Asteroid 2007 TU24: No Danger to Earth

By Phil Plait | January 25, 2008 7:05 am

I am fed up.

For those who haven’t been following this saga, some doomsayers have been claiming that an asteroid named 2007 TU24 poses a grave threat to Earth. These fearmongers are completely wrong, scaring lots of others, and are apparently unwilling to listen to reason. The videos still make outrageously bad claims and the websites still make utterly false statements. I decided to make my own video so that the truth can get out to as many people as possible.

To be clear: TU24 will miss us by hundreds of thousands of kilometers, and the electric connection claims are wrong. This asteroid will pass us by, and sail on into the night.

As for me, now that the book is submitted — and the irony of finishing a book about cosmic catastrophes while debunking false claims of such has not been lost on me — I’m off to The Amaz!ng Meeting 5.5 in Florida, where I will meet with other skeptics and critical thinkers, and figure out how in the world — or off it — we can stop this kind of nonsense.

Comments (279)

  1. Keep up the great work Phil!

    I don’t consider this to be a “fear-mongering” site. In fact, I think it’s fun to read about all the ways we can be stricken from the universe (and that wouldn’t really be a bad thing, but that’s just my opinion).

    http://www.armageddononline.org/

  2. I think it’s funny (in a sad way) that people think that a smallish chunk of space rock passing past Earth at a distance farther than the moon can pose a danger. How many pass closer and don’t get this hype?

    It’s bad enough that the media latches onto these idiots. One of our local stations even had a big story on the good old Martian bigfoot.

    I’m going to post on our club’s blog (where we try to enlighten the public) and hope that it will do some good.

    Keep up the work Phil. The more voices of reason are heard, the more (hopefully) we can make people see the truth.

    (Oh yeah, and since you’re “basically” done with the book, make yourself a fancy “Bad Astronomer Studio” where you can present awesome videos!!)

  3. gia

    I just wrote about the Mayan 2012 crap earlier this week. What’s interesting is that often ‘conspiracy theory believers’ claim they are simply being ‘open minded’. I tend to think that wishing for the destruction of the human race whilst claiming that those in power are trying to hide “the truth” is close-minded, negative, distrustful and fearful. Not a nice place to be.

    Most bizarre conspiracy theory aimed at me: I am a CIA agent working for Yoko Ono attempting to cover up the “truth” about John Lennon’s murder AND Paul McCartney’s murder. Yes, apparently Paul was killed in 1966.

  4. Christian X Burnham

    If anything, the BA has a vested interest in hyping up DEATH from the skies.

  5. @ Gia…

    Well, Yoko is of course responsible for murdering the Beatles. :)

    And we all know about Paul. That’s why you hear “Paul is Dead” when you play one of their songs backwards!! And why on the cover of Abbey Road album he is barefoot!! :)

    Ah, conspiracy theorists!! Good for a laugh, as we take them down.

  6. zachb

    Maybe I shouldn’t even joke about this, but I think a cool conspiracy theory would be that the moon (or the earth) has been building up a huge net electric charge and that at some point there will be a huge discharge of static electricity from the moon to earth, with devastating results.

  7. I am pretty pessimistic about putting an end to the mess. I wrote about the UFO over nearby Stephenville, TX, last week. The posting generated a large amount of very negative response, mostly from people who claimed to be “open minded” by refusing to accept any other possible explanation than that the UFO was an alien spacecraft, rather than being something unidentified. A local news outlet ran a web poll seeking reader’s opinions on the object. The majority of folk who responded did not accept the official explanations of what people may have seen. Most preferred to believe that it was a spaceship and a government cover up.

  8. Rowsdower

    I’ve missed your videos Q&A that you had to put on hold. It’s a pleasure to hear and see you talk again.

    I think that the doomsayers are getting the idea that TU24 will hurt the earth because if you move a wire through a magnetic field you generate an electrical current. Of course TU24 isn’t part of an electrical circuit and there’s no place for the current to flow in the asteroid, so there’s not going to be any electrical disturbance that the imaginative folks who fear TU24 think will happen. (Vacuum is a wonderful insulator, isn’t it?)

  9. What about brimstone? Why didn’t you bring up the affects of brimstone as it relates to the asteroid?

    What are you trying to hide!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!

    Just in case, I’m gonna wear my anti-brimstone galoshes the rest of the year. And they WON’T be on my FEET!

  10. I think there’s really only one conspiracy theory, which is that the person holding the theory is smarter, cooler, more deserving of wealth and promotion and status than the rest of us, and that the only explanation for their lack of these things is a conspiracy. The rest is just detail.

  11. You are very informative, I’ve heard you on Coast:) pretty strange how many people are trying to hype every little thing that could blow up into catastrophy. Thanks for gettting the truth out there>

    JJ from Montana

  12. Michelle

    Sweet, BA! Great video.

    Have you submitted this video as a video response to some of the big insane ones?

  13. ioresult

    The video appears to have ben filmed at sunset. If you fast forward it, you can see the light ambience change from yellow to deep blue. It makes for an interesting effect. I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked if BA had tried to do it intentionally.

  14. Nigel Depledge

    Ioresult said:
    “The video appears to have ben filmed at sunset. If you fast forward it, you can see the light ambience change from yellow to deep blue. It makes for an interesting effect. I’m sure it wouldn’t have worked if BA had tried to do it intentionally.”

    Aha, photographic inconsistencies! It is obviously all a hoax. The BA never went anywhere outside the cupboard in which NASA keep him!!!!!

    Or, maybe not :wink:

  15. Thomas Siefert

    The video appears to have ben filmed at sunset. If you fast forward it, you can see the light ambience change from yellow to deep blue.

    And right after his afternoon golf session, if his trousers is anything to go by :-)

  16. See you in Fort Lauderdale.

  17. fos

    Some kook was on the radio last night claiming “scientists” were not sure what the asteroids trajectory really was??????

    Have fun in Florida.

  18. Chris

    There will never be a dearth of idiots who think the world is about to end. People have proven it time and time and time again. The Millerites thought Jesus was going to come back on October 22, 1844. When it didn’t happen they picked a new date. At least there isn’t a cult that thinks TU24 is an alien spaceship and that they must commit suicide to catch a ride.

  19. Cello Man

    We need more videos like this on Youtube. It’s concise, informative, and well spoken. The only possible complaint I could have is the lighting. I know someone else brought it up in one of the posts about Brian Greene, but I have to echo the sentiment that Phil would be awesome on his own TV show.

    I wonder…when January 29th comes and goes without incident, how many doomsayers are going to email Phil or post video retractions saying, “Sorry, I was wrong!”

  20. I’m kind of disappointed by this Discovery Channel story – Asteroid to Make Near-Earth Pass
    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/01/25/earth-asteroid-miss.html

    Which begins with:
    “An asteroid at least 500 feet long will make a rare close pass by Earth next week, but there is no chance of an impact, scientists reported Thursday. ”

    a rare close pass? It only seems rare, because we don’t know about most of the close passes! Aren’t there hundreds of Earth orbit-crossing asteriods and stuff that we aren’t even tracking?

    I would think Discovery News would know better.

  21. Rob

    Of course scientists aren’t “sure” what the real trajectory is! Claiming certain knowledge is almost always a charlatan’s trick. Scientists quote results with errors attached, from which the probability that something is outside the error box can be calculated. From which we can see that a minor correction in the trajectory like the one Phil posted about yesterday is not a cause to doubt the original calculation and that the asteroid is going to miss the earth.

    Bottom line: scientists are confident that the asteroid’s trajectory falls within a certain cone, they are not ‘sure’ that it will follow a certain well-defined trajectory. This does not mean that they have no idea where it is going, merely that they are not charlatans and are honest about the accuracy of their knowledge (accurate enough to know it’s going to miss the Earth, in this case).

  22. Thanks Phil for providing a great youtube video to link to conspiracy theorists. You should do more video/podcast work, you get so worked and excited about science. It’s like a rock concert of facts.

  23. Hey, Good work Phil! Keep those doomsayers at bay.

    Can I make an observation?

    You do the passive-political hand gesture a lot, where instead of pointing you just tuck your thumb behind your clenched fingers. Are you running for president? (hint hint) I miss a good old fashioned point with the index finger.

  24. Tulle

    Yea well what about MN4 on April 13, 2029, huh? Ya, its not going to hit us either, even though it well pass us at a little over 18,000 miles. Will its orbit change eough to hit us at its next close approach nine years later?

    If one is going to be a doom sayer at least pick something that has some possiblity of happening. That’s my reasoning.

  25. Tulle

    Sorry, everyone, I forgot the world ends in 2012, so I guess we will never know about 2029.

  26. Sespetoxri

    Thanks for all your efforts, Phil. It’s folks like you who make being a skeptic as rewarding and fun as it is- I love nothing more than hearing someone mention the ‘death from the skies’ and within a minute being able to refute their careless claims with an informative, collected, and educational offering from someone like yourself. So again, thank you.

  27. Mike J.

    you know, phil is always “debunking” everything , which is a good thing I suppose (unless phil’s wrong of course)…

    phil doesn’t believe in an “electric universe”, which is fine, but man would it be great of tu24 did cause widespread electronic interference… all you e-blowhards would have to go out into the world instead of constantly being glued to your keyboards…

    as for phil being a debunker… I had an idea last night….on a completely different note… we get phil plait, PZ myers, Randi, and anyone else who doesn’t believe in the “supernatural”… and we all go up to Estes Park Colorado and stay at the Stanley hotel for 7 full days… if Phil is still “skeptical” of the supernatural after 7 days in the stanley, then he might have a pot to piss in, and a leg to stand on when it comes to making anti-supernatural claims.

    I’d pay a million dollars to see Randi, PZ and Plait running out with their evolved tails between their legs…

  28. This from a guy who wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK called Death from the Skies, a book “…about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth”

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?

    Ironic

  29. DrFlimmer

    Very nice and informative video, just like what we always get from you.
    Astronomy has an advantage compared with nuclear physics (i.e.)… there is no way to make weapons “out of” it ;-) .

    Anyway: This video reminded me of a great time almost one year ago, when we all had the pleasure to watch you in a great video once a week. Is there a tiny chance that there will be some more episodes of Q&BA in the future?? (Maybe a bigger chance than an impact of 2007UT24?)

  30. Mena

    I think it’s funny (in a sad way) that people think that a smallish chunk of space rock passing past Earth at a distance farther than the moon can pose a danger. How many pass closer and don’t get this hype?
    Sssh, the people who believe in this crap will now be afraid of the moon. Not that they don’t probably already think that a full moon causes people to act crazy.

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?
    We have noticed that you have been the cause of most of it. Even more ironic that you posted this?

  31. NA

    I think its sooooo funny that the TU24.org guy is acting so cocky right now… hes going to look very very stupid come 30th if he keeps it up.

  32. Boba Fett

    Good science on your part, yes, indeed. But I know of no one running around like headless chickens fearful of dying from an asteriod. Certainly no similar reports on the news about such behavior. Most people I know are so oblivious to any interest in astronomy that I think your arguments fall on deaf ears. Or, rather, you’re just preaching to the choir. Take a rest.

  33. Great video, I don’t think the case against all the ridiculous fearmongering could have been put more clearly or convincingly.

  34. Stephanie, maybe they mean it’s a rare close pass for that asteroid. Though I don’t know if even that’s true. Maybe they’re just not very good at proofreading.

  35. Still waiting for the “Bad Astronomer” to debunk the lastest JPL contradiction:

    -“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027” – Don Yeomans, JPL

    -“…an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so.” – Don Yeomans, JPL

    I won’t hold my breath. That would be professional suicide.

  36. Bryn

    I especially liked the shout-out to Hitchhiker’s with the big, “DON’T PANIC”, but darn it man! Where was your towel? ;)

    Great video, Phil! I know they’re time-consuming to do, but maybe now that the book is safely on its way, you could throw some more astronomical common sense up on YouTube. It could sure use it.

  37. by the way, nice video. As promised, I will post it to my website.

  38. Mena

    Still waiting for the “Bad Astronomer” to debunk the lastest JPL contradiction:

    -“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027” – Don Yeomans, JPL

    -“…an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so.” – Don Yeomans, JPL
    Statistics, you’re doing it wrong.
    Known asteroid until 2027 vs average based on how often asteroids this size pass by are very different things. Duh. It’s like hundred year floods. They don’t happen every hundred years but floods that high happen on average every hundred years. To reiterate, duh.

  39. Gary Ansorge

    TU,,,: The key words in that post are “by a KNOWN asteroid”. Which is simply saying that other asteroids(currently UNKNOWN) probably pass as close or closer every five years,,,or so,,,

    So, where’s the “contradiction?

    GAry 7

  40. Mena, my post yesterday (on 24 Jan 2008 at 11:37 am):

    Yes, I know he said ‘on average’. But why give misleading information?

    Hostility instead of thoughtility?

  41. Hey “TU Dude”…

    I don’t see any contradictions by Dr. Yeomans. You are only (as usual) taking parts of his words….

    This is directly from the page…

    “Given the estimated number of near-Earth asteroids of this size (about 7,000 discovered and undiscovered objects), an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so. The average interval between actual Earth impacts for an object of this size would be about 37,000 years. For the January 29th encounter, near Earth asteroid 2007 TU24 has no chance of hitting, or affecting, Earth.

    2007 TU24 will be the closest currently known approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027.”

    http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news157.html

    That is what are called facts sir. Try to use them, at some point. Then perhaps people won’t think you are a Hoagland-type crackpot.

  42. Michelle

    “# TU24dotORGon 25 Jan 2008 at 9:56 am

    This from a guy who wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK called Death from the Skies, a book “…about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth”

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?

    Ironic”

    Ironic indeed…Or is it?

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/04/08/big-announcement-part-1-my-next-book/

    A quick quote from the post:
    “I’m really tired of doomsday criers scaring people and scamming their money, so this should act as something of a mitigation. I want to be accurate, and I want to make sure that people understand that while the effects of a Galactic gamma-ray burst would good and truly suck (…) the odds are vanishingly small. How many people do you know who have been killed by a GRB?”

    You might want to read this. He’s not claiming we’re all gonna die like you are. What a paranoid lad you are. Tell me, do you even have a LIFE?

  43. Brandon Hooks

    For starters, no one and I mean NOONE knows what is going to happen in 2012!!! It really doesn’t matter what a scientist says about it! If God says our number is up come December 2012, then that is that! He doesn’t go by “astronomical data”, or what astronomers think they know, no offense! To say that absolutely nothing will happen on this date is just as arrogant as saying the end will come on this date! I do not believe the world will end on that date, but there could be a major disaster to the world then! They say that the galactic alignment happens once every 26,000 years. How do we know what happened the last time this took place when we weren’t even around? The truth is nobody knows what is going to happen on that date! You know what, this world needs a good dealing with! I don’t mean us being wiped off the map, because I don’t believe that will ever happen! Keep believing that the government cares about you, and that they have your best interests at heart! THEY DON”T! They only care about themselves! Remember the weapons of mass destruction that DON’T EXIST!” They lie to achieve their goals! Anyways, that is what I believe. I am open to other’s beliefs, and please hear me, I don’t want to attack anyone here. Everybody is unique with their own beliefs. The government is not your friend, at least in my opinion. Have a wonderful day and may God bless you!
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  44. Surely we don’t have a sexist female in the house? It’s not surprising that quite a few of the users here have assumed that I am male, but I wouldn’t expect that from a female.

    Shame.. anyway…

    “He’s not claiming we’re all gonna die like you are.”

    I wouldn’t trust you with any facts because that certainly isn’t one. Can you back that statement up with anything?

  45. Bryn

    @ TU24dotORG

    I’m not Phil and I don’t play him on TV (or YouTube) for that matter)

    I’m assuming the two quotes you’re using came from here- http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news157.html If that’s correct, you kind of lost part of the first quote: “2007 TU24 will be the closest currently known approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027.” (bolding added) It’s that “potentially hazardous” part that makes the difference and takes away any contradiction. To put it another way, these two sentences don’t contradict one another:
    “Every 5 years, an elephant runs through my neighborhood.”
    “The next elephant running at my house isn’t expected until around 2027.”

  46. Surely we don’t have a sexist female in the house? It’s not surprising that quite a few of the users here have assumed that I am male, but I wouldn’t expect that from a female.

    Shame.. anyway..

    “He’s not claiming we’re all gonna die like you are.”

    I wouldn’t trust you with any facts because that certainly isn’t one. Can you back that statement up with anything?

  47. Michelle

    I don’t CARE what sex you are. You are a qwack, to stay polite. Sex has nothing to do with it, and you better shove that in your head. Your gender is never a shield and you CANNOT use that as a defense or as an attack. EVER.

    Quite frankly, I think the biggest proof that you are an alarmist is that you made a website full of false misinterpreted claims that lots of folks will think is real.

    SUCH AS

    “Although the chances of a direct impact are nearly non-existent, there is a much greater chance that there will be a degree of electromagnetic interference as TU24 traverses Earth’s magnetosphere in the manner of Tunguska 100 years ago. ”

    What a load of bull.

  48. Christian X Burnham

    I’m sure that the fallacy in Brandon’s post has a name, but I don’t know what it is.

    Maybe I will marry Catherine Zeta Jones on Dec 14th 2012, or else I won’t get married to her on that date. That doesn’t mean that both events are equally likely, or that it’s arrogant for me to assume that I won’t get married to her.

    (Apologies to Michael Douglas)

  49. Sespetoxri

    TU24, stop being a dink. You’re intentionally trying to ‘bait’ people into a fight, over whatever you can possibly pull from their responses, from one second to the next. This is called ‘trolling for flames’. It’s a useless waste of time and effort on our part to ‘rise to the challenge’ you offer.

    You’re nothing more than a glorified board troll with a website. Stop being a dink- you’re making yourself look worse with each and every response. If you come here with genuine scientific questions or information, then stick to it. Stop trying to stir the pot – it’s useless background noise in an important topic.

  50. “operation Babyfood”
    Dang, party people I already started handing out stoogies and told
    all Cobra vipers the precise impact time and location. Rain on my
    parade why dontcha. Heh, no piggies gonna ruin my plans anyway.
    I’ve been reading the usa’s senario paper’s and it appears all
    scenarios with a asteroid impact have a preemptive nuclear strike.
    Jesus man, we’ll sure will know pretty soon if you confident 00dumdums are correct in your anylasis or lied to expendable commodities. blue 42 , blue 42 …hut,hut , hike!

    compliments of Von Vanderberg

  51. Great video Phil 2.0, do this more often!

    Enjoy TAM.

  52. Brandon Hooks

    Christian,

    Fallacy, ha, that’s a good one! LOL!!! No this is no fallacy. There is a God and I know that to be true because of what He has done in my life! He loves you very much, and wants the best for you! If you want to call me a religious idiot or a kook, what are some others; geez there are so many of them in the atheists’s dictionary to describe anyone that believes in God. Anyway I don’t care! He has given me an extraordinary wife and a beautiful, amazine child, and that comes from God, not me! I don’t deserve those things! He gives them to me because He loves me! One popular thing that is thrown at those who believe in these theories and believe we don’t live forever, and that we could be in trouble one day is the belief that we want it to happen, and that we hate life and hate the world. That couldn’t be further from the truth!!! I happen to like my life and LOVE the people in it!!! I have something to live for! It is just this stuff is exciting and makes me feel alive! I would in no way wish to see the actual day when we would all die! I couldn’t be strong for my family like that! I think I would have a heart attack even though my soul is ready! It would be pretty scary! LOL!
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  53. Michael Lonergan

    Good job BA! Say, were those the same pants you wore in your Christmas picture!?

    Anyway, based on past occurrences of NEO’s passing by, I think we can assume that history teaches us that there are no ill effects of these misses. Tunguska, which TU brings up, was different. It hit us, at least our atmosphere.

    TU, I have a question and a challenge: Are you willing to post an apology on your site, via YouTube, when nothing happens by January 30? Will you post an apology on this blog? By January 30 you will have had your moment in the limelight, your web hits will undoubtedly dry up, and you will in all likelihood shut it down. Until the next time.

    Brandon, I’m not sure I get the point of your post here, but did you not catch Phil’s recent appearance on Coast to Coast? He did a great job of explaining the whole 2012 mania. You are right about one thing. No one knows what will happen in 2012. No one knows what will happen tomorrow, or in one hour. If I walk across the street, I could be hit by a car. I could have a heart attack. For me the world will have ended.

    How the government ties into all this escapes me? Sounds like you are a “conspiracy junkie.” Keep reading and hopefully you can be cured.

  54. Sespetoxri

    In reading that, I should have written ‘You’re acting like nothing more than a glorified board troll’.

  55. Brandon Hooks

    Michael,

    No, I think I will keep my beliefs in God, and what the bible says about a conspiracy in the end times. I am however welcome to debate, I love to debate! It is fun! Honestly, tell me something, why do you think we are so invincible that something couldn’t do us in at any time? I am just curious. How is it so far fetched in your views?
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  56. Gary Ansorge

    TU44: WHAT “misleading” Information?

    GAry 7

  57. Brandon Hooks

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe the hype about the 2007 TU-24 asteroid is a bunch of hooey! Something that small wouldn’t even tickle us, let alone hurt us!
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  58. Davidlpf

    I never really heard of the electric universe until I started posting in the forums, now it gets me so upset that there a people pushing that crud.

    Ok Michelle quick question are you originally from Quebec or another province? (I once knew a girl named Michelle who lives in Quebec now, yes I know there are a lot of michelles in Quebec.)

  59. Michelle

    Davidlpf: I’m from Quebec, yes, but as you said, Quebec is big and wide and full of michelles. :)

    Sespetoxri: You absolutely nailed it. She’s just a troll.

  60. Davidlpf

    Michelle nothing ventured,nothing gained. but glad to see another canuck around.

    Trolls, trolls you say on the BAs website how silly, there have been no trolls around here, well ever.

  61. Michael Lonergan

    Actually Brandon, I’m not so naive to believe that we couldn’t be wiped out. I think there are many things that could end it all: Nuclear War, Pandemic, various natural disasters, and yes, I am almost certain that one day a rock from space will have our number. It has happened in the past, and will most assuredly happen in the future. Whether or not one can attribute this to God is another question. (I know where you are coming from as I was an Evangelical Christian for 24 years and even did a stint pastoring for awhile.) In a word, it would be foolish to think we are invincible. Mass extinctions have happened in ages past. Many believe that is was an asteroid impact that wiped the dinosaurs out 65 million years ago.

    BTW, if 2007 TU24, were to hit, it would do more than tickle those that happen to be directly underneath it!

  62. Michael Lonergan

    Oui, Oui @ Michelle! (That’s about the only French I know ;) ) Hello from Canada’s Best Coast!

  63. Luke

    Uh, Brandon, I don’t think anyone mentioned God or atheism, and I think we’d all rather not go into that, as it would be seriously off-topic. We’re talking about this specific asteroid and how it isn’t going to kill us, not atheism, religious apocalypse scenarios, or animal husbandry :)

    Oh, and ease up on those exclamation marks, will ya? I feel like you’re about to go for my throat.

  64. Pat

    I blame the opening sequence of “Thundarr: The Barbarian.”

  65. Egaeus

    @ Davidlpf

    Yeah, neither had I. Then I looked it up, and was dumbfounded. I was expecting a theory comparable to Modified Newtonian Dynamics or Scalar-Tensor-Vector Gravity, but the Electrical Universe theory is just a bunch of gibberish pulled out of someone’s…posterior.

    Instead of using theory and mathematics, they try and justify it with logical fallacies. My favorite is “Most revolutions in science have come from people who taught themselves outside the academic system and were not constrained by the fallacies and fashions of the day.” Umm…that statement, assuming that it’s true, doesn’t mean that people who taught themselves outside the academic system are going to be scientific revolutionaries. Very, very few of them will. Most are kooks that promote crap like perpetual motion and electrical universes because they don’t understand what they’re talking about (or speaking out against).

  66. Michelle

    I think the best example of pure nonsense “I learn on my own” guy I dealt with is Michael Mozina. That guy claims the Sun has a solid surface.

    When I asked him what his diplomas were, I received just a volley of nonsense and dodges with him calling it irrelevant and such. He had, of course, no teachings in the field and yet he claimed he was able to analyze SOHO images better than these silly scientists!

    A bit of a scary guy that goes as far as emailing little me because I have said on my silly video game comic website that there’s nonsense everywhere (all while linking to his website with these words).

  67. has

    In other news, Dr Lavelle of the Java Observatory is reporting a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the surface of Mars. Spectral analysis indicates a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an enormous velocity towards us.

    Unconfirmed reports of a large meteorite falling somewhere near Horsell and Woking are not thought to be connected.

  68. You never know the potential treat..

    People Search
    http://www.vcao.net/people-search

  69. Mark Hansen

    @TU,
    You were asked a polite question which wasn’t full of filth (your complaint about posters on your forum) and yet you didn’t respond. Will you or will you not put a full apology on your website on the 30th January when nothing happens?

  70. Michelle

    Mark, I’d be surprised if she posts an apology. It’s the same will all of her type… she’ll figure out something to never apologize. She’ll make up some effect.

    Otherwise, we could be witnessing a first.

  71. Davidlpf

    Micheal Mozina did post in the bulletin board but that was before my time there, I had a discussion with a guy ho used the alias upriver but same theory and claimed it was his own. Also over at the JREF the is a character called BeaChooser pushing the electric universe there as well.

  72. Mark Hansen

    Michelle,
    That’s what I’m assuming will happen. I just thought it useful to remind TU that she was asked a polite question and yet she wouldn’t respond. I guess she just can’t put her money where her mouth is.

  73. Darth Chimay

    Hey Brandon,

    You realize that 2012 date doesn’t from any Christian sources, but rather from a reading of the Mayan calendar, don’t you? Oh, and those Mayans, not big believers in Yahve, it turns out. Oh, and they didn’t make any sort of predictions that the world would end on that date, just that the “next age” would occur. No mention of catastrophes or anything like that, but they do talk about parties.

    Hmm… getting an idea for a 12/21/12 kegger….

  74. Brandon Hooks writes:

    [[They say that the galactic alignment happens once every 26,000 years. ]]

    Who is “they?” And for that matter, what is “the galactic alignment?”

  75. Alex

    (2007 TU24) Earth MOID = .00125025 AU according to NASA http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2007%20TU24;orb=1 I think thats 116218.1 Miles. or a little less than half the distance to the moon.

  76. Michelle writes:

    [[I think the best example of pure nonsense “I learn on my own” guy I dealt with is Michael Mozina. That guy claims the Sun has a solid surface. ]]

    I think there were actually scientists who thought it could be solid as late as 1930 or so, though Homer Lane’s solar model came out in 1869 and I’m pretty sure he described it as a gas. I know Olaf Stapledon, a guy who tried to keep up with the science although he was not a scientist, was writing as if stars were solid as late as 1937 (at the end of Starmaker, when all the stars are burnt out, the last surviving intelligences burrow into the sun, having bioengineered themselves as a sort of flat caterpillar that could survive under that kind of gravity). If your Mr. Mozina learned his astronomy from some 1926 textbook, that could explain his misconception. :)

  77. captain swoop

    your wife and child are gifts from god? does that imply they are yours by divine right? Does your wife regard herself as a gift to you from god?

    Strange way of looking at the world and other people.

  78. I predict that TU and like minded people will point to events on or about the 29th or 30th and attempt to draw a connection between the observed events and the passing of the 2007 TU24 asteroid. They will not factor in the frequency of the events, (like that they happen with regularity) but will imply that the asteroid caused them.

    To be a little more specific in my prediction, earthquakes happen every day all over the world. I predict TU or others will hear of news of one of these earthquakes and say something like, “See?! An earthquake happened just as the asteroid arrived.”

    Failing to compare that day’s earthquakes with other days’ can make people think that the asteroid did it. Of course, one can substitute any phenomenon for the earthquakes in this example.

    When you don’t compare what you are observing to the base rate of how frequently it happens, you leave yourself vulnerable to the illusion that one thing is causing another thing.

  79. Brandon Hooks

    Luke,

    My apologies my friend! When I was putting the exclamation marks in, it wasn’t because I was angry by any means! For some reason I am obsessed with the exclamation mark! LOL! Well there I go again with it. Somebody help me! LOL! Just kidding.
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  80. Brandon Hooks

    Michael,

    When I said that it wouldn’t even tickle us I was referring to it making its close pass by the earth. There is the talk that it will affect the earth even “without a collision.” That was what I was referring to. No, if it did hit the earth I am very sure it would completely wipe out a city or greater. Sorry about that!
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  81. Michael Lonergan

    Barton, I think he may be referring to the Earth crossing the Galactic Plane, which happens every 26,000 years, although I think BA made a post about this recently. I’ll see if I can find it.

    No problem, Brandon. I think if it were on a collision course with my city, and I couldn’t get out, I’d fulfill a dream. Running around naked in the streets. (Well at least that’s a recurring dream of mine, walking in my former High School, sans clothes….. It’s a nightmare because no one notices! :) )

  82. Mena

    Mena, my post yesterday (on 24 Jan 2008 at 11:37 am):

    Yes, I know he said ‘on average’. But why give misleading information?

    What’s misleading about saying “on average”? I’m suspecting that the term means something different to you than it does to everyone else. Being “on average” is like getting across the town that you live in, let’s say 10 miles, in a half hour means that you are going twenty miles an hour on average. You probably went faster at some points and there were probably a few stop lights. To simplify, you didn’t go 20 mph for the entire journey. You seem to think that “on average” means that you have to have gone 20 mph (the whole thing about these objects passing by in 2027) the whole time or you didn’t go across town at all.

    Hostility instead of thoughtility?

    Would that make you happy? Is that why you keep posting stuff? Sorry but no. In reality though it’s more of a case of incredulity at the futility of discussing anything with you. It’s almost like you just aren’t paying attention. Please address why you think that Phil is giving misleading information because of the “on average” statement or anything else that you have been asked. If that happens, we’ll talk some more. If not, toodles. I have no reason to be hostile about you or your comments because I don’t know you, I don’t find you very intelligent from your comments, and I really don’t care about your opinions. You aren’t the center of our world. Deal.

  83. Michael Lonergan

    Mark & Michelle, I think what will happen on the 30th is TU will point to anything at all as evidence of an “Electrical Connection”, whether that be an earthquake, intense storm, volcanic eruption, forest fire, heat wave, cold snap or mass constipation. Oh, let’s not forget about UFO sightings! However, there was a recent incident with a religious website that predicted the rapture by Dec. 31. When we all woke up on Jan.1, this person did have the decency to post an apology and shut down her website.

    BTW, before anyone starts, that was not an attack against Christians. I was merely pointing out something similar that had a “happy” outcome. The person apologized. That’s all I’m asking TU to do. I’ll even go so far as to say, “TU, would you please be so kind to post an apology on Jan. 30, if nothing happens?” I’m such a nice guy!

  84. I see nothing contradictory about these two statements:

    > Mars makes its closest approach to Earth every 3 years.

    > This is the closest Mars will get the Earth in 30,000 years.

    Nor do I see anything contradictory about the two JPL statements quoted by TU24. Do they define what “pass this close to Earth” means? My guess is that it means a range of “closeness”, as opposed to “530,000km”. Perhaps by “this close”, they mean “750,000km or closer”, or “within twice the distance to the Moon”?

    Plus, as others have pointed out, you have the “known” vs “unknown” aspect.

  85. Brandon Hooks

    Michael,

    LOL!!! I guess that is some way to spend the last bit of your life! No, but hypothetically speaking, if there were REALLY something coming that was going to wipe us out, I don’t really know how I would spend it. I would want to be right next to my wife and son of course. I know the world would just freak out, and I would probably just try and board up the house so looters couldn’t come in and do harm to us, even thought the end was coming. I don’t really know I guess.
    Sincerely, Brandon.

  86. Michael Lonergan

    Barton, I can’t find a post that BA made dealing with this whole 26,000 year cycle. I’m almost positive he dealt with it. Maybe it was in the recent C2C interview with George Noory. Maybe if BA is listening he can enlighten us? If I ask nicely? Please? :)

  87. This reminds me of the whole “Jupiter Effect” thing back in the ’80s. If you missed, all the planets were going to be in a straight line at some point in 1984. The combined gravitational pull was supposed to unleash all kinds of earthquakes and tsunamis and whatever the hell else, and lead to the destruction of the Earth. Some moron even wrote a book about it.
    Well, the last time I checked, the world didn’t end in 1984.

  88. Michael Lonergan

    Lugosi, yes, but that’s when I started going bald, which I attribute to the Jupiter Effect. Truly devastating on a personal level.

  89. Well, the last time I checked, the world didn’t end in 1984.

    I remember calling someone on that. It was an acquaintance, and he was always up on the latest conspiracy. So when the world didn’t end, I asked him to explain, and the explanation was so ludicrous that it burned itself into my brain:

    “The world did end as a result of the Jupiter effect, but quantum effects shifted us to an alternate universe and we are now on a new world.”

    Ohhhh Kayyyy.

  90. Eoghan

    Has anyone else noticed that when you click on any of the FAQ links on TU24.org, they all lead to a page which says “Coming Soon!”
    He might want to get a move on if he wants to get those up before civilization comes to an end.

  91. BoneheadFX

    Great video Phil. Thank you!

  92. Rachel

    Great job Phil! I was hoping you would post a video, very well done.

  93. Lew

    Stichen (sp) wrote a book about the great alignment. Didn’t he? Seem like I remember that name connected with flim-flammery.

  94. Michael Lonergan

    Lew, Zecharia Sitchin (sp?) is a leading proponent of the Planet X/Niburu/Anunaki/Sumerian stuff (for lack of a better term). He is probably even more unhinged than Hoagland, if that’s possible. If you Google any one of those terms I mentioned, his name is sure to pop up.

  95. Christian X Burnhamon
    I’m sure that the fallacy in Brandon’s post has a name, but I don’t know what it is.

    Several,actually:

    Brandon Hookson
    For starters, no one and I mean NOONE knows what is going to happen in 2012!!! It really doesn’t matter what a scientist says about it!

    Appeal to Ignorance
    If God says our number is up come December 2012, then that is that! He doesn’t go by “astronomical data”, or what astronomers think they know, no offense!
    Appeal to Authority (God)

    The truth is nobody knows what is going to happen on that date!
    See Appeal to Ignorance

    Remember the weapons of mass destruction that DON’T EXIST!” They lie to achieve their goals!
    Faulty Analogy

    For details on the particular fallacies (and my thanks to the authors who allowed me to post the page) check this page:
    Dittobusters Fallacy Page

    J/P=?

  96. While I’m sure there’s nothing to fear from this asteroid, I’m moving my porn collection to the Y2k shelter I built nine years ago.

  97. alfaniner

    Phil,

    Make sure to leave your final placard with the website on your video recording for at least 5 seconds so people can see your website address. YouTube has the tendency to lop off a second or three from the end of each video.

    At least this event hysteria will be over in a week or so.

    Either way…

    :)

  98. Taz

    Phil, is it possible you’re overreacting to this? The only place I’ve seen a mention of this killer asteroid is on your site. I saw the ridiculous video, but again that was because it was linked to from here. Now I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m incredibly discerning in my choice of blogs, but I haven’t heard a word about this from my less sophisticated family and friends. Aren’t you blowing this out of proportion?

  99. Taz

    My previous post was supposed to contain a humorous “end sarcasm” tag after the part about my family and friends. I guess I screwed it up. Oh, the irony!

  100. Taz

    My previous post was supposed to contain a humorous “end satire” tag at the end of the “family and friends” line. I guess I screwed it up. Oh, the irony!

  101. Jarrod Henry

    Actually, Taz, the video was pretty popular on Youtube a few days ago, and it was being passed around on a ton of the popular forums out there. This TU24 guy and his crew have got quite a “network” of kooks and crazies. Notice all the name calling on this guy’s page.. he just is interested in getting people riled up.

  102. I’m worried about the possibility that the Martian Bigfoot guy is secretly controlling 2007 TU24 and will divert it, causing it to crash into the Earth.

  103. Mitsu

    this video does clear a lot up for anyone who was seriously doubtful. i feel better knowing more than just what NASA provided on their website.

    anyone else notice that the “prophetic” youtube video thats scaring the bejezus out of everyone has several errors in spelling within it? it makes me doubt even more that the video’s creators were incapable of even spelling the simplest of words. “no so fast” “potentiall hazardous asteroid” are the two examples i found. i know simple errors, but anything past two really concerns me. i am thankful for this site and all it has provided for information.

  104. Mena

    Jarrod Henry, did you notice that although TU24dotOG posted Phil’s video it was done with the tag “And here’s the Bald Astronomer’s rebuttal”? Yet another person who seems to think that he/she is an expert on any given subject just because he/she has an internet connection. How gifted… (NSFW if your boss has a thing about language in cartoons.)
    I’m still chuckling over Plasma is the fourth state of matter, and one that we know little about. 99.999% of the universe consists of this plasma.

  105. flynjack

    Why all the fuss about whats posted on you tube anyway? Its about as accurate as the New York Times. Apart from the sarcasm I agree with some of the previous post: its a matter of semantics, the key word being “known”. Of course this one wont hit us, but just last year I believe a lesser sized object missed even closer, and in fact wasnt observed until its departure. Perhaps a little like the old addage “you never hear the bullet that hits you”. And while Im on old sayings heres one thats germane. Its called the little bullet theory, when aircraft returned undamaged from battle the pilots would cling to the theory..”big sky-little bullet”. Big space-little planet perhaps?

  106. c

    You don’t fool us — yer just a shill for the intergallactic Zorg conspiracy. Good job keeping the tentacles hidden, though.

  107. Lucas

    Great video, Phil. This reminds me, didn’t you say you were bringing back Q&BA this year? I really miss those.

  108. Hey Phil, thanks for the video. I am currently taking Maladaptive Behavior and Psychology in college and this week we are going over rationality and irrationality of fears (in short, how to define phobias).

    Most of the class is keeping pretty strict to the class lectures and text, but I wanted to take it to a new level so here was one of my responses:

    “I would actually like to take things to a whole other level here. How do we deal with people that accept irrational fear mongering that seem rational to common people?

    For example, on January 29 an asteroid (2007 TU24 for you astronomy nerds) will be passing a very safe distance past Earth, yet there are people out there that claim that the asteroid is going to cause a great deal of floods, earthquakes, and multiple square miles of fires. These people use pseudoscience, a technique that appears scientific, but in all reality it is not scientific. (See http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/01/25/asteroid-2007-tu24-no-danger-to-earth/ for a clearer understanding of this).

    I am incredibly annoyed by people that go out of their way to misinterpret science to promote fear into the masses. This may end up being my life’s work, battling nonsense. It is a sad, thankless job, but it needs to be done.”

    Thanks, as always, for being a rational outlet.

  109. “Squishy, rubber, Earth ball of science…”

    Wow Phil, if you ever decided to go the Bill Nye route, you would totally rock it.

    “Coming up next on PBS: Bad Astronomy.”

    I think it could work.

  110. Taz — I was a little surprised when I read your post that this site is the only place you’ve seen a mention about this asteroid, as I’ve seen countless references, including in the ordinary press (i.e., neither conspiracy theorists etc. nor debunkers — though I’ve seen plenty in those contexts as well).

    I live in Bangkok, and a number of folks here, both Westerners and locals who know I’m interested in a topic of this nature, have asked me what light I could shed. None of them offered an opinion one way or the other, not because they felt it unimportant — they wouldn’t have asked, if that had been their perspective — but because they recognized they simply know relatively less than I do. (Not that I’m any sort of pro, just a guy with a life-long interest in astronomy.) Particularly interesting to me were questions from Thai employees who work in restaurants and bars I visit, as such people here are usually (in ordinary places, not fancy hotels) what we would be tempted to call “country bumpkins” (unfairly, BTW), and even more because educational levels here are quite low. For instance, some years ago a former Thai girlfriend (I’m American) were outside and happened to look east, where the Moon was just rising, a few minutes before the Sun went down. I pointed out the Moon to her, simply because the sky was unusually clear and it was a lovely sight. She was dumbfounded — she had never seen the Moon before the Sun set, and thought I was pulling some sort of trick on her. It wasn’t until she called her Father and asked him about it, with him (a barely-educated rice farmer) rather derisively telling her of course there are times one can see the Moon while the Sun’s up. But, then, farmers have to be darned well attuned to nature, without regard to formal education.

    Though I’ve visited this site before, this is my first posting. I enjoyed reading all these comments, though it would be nice if some people were a bit less provocative and a bit more civil.

  111. I like your T-shirt, Phil.

  112. autumn

    Is it harmless? Or is it
    (duh-duh-daaaaa)
    Mostly Harmless?

  113. autumn

    Probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever commited to the tubes.
    (wipes away a tear)

  114. Mark Hansen

    Amusingly, TU24′s forum appears to have quite a few f-words in the posts but because these are from ‘believers’ they obviously don’t qualify as filth. Smells a little like double standards to me. Still no word on whether an apology will be forthcoming from TU24 if, or should that be when, nothing happens?

    Phil, great video. You should do them more often (again) :)

  115. Michael Lonergan

    Mark, I just visited his/her site, and he/she rants about the rudeness of the “Bad Astronomy Gang” (or something like that), but fails to mention what you and I saw over there. Amazing!

  116. owlbear1

    From JPL:

    “Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena , Calif. , have obtained the first images of asteroid 2007 TU24 using high-resolution radar data. The data indicate the asteroid is somewhat asymmetrical in shape, with a diameter roughly 250 meters (800 feet) in size. Asteroid 2007 TU24 will pass within 1.4 lunar distances, or 538,000 kilometers (334,000 miles), of Earth on Jan. 29 at 12:33 a.m. Pacific time (3:33 a.m. Eastern time).

    “With these first radar observations finished, we can guarantee that next week’s 1.4-lunar-distance approach is the closest until at least the end of the next century,” said Steve Ostro, JPL astronomer and principal investigator for the project. “It is also the asteroid’s closest Earth approach for more than 2,000 years.”"

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2008-014

  117. Michael Lonergan

    Owlbear, just so there is no confusion, I do believe Ostro is speaking about TU24 when he states that: “…next week’s 1.4-lunar-distance approach is the closest until at least the end of the next century,”

    I believe he is referring to this asteroid specifically, saying that this will be that particular asteroids closest approach until at least the end of the next century, and not other asteroids, which will more than likely pass closer.

  118. DLC

    If I had a dollar for every blithering idiot who posted an “end of the World!” webpage, I’d be as rich as some of the guys I know who made big bucks in “y2k compliance”.

    Science carries with it a responsibility. That responsibility is to tell the truth as you know it, and, when or if you are wrong, to admit it.

    In this instance, Phil Plait is right. 2007 TU24 will not hit. were it not for the publicity 2007 TU 24 would not even be noticed by the general public. The entire episode would pass unnoticed.

  119. I’m waiting for for President Bush to reassure the American public that we are absolutely, 100% safe from the asteroid. If he does that, then I’ll know we are all royally doomed.

  120. Michael Lonergan

    Lugosi, Bush probably thinks an asteroid is a hemorrhoid.

  121. owlbear1

    Michael, in the full article he is very specific. The above was just the opening paragraphs of the JPL press release.

  122. owlbear1

    Uhm, he is very specific in 2007 TU-24′s next return. Not other NEOs.

  123. Tom

    A previous closer flyby of a (potentially) larger asteroid was 2004 XP14 in July 2006:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_XP14

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060626_asteroid_close.html

    So it’s been about 1.5 years since an asteroid approximately the size of TU24 flew closer to Earth. You’ll note that we’re all still here.

  124. Michael Lonergan

    Owlbear, you are correct in stating that the researcher is very specific about TU24, but it could be interpreted by ill informed individuals as stating that this pass will be the closest over the next several centuries. Indeed for TU24, yes, but he fails to mention other rocks will pass closer.

  125. I don’t know of any 26,000-year cycle involving the Earth, unless he means the precession period, which is about 25,800 years. But that has nothing to do with crossing the galactic midplane.

    Maybe he’s thinking of Raup and Sepkoski’s old Nemesis theory? I think that had a 26-million-year period.

  126. Michael Lonergan

    That’s is Barton, the precession period. No wonder I couldn’t google it. :)

  127. Sespetoxri

    I have been showing this ongoing bruhaha to my like-minded co-worker and he asked what might happen when TU24 comes back at some point in the future. He asked why we couldn’t figure out it’s returning orbit – to which I responded while we could track what it might do in passing all the other ‘trackable’ objects (ie Planets, the sun, etc) there would be no way to extrapolate what might happen if it were to stike another rock and change it’s orbit – or if it were to interract with a larger (much larger) asteroid and have a gravitational shift in it’s pathing.

    But in saying all that, I realized I had no clue whatsoever specifically ‘when’ it might return. I looked around a bit for some kind of orbital duration as to when it might come near Earth again, but couldn’t find anything.

    Anyone know? Do we have any idea what kind of time span we’re talking about before we see TU24 coming back? (And I mean the rock, not the poster with the questionable gender – were I the ambulatory TU24 I wouldn’t return ever again… but sadly, I expect both will be back to Earth and BAdotCom, respectively)

  128. This from a guy who wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK called Death from the Skies, a book “…about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth”

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?

    Ironic

    The problem here is that TU is one of those people who cannot distinguish between things that can (that is, have even the remotest possibility to) happen, and things that definitely WILL happen.

    There is a medical name for that, although what it is escapes me at the moment.

  129. Patrifio

    Good one, Phil.

    And, come on, if you are scared about Tunguska:

    The tunguska event was caused by an IMPACTOR ASTEROID. In fact, people believes that there was a nuclear fusion when the Tunguska Impactor exploded. TU24 is gonna miss us over 500000 KM away, Phil said that already.

    @Tom:

    That is the BEST example. XP14 was a gigantic motherf***** which came even closer to earth and was nearly a KM in diameter. 1.1 LD, it was a big object. No negative charge, none of that BS, we’re still alive.

    Come on, 99.99999% is PLASMA? 99.99999% of the universe is NOTHING. Vacuum, emptyness. Nothing’s there. The rest is planets, stars, etc.

    Oh, and let’s say:

    An elephant goes running into my neighborhood. That doesn’t mean PRECISELY your house. It goes from the mainstreet every 5 years. Now, this elephant may get into your house or not. There IS a chance that the elephant will get into your house in 27 years. COME ON. (Not even stating the fact that making a comparison with an elephant is f*****g stupid.

    Oh:

    -“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027” – Don Yeomans, JPL

    It means that in 2027, an asteroid of the size of TU24, or even LARGER will come CLOSER to Earth.

    -“…an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so.”

    That means that every 5 years a “new TU24″ shows up. Which poses no actual threat.

    I don’t see any contradiction here.

    And if there is one: So? Does this means that we’re going to die because of a contradiction?

  130. @Mark and @Michael

    You guys are funny.

    The only time the ‘f’ word is mentioned is in a dream (repeated in two posts) by one person. It is not an insult. I’m sure you know the difference between the two.

    I’m also sure most of your readers are laughing at your ridiculous attempt at painting an ugly picture of the TU24.org forums.

    Anyone who has every visit the forum know that you’re both full of it on this one.

    You’re really reaching here.. for something.. anything. Pathetic.

  131. Strictly speaking, this approach of TU24 isn’t even a “close approach” at all! NEO researchers, by convention, define a “close approach” as closer than the orbit of the Moon.
    Within living memory, dozens of small asteroids have passed closer to the Earth than TU24 – and in most cases, 99.9% of the world’s population never knew about them. It all just depends whether, as in this case, some scaremongering idiot happens to pick up on it.
    Back in 1997, an astronomer friend of mine was actually approached by some moron of a journalist on his local paper, who somehow believed that there was a danger of Comet Hale-Bopp hitting the Earth – despite the well-publicised fact that its closest approach would be further away than the Sun!!!
    As for all that “electric field” drivel… even if it was possible for an asteroid to have an appreciable electric charge ( which it isn’t ), haven’t these dolts heard of the Inverse Square Law? Many asteroids have passed MUCH closer to the Earth. In 1972, one made such a near miss that it actually entered the Earth’s atmosphere, on a trajectory tangential to its surface, and emerged back into space. What effect did that have on the Earth? None whatsoever.
    I agree with the suggestion that, come 30 January, the loonies will FIND some disaster to blame on the asteroid. This is just like the ancient belief that comets were portents of disaster – wars, the death of kings, etc. There are so many disasters in this world, both natural and man-made, that for any comet ( or asteroid ) you care to think of, you can find one to falsely associate with it, if you look hard enough.
    Finally, I completely fail to see what the precession period has to do with any part of this discussion!

  132. Tom

    TU 24 is about the 80th closest NEO to pass Earth in the last 17 years:

    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/lists/Closest.html

    Once again, no big deal. Wish I’d found this site earlier.

  133. Michael Lonergan

    TU24, you have failed to answer a simple question: Will you issue a public apology on January 30 after nothing has happened? Your silence on this matter is deafening.

  134. Patrifio

    Disregard my previous post, the section of elephants. A monitor error made me thought that the elephant statement came from TU24.org, and believed that they thought there was still a contradiction on that statement.

  135. Egaeus

    I figured it out! On January 29, 2008, the polls open in Florida for the presidential primary. The asteroid is going to cause the people of Florida to overwhelmingly vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, starting an avalanche of votes for her, with her ending up with the Democratic nomination, and eventually the presidency. Of course, that will end life as we know it. Just ask Rush Limbaugh.

  136. bushi816

    Surely the Reptillians that live under the earth would redirect it away, as that would be an annoyance to them. Or the Government would use their secret Technology derived from Rosswell, to send it away, or they could just send SG1 to blow up the asteroid.

  137. Nigel Depledge

    TU24dotORG said:
    “This from a guy who wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK called Death from the Skies, a book “…about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth”

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?

    Ironic”

    Well, it would be ironic, except for one key difference: Phil has done his homework. Thus, he knows what can be known with confidence and what remains to be investigated. You seem to be quite happy making stuff up, or, IOW, lying to people.

  138. Dulouz
  139. Yoshi_3up

    Is there any possibilities that the orbit of the asteroid can get redefined and thus bringing it any closer?

    Just a question.

  140. TU24 -

    The only thing truly pathetic is your complete disregard of the facts. You will be hoist by your own petard after nothing happens when the asteroid passes by.

  141. nfk

    TU24dotORG said:
    “This from a guy who wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK called Death from the Skies, a book “…about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth”

    Anyone notice there is 10x more doom coming from this site than TU24.org?

    Ironic”

    Let’s post the whole quote for fairness:

    “It’s called ‘Death from the Skies’, and it’s about all the myriad ways astronomical events can wipe out (or seriously mess up) life on Earth. There have been books covering this topic before, but not with much breadth and depth simultaneously, and none I have seen are really thorough. I have all sorts of ideas (you like asteroid impacts wiping out all higher forms of life on Earth? That’s only chapter 1!), so this should be a fun book. I’m really tired of doomsday criers scaring people and scamming their money, so this should act as something of a mitigation. I want to be accurate, and I want to make sure that people understand that while the effects of a Galactic gamma-ray burst would good and truly suck — oceans boiling, atmosphere ripped off, the crust of the Earth melted to a depth of many miles, stuff like that– the odds are vanishingly small. How many people do you know who have been killed by a GRB?”

    Hardly the doom and gloom you paint, but why let the truth get in the way of a good lie. But more importantly, how many people do you know that have been killed by an asteroid impact?

    And for fun…

    -“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027” – Don Yeomans, NASA (1); “…an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so.” – Don Yeomans, NASA (2) [nevermind averages, why mislead the public under NASA authority?]

    If reading comprehension isn’t your thing, ask your mom to read it and summarize it for you.

    Here’s the more of the quote for fairness: (http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news157.html)

    “Given the estimated number of near-Earth asteroids of this size (about 7,000 discovered and undiscovered objects), an object of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth, on average, about every 5 years or so. The average interval between actual Earth impacts for an object of this size would be about 37,000 years. For the January 29th encounter, near Earth asteroid 2007 TU24 has no chance of hitting, or affecting, Earth.”

    “2007 TU24 will be the closest currently known approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027.”

    I see no lie here unless you intentionally misunderstand what he is saying. In case you actually do care and aren’t rolling your eyes at this point, let me reiterate, of all the KNOWN objects, 2007 TU24 will be the closest currently KNOWN approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid of this size or larger until 2027. However, on average, every 5 years an UNKNOWN object of that size will be discovered.

    But don’t take my word for it, let’s look at the facts. Thanks to Tom for posting a link to this page, http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/lists/Closest.html.

    Now, 2007 TU24 is listed as a having an H of 20.1. The closest H on the chart is 20, which translates in it having a diameter of 260m to 590m, if I’m reading that chart correctly.

    If we take Yeomans on his crazy “5 year average” nonsense, the biggest object before 2007 TU24 would be… 2002 NY40 with an H of 18.9 or a diameter of around 420m to 940m (using an H of 19). Hmmm, Yeomans probably just got lucky there! It’s not like he used real data to come up with that 5 year average. But I’ll get him.

    Let’s go back another 5 years and what do we… damn it! It looks like 6 years before the deadly 2002 NY40 there was the horrible 1996 JA1, with an H of 20.5. Maybe Yeomans actually knows something here and he’s not just making stuff up. Go figure!

  142. Mark Hansen

    Actually TU24, I’m sure that most readers are wondering why you won’t say whether you will apologise if you are wrong. But your responses look more like someone… really reaching here.. for something.. anything… to avoid answering the question.
    Just answer a simple question: Will you apologise if you are wrong?
    The only response you need to make is yes or no. It really is that easy.

  143. Chip

    Here we are with the score so far in the Carnival Thread reaction to Phil Plait’s video clarification of the non-threat of Asteroid 2007 TU24:

    For convenience, the many factions and opinions have been combined into two groups, followed by their scores in terms of rationality. Maximum points: 100:

    1. The – “Danger, Charlatan, Anti-New York Times, Electric Universe, Ron Paul, Hate-Gore, Pro-Limbaugh, Rule-by-Superstition, Rightwing, Mumbo-Jumbo, Creationist, Pro-Bush, Reagan, Fox News, Sees-Jesus-in-a-Stain, Believers”: No. of posts: 121 – Rationality Score: 0

    2. The – “Thinking, Liberal + Conservative-but-open-minded, Science Educated, Thoughtful, Rabble Rousers”: No. of posts: 20 – Rationality Score: 100 ;)

  144. Michael Lonergan

    Yoshi, yes, the orbit could be refined as further observations take place, but not to worry, scientists do know that even with further refinements, it still will pass us by. Phil addresses this on the video, I believe.

  145. Well, even if 2007 TU24 turns out to be a bust, we still have 2004 MN4 to look forward to.

  146. Michael Lonergan
  147. Fitz

    #:
    Well he is the BAD astronomer ;-)

  148. Michael Lonergan

    Ummmm, I hate to break this to everyone, but there is a spy satellite headed back, that apparently has no power to control where it comes down. I’ll head for my bunker now, thank you.

  149. Michelle

    and why are you going against don Yeomans predictions phil ? he WORKS everyday tracking it?

    are you noo! youare at home on your ass writing a book

  150. dave

    Phil, Phil, Phil. Or should I say Alanis?

    It would be ironic for you to write a book on debunking cosmic catastrophes while MAKING doomsaying claims of such events.

    Clear thoughts are our best tools, don’t get lazy.

  151. nick

    good one michelle

  152. @Michelle on 26 Jan 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Do you kiss your mommy with that dirty mouth?

    As for the potato shape of this asteroid, it is a random rock.

    Only very large objects (at least a hundred kilometres in diameter)
    become spherical, due to a mysterious force we call gravity.

    And then we start calling them dwarf planets.

  153. Phil,

    It was good to see you and talk with you this afternoon at The Amazing Meeting.

    (I say this partly to gloat and make the others here envious. Ha ha :-)

    Keep up the good work.

  154. Mike J

    So, Phil, did you just hear about the spy satellite that the USA has “lost contact with”… and is “out of control”… just happened… could it be a coinscidence? Maybe there is an electromagnetic phenomenon happening with TU24, or the other object closely following it?

    link to story here..

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/26/disabled-spy-satellite-th_n_83402.html

  155. Mike J.

    EUREKA! I’ve got it!

    Phil is actually TU24! He’s masquerading as TU24, and having a fight with himself in order to sell his new book , “death from above”…

    it all makes sense now!

    lol

  156. eddie

    Wow. these comments are fun.

    Dr. Phil, embedded your video on my blog today.

    At least my mom won’t be afraid of this farce….

  157. eddie

    And Michelle is… well… just not very smart.

  158. How much longer Shall you waite O Lord , For they are so smart but cant hear or see , The table is full of food but the chairs are not their !!
    How far is One Day off ? How For is two days Off ? Do They think You are not real ?

  159. eddie

    Ricky, it’s late, and I’m picky, but let’s spell “their,” “there.” And let’s spell far correctly. You did it right once, You can do it again. And we’d like an apostrophe in the word “cant.” We do not need horses of the Apocalypse canting around loose on this site.

    We good? OK, thanks.

  160. all of a sudden, nasa is reporting in the media that a disoriented spy satellite may be plummeting to earth soon. ha, ha, ha. what a spin? nasa is at it again. of course, there is no other reason for this than to cover up for the true event, the pass by of asteroid tu24 near earth by the end of january.anyway, nasa is champion of cover ups.

  161. alfaniner

    What is it with you nutjobs that you can’t spell, capitalize, or punctuate correctly?

  162. Michael Lonergan

    Marlon, if you bothered to actually READ the news releases, Asteroid 2007 TU24 will pass on January 29. The defunct spy satellite is not expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere until late February, early March. Where is the cover-up?

    Also, Michelle and others, where is Phil mis-informed? Gregg, gee, that’s an intelligent argument! Name-calling! I must remember that the next time I disagree with someone and get into a discussion where I cannot back up my claims with facts. In case you didn’t notice, most of us try to at least keep our language clean, respecting the fact that this is an open forum, meaning school aged kids can access this site and read what is being written. Try and at least keep it civil, even if you disagree with others.

  163. eddie

    gregg:

    Your eloquent comment is duly noted.

    Michelle is still not very smart, and I’m pretty sure you aren’t either.

    But I’m sure you’re a nice person when you’re sober.

    Have a good one, gregg.

  164. Michael Lonergan

    Gee, Gregg, at least spell my name correctly!

  165. eddie

    *alfanineron 26 Jan 2008 at 11:41 pm

    What is it with you nutjobs that you can’t spell, capitalize, or punctuate correctly?*

    Umm, alfanineron, I have a theory about that, but I’m betting I’d be telling you something you already know.

  166. Michael Lonergan

    Is anyone else getting the feeling that there are “name-jackers” on this site now? Something is weird.

  167. eddie

    Michael;

    Nah, I just figure Dr. Plait’s too busy to cull the comments while he’s in Florida.

    I’d hate to see this blog go to a closed-forum format, but I can definitely see that happening with some of the nonsense that’s popping up of late.

    As you know, the more popular the site, the more yo-yos it’ll attract.

  168. Michael Lonergan

    It’s too bad. But unfortunately true.

  169. Is anyone else getting the feeling that there are “name-jackers” on this site now? Something is weird.

    They will leave as fast as TU24 leave Earth on 29 January :-)
    Great video Phil, We’ve posted an entry with the video on our portuguese weather and science comunnity forum because doomsayers are everywhere.

  170. I find it endlessly fascinating that the people who use the foulest language, or offer the most ignorant comments, also haven’t mastered the fine art of capitalization or punctuation.
    And let’s NOT even get into the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

  171. Peter B

    Mike asked: “Hey Phil, whats your ideas on the Nibiru/Planet X coming on 2012, According to videos and websites, it says you can see it already in the south pole and in 2009 you can see it with regular telescopes and naked eye viewing all around earth on 2011,”

    Mike

    Think about how much sense the claims make. If you can see it from the South Pole now, anyone in the southern hemisphere will be able to see it too, *regardless of where it is in the sky*. There’s nothing special about the South Pole that means people can see things from there which no one else on Earth can see.

    “I think its a load of poop. But is it really? has NASA found this planet and just not talking bout it/”

    Think about it again. If NASA has found this planet, they can’t hide its existence from everyone else, especially if it’s supposed to be already visible from the South Pole.

    The Nibiru/Planet X claims are wrong.

  172. @Peter B.

    This is the first video I watched, they have alot of other speculations and supposed “proof”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU7urU3WpEo

    Its 5 parts each part having some new “facts” but, we’ll know by 2010 for sure wether or not its crap. If you watch this it will have your brain athinking tho.

  173. @Peter B.

    my bad, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O96ZMPXuv1A was the first video i watched, then i watched toeh other one i linked and i watched the 5 parts

  174. Thomas Siefert

    Allergy advice: These comments may contain nuts!

  175. Yoshi_3up

    Oh, and by the way, those who didn’t notice it:

    I strongly doubt that TU24dotORG is going to apologize after January 29th passes and nothing happens.

    Why, you may ask. It’s easy. The whole website is based on REASONABLE DOUBT. Words like “may” “could” “might”, and so on, make it only a possiblity, and not a fact. I’m sure they’ll say something like “Okay, nothing happened, TU24 was neutral after all” or, maybe, in extreme cases, they’ll say that “Doom was avoided because the NASA moved the asteroid”.

    Reasonable doubt, guys. I don’t think they’ll post an apology.

  176. Thomas Siefert said it best: “Allergy advice: These comments may contain nuts!”

  177. button

    hold on a minute!

    what if those danged chinese use a missile to redirect the asteroid so it hits earth, killing 99.99% of the entire population.

    that would mean they (and india) still would have over 100,000 people left (each).

    we’d only have about 30,000, so they’d have won.

  178. button

    also, i have another issue with yore* presentation:

    suppose this is just a tiny fragment of alderon, and behind it are thousands of larger chunks of that doomed planet. won’t at least one of the boulders from that planet survive the trip through our atmosphere and hit george noory on the head?

    *for lugosi

  179. Peter B

    G’day Mike

    I watched the video you gave the corrected link for.

    It made me think, but it certainly didn’t convince me! Instead, it’s full of material which is just plain WRONG. Let me give you a few examples.

    Photos of giant skeletons being excavated: They’re fakes. For example, you should recognise one of the photos in the video from this link: http://www.snopes.com/photos/odd/giantman.asp

    Deformed skull: Watch the video again, and you’ll see there’s nothing to indicate how large the skull is. For all we know, it could be the size of a normal human. And deforming skulls like this is something normal humans have done in the past, for example the Huns (of Attila the Hun) did it to their women – it was considered a sign of beauty.

    Another planet’s magnetic field can’t slow or stop the Earth’s rotation. An analogy would be to imagine you were riding a bike. If you were to hold a magnet over the front wheel, it’s not going to slow the rotation of the wheel.

    The Earth’s magnetic poles do flip. The last one was nearly 800,000 years ago, although flips sometimes occurred more and less frequently in the past. A flip event itself can take hundreds or thousands of years. But they don’t cause tsunamis. More information is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal

    Finally, think about this. If Nibiru exists, and orbits the Sun every 3600 years, it would have completed well over one million orbits of the Sun since the formation of the Solar System. If every visit was as devastating as this coming visit is supposed to be, the Earth’s geological record would be nothing *but* a record of Nibiru’s visits. But if previous visits weren’t always that devastating, how does anyone know what the effects of the next visit will be.

    It’s errors like that in the video which make me question the reality of Nibiru, and leave me uninterested in watching any more related videos.

  180. Michael Lonergan

    I watched the video, and while it is interesting/entertaining, common sense dictates that if this planet existed, and was on it’s way to the inner solar system, it would be clearly visible, not only to the professional astronomers, that conspiracy theorists claim are in cahoots with the government in covering this up, but to every amateur/backyard astronomer with a decent telescope! You cannot hide a planet the size of Jupiter!

  181. nfk

    Why is it there are no brave whistleblowers inside NASA willing to come forward and confirm that Naboo, I mean Nibiru exist and is coming? All we need are the coordinates of the deathstar… er, deathplanet so we can send up Bruce Willis and his rowdy yet lovely gang of oil drillers to stop it. But, no, the folks at NASA won’t even do that.

    I, for one, do not want to be here when it passes us. I’m catching the next comet off this deathtrap you call a planet. And I’m taking all my gold particles with me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibiru_%28hypothetical_planet%29

  182. This “Michelle” isn’t the original, obviously, but some jerk using a variant of her name. Probably there’s a capital ‘i’ there instead of a lower-case ‘L.’

  183. I can tell you very quickly why Nibiru doesn’t exist. It’s supposed to be a habitable planet, right? In a 3,600-year orbit? By Kepler’s Third Law, that means its semimajor axis would be 235 AUs. Most of the time it would be colder than Pluto. Not really conducive to life-as-we-know-it. And while I’m willing to concede that some weird sort of life-not-as-we-know-it could have evolved on the said planet, then it probably wouldn’t find Earth habitable, would it?

  184. Kol

    Remember that episode of Space:1999?

    Of course you don’t.

    An alien race had discovered the secret to immortality and got bored so some of them destroyed their fellow (humanoid – gasp) beings in odd and unusual ways for entertainment.

    The majority got fed up with this practice and sentenced the worst of the worst to eternity floating in a chunk of rock. Of course, the Moonbase Alpha crew intercepted the rock because it was ratings sweep or some such.

    It was a good enough concept for me to keep it in my head these years later. With some work, the script could be adapted into a blockbuster.

    The reason I bring this up, though, is that I have that fiction in my head and the ability to merge it with one that can be summed up in one word:

    Xenu.

    I suggest, for the sake of fearmongering, that the asteroid 2007 TU24 is, in fact, Xenu’s vessel performing a recon orbit.

    Yes, take that knowing the aforementioned alergy warning.

  185. Vance

    good post tevor.. good one !

    I agree with you , if he had some kind of degree he would be posting intelligent astronomy stuff instead if the kiddie big foot etc .

    I’m unsubscribing to his blog .. this is my last visit.

  186. Sergeant Zim

    See what happens when you go away for a couple of days, Dr. BA?

    Especially after posting a rebuttal to the claims of sudden disaster, which, of course, NASA KNOWS ALL ABOUT, BUT IS KEEPING FROM THE PUBLIC TO PREVENT PANIC!!!!!

    You get profanity, and trolling of regular posters, at the very least.

    I hate to think that it may come to this, but you may have to moderate your board more diligently, or simply shut off the comments on the occasions on which you are absent. It’s disgusting that people can’t follow the same rules of proper conduct on the ‘net that they would in, say, a grocery store, or any other place where you might come into contact with a group of random strangers.

  187. Rick Johnson

    I’ve posted a image of this “doomsday” rock on the Baut astro photo forum
    http://www.bautforum.com/astrophotography/69614-deadly-asteroid-2007-tu24.html#post1160819

    Odd that 2008 AF3 which passed INSIDE the moon’s orbit earlier this month caused none of the lunacy this more distant rock caused. Probably because there was only a few days warning. A shot of 2008 AF3 is at:
    http://www.bautforum.com/astrophotography/69177-earth-grazer-2008af3.html

    Rick

  188. Mike J.

    strange, phil disappears a day before the asteroid is supposed to pass… maybe he’s at the supermarket buying supplies “just in case” there actually is “death from above”…

    This is one of the longest spans of time that Phil hasn’t updated his blog.

    I dedicate the 1990′s one hit wonder song called “your unbelieveable” by EMF (electromagnetic frequency) to phil !

    Hey phil, I heard King Soopers is having a huge sale on things… its not too late to go buy what you need before all things electronic go boom…

    Hey I just thought of something… if phil is wrong…and the asteroid does cause some sort of earthly damage to all of our electronic devices, how the heck are we going to come on this site to berate and chastize phil for being wrong?

  189. Thanks for this, Phil. Keep up the good work!

  190. Egaeus

    I would like to join the bandwagon. Please cancel my subscription and refund my money.

  191. Yoshi_3up

    I still chuckle when I see that .gif of the “Warning level” in TU24.org.

  192. Yoshi_3up

    @Sergeant Zim:

    I believe that the “ALL CAPS” sentence was sarcastic, isn’t it?

  193. michael, i am not particular about the time the spy satllite plummets to earth and tu24 pass by earth. i am concerned about the timing of news releasses of nasa,

  194. Yoshi_3up

    Maybe Phil is not at the amaz!ng meeting… maybe he’s on a shelter because he KNOWS that the asteroid is going to hit and the NASA payed him to make the youtube video! See, when he talks about it, he makes a really fake chuckle!

    [/sarcasm]

  195. Anybody else notice Phil hasn’t posted since Friday? I bet he’s been busy evacuating his family to some secret underground bunker along with all the other NASA people. That’s how they plan to escape the giant lightning bolts that will devastate the Earth when TU24 passes us on Tuesday.

    But what about his reassurances, you ask? They were merely meant to lull the rest of us into a false sense of security, thereby buying him–and the rest of the participants in the conspiracy–time to get to safety. Otherwise the rest of us might have overrun their bunkers.

    How much you wanna bet Tom Cruise is down there with them?

  196. Yoshi_3up

    @Lugosi: Damn, you’re good. Made me hesitate for a moment.

  197. Nice vid Phil – keep up the good work! I know it must be frustrating sometimes saying the same things over and over, but I reckon you help calm peoples nerves and entertain by telling it like it is. Be happy in the knowledge that a friend of mine who was worried over some of the tripe out there, is now a frequent BA reader and enjoys your blog.

    @ Marlon – “disoriented spy satellite” – not sure if this is a quote from the Nasa site you are talking about in an earlier post, but it made me chuckle a bit just because of the interesting use of the word. How is it disoriented? Out on the booze last night? Someone blindfolded it and spun it round? Forgot its map?

  198. Z. Breeblebrox

    I really need some of whatever the TU24.org guy is smoking. How can he even surmise that an asteroid can carry an electrical charge? First of all it is a rocky asteroid and as far as I know if a rock passes through a magnetic field there is no induced voltage created. Second if the asteroid were pure copper, at the distance the asteroid is passing the magnetic field is so weak and the asteroid so small that the e-field created would be almost non-existent.

    Now, the next thing will be December 21, 2012. I already know what is going to happen and why it is the end of the ‘Grand Cycle’ of the Mayan calendar.

  199. # Spankermatic: That spy satellite has been up there for years going in circles. You’d be disoriented, too!!

  200. @ Lugosi : ha! True – I’d be pretty green after being spun round a sphere for years. Perhaps the poor satellite just needs a lie down and some oxygen. Maybe NASA et al should be affixing copper bracelets and Sealegs to their orbiting craft from now on? Save millions in de-orbiting due to “disorientation” :)

  201. Michael Lonergan

    Dizzy NASA satellite involved in bizarre experiment to “pin tail on donkey.” Film at 11.

  202. BlondeReb3

    Dear Dr. BA. Please come to my school and start an astronomy program!

  203. Davidlpf

    On December 21 2012 I will laughing my @@@ off. Then the magical date for the end of the world would be changed again.

  204. Michelle

    Agh! There’s too many Michelles on this planet. Yea, I’m the usual michelle, that other one was just a rude stop-by weirdo.

    See, Davidlpf? :P Too many michelles to count.

  205. Michael Lonergan

    I think they were sent by TU24….. (The website! :) )

  206. Quiet_Desperation

    Wow. I take a weekend off and this whole place goes to hell. Geez…

  207. Greg

    To all the people who cannot use grammar past a 1st Grade level: Stop wasting your time in your myspace/livejournal or youtube. Move out of your parent’s house/basement, and get a real job. Use your own money from your job to pay for a real education. Perform some kind of rudimentary research and experiment in any field of science. Once you have at least proven you can handle the difficulties of the English language, and have some real actual factual evidence to back up what you say, then you can come back to this blog and post an intelligent remark.

    To the few whiners who complain about this blog and threaten to leave, do us a big favor: Leave now, and never come back. Please stop wasting our time. Nobody cares if you don’t like this blog, and nobody will miss you.

    To the few foul-mouthed jerks (can I say “jerk” here?): Please be advised that Phil has some Rules for Posting to This Board. IF you do not follow them, you will be deleted, and nobody will miss you either.

    - Greg from Austin

    P.S. Hey Phil, I hope you are having a great weekend. Loved the “Little squishy Earth-Ball of Science.” No offense: Your videos are cool, but you’re not quite up to the Bill Nye level. You don’t even have a bow tie!

  208. JR

    Any comments on UB313?
    According to NASA,
    ( at this link: http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/newplanet-072905-images.html)
    photos of this “planet” were taken in 2003 but, were not identified as a “planet” until 2005!?

    FACT: NASA does not have a wide range viewing telescope.
    Any cellestial objects must be found by “scanning the sky, and/ or having the exact coordinates of an object.

    FACT: With the need to see farther and farther into space, the strength of the space telescopes increasing, finding a cellestial object in the sky is the equivelent as looking into the sky through the eyelet head of a needle.

    Question: Can we really be looking out!?

  209. Rosa W.

    Good grief. If anyone doubted Phil’s astronomy credentials, why not just trot over to the University of Virginia’s website? “Department of Astronomy: Ph.D. dissertations since 1888″: http://www.astro.virginia.edu/research/astro-phd.php

    Plait, Philip Cary (1995)
    Hubble space telescope observations of the circumstellar ring around of supernova 1987A

    (Middle name Cary? Who knew?)

    If an accredited university has your Ph.D. dissertation on file, then yeah, you’ve got your Ph.D.

    To all comment trolls: how hard is it to use five minutes and Google to check your facts? And when you’re done with that, go look up “libel”…

    And while I’m here: there’s a difference between working “for NASA” and working on a NASA-sponsored program. A really large percentage of the astronomers out there have worked on something affiliated with NASA – anyone who’s gotten data from a satellite telescope; anyone working on the support team of a satellite telescope; anyone funded in part by a NASA grant … but that doesn’t mean you’re employed by NASA. Most such people actually draw their salaries from universities, companies that have contracts with NASA, etc. So unless almost anyone involved in professional astronomy is part of the Evul NASA Plot (whichever Plot it is this week)… give it up, guys.

  210. Rosa, well, thanks! Another way is to go here and search on my last name. You’ll find all the papers I published back when I was doing research.

    Incidentally, I’ll have more to say on this pretty soon. Let’s of really bad stuff in the comments that needs some dealing with.

  211. Rosa W.

    @JR, re: 2003 UB313

    If you’re interested in the planet: http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/planetlila/

    If you’re saying that killer asteroids are out there: yup. I believe our host Phil makes that Chapter 1 in his forthcoming book. Now, Eris (the dwarf planet formerly known as 2003 UB313) is out 68 times further from our Sun than the Earth is, so stuff out there normally is not gonna be much of a trouble and bother to us. It’s also a lot harder to find, on account of being, you know, Really Far Away. So this is not the example to use when talking about how hard it is to find potentially dangerous asteroids.

    Naw. If you want to make that argument, look up asteroid 2002 EM7. Couple hundred feet across, enough to wipe out a fair-sized city if it had hit smack on, and totally undetected ’till it had already passed Earth. Granted, it still passed outside the Moon’s orbit, but the point is, if it hadn’t, we’d never have seen it coming. Now that is scary.

    I’m all about being alert to the dangers of killer asteroids (of which TU24 is not, at this time, one), but we should stick to the things that are (a) asteroids, and (b) potential killers. Just sayin’.

  212. Rosa W.

    Phil: Since I did my dissertation on Magellanic Cloud supernova remnants, I feel it necessary to stick up for a neighbor. So to speak. :) But I do not envy you the cleanup in front of you. Speaking of which, it’s past my bedtime… night.

  213. Bryn

    @ JR

    Read this – http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~mbrown/planetlila/

    Pictures were taken in 2003, but Eris moves so slowly and is so far away that it wasn’t “seen” by the computers until Jan. 5, 2005 during a reanalysis of the photos. And by “far away” and “slowly” I mean Pluto takes 250 years to orbit the Sun. Eris takes 560 years.

    And to answer your last question–yes!! (hey, you started it with the dramatic punctuation.)

  214. Jeez Phil – looks like one of the biggest blog-comment wars in a while. I must admit I enjoy most of the comments, especially the ones that actually debate real scientific content and bring a wealth of information to the party. I reckon every time I read a post on your blog I learn something new about our universe – cheers to everyone who contributes!

    @Greg – I agree on the language front. It’s a bit disappointing to see commenting degenerate into name calling and poor vocab. I’m not concerned about swearing myself, but like you said – this is Phil’s blog and he sets some ground rules to make it available to the younger audience out there. It smacks of desperation when the replies to logical, evidence based comments are nothing more than “Well, you look weird and your mum dresses you funny!”

    And to echo Mark earlier – Will TU24 apologise when the end of the month rolls round and we all appear to be hale and hearty, unperturbed by earthquakes, tsunami’s and showers of fish? Of course not – he she will be dropping it like a hot sausage and gleefully clapping their hands in anticipation of the next space non-event to run through the Inter-web shouting “The End of Days! Armageddon! Lookout for the Giant Spaghetti Monster!”

    Luckily we have Phil (Carey??) Plait on our side, valiant defender of the blogosphere, pwner of noobs, all round good guy in the nice golfing pants. Keep up the good work Phil!

  215. Jun

    Hello BA. I was also one of those who freaked out about TU24 and did not know much about astroids, but then I found your previous posting about it on the web and thank god I was so relieved.

    Thank you once again for posting this great video and letting people know about the exact truth!

  216. Michael Lonergan

    Bryn, from what I understand there are several Pluto sized objects out that far, but can these objects account for the perturbations of Neptune’s orbit, or is there a larger body hiding somewhere out there. I do not believe in the whole Niburu nonsense, but if there is some perturbation in Neptune’s orbit, it would have to be a rather large object causing it, would it not?

  217. I still waiting a big asteroid

  218. Marty

    Love ya Phil – great video!

    Why are people SO eager to believe in the end of the world now…it’s just freaky! I guess people are just so disappointed with life that they want to ‘hope’ that there is some kind of answer to it all coming from above.

  219. Michelle

    …They hope to get some kind of answer from above such as “HEY LOOK! ME GONNA ASPLODE YOU”? o_O

    I think they just want unecessary stress in their lives. :P

  220. spcmnspiff

    Want to know something weird? According to RSOE Havaria most of the volcanoes on the planet are currently erupting.

  221. Bearfan121

    No that means there in DANGER of erupting like Mount St. Helens it’s been blowing smoke for 4 years.

  222. Rosa W writes:

    [[Now, Eris (the dwarf planet formerly known as 2003 UB313) is out 68 times further from our Sun than the Earth is, so stuff out there normally is not gonna be much of a trouble and bother to us. ]]

    You’re right that it’s semimajor axis is about 68 AUs, but isn’t Eris roughly at its aphelion of 97 AUs just at the moment?

  223. Michelle

    Bearfan121: It still blows smoke? Really? I didn’t know.

  224. Juan Martín

    Yoshi_3up:

    I’ve been looking in tu24.org, and saw this “Warning threat level” sign. According to the forums, it’s based on some russian website which says that all the volcanos that are from Chile, up to Alaska, have started to erupt.

    Fear not. I live in Chile, in fact, I live REALLY near this volcano. I’m now in Argentina, visiting some friends, and as a vacation-ish type. I have a family there. The Volcano had activities since mid-2007, erupted in the end of that year, with a climax in January 2, and it’s activities nearly stopped by the next day. Wow, yes, this asteroid is REALLY related, huh?

    Besides, I checked the volcano in Alaska. It last erupted in August 2007. I don’t know what information they are using, but tu24.org has a seriously bad lead.

  225. Nigel Depledge

    Mike J said:
    “So, Phil, did you just hear about the spy satellite that the USA has “lost contact with”… and is “out of control”… just happened… could it be a coinscidence? Maybe there is an electromagnetic phenomenon happening with TU24, or the other object closely following it?”

    Well, Mike, let’s look into that.

    Let’s say that there is a “spy satellite” out there that is “out of control”. First off, they do not supply satellites with big booster rockets, so the satellite will either stay in its present orbit, or its orbit will decay and it will hit Earth’s atmosphere at some point within the next few years. It can’t boost itself to a higher orbit.

    The typical orbit of a satellite depends on its function. Some satellites (including the ISS) orbit at an altitude of about 200 km, and they complete one revolution in 90 minutes (very approximately). Others will be in geostationary orbits, where the orbital period of the satellite matches the Earths rotational period (so the satellite stays above one point on the Earth’s equator). These orbits are about 36,000 km up (figure from memory – someone please correct this if I am wrong).

    There are no Earth satellites orbiting higher than that. Why? Because it costs too much energy to put a satellite there, and you do not get any advantage of puttin it in a higher orbit.

    There are a few scientific instruments in heliocentric orbits at the Earths Lagrange points (I believe SOHO is one example). These were put into place using larger rockets, and have a relatively large supply of fuel so that they can remain “on station”. But spy satellites do not get placed at the Lagrange points, because these are too far from the Earth – you can see much better detail from closer in.

    So, the highest possible altitude for this alleged out-of-control spy-satellite is about 36,000 km. 2007 TU24 is predicted to miss the Earth by about 560,000 km, so its closest approach to a satellite in a geostationary orbit will be around 524,000 km. Even if my figures are off by 25% (which would be a large error), the miss distance is still huge!

    If you read through the comments on this and Phil’s previous posts about 2007 TU24 (and, indeed, watch Phil’s video), you will find that there is no electromagnetic phenomenon that can enable 2007 TU24 to affect anything from that distance. We know quite a lot about electricity and magnetism, and we can quite confidently say that there is no way for an asteroid passing that far away to affect Earth or a satellite orbiting the Earth.

  226. Quiet_Desperation

    I guess people are just so disappointed with life that they want to ‘hope’ that there is some kind of answer to it all coming from above.

    Not sure I follow. What question is an asteroid answering?

    And why is hope in quotes?

  227. Bearfan121

    If it dose hit here are some tips, Step 1: Go find a helmet
    Step 2: Put on the damn helmet

  228. Michael Lonergan

    I’m not too worried since 75% of Earth’s surface is covered by water. BTW, I live near Vancouver, BC, surrounded by dormant or extinct volcanoes. They aren’t erupting yet.

  229. Nigel Depledge

    Marlon said:
    “all of a sudden, nasa is reporting in the media that a disoriented spy satellite may be plummeting to earth soon. ha, ha, ha. what a spin? nasa is at it again. of course, there is no other reason for this than to cover up for the true event, the pass by of asteroid tu24 near earth by the end of january.anyway, nasa is champion of cover ups.”

    Marlon, if we are supposed to be convinced by your near-incoherent drivel, maybe you should have stopped and thought a bit before clicking “submit”. Seriously, were you expecting to achieve anything other than having your comment shredded for the refuse that it so obviously is?

  230. Rosa W.

    @Barton Paul Levenson: Thus am I justly chided for being lazy and using the “average distance” rather than the “current distance”. Mea culpa and thanks for the correction. :) Actually, doesn’t that put Eris close to aphelion? It could be rather neat to see what it’s like as it comes closer over the next, um… two centuries and change. Drat. OK, neat for our descendants, who will have better telescopes anyhow.

  231. I think your blog is my new favorite blog, sir. I’m so sick of this “end of the world” asteroid/comet/Mayan prophecy stuff floating around. There are tons of interesting things happening in space that don’t involve us getting hit by rocks, and I’d rather focus on those things, ya know?

  232. Nigel Depledge

    Mike J. said:
    “Hey I just thought of something… if phil is wrong…and the asteroid does cause some sort of earthly damage to all of our electronic devices, how the heck are we going to come on this site to berate and chastize phil for being wrong?”

    Don’t worry. It won’t.

  233. Nigel Depledge

    Marlon said:
    “michael, i am not particular about the time the spy satllite plummets to earth and tu24 pass by earth. i am concerned about the timing of news releasses of nasa,”

    OK, did anyone else notice the total absence of anything remotely resembling logic in this comment?

  234. Nigel Depledge

    Greg said:
    “To all the people who cannot use grammar past a 1st Grade level: Stop wasting your time in your myspace/livejournal or youtube. Move out of your parent’s house/basement, and get a real job. Use your own money from your job to pay for a real education. Perform some kind of rudimentary research and experiment in any field of science. Once you have at least proven you can handle the difficulties of the English language, and have some real actual factual evidence to back up what you say, then you can come back to this blog and post an intelligent remark. ”

    Hear, hear.

  235. Nigel Depledge

    JT said:
    “FACT: NASA does not have a wide range viewing telescope.”

    Yeah, and what’s the big deal? No telescope has a wide field of view. That’s a consequence of magnifying the image. Telescope designers try to minimise magnification, in order to (1) be able to view objects with a large angular size (such as supernova remnants within our galaxy), and (2) to concentrate the light from a distant object into as small an area as possible, which allows the observation of fainter objects than can be seen at larger magnifications.

  236. HEAR HEAR!

    It is ABOUT TIME someone told these idiots what for. I couldn’t agree with you more about the fear mongering scum comments, people who post ridiculous apocalyptic claims to their websites so they’ll attract hits like leeches feeding off of an ignorant societies paranoia.

    I’m not an astronomer, but I know enough to know that 300,000 miles, while small in the vastness of space, is unfathomably large in comparison to the scale of the asteroid.

    And on another note. 300 yards is only, what, the equivalent of 3 atomic bombs if put on the Torino scale? It’d be bad, sure, but would it really be the end of the world? We’ve done more damage than that to ourselves.

    And finally, wouldn’t we have the ability to nuke a 300 yard asteroid if we ABSOLUTELY had to? I mean surely we could blast it into little pieces. Its not like the Armageddon asteroid which was ‘the size of texas’

  237. I think it just shows how tired I am, but I at first read the line at the bottom as “243 angry responses so far.”

  238. Sergio

    Does anyone know what time it will pass ….West Coast time?

  239. Oh dear D: Does anyone have any idea of the time it’s gonna be seen in Finland? :D It’s till dark in here around 8 a.m so I was thinking that it’s going to be NEAT looking… I guess it’s be around.. half ten here? or half eight? Not sure. Damn! I want to see it~

  240. Michael Lonergan

    Hal, nuking it could just exacerbate the problem, splitting it into many smaller objects, that could potentially cause more damage. One proposed way of dealing with this is detonating several nukes in front of the Asteroid to deflect it.

  241. Yoshi_3up

    Oh, how strange, tu24.org warning level increased to it’s maximum level, the day before TU24′s closest approach. Quite obvious, isn’t it?

  242. Michael Lonergan

    Sergio, it will pass at 12:30 AM Pacific Time.

    http://www.spacearchive.info/utc.htm

    Here’s a link to a website converting UTC to local time. It will pass at 08.33 UTC.

    So, Elzariel, you can check that site, but the times displayed are in the US and Canada only, so you would have to factor that into your calculations as well.

  243. Michele Kim

    It it possible that the asteroid could hit our moon, or disrupt our moon in some way that would then affect us?

  244. L Fuller

    MK,

    It would have been cool if it hit the moon so we could observe it, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen.

    I found a distance of TU24 to the moon “Earth’s Busy Neighborhood Traffic Report” at:

    http://www.hohmanntransfer.com/#details

    The site has TU24 at 2.20 LD (Lunar Distances) from the moon… so the asteroid will even be further from the moon than it is from the earth.

  245. And finally, wouldn’t we have the ability to nuke a 300 yard asteroid if we ABSOLUTELY had to? I mean surely we could blast it into little pieces. Its not like the Armageddon asteroid which was ‘the size of texas’

    Let’s assume for a moment that some object is hurtling toward the Earth at 17 km/s with a mass of 20 billion tons.

    So we send up some quantity of WMD and blast it to bits. Where does that leave us?

    Well, instead of having one chunk of 20 billion tons heading toward the Earth, now we have thousands of little chunks… that still add up to 20 billion tons heading toward the earth.

    When they hit the atmosphere, they will still deliver the kinetic energy.

    Nuking it doesn’t make it go away.

  246. Peter B

    Elzariel asked: “Does anyone have any idea of the time it’s gonna be seen in Finland? It’s till dark in here around 8 a.m so I was thinking that it’s going to be NEAT looking… I guess it’s be around.. half ten here? or half eight? Not sure. Damn! I want to see it~”

    There’s not going to be anything to see. It’s going to be 500,000 kilometres away at its closest approach. According to my rough calculations, its angular size is less than 1/10000th that of the Moon.

  247. Michael Lonergan

    Evolving, don’t forget about the treaty that bans the use of nuclear weapons in space. So, technically it would be illegal to nuke an asteroid! :)

  248. Peter B

    Michelle Kim asked: “It it possible that the asteroid could hit our moon, or disrupt our moon in some way that would then affect us?”

    The asteroid is going to pass more than 100,000 kilometres outside the Moon’s orbit, so there’s no way it could hit the Moon.

    But let’s assume that it did hit the Moon, what would happen? Very little. The asteroid’s mass is probably around 50 megatons. The Moon’s mass is about 73 trillion megatons. That’s like comparing the mass of a mosquito with the mass of 3000 mid-size cars (or a Navy Destroyer).

  249. Jeffersonian

    The Mayans were geniuses. They were way ahead of their time in all matters. In Mayan civilization, there are no errors in judgement – even things they only appear to have implied. That’s one of the reasons their culture is the scientifically dominant one today.

  250. The mass of TU24 is, at most, about 19 billion tonnes. It’s probably closer to half that. How do I come up with that? It’s grade school math:

    Biggest length estimate: 450 m

    Approximate shape: roughly cylindrical, with diameter of about 1/4 of the length, so for the sake of round numbers, call it 100m.

    Volume: pi * radius^2 * h = 3.14159 * 50m^2 * 450m = 3.53 million m^3

    Density of iron = 5500 tonnes / m^3

    Mass if TU24 is SOLID IRON which is highly unlikely: 5500 * 3.53 million = 19 billion tonnes

    Density of granite = 2750 tonnes / m^3

    Mass if TU24 is SOLID GRANITE (highly unlikely, but granite is a decent approximation of random stone) = 9.5 billion tonnes.

    Odds are, the mass is somewhere in the middle. 9.5 billion tonnes sounds like a lot, but on the celestial scale, it’s like Peter B said – like comparing a mosquito to a destroyer.

  251. Sergio

    Hey evolving squid just for convo sake now….I really feel kinda stupid bringing this up espically after reading all the info on the net and on this site…But just to entertain the though what would a negative charge from an object this size do?

  252. Michael Lonergan said,

    Evolving, don’t forget about the treaty that bans the use of nuclear weapons in space. So, technically it would be illegal to nuke an asteroid! :)

    Well, it ain’t like a little thing like legality ever stood in the way of the current administration before…

    Just sayin’. :)

    Kisses

  253. Sergio

    where did everyone go?

  254. Sergio: If, somehow, you could make a ball of electrons that size, for example?

    If you could overcome the natural repulsion and manage to stick the thing together… hmmm. It’s really not calculable since you simply couldn’t make a ball of electrons, for example, of macroscopic size.

    But, for argument’s sake, let’s say the IPU rubbed a bunch of cats on the asteroid and somehow, in so doing, managed to build up 1000 coulombs of negative charge on the thing. That’s a huge amount of charge, and it would be eliminated by positive particles in the solar wind, and photons energetic enough to just knock electrons off the group, etc.

    Well, a charge moving in the Earth’s magnetic field would be subject to a force (the Lorentz force) F=qv X B(headache alert on that link) but B, the magnetic field, is really small especially at that distance, but charge and velocity would be fairly large. Even though, B is so small that the resulting force would be insubstantial.

    There’s also Coulomb’s Law F= k * q1 * q2 / r^2 (it’s easy after the Lorentz bit), where the force f is the product of two charges divided by the square of the distance between them times some constant (like the equation for the force of gravity). Since the earth has a known net charge of 0, this equation necessarily comes out to 0. But if the IPU can rub cats on an asteroid, she can rub them on the earth too and build up 1000 coulombs. The resulting repulsion force would again be dominated by the fact that the distance is so huge and would tend toward being a tiny number that is insubstantial on an astronomical scale.

  255. Sergio: Wikipedia has some decent articles about electromagnetism, although if you don’t have any physics training they may be a bit deep. Start at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetism and poke through them.

  256. dave

    do you believe in an asteroid or an appocolypse in 2013 astronamacly like nostra damas please coment or reply

  257. I don’t think you’ll find too many intelligent people who believe in prophecy – especiall Nostradamus’s alleged prophecies.

  258. After all this TU24 stuff, I have discovered one thing that I never realized before…

    I actually remember some of this stuff from university.

    It’s funny how it sticks with you.

  259. Monsteroids

    All I want is a definitive answer to 2 questions?

    Is it gonna hit?

    If so will it wake someone sleeping in the Pacific area?

  260. Monsteroids

    Rephrase #1:

    Will it have any bad effects to Japan or Canada West?

  261. Sergio

    Evolving squid your the man!!!….Seriously!!!….This tu-24 crap has cause commotion for no reason!!!…..Even on the guys sight if you go to the forums…He basically says that he knew it was gonna be debunked and thats the way it should be..And that it was the only way he could get peoples attention on this stuff

  262. Monsteroids

    Why do people deny Evolution? …

  263. Michael Lonergan

    Score one for JanieBelle

  264. Monsteroids

    3 minutes past.

  265. Mark Hansen

    Still no word on an apology from TU24? Here, the 29th is rapidly running out and I’ve yet to see mystery lights or weird weather. Oh well, maybe it’ll happen with the next apocalyptic, doomsday, the-sky-is-falling, prediction from the next “I’ve got a theory that covers everything but NASA don’t agree so obviously I’m right and they’re covering it up” eccentric.

  266. Mark

    Well… I have to admit, I was freaking out quite a bit, even with the inspirational reassurance. The passing time was supposed to be at 1:33 a.m. Mountain Time in the USA. It’s now 2:28 a.m. Hopefully everyone did get some good observations though. :)

  267. Yoshi_3up

    From Tu24.org:

    “For as long as TU24 is near Earth’s magnetosphere there is a possibility of disturbance. This website is not (and was never) about impact. If you’re wondering why “nothing happened” you’re counting your chickens too soon.”

    So yeah. Nice apology we got here. OH NO! IN THE NORTH OF ARGENTINA A BIG RIVER JUST OVERFLOWED AND OVER 15000 PEOPLE FOLLOWED THE EVACUATION PROTOCOL! :O
    Come on. That happened because of the strong rains that happens in summer ALL YEARS. If they say ANYTHING about this on their website, I swear I’ll be crushing some heads by now.

    Too bad the even couldn’t be seen in the South Hemisphere.

    By the way, tu24.org’s forums are down.

  268. Monsteroids

    Oh, please. The asteroid has been approaching us for weeks. Now, it’s past the point where it was closest to us. NOW you say there will be effects?

    nua’s response: This is the last time I will answer this very simple question.

    It is not about the closest approach date and time.

    It is about TU24 being in our magnetosphere. (As per the video)

    For now and the next several days this is a very real possibility.

    My verdict: He didn’t get it.

  269. Michelle

    I slept like a baby. In fact, I only remembered this morning when I checked this blog.

    “Oh yea… Asteroid went by. Well damn, I’m alive. My city’s not destroyed by earthquakes. No firestorms. Time to go to work.”

  270. I woke up with static electricity making my hair stand up a little. I’m sure that’s from a negative charge on the asteroid passing half a million km away, and not from my hair rubbing on my pillow all night.

    What I really want to know is…

    … how many people have rubbed something glass or plastic on their cat in the last few days just out of curiosity about why I’d pick cats to rub on asteroids.

  271. Right. And I understand the deflection strategy, but won’t most of the 20 billion fragments just burn up in the atmosphere on approach? Would any of them actually be big enough to cause significant damage. And besides, they would still carry the kinetic impact, but it wouldn’t have nearly the same effect, at least thats what I’m thinking.

    Like I said, I’m not an astronomer, but I’m sort of thinking about it like this. Take rain on soft soil. Rain comes down, it makes some craters from where it hit, some puddles, etc. Take that same rain, somehow compress it, and drop it instantly in one spot. Rather than having a sprinkling all day of rain, you have a high volume splash of water thats going to do some serious (scale) damage.

  272. but won’t most of the 20 billion fragments just burn up in the atmosphere on approach?

    They might… but when that happens their kinetic energy doesn’t just vanish. All those little fragments hit the atmosphere, compress the gas in front of them to heat it up, and then ablate to vapour…

    So the kinetic energy of this huge object has been converted into a zillion little chunks of kinetic energy, which is delivered to the atmosphere and pretty effectively converted to heat. That heat doesn’t magically go away.

    It doesn’t seem like much because you might get a few hundred sand-sized grains per hour making a light show during a meteor shower. This would be like dumping billions of tons of sand all at the same time.

    It would be bad.

  273. Hal, your notion of distributing an asteroid’s kinetic energy over a larger area, and over a larger timespan, has merit, and would be a seriously explored option with potential impactors small enough to be “blasted to smithereens.” (And your rain analogy is a great one. Thunderstorms can often release more energy than several megatons of TNT, but over an entire western state, over several hours, the damage is very minimal.)

    But if we were to discover an asteroid with a non-zero probability of impacting Earth, and if it were of a size to be dealt with using nuclear weapons, then two things would be true:

    1. The sooner we blast it, the more spread out its fragments will be if it does hit us.

    2. The longer we wait before we blast it, the more precisely we’ll know whether or not it will hit us.

    So it becomes a difficult balancing act. When do we blast it? When we’re 10% sure of impact? 50% sure? 100% sure? If we blast it too soon, we may end up sending deadly fragments our way that otherwise would have missed us if we hadn’t done anything. If we blast it too late, the blast’s effectiveness is diminished.

    So your idea has merit, but actually making it work is a lot more complicated than it sounds. Depending on the circumstances, it could make things far worse without much potential to make things better.

    Of course, this applies only to potential impactors discovered shortly before their potential impact, since their orbits are not well known. Paths of currently known objects with well-known orbits can be calculated to a very precise degree decades in advance. If such an object is calculated to impact us in, say, 40 years, then instead of blasting it, we may be able to deal with it simply by splattering it with white paint so that photonic pressure from the sun pushes it into a different orbit over the next 40 years.

    I’d contribute a gallon to that effort! Titanium oxide, to the rescue!

  274. Hank Roberts

    Not too long ago ago I called four neighborhood teenagers — 11th and 12th grades — up so I could show them the last great comet, was barely visible in our Northern Hemisphere location just after sunset; the one that gave such a great show shortly after rounding the Sun, but only for the Southerners.

    “Is it going to hit us?” was their only question.

    “No.”

    “Bye …”

  275. Jan

    the people, who post videos, saying the world is ending! is just some ignorant people who just post a video with no science relation or any knowledge to science

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