We’re all doomed… oh wait, no we’re not

By Phil Plait | February 28, 2007 8:37 pm

Asteroid Apophis, a hunk of rock a few hundred meters across, will pass so close to the Earth in 2029 that it will actually be below many of our satellites.

Got your attention?

OK, so maybe you’ve heard of Apophis. There’s the usual doomcries about it, of course. It won’t hit us on 2029, but depending on exactly how close it gets (these things are hard to tell with enough precision so far in advance) it may hit us on its next pass, in 2036. The odds are really low, like 1 in 45,000 as it stands now (better observations may move that up or down).

Should you be scared?

I’m not. 1 in 45,000 are long odds. It’s roughly the same odds as flipping a coin 15 times and having it come up heads every time. Ever had that happen to you? No? There you go.

The odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 6000, a bit higher than the odds of Apophis ruining our day. That’s high enough, with a severe enough outcome, that it’s wise to take precautions when you’re in a car. Look around before making a turn. Wear your seat belt. Turn the damn cell phone off while driving (you’ve very likely to die in this manner, as someone might shoot you for being such an idiot). It just makes sense to make at least a minimal amount of preparation, given that you spend a lot of time on the road, and the odds are not that small. We all know someone who was hurt in an accident.

So it makes sense to prepare for an asteroid impact. The Earth spends all its time on the road, and while asteroids may not make cell phone calls, they’ll definitely call on us someday. So it just makes sense to take some precautions.

The comic strip User Friendly has been on this as well:

Comments (74)

  1. Yeah, I read the Daily Static for years, and they’ve done some astronomy and sci-fi stuff every once in a while.

    I sent a friend of mine at Minor Planet Research, Inc. the links, and he’s been enjoying it as well.

    The humor site BBSpot had one of their “articles” last week about a germ-filled Alaska-sized “meteor” going to impact this March.

    And his “Mailbag” today shows that he had some idiots believing him. However, there was one voice of “reason” in his mailbag — me.:)

  2. arcraig

    Why should the UN be responsible for something like this? At best any asteroid-deflecting work will be done by two nations, the US and Russia. More likely than not just the US.

    A smarter thing to do would be to lobby Congress, not the UN.

  3. Max Fagin

    Just out of curiosity, how big is Apophis? Assuming it actually did hit us, how bad would it actually be? Are we talking a Tunguska, Siberia here? Or is this more like the one that made Beringer in Arizona?

  4. I think it’s about 300 yards (0.270km), but I’m not sure of the damage. Certainly more than Berringer crater.

  5. Ah- but the number of people killed per year is calculated according to

    Probability of event per unit time*1 year *ave number of people killed per event

    The BA omitted any discussion of the last factor.

  6. yy2bggggs

    I’m not worried–it’s obviously going to miss us. Everyone knows the world ends at 3:14:07 am on January 19, 2038.

  7. I think that the consistently short attention span of the American public may prove to be a stumbling block here. It’s been a few years since the asteroid end of the world movies came out. Though we can say with nearly absolute certainty that an object of substantial size WILL strike he Earth, because we can’t say exactly when, most people seem annoyingly uninterested.

    1 in 45k may seem like long odds until you point out that, if one in 45k people have a certain condition, that’s enough people to populate Savannah, Georgia.

    Anyway, asteroids, bad.

  8. Thomas-
    Sorry to be such a pedant.

    1 in 45 k chances does not mean that 1 in 45 k people would be killed.

    Proof by reductio ad absurdum:

    If shooting a gun had a 50% chance of meeting its target- that doesn’t mean that 50% of the world’s population would be annihilated by the shot.

    Have I got that right?

  9. OK, so hunting around the internets-

    Looks like an asteroid impact might kill ~45000 people +/- an order of magnitude.

    There’s a 1 in 45000 chance that the asteroid will hit.

    That works out to 1 person dead on average for this asteroid- or a 1 in 6 billion chance of a random person alive at the time being killed – where I’ve used 6 billion for the world’s population.

    So- I reckon you have a roughly one million times greater chance of dying in a car crash.

    I guess I can sleep easy tonight knowing that.

  10. Bad Albert

    BA,

    Did you mean to say the odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 6,000 or 1 in 60,000? Six thousand sounds a little high to me.

    Yes, turn off that cell phone in the car. It’s too dangerous. But don’t do anything about changing stations on the AM/FM radio, changing CDs, DVDs, GPS navigation systems, looking at up to 6 or 7 engine gauges, deep political discussions with the person in the passenger seat, yelling at the kids fighting in the back seat while watching them in the rear view mirror…

    Some here may remember that in the 1970s, millions of people were using CB radios in their cars and not one word was ever said about it being dangerous while driving. Is this cell phone phobia just another form of political correctness?

  11. Bad Al and BA:

    In fact you have a 1/78 lifetime odds of dying in an automobile accident!

    http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/odds.htm

  12. Steevl

    Bad Albert:

    In the 70s, millions of people drove drunk and no one really cared. It’s not really a great argument for why it should be allowed.

  13. Liam

    I think it’s better to say it’s like flipping a coin and guessing right 15 times in a row, rather that it coming up heads 15 times in a row. I dunno why that sounds better and I can’t really back this up!

  14. Ed

    “Did you mean to say the odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 6,000 or 1 in 60,000? Six thousand sounds a little high to me.”

    1 in 6,000 sounds a little high to me, too, but only a very little bit.

    The UK has a population of 60 million and about 3,500 a year die on the roads so the probability per person per year is about 1 in 17,000.

    I’m not so sure of this but I believe the US road accident fatalites are about 40,000 per year so, with a population of 300 million, that’s 1 in 7,500 per year. Spread that over an 80 something year lifespan and that matches pretty well with Christian Burnham’s 1/78 per lifetime.

  15. Bad Albert

    Steevl:

    People did care about drunk drivers in the 70s so your statement is a strawman argument. My point was there are many distractions faced by drivers so why single out cell phones? Of all the ones I mentioned, cell phones are probably the least distracting. How can it be any more distracting than talking to the person beside you?

  16. Laguna2

    Albert,
    its not just talking on the cell phones.
    People are typing messages while driving.
    The difference is that, while talking to the person besides you, you keep your view on the road…

  17. Jon Niehof

    I’m with George Dyson on this: Orion’s the only tech with the possibility of averting an asteroid strike, and the people with the knowledge won’t be with us much longer. Time to call ‘em up and get the project running again.

  18. PJE

    When will astronmers be able to tell that the asteroid will strike the earth with 100% probability? (how much warning do we get, with no doubts?)

    Pete

  19. icemith

    With these odds, why are we averageing averages. I seem to recall that that is not smart. Just consider for a moment. Odds of x in X when dealing in lifetimes is itself suss. Though it is a terrible thing, an infant dying in a car-crash has had a lifetime, just as much as its great grand mother killed in the same crash. They have lived their “lifetime”. The statistic counts 2 lifetimes for that one accident. So the “odds” have been skewed somewhat; the one event and two highly variable lifetimes.

    Now I would like the actuaries to rationalise that. And no averageing the averages to do it. (Byetheway is there an accepted average lifetime?). I guess there is, and it would depend on the gender, nationality, race, even health and physical condition. Is it like a “generation”?

    What constitutes a generation? Time to puberty? Time to marriage? Time to first child. Is it the mean age of the parents on the birth of that child? What about twins? Now multiple births must mess-up the reckoning there.

    Dealing with what chance we would have if an asteroid did drop in, I am inclined to yawn and wander off. I have better things to do than worrying if I could cope. I would *have* to, and so would everybody else. We would have accept it, deal with it and get over it.

    But prior to that event, we should be figureing-out ways and means to prevent it, otherwise prepare all that is necessary to recover after that event. The Boy Scouts had it right – “Be Prepared”.

    Ivan.

  20. Daffy

    I did once flip a coin and it landed on its edge (true story). Not worried about the asteroid, though.

  21. Mark Martin

    It’s pretty well known that Orion isn’t the only technology capable of altering an asteroid trajectory. 2036 is far enough ahead that we could, given the green light, make effective use of a gravity tractor. I think that a generously funded program could probably have a working spacecraft in less than five years.

  22. Gary Ansorge

    Let’s see, at 5.5 gm /cubic cm,(ave. mass of rock), and a volume of (assume a cube 300 meters per side for ease of calculation) we get a total mass of approximately 148 billion kg. Use K.E.(kinetic energy)= 1/2 MV(squared), setting V= 20,000M/Sec, we get,,,,hmmmm,,,
    592 Times 10 to the 17th,,,Joules(???),,,

    Dang, how many joules per atom bomb?

    Anyway, it’s a lot of juice.

    Anything above 50,000 metric tons(50,000,000 kg) isn’t slowed much by atmospheric interaction, so from entry into the earths atmosphere(at say, 200 km, just ’cause I’m lazy) we’d have about 10 seconds to say, ‘by, by.

    But that’s only if we’re within sight of the asteroids entry into atmosphere.
    Anywhere else we’d just be saying, “Huh? What’s that noise?”

    Lucifers Hammer, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven pretty well laid out the consequences. I doubt Apophis would end life(as we know it) but civilization could take a BIG hit,,,

    Better get the nuke space drives on line, just in case,,,

    It would make a really nice little moon, if we could just manuever it into a high orbit, say, 50,000 km out.

    So much rock and stuff to build with. We could make a LOT of power sats with that much mass in orbit,,,

    Just like to look on the bright side.

    With an opportunity like this, we should be able to get some major international corp. to sequester it in an accessible orbit. Of course, they would want to use that mass for their own construction material. Hey, that’s fair to me,,,
    Wonder if I could buy stock in such a forward thinking company?

    GAry 7

  23. MKR

    All we need to do is construct an elaborate system of ropes and pullies to adjust its path and make it hit the sun instead.

  24. Gary Ansorge

    Don’t toss it into the sun. That would be a waste of raw materials. USE the dog gone thing. Make something with it, like power sats, space habitats, etc.

    Sheese, everybody seems to want to get rid of anything that’s a little bit of a threat.
    Look on the up side. What can we DO with this?

    It’s so hard to get mass from earths surface to orbit, when the opportunity presents itself to access material that’s already in orbit, we should jump at the chance.

    Enough rant,,,

    GAry 7

  25. Mark Martin

    Ropes? Pulleys? Bah! We need only to trick the angels (the ones which keep the planets moving) into flapping their wings in a different direction.

  26. MKR

    Carve a pumpkin face in to it!

    Besides, if we crafted such a pulley system, it could be used in place of expensive rockets to put things in orbit. It fixes two problems at once. :D

  27. Quiet_Desperation

    The real answer: no one knows the odds an asteroid will strike at any give moment.

    And don’t give me the “we’re due” crap.

  28. yy2bggggs

    I dare ask the question–what are the odds based on? In particular, let’s say that an asteroid will, in fact, hit earth. What would be the maximum computed odds under similar circumstances that it would be reported to hit earth?

    I suspect the odds are based on precision–and that’s fine, because that’s all we know. But I’m also suspicious that people might expect “the one to worry about” will come along with odds like 3 to 1.

  29. I have some GOOD news and BAD news:

    The bad news is—Were all going to die
    The good news is–Were not going to die at the same time

    I spent a year in a War many years ago. And, yes, people do die young. My question is this. What are the exact odds of dying in space flight related disasters?

    We know the exact amount of humans who have died during the USA-USSR space race. Then, the USA lost 14 crew members from it’s Shuttle Program. How many humans have been in space divided by those who died in space related missions:

    1 in ? odds of dying in space flight related missions.

    There have been disasters on the ground also. Should those numbers be put into the equation?

    All of this reminds me of the book “Worlds In Collision” by Immanuel Velicosky.
    Excuse my spelling of the last name of referenced author. The odds of me spelling it right without googleing is 1 in 333.

  30. Donnie B.

    The odds are based on the accuracy of our knowledge of the object’s orbital parameters. If we knew them with infinite precision, then the odds of impact would be either 0 or 1.

    Since there is error in the measured trajectory, we end up with an uncertainty in where the object will be when it passes the Earth. The odds of impact are then the size of that error circle in relation to the cross section of the Earth.

    It’s similar to the way the accuracy of a missile attack is computed. Launch a thousand (virtual) missiles at a target. There will be a pattern to where they land in comparison to the target. The overall error has two parts, one that tells you how much “scatter” there is in the pattern (I believe that’s called the Circular Error Probable) and another that tells you how far the center of that circle is from the target.

    In the case of a space object, there’s a “most probable” path with an “error circle” around it. Some earlier objects actually had their initial most-probable paths dead on the Earth, but with very large error circles. As observations of the objects’ trajectories improved, the error circles got smaller and the most-probable path was no longer on target for an impact. Much the same thing is true for Apophis.

    The difference this time is the second encounter, which will be very difficult to predict until the path of the first encounter is known much more accurately.

  31. Gary Ansorge

    It’s all about perturbations to its orbit, caused by random strikes with other debris, possible outgassing as it’s heated by the sun,(ok, it PROBALY doesn’t have any volitiles, but we won’t KNOW that unless we send probes to it).

    Since we can’t predict exactly what will happen to Apophis during its orbit, we are stuck with calculating the effects of planatary gravitational effects from the other bodies in this system and the sun and THAT we are pretty good at doing. We’re good enough at these sorts of calculations we can send probes across billions of kms and put our probes right where we want them,,,most of the time,,,(of course, we do have on board fuel to make course corrections).

    The point is, a 1 in 45,000 probability is about as accurate as we can get with the information we have available RIGHT NOW.
    In a few years, we will be able to refine those calcs. considerably,,,

    Now is the time to begin planning what we should do IF those refinements lead to a higher probability of impact. But worrying without doing is pretty useless,,,

    Gary 7

  32. Bwian

    So, has anyone proposed landing an impactor yet? Even if all it had was a giant radar target, that would make our measurements more precise. And a radio transmitter doesn’t seem out of the question, even accounting for the… rigorous impact regime.

  33. Dunc

    Hmmmm…. While I’m not opposed in principle to preparing for the asteroid threat, I have to say that I think we’ve got a heck of a lot more urgent problems to deal with. Ones that could be solved a lot more cheaply and effectively too…

    Ever wonder what the odds are of a nuclear weapons incident resulting in an erroneous launch are?

    Then, of course, there’s the real big, obvious ones – malnutrition, malaria, cholera… All easily and cheaply fixable if we actually cared about saving lives more than playing with toys.

  34. Mark Martin

    Another important mechanism which complicates things is unbalanced thermal emissions from a body’s solar-heated surface. This tends to alter its orbital elements on a continuous basis. For an object such as Earth this effect means almost nothing. For a small asteroid the thrust/mass ratio is large enough to become of great importance in its future travels.

  35. Mark Martin

    Dunc, those issues are all important. But, if a large enough asteroid clobbers Earth, it could render all of them moot. (Extinction is the biggest killer of them all.) Asteroid surveys are dirt cheap, and using surveys to give us enough lead time, deflecting an asteroid could be a positively affordable method for saving the lives of whole populations of humans.

  36. Gary Ansorge

    Malaria, cholera, malnutrition, etc have been with us for a really long time. They kill people on a gradual basis and we do struggle with them however,,,
    A large asteroid strike would affect a hugh number of people in a VERY short time and it is that for which we should be prepared. Massive death(in the billions, say) would likely collapse our civilization back to a pre-industrial stage. Then those other problems would NEVER be addressed.

    Malaria can be survived(speaking from personal experience here) as can cholera,etc. Big rocks are another matter.

    Are tens of millions at risk on a daily basis? Yes! But that amounts to a fraction of one percent of the human population of the planet. We have lived with such for a long time and will likely continue to do so for the immediate future. The only viable solution to those problems is a gradual increase in the total per capita wealth of the planet and that comes from the application of technology and a gradual change in our perception of the importance of family size. As our populations become wealthier, people have smaller families, reducing ecological pressure,etc.

    I expect our world population will peak at around 9 billion, then gradually decrease. Our objective must be to continue to provide resources, energy, etc, until we’ve attained a stable, sustainable population. That could take another hundred years.

    Meanwhile, we have all these oppotunities whizzing our way, more resources to tap into(a big rock in space is just another resource).

    Use it!

    Gary 7

  37. Anonymous

    From the B612 website: “At this size we are dealing with an energy level of about 80 – 100 megatons, more than enough to create serious local devastation. If such an impact event were to occur near a populated area it could disrupt not only the local environment, but also the global economy.”

    As opposed to civilization, I guess, which destroys local economies and the global environment.

    B612 continues: “Even though an impact would be randomly located around the Earth, no individual or public official wants to see a 100 megaton bomb going off that might have been prevented.”

    Speak for yourselves, B612 Foundation. An impact from an object of this size would be a gift from (literally) the heavens.

  38. Good post. I had posted something about 99942 Apophis a while back, but I didn’t compare the odds of it hitting to anything else. Good idea.

  39. Mark Martin

    “Speak for yourselves, B612 Foundation. An impact from an object of this size would be a gift from (literally) the heavens.”

    Uhhh… if you say so. So what about impact by something one or two orders of magnitude more massive? Would the sky-gift be proportionately more valuable?

  40. Anonymous

    “So what about impact by something one or two orders of magnitude more massive? Would the sky-gift be proportionately more valuable?”

    No, it wouldn’t be so good, something that could end all life, as in that impact simulation on YouTube a while ago (a rock the diameter of Honshu, I believe). All that’s left to due in such an event (apart from kiss my arse goodbye) is be amused at the sick irony of civilized humans–who are killing the planet–suddenly affecting concern for its well-being.

  41. Mark Martin

    Well, you may be rooting for an asteroid of “just the right size” to please your private tastes, but we can’t count on one of just the right size being the one which purifies Earth of our sins. If you agree that wholesale extinction isn’t to your tastes, then you should agree also with aquiring some practical skill in asteroid defense by actually deflecting smaller ones, one of just the right size to merely gently render a lesson cosmic hubris.

  42. jackd

    Am I the only one here who’s ever used the Earth Impact Effects Program?

    I plugged in a 300m stony meteorite, which is 3000 kg/m^3. Using the “average” impact velocity of 17km/sec, it calculates the total energy delivery as 6.13×10^18 Joules, or 1320 MegaTons of TNT. The seismic effect is equivalent to a Richter 6.7 earthquake. The air blast will knock down trees out to about 60-65km, and glass windows shatter up to 100km.

    They don’t try to figure tsunami effects.

    Doesn’t sound like enough to destroy civilization, but you wouldn’t want it to happen to your city.

  43. Anonymous

    “If you agree that wholesale extinction isn’t to your tastes, then you should agree also with aquiring some practical skill in asteroid defense by actually deflecting smaller ones, one of just the right size to merely gently render a lesson cosmic hubris.”

    No, not really. Wholesale extinction is the inevitable result of current human activities, and a successful deflection of a killer asteroid only serves to prolong the torture. At least with an impact it would all be over quickly.

  44. Gary Ansorge Says: “Let’s see, at 5.5 gm /cubic cm,(ave. mass of rock), and a volume of (assume a cube 300 meters per side for ease of calculation) we get a total mass of approximately 148 billion kg. Use K.E.(kinetic energy)= 1/2 MV(squared), setting V= 20,000M/Sec, we get,,,,hmmmm,,,
    592 Times 10 to the 17th,,,Joules(???),,,
    Dang, how many joules per atom bomb?”

    A megaton of TNT is roughly 4 x 10^15 joules, so your calculation works out to basically 15,000 megatons. By comparison, all of the nuclear devices ever detonated by all of the countries on Earth total less than a third of that.

    - Jack

  45. Mark Martin

    Torture? Speak for yourself. I for one am in no hurry, and it’s not the least bit obvious to me that we’re especially close to bringing about our own extinction, nor is it obvious to me that we will bring about our own demise at all. That’s a question yet to be answered by way of rigorous investigation. What if it turns out that civilization has little to do with climate change? It could then be our industrial capacity which would allow us to even survive. Playing a game of asteroids on a level field will definitely depend upon our having a healthy industrial capacity.

    I find it comically ironic that you criticize humanity for bringing about our own extinction, but if a mindless asteroid does the job for us, then that’s a welcome relief… from our impending auto-extinction.

  46. Anonymous

    SPOILERS: Humans aren’t the only species on Earth. The present, ongoing mass extinction is a fact, global warming or no global warming.

  47. The NEO site I linked in the post says the size is 250 meters across, and an explosive yield upon impact of 400 megatons. That’s 8 times the size of the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.

  48. Mark Martin

    Anonymous,

    What, in other words, are you saying now? Humans aren’t the residents of this planet. So? What has this to do with your wish for a justice-wielding boulder?

  49. Anonymous

    Let me sum up: An asteroid impact may render Earth uninhabitable. An industrial society with sufficient technology to deflect an asteroid is guaranteed to render the Earth uninhabitable. It’s nothing to do with such abstract notions as “justice.”

  50. Math Maniac

    I was waiting for your comment…thanks so much.

  51. Mark Martin

    Anonymous,

    You have yet to demonstrate that industrialized civilization will definitely render this place uninhabitable. And it still stands: how can you be in favor of one kind of extinction event and opposed to another? Dead is dead, either way. If we’re all killed by an impact, none of the dead will care afterward why they’re dead. It’ll be a fact, however, that we could’ve saved ourselves via our own efforts, rather than wait around to have our lives snatched away by a dumb rock. You’re just indulging in a common myth of the taintedness of humanity, the myth that, if only *we* weren’t here, this place would return to a state of grace. It was never in a state of grace. Life on Earth has more often than not been a cesspool of self-interest. Ask any crocodile if it’s motivated by self-interest, and it’ll eat you first, give you an enlightened answer never.

    Tell you what: if humanity became extinct this evening, it still wouldn’t save all the other organisms on Earth from extinction due to asteroid. With us here, they all stand a chance greater than they’ve ever before enjoyed in this respect.

  52. Anonymous

    There you go again with the lofty ideals. Grace? Taint? Enlightenment? Mount them on your wall next to Justice.
    Humans just don’t seem to fit in anywhere, we’re without a niche, a globally invasive species. Again, nothing abstract about this. I guess evolution allows for potentially unstable developments. It’s happened before with cyanobacteria, and its happening now with us.

  53. Mark Martin

    Ok, then what’s your problem?

  54. Quiet_Desperation

    >>>Humans just don’t seem to fit in anywhere,

    ELIZA: TELL ME MORE ABOUT JUST DON’T SEEM TO FIT IN ANYWHERE.

    >>> we’re without a niche

    We make our own niches, baby! That’s the power of sentience, cupcake! We’re the top of the heap, sugarhips, and we’re not yeilding the throne to anyone and/or thing.

    >>> a globally invasive species.

    Yeah, I had girlfriend like that once.

  55. Kaptain K

    Anonymous,

    It is said that we must think globally but act locally (individually). If it is your opinion that humanity is THE scourge of the Earth, your only option is to remove yourself from the Earth to eliminate your contribution to the problem.

  56. Anonymous

    “Ok, then what’s your problem?”

    That’s harder to express. In a word, suffering. The present human social organization is, I believe, a pathological state that leads to undue misery for all sorts of species, including ourselves. It’s a different level of suffering than a crocodile, to use your example, might cause when it feeds. For all individuals, death is certain. So for all species, extinction is certain, if only when the Sun leaves the main sequence, if not before. But I’d rather than those things that are alive today and will be alive in the future, however long that lasts, suffer less.

  57. Mark Martin

    What’s really funny is that Anonymous referred to our participation as “torture”, and then had the gall to implicitly deny projecting a mythical system of values.

  58. Anonymous

    Suffering is subjective, but not mythical. No more than any other direct experience. Deliberately causing suffering (torture) isn’t even subjective, since the torturer cannot feel what the victim feels and must rely on behavioral observations. This is all quite materialistic.

  59. Mark Martin

    That’s BS. Humans do only what all other living things do on this planet: they procreate and consume resources. All you’re doing is indulging in the myth that humans are somehow invaders, that we don’t belong here, that we and we alone have ruined Eden. Such nonsense. You still haven’t demonstrated that humans are delivering life on this planet to extinction. Are you ever going to yield any data?

  60. Anonymous

    More than that, humans *deplete* resources. We use energy faster than we receive it from the Sun and leave destruction in our wake. We aren’t literally invaders, I mean, we evolved here same as everything else, but we behave as if we were invaders, like we aren’t part of this world. And as I’ve said, our species isn’t the first to do so. (I wonder if Quiet_Desperation believes bacteria are sentient?)

  61. Mark Martin

    NO: we don’t behave as invaders. We behave as consumers. The only resource which we’ve depleted is the energy stored in petroleum, and even that isn’t gone from the Universe. All we did was out it to use. (Were the gods saving that stuff for a special occasion?) With trivial exception, everything we’ve ever mined from the ground is still on Earth. We’re not capable of magic so powerful as to induce matter & energy to disappear from the World. We’re4 just consuming. The deer population right around where I live does the same thing; they consume, often beyond the carrying capacity of their usual habitat. When they do that, then many of them suffer starvation, and they do it to themselves. Humans are organisms.

    I must ask- if you think we’re all better off dead, then what did you hope to accomplish by your original comment? Did you think that everyone else here would abruptly stop consuming energy? What in the world do you expect us to do? You want us to voluntarily commit mass-suicide to satisfy your sensibilities? Why are you on the internet? Aren’t you aware that the internet represents consumption?

  62. Anonymous

    “I must ask- if you think we’re all better off dead, …”

    Nice. Hey, I’d like to answer your questions, but it’ll just have to wait until I’ve stopped beating my wife.

  63. Mark Martin

    You’re the one who said you wished the end sooner rather than later.

  64. Grand Lunar

    “Am I the only one here who’s ever used the Earth Impact Effects Program? ”

    I’m having lots of fun with it!

    Has anyone ever tried to figure the impact of a neutron star?

  65. Gary Ansorge

    Hmmmm, humans as invasive species. Let’s see: about 65,000,000 ago, a really BIG rock so changed the planatary environment that the big, sucessful species died out. What was left were small, fast reproducers that could grow into every available eco. niche and resulted in another really sucessful species(us), which is rapidly taking over every available eco. niche. We convert energy from one form to another and are the first species with the capability to invade the space above us, carrying dogs, cats, pigs, probably even deer and crocs with us. I fail to see how this is bad, except for the non-living matter we will consume when we get there. Perhaps anonomus feels some empathy for that inorganic matter???

    Suffering, as the Buddah said, is part of life. There are ways to mitigate it.

    It’s very obvious to me, that anonomus is an IDEALIST, something every young person must be, if they have a heart.

    Good. Realize this anonomus. The high frontier has room for virtually every kind of society imaginable. At least ONE of those must have the ability to reduce suffering to near zero,,,,if that is even possible.

    I’m 63 years old, have enough aches and pains to bore anyone to death (in a few days of story telling)yet, for the most part, I really enjoy life.

    How can that be, when I’m so obviously feeling pain?

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that my ancestors were those too intent on living to give up and die.

    Granted, life pains are likely with us for a very long time, at least until we steal the fire of immortality from whatever gods may be(I love the myth of Prometheus) but in the meantime, I will continue to spoil my dogs, my kids and even red wasps with as much kindness as I can, and I promise not to torture anything,,,living,,,

    Come on anonomus, life is an experience. Go for it. MAybe you can help a pain ridden animal by adopting it. That’s working locally,,,and a small step in the right direction,,,

    Gary 7

  66. Quiet_Desperation

    >>> I wonder if Quiet_Desperation believes bacteria are sentient?

    Not sure about that, but I know they watch me.

    Always watching…

    I’m on to them, you know.

  67. hey guys……………….

    just dont bother what happenes and when it will happen, just accept the life as it comes and enjoy the most…………………

    PLEASE UNDERSTAND…………..

  68. Anonymous coward

    Some years ago when smaller cell phones were just coming of age and still incredibly expensive, I got a call from a good friend. He was bragging about his new mobile. Though the phones were fairly new, motorists had already begun to notice that drivers talking on the phone were all over the road. About a minute into the conversation, I heard a crunching noise. Then my friend said he had to go because he’d just rearended someone. Before that day, he’d had a spotless driving record and was a fairly skilled driver. I live in a Major US city and see the amazing tricks that cell phone people can pull.

    If I were standing on the sidewalk and saw a driver turn the corner and head in my general direction while chatting on the phone, and saw a Apophis on a collision course in the opposite direction, I’d run toward the asteroid figuring a higher chance of survival.

  69. Curtis

    My astronomy professor said that this would probably take out the earth and all its inhabitants. We’re talking about something that’s much bigger than the one that hit in russia in 1908 and bigger than berringer, it will probably be about twice as big as berringer actually.

  70. UNLESS WE DELETE GLOBAL WARMING, WE’LL HAVE UP TO 20 YEARS LEFT TO LIVE AND THEN OUR SPECIES WILL BE GONE. THE INCOMING OBJECT IS ON A COLLISION COURSE. YOUR PROBLEM IS THE ALIENS ON EARTH THAT ARE USEING NATURE AGAINST US. http://www.socyberty.com/Activism/First-Step-for-the-Solution-to-Global-Warming.103109

  71. I bought this GPS to use when I went on a house hunting trip to Panama City FL. It found all the addresses that I entered, inclucing some new streets (less than 2 years old).
    Pros: Found all the addresses.
    Cons: The new I-10 bridge from Pensacola to Milton, has been in place for about 3 1/2 years, and it showed me driving over water. Hwy 331 was reworked last year and it showed me in the woods, and kept trying to tell me find the road, nagging me bad.
    Other thoughs: You have to get used to the voice it uses. It has trouble with French names here in Biloxi. Big screen helps you when driving and trying to find an adress.
    Closing thoughs: I have a another GPS unit that I haved used and I like this one better. Got a good deal on it.

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