid "2003 QQ47" will be closely monitored over the next two months. Its potential strike date is March 21, 2014, but astronomers say that any risk of impact is likely to decrease as further data is gathered.]

..... but I wonder how many folks read past the headline?

Although those two months have past, CNN has yet to do a followup. Such articles are perfect fodder for Urban Legends.

As for what to do if such a scenario were real.... basically, bend over backwards, kiss my hiney goodbye and crack open a budweiser.

imported_JohnB
2003-Dec-16, 02:16 AM
2003 QQ47 was removed from JPLs impact risk list on
2003-09-14 at 06:47

Quote from JPL web site http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/
"It is normal that, as additional observations become available,
objects will disappear from this table whenever there are no longer
any potential impact detections. For this reason we maintain a list of removed objects with the date of removal."

Here is the list of removed obects
http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/removed.html

Matthew
2003-Dec-16, 03:50 AM
If there was going to be an asteroid strike and most, if not all humans, were going to die; everyone would want to live life to the fullest. People would want to go flying, visit other countries. But in truth nothing would be done. Pilots who would usually fly the planes wouldn&#39;t because they would want to live life to the fullest. There would be no riot control, police wouldn&#39;t stop the riots, they&#39;d be living the rest of their lives to the fullest. Who would eat? Shops wouldn&#39;t open, their ownersliving life to the fullest. People would steal, but the stock wouldn&#39;t be replenished.

No-one would be there to stop the entire world from falling into anarchy. Would the military stay in exsistance? Or would the soldiers go and live life to the fullest?

Overnight our world would be turned upside down. Who would then build the shelters? All the buiders and architects would be living life to the fullest, knowing full well they probably won&#39;t be chosen to go into the shelters. Governments wouldn&#39;t reveal information until the last, so more people would be &#39;shocked&#39; lessening what would happen. For amny would be shocked for awhile and do nothing, just think, try to comprehend what death of the human race mens.

Well thats what I think would happen.

damienpaul
2003-Dec-16, 03:54 AM
it is a truly frightening scenario - I have just read a book called &#39;Lucifer&#39;s Hammer&#39; about a Shoemaker Levy 9 like impact on Earth - quite graphic - i fully recommend the book, it also details the author&#39;s views of how society may cope during and after the disaster.

Here i am in Alice Springs, at least 1500km from any shoreline ;)

Anyways, if anyone else knows of any books of that kind, tell me

Damo

Chook
2003-Dec-16, 08:02 AM
The matter of surviving an asteroid-hit has exercised many minds -amongst them DippyHippy, who has previously supplied detailed information of some well-known asteroids of past years passing close to the earth (use his link) and recommends seeing Deep Impact. Paul Olsen recommends reading Comet Disaster.

Part of the process of attempting to work out an optimum survival strategy is to try to get a handle on what variables we may be dealing with - temperatures, pressures, air-pollution, degrees of after-darkness etc. How long before atmospheric normalisation? What edibles may be grown in these conditions etc. etc.? Surely there are similar questions and resolutions when considering the effect of a nuclear holocaust.

In any cast I would try my damnedest to survive and conclude that, in principle, we have to start from what we&#39;ve got - the building we live in, and our own resources.

The highest priority would be to survive the initial blast. After that it would be a matter of isolated survival - survival against an external hostile environment and/or predators until normalisation.

The technique of isolated survival has been studied ad nauseam from the Mormons, Nuclear Freaks and Polar explorers to the Live-on-Mars Experimentalists. So most of the answers probably already exist.

In any case, as soon as the warning was received, I would start by reinforcing, very strongly, all doors and windows to withstand both the blast, and post-blast human intrusion. Then stock up.

damienpaul
2003-Dec-16, 08:24 AM
My friends and I have actually planned out several scenarios including a nuclear attack (as we have Pine Gap about 18km from here) and also a meteoritic impact... Alice Springs could be the place to go - that is assuming that we aren&#39;t in the damage path.

Luke
2003-Dec-16, 03:12 PM
:huh: Okay project "Space Gaurd" has been set up to track Asteroids that can hit Earth.

But they are seriously under funded. Why? I do not know. They, the last I herd presently only cover about 5% of the sky.

The thing is if they had the funding that they need to have 100% sky coverage, then project "Space Guard" not only would be able to track asteroids, but they will have the caperbility to track "UFO&#39;s".

This means that any one that sees a "UFO" will be able to sleep at night when they conferm at project "Space Gaurd" that they must of been just seeing things.

Or of course they could conferm that there are in fact an invasion of little green men landing and too get the hell outa there&#33;&#33;&#33;

The great thing is you get 2 early warning systems for the price of 1.

And they really do need their funding. I for one would be able to sleep alot better at night knowing that project "Space Gaurd" had total coverage of the skys for whatever reason.

Any way what to do if we do spot an asteroid that will collide with Earth : I here that Cruise missiles are so well made that they can with stand the environment of Space (rocket propelled only).

If this is true then load up the Space Shuttle with as many as you can get in the damn thing. With the largest war heads you can find. And blow that mutha out of the sky&#39;s. Take no chances or hostages when faced with natural total genocide.

Digging a hole and praying sounds a bit like playing Russian roulette. And very un-scientific. Mummy&#33;&#33;&#33; and all that. :D

damienpaul
2003-Dec-16, 03:16 PM
so very very true&#33;

Another thing that I do as a hobby is to do my own watching, only with binoculars..so that will give me a bit of time to add to the swear jar....

Chook
2003-Dec-16, 07:49 PM
Quote Damienpaul:
"My friends and I have actually planned out several scenarios including a nuclear attack (as we have Pine Gap about 18km from here) and also a meteoritic impact."

Tell us about it.

He also recommends:
"Alice Springs could be the place to go - that is assuming that we aren&#39;t in the damage path."

(To non-Australians … Alice Springs is smack-bang right in the middle of the Australian continent - surrounded by desert-like plains to the horizon, with the exception of a ridge - which they call a mountain, on one side - but otherwise totally exposed.)

I would have thought that this would be the worst possible geographical profile against blast-protection.

Cheers …

Faulkner
2003-Dec-16, 09:59 PM
First thing I would do is quit my job&#33;&#33;&#33;

Ask yourselves, does the human race really deserve to be saved? Hmmm... It&#39;s a pity the asteroid couldn&#39;t be a bit more selective in who it wiped out&#33; Ha&#33;

Tinaa
2003-Dec-17, 02:20 AM
I would have my family head to the Rocky Mountains, just don&#39;t know if I could kill something and then eat it&#33;

But...I do believe some the religious fanatics would be happy&#33; After, this would prove, at least to themselves, that they have been right all along. Religions, in general, would have a great influx of believers really fast. I do believe that those who do believe in an afterlife may have an easier time accepting such a disaster.

The sheep, that most people are, would be looking to their governments for salvation. As we all know, our fearless leaders have no plans in place. I know the US has planned on survival of the rich and powerful, if a nuke hit us, they would probably implement those plans in case of an asteroid strike.

Human nature, such that it is, may well surprise all of us. While there are those who&#39;ll go plumb crazy, many others, as they do now, will put the best face on humanity. We deal with the crazies everyday. The difference may be that people won&#39;t put up with the criminals anymore. Vigilante justice will reign.

I really think that, up until the last days, denial will rampant. It is human nature to ignore the bad for as long as possible. Depression will be epidemic. So will suicide or homicide/suicide senarios. If there is no tomorrow, why stick around?

We will also see some wonderful selflessness. People will help each other, sharing limited resources. Sadly, it will be hell on Earth a few days before the rock hits. The survival instinct is too strong for us to set back and take death. There will still be the Mother Theresas but there will also be the Charles Mansons too.

I read a book recently that tells of a woman who is rich enough to do something about the reality of an asteroid strike. She took over the government sponcored schools and set those schools to stressing science, math and critical thinking skills. She also is used mass advertising to reach the unwashed masses and start them thinking about an asteroid strike. Anyway, after years of work and massive amounts of money, the world finally gets an asteroid finding and destroying system. The name of the book is FIRESTAR. It is a pretty good read.

Don&#39;t know Chook. I&#39;ve often wondered what would happened if we were ever visited by real ET&#39;s. Talk about changing some paradigms&#33; You see, I am ever an optimist&#33;

Let me add that my optimism concerning human nature was proved as I watched the New Yorkers assisting each other as they made their way out of Manhatten when the Twin Towers were hit. Their little world had just caved in on them, and look how they helped each other.

damienpaul
2003-Dec-17, 03:37 AM
The MacDonnell Ranges is the Ridge and yes it is a Ridge not a mountain, well spotted. We calculated that it would provide some but not all protection from a blast that direction.

We work at a school, with 650 kids, so these thoughts always course through our minds because we want to protect the kids, however ratty they get. There are a surprising amount of caves, shelters and valleys to evacuate through near the school.

The advantage of Alice Springs are 2-fold, we are 1500km north of Adelaide; 1500 km south of Darwin; 2200 km west of Sydney and 2500km west of Perth and as the climate changes and boy do we feel it here&#33; we have had an increase in rainfall during our wet season (southern central summer - October to May), it is conceivable that in a global event the Todd River flow will flow more frequently, then there is the aquifers that we have found.

Chook
2003-Dec-17, 04:38 AM
Here&#39;s something interesting for you to ponder, found at:

http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/Numbers/M...steroid_hit.htm (http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/Numbers/Math/Mathematical_Thinking/asteroid_hit.htm)

What if an Asteroid Hit the Earth?

Problem:
Suppose a cylindrical asteroid 10 km in height x 10 km in diameter impacted the earth at 30,000 mph. Calculate the energy dissipated, in megatons of TNT, and the rate at which it is dissipated, in watts.

Solution:
Let the density of the asteroid, , be five times the density of water, i.e.,
= 5000 kg/m3.
Then, the mass of the asteroid is
(5000 kg/m3) x (5000 m)2 x (10,000 m) = 4 x 1015 kg
and the kinetic energy, traveling at 30,000 mph (= 1 x 104 m/sec) is
(1/2) x (4 x 1015 kg) x (1 x 104 m/sec)2 = 2 x 1023 joule.
Now, one megaton of TNT delivers 4.2 x 1015 joule, so that the required energy in megatons of TNT is
5 x 107 megatons
or 50 million megatons&#33; The time for the asteroid to impact the earth is
(10,000 m)/(1 x 104 m/sec) = 1 sec
so that the rate of energy dissipation in watts is
2 x 1023 watts,
or 200 billion trillion watts&#33;&#33;&#33;

Afterthought:
Such an object might have been responsible for causing the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period. A layer of Iridium has been found in the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) boundary, which appears to be world encircling (Alvarez, et. al.). Such a layer might have been deposited after an asteroid impact of great magnitude. In fact, the remains of a 65 million year old impact site have recently been found, providing an excellent candidate for the K-T event. From various geological survey data (originally intended to locate promising sites for oil drilling), the site is in the Yucatan.

How&#39;s your maths :huh:

Chook
2003-Dec-17, 05:23 AM
To introduce some reality into the discussion the following are quotes from -http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/shadow/questions/question11.html

WHO IS WATCHING THE SKIES?
"There are agencies, NASA among them, which realise that, although the Earth is in no immediate danger, the impact an asteroid of a kilometer or more in diameter is something that will pose a problem sometime in the future. It is in the world’s best interest not to ignore this, but to be watchful in order to provide the maximum warning time."

You can find out more about some of the groups watching the sky for potentially threatening objects at:
The Near Earth Asteroid Tracking Team - http://huey.jpl.nasa.gov/~spravdo/neat.html
SpaceWatch - http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/spacewatch/
The Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazard Group - http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/index.html

IF AN ASTEROID IS DISCOVERED ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH THE EARTH WHAT COULD BE DONE ABOUT IT?
"If astronomers find such an object, there would be plenty of time to track it, measure its orbit precisely, and plan a system for deflecting it from its current orbital path. There would be no great hurry and no great panic. It would be a project for all the world’s nations to take part in. Because we will have found it long before it actually intersects the Earth’s orbit, it probably would take only a small push (perhaps from chemical rockets we land on the surface of the asteroid) to divert it from a threatening path."

("Only a small push&#33;" :huh: )

Matthew
2003-Dec-17, 06:00 AM
The advantage of Alice Springs are 2-fold, we are 1500km north of Adelaide; 1500 km south of Darwin; 2200 km west of Sydney and 2500km west of Perth and as the climate changes and boy do we feel it here&#33; we have had an increase in rainfall during our wet season (southern central summer - October to May), it is conceivable that in a global event the Todd River flow will flow more frequently, then there is the aquifers that we have found.

Wouldn&#39;t the Todd just dry up?

damienpaul
2003-Dec-17, 08:05 AM
yep, but the pubs will NEVER close not even for the end of the Earth&#33;

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-18, 12:02 AM
There was a vague statistic being bandied about a few years back that basically said that the number of professional people searching for NEO&#39;s is about the same number of people manning your local McDonalds.

When I wrote my article, about 18 months back, I asked Brian Marsden if that was still true but he said it was rather misleading, given that there are so many amateurs around the world who make follow-up observations and who provide valid data. For that reason, I left that out of my article.

The statistic came from, I believe, a Discovery channel programme about NEO&#39;s and it just illustrates how the media loves the shock value of these stories. As someone noted, CNN were quick to report that an asteroid *might* hit the Earth in 2014, but they were slow to mention that the chances are that after subsequent observation, it probably won&#39;t.

The media isn&#39;t interested in reporting follow-ups once it&#39;s known the asteroid will miss... it&#39;s not interesting, it&#39;s not news-worthy, it&#39;s not shocking. I&#39;m convinced that&#39;s where many of these conspiracy theories and "cover up" stories come from - because people read that an asteroid could hit the Earth and then they hear no more about it - hence... COVER UP&#33;

The thing is as well, the headline "Asteroid Will Miss The Earth" isn&#39;t going to draw any readers because the story is in the headline - you&#39;ll read the headline but you won&#39;t read the article because you don&#39;t need to know any more, it doesn&#39;t affect you. If the headline is "Asteroid Could Hit Earth In 2014" then you&#39;re damn well going to read it then because it could affect you in a very big way LOL

damienpaul
2003-Dec-18, 01:16 AM
If we were to get the employees at MCDonalds and get them to look in the sky and do this with all the franchises.....we&#39;d have a great workforce and no doubt there will be a McAsteroid or the Doomsday Meal Deal products on offer.....

just a rambling thought

starrman
2003-Dec-20, 06:34 AM
IF AN ASTEROID IS DISCOVERED ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH THE EARTH WHAT COULD BE DONE ABOUT IT?
"If astronomers find such an object, there would be plenty of time to track it, measure its orbit precisely, and plan a system for deflecting it from its current orbital path. There would be no great hurry and no great panic. It would be a project for all the world’s nations to take part in. Because we will have found it long before it actually intersects the Earth’s orbit, it probably would take only a small push (perhaps from chemical rockets we land on the surface of the asteroid) to divert it from a threatening path."


Let&#39;s take a moment to parse this particular paragraph (and I apologize for the inadvertant onomonapoeia): First, let us agree that the question is not IF and asteroid (or similar body; no need to rule out cometary collisions) will imapact the earth. The issue is WHEN this will happen. Such impacts, while admittedly rare, are a statistical inevitability. Second, there is no guarantee that such an object would be detected in advance, or that such detection, if it were made, would provide anything like "plenty of time" to track or to prepare. While I would encourage and support any planning to mount an effort to deflect such an impact, it seems both unlikely and uneconomical to dedicate the enormous funds and resources required to make preparations for the cataclysmic results of a direct impact from a large asteroidal body. Those of us old enough to recall the "duck and cover" exercises imposed on school children during the atom-chilled period of the 50&#39;s and early 60&#39;s look back on the backyard shelters and church basement stockpiles of canned beans with some skepticism. If humanity were given sufficient advance warning of such an event, perhaps political bickering, beaurocracy, personal power struggles, international enmities and governmental parsimony could be briefly overcome in order to mount a realistic effort to address the threat. My personal guess, however, is that random chance and the efforts of isolated individuals and small groups would have the day, and that some, like the brontosaurs, would be left behind, while others, wily, clever and lucky, would survive and continue.

Clear, and asteroid-free, skies

damienpaul
2003-Dec-21, 06:53 AM
This is true, it is a case of when an impact will occur, could it be possible to pass on some of the responsibility to ordinary citizens, along the similar lines as SETI, give them the info of what to look for and a means to report what they see for verification.

DippyHippy
2003-Dec-23, 12:01 AM
Starrman&#39;s right... one of the stories we&#39;re often told is that an extinction-threatening chunk of rock could be heading towards the Earth and the first we&#39;ll know of it is when it enters the atmosphere.

damienpaul
2003-Dec-23, 03:25 AM
by then, we&#39;ll won&#39;t even have time to kiss our collective buttocks goodbye&#33;

Chook
2003-Dec-25, 05:27 AM
I still consider that we should come up with a necessarily-simple strategy for the individual (like stocking up and boarding up) that will, at least, provide a knee-jerk degree of protection for them if the news suddenly comes that a hit will occur in a short time.

damienpaul
2003-Dec-25, 05:30 AM
possibly in a similar vein as the ol&#39; nuclear attack response