100 meter asteroid will pass Earth Monday!

By Phil Plait | March 1, 2009 5:40 pm

Kelly Beatty at Sky and Telescope reports that an asteroid about 100 30 meters across will pass the Earth on March 2, missing us by a scant 60,000 kilometers! That’s a clean miss, but still pretty close. The rock, called 2009 DD45, was discovered only a few days ago — it’s small and faint, making it easy to miss. Closest approach is at 13:44 UT, and it happens over the Pacific. Hopefully lots of amateur astronomers will get images of it; it’ll be bright enough for awhile to catch. The problem is it’ll be moving really fast across the sky… well, fast meaning half a degree per minute, which in turn means getting images of it will be very tough; it’ll streak through a telescope’s field of view like a meteor at that rate.

You’ll never see it naked eye; at magnitude 10 at brightest it’s a fraction as bright as what you can see with just your eye. It’s also too high up to be a danger to any satellites (space is big, so even one getting much closer is really unlikely to smack into something). Still, it’s pretty cool.

And I’ll add that while news like this scares some people, it actually makes me feel somewhat better: we’re getting really good at finding these kinds of things. Sure, if this rock had happened to be headed right for us we’d only have a few days warning before it hit (generating an enormous blast, as much as a high-yield nuclear weapon). But the thing is we’re looking for and finding such rocks. That’s the first step; identifying potentially dangerous impactors. We’ve shown we can do it.

The next step is to do something about them. Smart folks are working on it, and I bet in the next few years we’ll have a realistic and deployable plan on what action to take if we do see one drawing a bead on us. Since the odds of getting hit at any given time are low, statistically speaking we still have time to figure this all out.

But we don’t have forever. Let’s let 2009 DD45 be a reminder of that. We need to start doing something about these things, before we find one that really is scary.

[Note: Please digg the original article from S&T, not my post. Kelly deserves the credit!]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, DeathfromtheSkies!

Comments (69)


    Ah, man! It’s 30 m wide not 100!

    Approximately 63,500 km? At what velocity is it travelling?

    And how close did that asteroid in 2004 get?

  2. LukeL

    Get Bruce Willis on it along with Michael Bay filming the mission it self along with extreme closeups and 100s of cuts per scene.

  3. Elmar_M

    I personally always thought we should put a few ICBM- equipped satellites into GEO strategically placed arround the globe. Of course thanks to some idiotic cold war treaties that is impossible. Just like Orion… and some other good ideas. Politics will be the end of the world one day.

  4. Rick

    Unfortunately, it won’t be until something like this comes out of the blue and actually hits the earth with visible evidence of the damage before people would actually take any kind of threat seriously. You can bet that those crying about NASA spending too much would then be crying about NASA spending too little.

  5. Tom Woolf


    So what would we be able to do if it was heading right for us. Sure, Uncle Jimbo would state the obvious and shoot it, but what could those of us not in Colorado do?

    Seriously… Let’s say one with an estimated blast like the one over Siberia is heading our way. I imagine we could narrow down the strike area to the size of a mid-sized state. What would our options be? Running sounds like a good start.

  6. Radwaste

    Elmar – physics, man, use your physics! For a bunch of situations, the A-bomb just flat isn’t the answer, however magical it is in the movies. You’d be better off with a rocket motor and a way to steer it. It can be tiny if you have enough time.

  7. matteus

    Hmm… the schedule’s tight, but I think I can get my cult up and running in time.

  8. Gary Ansorge

    Any idea if it’s nickle/iron or carbonaceous?

    The latter has lots of potential for space industrial use. 30 meters or 100 meteres, it’s still a LOT of raw materials.

    GAry 7

  9. Levi in NY

    QUASAR is right. The rock is only 30 meters across, or 100 feet.

    Ugh…can we in the U.S. just switch over to the metric system already?

  10. Gary Ansorge


    One unfortunate problem with attaching rocket motors to an asteroid is that most are tumbling, which is why one of the better suggestions involved a gravity tug. THAT unfortunately requires we know about and get to the rock a LONG time before it is anywhere near Earth. For those we don’t notice until nearly too late, perhaps a very high power laser in orbit(to avoid beam dispersal from atmospheric interaction) could vaporize the surface, resulting in an approriate thrust. It would avoid the necessity of stopping the tumble to attach a reaction device(like a mass driver).

    Gary 7

  11. matteus

    @Levi in NY
    Amen! The U.S. military uses mostly metric, except for the Navy and their nautical miles, damn them. Which believe me, I see abbreviated enough time as ‘nm’ that I have become expert at instantly judging context.

  12. Timothy from Boulder

    “So what would we be able to do if it was heading right for us. Sure, Uncle Jimbo would state the obvious and shoot it, but what could those of us not in Colorado do?

    Seriously… Let’s say one with an estimated blast like the one over Siberia is heading our way. I imagine we could narrow down the strike area to the size of a mid-sized state. What would our options be? Running sounds like a good start.”

    At present? Given the same amount of time? Hope that the area it hits is over ocean or sparsely populated. If it’s headed for a populated area, evacuation is the only option. Sorry, them’s the breaks.

  13. Yeah, I saw the 100 and assumed S&T would be using metric. Feh. :)

  14. Gary Ansorge

    Timothy from,,,:

    Actually, an ocean strike would probably cause more damage than an impact on land. That’s very dependent on size but some calculations done by Dr. Jerry Pournelle indicated a six mile wide asteroid landing in the pacific ocean would, within hours, eradicate every city and town within a hundred miles of the ocean by a half mile high tsunamie, while a land strike would just wipe out an immediate area a thousand miles in radius and of course, there would be the rock/smoke/other debris kicked up into the atmosphere. If the land strike was in a sismically active area, it could also trigger massive volcanoes, earthquakes and sulphur dioxide exudates. AH, I guess it would really be a tossup, die by tsunamie or SO2,,,
    ,,,at any rate, running probably wouldn’t help much,,,

    Gary 7

  15. Gary Ansorge

    That above comment is for a LARGE one. The 30 meter rock, depending on wether it’s nickle/iron or carbonaceous would likely only bust up a city. No big deal, as long as you’re not one of those living in THAT city,,,
    With such a small one, driving would be a better option,,,”Drive fast, Luke. The Farce won’t help you in this,,,”.

    Gary 7

  16. Phil Plait, your link to www(dot)b612foundation.org (click on my name for the link), at the words “Smart folks are working on it”, is not working. You have neglected to add the “http:_//” prefix to the URL.

  17. Thanks, I fixed it. I’m having some keyboard issues, I’ve noticed, where some keys (like the V (making it hard to paste), the left arrow, and the space bar) are becoming erratic. Time for a new one.

  18. John Phillips, FCD

    60,000km, meh, I thought the bugs would be able to fling rocks more accurately than that.

  19. jae rue

    Perhaps we could just lasso it like a june beetle on a thread ?

  20. Timothy from Boulder


    Right, the question posed was for a Tunguska-sized impactor. Evacuation is stil the only option; even for a small impactor, there’s no available tecnology today that could alter its course given only a few days notice.

    There are always a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas (lasers, particle beams, nukes) thrown around, but rarely a calculation to support the feasibility of the idea.

    Here’s an exercise for the reader to solve: Given a 30-100m impactor heading right towards San Francisco with one week lead time. Assume calculations are accurate enough that you *know* it will hit downtown San Francisco spot on. Using technology available today, and a schedule of 7 days from today, devise a method of deflecting it several miles out into the Pacific Ocean to minimize the impact damage. Show all work.

    I don’t believe you’ll find a viable method.

  21. «bønez_brigade»

    I’m a bit confused about this part:
    “…fast meaning half a degree per minute, […] it’ll streak through a telescope’s field of view like a meteor at that rate.”

    The Moon is about half of a degree on the sky, so something taking a minute to traverse that width doesn’t seem like it would streak through the field of view in a telescope, unless you have a rather high-power eyepiece on it. A streak in pics for sure, but I wouldn’t liken the pace to that of a meteor.

  22. Phil Plait:

    Yeah, I saw the 100 and assumed S&T would be using metric. Feh.

    NASA made the same mistake, back in September 23, 1999, with the Mars Climate Orbiter (click on my name for the Wiki article) because a NASA subcontractor (Lockheed Martin) used Imperial units (pound-seconds) instead of the metric system.

  23. Bazza

    It’s a metre, whether there’s 30 or 100 of them.

    A meter is a device you use to measure things, such as electrical current, or speed.

  24. IVAN3MAN

    Orbit Diagram of 2009 DD45

    Orbital Characteristics of 2009 DD45
    (Click on image for the link to the JPL/NASA interactive tool).

  25. Bein'Silly

    Bein’serious for a sec :

    Could the Hubble telescope be used to image it well or is it moving too quickly?

    It’d be a good chance to get a look at & info on a small NEA if that’s possible ..

  26. BA said:
    I’m having some keyboard issues

    Keyboard? How quaint.

    -Montgomery Scott



  27. MadScientist

    @Bein’Silly: By the time you schedule a Hubble observation the earth would have already been hit. 😛 Interesting question though – how close an object can Hubble focus on?
    Basically if you can see it from earth with a small(ish) telescope then Hubble will have no problem (as long as it can focus). At only 1/2deg per minute, maybe Hubble can even track it – you’d have to ask the ground control folks though.

  28. IVAN3MAN

    Metrication in the United States

    Toward A METRIC America
    (Click on the logo.)

  29. IVAN3MAN

    Sod it! That post did not work as expected. So, take two:

    Metrication in the United States

    Toward A METRIC America
    (Click on the logo.)

    When the bloody hell are we gonna get a preview/edit facility here?!

  30. @John Phillips, FCD: I believe these are not bugs you’re looking for. Rather, they are large herd animals with multiple, bifurcated trunks.

  31. amphiox

    For an asteroid this size the effects would be only local (city sized), so even if it did hit, chances are it would strike a nonpopulated area and there would be no harm done.

    If our detection was good enough that we could know for sure that it really was going to hit a city, then one would only have to deflect it a teeny bit so it would miss the city in question. Maybe a nuke blast would work, if we could aim it accurately enough (doubtful with current tech at present, I think)

    There would be political implications with deflecting the asteroid so that it hits some other part of the world, though. Particularly if you made a mistake and it hit someplace that was not intended. (Imagine rock heading for Miami, try to deflect into Atlantic ocean, miss, and it hits Cuba) And environmental concerns as well.

  32. amphiox

    Make that “little harm” rather than “no harm”. Chances are, no matter where it hits, at least one or two people will be in the vicinity and at risk.

  33. Cheyenne

    I really wish we had more money and scopes looking for these things. I think the UN is so utterly inept in many ways but overseeing an international group for looking out for these kinds of objects would be a good role for them.

    Now that it’s clear that English is becoming the chosen international language of the world (sorry Parisians- even the Mandarin speakers acknowledge this) I think the US should make the switch to the metric system. I mean, we can at least do that right?

  34. 60, 000 kilometers? What is that, like 10 miles?
    Let’s end the confusion and admit that it’s time for the rest of the world to switch to English units of measurement.

  35. JackC

    Or, perhaps, for ncc1701 to get a calculator. Or at least a sense of scale. I am going to proceed on the assumption that you were joking.


  36. I still say we should practice by moving asteroids to lunar orbit. Resources for a permanent settlement there.

  37. Cheyenne

    @BaldApe – I think that like a lot of other space enthusiasts it might be fair to say that what you are proposing is a bit, well, overly ambitious and technically challenged at this point. I vote that we first try to figure out how to do our more practical endeavors first. Another NASA OCO (the CO2 bird) replacement (construction and funding) would be my first pick.

  38. Greg in Austin

    Did it pass yet? Are we still here?


  39. Greg in Austin


    The article says 63,500km, which is equal to 39,457 miles. The article also states it isn’t the closest approach,

    “By the way, this isn’t the closest “near-miss” asteroidal fragment on record. According to the MPC, tiny 2004 FU162 skirted just 4,000 miles from us on March 31, 2004.”

    As to switching to metric, the US tried that over 30 years ago, and it didn’t go over well. Its probably time to propose legislation for that again, but we seem too busy right now passing laws to spend money we don’t have to bail out companies that don’t deserve it.


  40. Alan

    Where is Lilu the 5th Element when we need her?

  41. Michael

    @Timothy: Deflecting an object into the Pacific may not be such a good idea. Instead of S. F. being wiped out immediately it will be wiped out minutes later by a tsunami. Better deflect it east into the Nevada desert (or Las Vegas).

  42. Lorenzo

    Is it way too soon to worry about how the Earth’s gravity will affect it’s orbit?

    When will the bigger brains be able to tell this rock’s future orbital plans?


  43. Rift

    Elmar_M “I personally always thought we should put a few ICBM- equipped satellites into GEO strategically placed arround the globe. Of course thanks to some idiotic cold war treaties that is impossible. Just like Orion… and some other good ideas. Politics will be the end of the world one day.”


    Your kidding right? It’s already been shown by computer models that hitting a rock with a nuke is the LAST thing we want to do. And idiotic cold war treaty? How old are you? I lived through the last one and really don’t want my niece and nephews living through another one although we seem to be heading down that road. Nukes in space, or anywhere for that matter is a BAD thing. Orion may or may not be a good idea. And I know of no treaties that have outlawed Orion. Orion has some technical problems too, like where to launch it from, unless you are talking about the open air test ban on nukes. Then I would support that. Launching Orion from the surface using nukes gives me the hives too…

    And people don’t want their tax money going to ‘big science’? 2 million dollars is a drop in the bucket, we need to spend some SERIOUS money on this. Why anybody that reads a astronomy blog is against their tax money being spent on astronomy is ironic and just baffling to me. I live in a small town of 10,000 and we just built a new elementary school for more than 10 times what McCain was bellyaching about. I suppose he’d claim that was pork even though we badly needed it. And posters are calling 2 million ‘big science’? Curse Ben Stein for ever popularizing that term, or that idea. There is no such thing as big science. More money was making the first Jurassic Park movie then has ever been spent in total on paleontology.

  44. Tom Woolf

    Thanks to everybody who took the time to respond to my question. I live in Raleigh, NC, so my “RUN AWAY!” direction is the only one left…

    Hmmm, South to the sunny beaches of FLA?
    North to the brother who can live without electricity for weeks if needed? (He lives near Quebec, so had to do that a few years back)
    West to the mountains?

    I know that running that far would not be necessary, but as long as I am driving, might as well make a vacation of it!

  45. Tom Woolf

    Greg in Austin…. Haven’t you heard? That money is not being wasted on companies that don’t deserve it – it’s being wasted on “something called volcano monitoring”! (Last I checked, that “something called volcano monitoring” was actually monitoring volcanoes. HA! Go figure.)


  46. Stark

    Hitting a BIG rock with a nuke is a bad idea… a 30m one though… well, assuming you could achieve a direct hit and that it’s a rocky asteroid as opposed to a metallic one you could, with the largest weapons we have available currently, reasonably expect to vaporise the object. For instance, a 100MT (mega-ton) weapon detonated subsurface completely vaporises an approximately 190 metre diameter sphere. This is the cause of all those interesting and somewhat terrifying craters in the Nevada desert (http://tinyurl.com/daojo8)- no material was blown out, the roof of the new cavern simply caves in as soon as the pressure wave from the nuke subsides. Of course, we still have no way to get a weapon to an asteroid (despite the movies ICBM’s do not have the capability needed) and certainly not with the needed accuracy with just a few days notice.

  47. ElmerFud

    Metrics for dummies:
    kilometers to miles – multiply times 6 and drop the last digit for approximate value. (10,000km aprox 6,000 miles)
    Meters to Yards – about 40 inchs (30,000m aprox 32,800 yards)

    Metrics are great, but not sufficient to solve every problem.
    Pi expressed in decimal form is endless, yet in US Standard it is solved as 22/7 which can be reduced to 3 and 1/7th.

    Sure! shoot the astroid with a nuke and create millions of radioactive particals to rain down on the world… duh!

    We don’t have a solution to the problem, and likely will never have if left to politicians that are more concerned about cost than human kind survival.

    The probability of destruction by astroid weighed against the various other potential threats we face make this a difficult argument to fight for in political circles.

    Tsunami, earthquakes, eruptions also threaten our life on this planet and likewise we are powerless to prevent these also, but government still allows populations to develope within the known danger zone of these various threats. What is being done to solve these threats I ask you. Will that space laser/nuclear star drive stop or alter the impact of volcanic super eruptions, or a tsunami? Which threat is more likely? Likewise has ANYONE offered a suggestion how to deal with these other threats? Not that I have heard so far. With the world in peril of depleating fossil fuel supplies, should we be looking at how to harness the energy in these places by tapping into the source of heat, or kenetic energy of wave motion, or using one threat to counter the other threat some how? I don’t know, I’m just a rabbit hunter with time on my hands to think about it some times.

  48. Elmar_M

    1. Actually it depends on the ICBM.
    2. They carry multiple warheads, not just one.
    3. They are pretty precise, at least the american ones.
    I think we can get pretty close to an asteroid with sufficiently many warheads to pulverize it (unless it is “the size of Texas”, hahaha). Of course one single nuke wont be enough.
    4. I got to see the cold war and I still have nightmares thanks. However, I was freely quoting Carl Sagan here actually. Nukes up there (used for propulsion or to fend off asteroids) are much preferable over nukes down here (targetted at cities).
    5. There is a treaty that disallows nuclear weapons in space. It is one of the reasons why orion nuclear pulse propulsion systems have not seen any further funding/research.
    6. Even if an asteroid does not get fully vaporized by the nukes, it is enough to slightly dodge it of course, or to slow it down just a tiny bit to make it pass us at a save distance.
    7. In contrast to what some people have been saying, i think that breaking one big object up into many smaller ones is preferable. A lot of its mass would end up in particles small enough to burn up completely on reenty, or to at least loose a substancial amount of mass before they hit the ground. The reminder of big chunks sure would spread damage over a bigger area, but sufficiently small bodies hitting water e.g. would not cause as much damage on land as one big body. Right?
    I hope I am making my thoughts a little clearer here.
    And yes the treaty is idiotic, because it was made for all the wrong reasons.

  49. Dave N.

    “Look Kodos, they actually bought it!! *evil laugh* ”

    Good Idea about harvesting resources on the moon, but lets figure out how to make ’em miss first!

  50. Elmar_M

    Oh and a 100 Mton yield weapon does generat a lot more damage. The Tsar Bomba (the biggest weapon tested… as far as we know) had a 50 Megaton yield (it was designed for 100 Megatons, but was artificially throttled down). It created a fireball 8 kilometres(!) in diameter!
    Enough to vaporize an asteroid a couple a few hundred meters in diameter, I would presume. The russians later built an ICBM launchable version, that was tested trottled down to 25 MT.
    I few ICBMs with a few of these warheads should easily pulverize even larger targets, or at least throw them sufficiently off course (see nuclear pulse detonation) to ensure they are no harm any longer.
    A 30 meter object… LOL, you can destroy that with conventional bombs, does not even need nukes.

  51. Stark

    Elmar, the problem with larger objects and nuking them is simply a matter of transfer of energy. If you simply break up a huge object – as opposed to deflecting it or vaporising it (as in the case of our current little 30m friend going by) – it is still a huge amount of mass impacting the planet and transferring all of that energy to our atmosphere and surface. A Texas sized object striking the planet a 20,000 kph, whether it is shattered into bits or just a big lump is still a cataclysmic event. The energy still gets transferred and it is far to much to be absorbed without causing major and disastrous effects. A Texas sized mass of marbles would still release enough heat into the atmosphere to end life as we know it.

    Another issue with the idea of destroying very large asteroids is that you cannot possibly hope to pulverize it all to dust and so are still left with many impactors large enough to do serious surface damage… only now you’ve spread them across a much larger area than the single impactor you’d have likely had before – thus greatly increasing the damaged area. It’s actually fairly analogous to the MIRV’s you mentioned – we could build one 200MT bomb and put it on a missile but you can actually inflict far more damage with 10 bombs of 20MT each spread over a much greater area.

    So, for small impactors, say a couple of hundred meters at most, you could possibly deal with them using large nuclear weapons. Anything bigger than that and all you’ll do is spread the impact damage out over a much greater area of the planet.

  52. Elmar_M

    I was not talking about a Texas size object. That was just a purposely stupid response (missed the hahaha?) to a stupid comment someone made about movies. An object like that we would see approaching from very far away.
    The earlier you see them the smaller the problem.
    I was talking about impactors one hundred meters or maybe a few hundred meters across, which are the most likely events to happen with rather short notice.
    I am very certain that a 200m diameter object. even an object almost a kilometer across, can be dealt with easily with current technology. A 200m object can be destroyed and broken up into pieces 8 tons or less, which burn up completely on reentry. A larger object can be “pulsed” out of the way with multiple detonations.
    Also the comparison with nukes is flawed. Nukes are designed to resist the forces of reentry. An asteroid is not. It will, especially if it has been previously subjected to the forces of a nuclear detonation, most likely break up even further when it reenters the atmosphere. Of course with a “texas size” (stupid movie quote again) object breaking that up wont do much, but that is a completely different matter all together. Something like this would be seen from far away, we would know it was coming a long time ahead.
    In matters like this a lot depends on when you see the thing coming. The more time you have, the better. A large object could still be dealt with by either slowing it down, or affecting its course only a tiny little bit. At cosmic distances with the earth moving as well, you end up with a large miss in the end, even if you only divert the course by a fraction of a degree, or slow the thing down by just a little bit.
    Again this can be done with nukes. You can use them as a means of propulsion. Remember that in space a nuclear weapon will mostly emmit heat, no blast damage effect (due to the lack of atmosphere). So you are basically heating up one side of the asteroid (a lot). That causes the surface to evaporate. This again causes thrust. Thrust causes motion and that will move the asteroid, slow it down, accelerate it, or nudge it ever so slightly.

  53. jackd

    I tossed the following figures at the Impact Effects Calculator to see what 2009 DD45 might do:

    Projectile Diameter: 30.00 m = 98.40 ft = 0.02 miles
    Projectile Density: 3000 kg/m3
    Impact Velocity: 17.00 km/s = 10.56 miles/s
    Impact Angle: 45 degrees
    Target Density: 1000 kg/m3
    Target Type: Liquid Water of depth 100.00 meters, over typical rock.

    Energy before atmospheric entry: 6.13 x 1015 Joules = 1.46 MegaTons TNT
    The average interval between impacts of this size somewhere on Earth is 147.5 years

    Atmospheric Entry:
    The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 54000 meters = 177000 ft
    The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 15100 meters = 49400 ft
    The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 8.66 km/s = 5.38 miles/s
    The energy of the airburst is 4.54 x 1015 Joules = 1.08 x 100 MegaTons.
    No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.

  54. Stark

    I do not disagree with anything you have said except for the heating a nuclear weapon in space would cause.

    The physics actually show that you get negligible heat out of a space born nuclear detonation (well, negligible when compared to an in atmosphere detonation)- the thermal radiation effects of a nuclear blast on the ground are directly related to and caused by the presence of the atmosphere to conduct said heat. In space there is no method of conduction. On the ground much of the blast wave and high frequency radiation of a nuclear detonation are absorbed by the atmosphere and then propagate as thermal radiation- aka. a big freaking fire ball. Since there is no air in space for the blast wave to heat you get much larger quantities of higher frequency radiation emitted from the weapon instead – while this would have some thrust effect on the asteroid it’s not anywhere near the kind of force one would intuitively expect.

  55. Elmar_M

    Yes, the effects are reduced quite a bit. You do not get any blast and other atmospheric effects (as I mentioned). In return the lack of atmosphere should not slow down any radiation as it does here. So heat transmitted via radiation should be hitting the asteriod even harder than it would on earth, melting and vaporizing its surface.
    For a greater blast effect one could also cover the bomb in a shell of material that can provide some additional blast damage. I think they can also build bombs now that focus the explosion into one direction. This could also help increasing the effect.
    For my part, I am actually building on the fact that the explosion will result only in radiative heat though. This will cause a melting of the asteroid versus a breakup. For larger asteroids I would expect the localized heating to result in a rocket engine like effect (super heated asteroid material bursts away from the asteroid resulting in thrust).
    Thats my theory anyway. Hey if it does not work, we can all still die 😉

  56. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It’s a pity that there isn’t a concerted space program directed to visit and, ultimately, herd asteriods (foremost for safety reasons). I mean, the Moon won’t go anywhere (dangerous) soon.

    There are always a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas (lasers, particle beams, nukes) thrown around, but rarely a calculation to support the feasibility of the idea.

    Hear, hear!

    Now that it’s clear that English is becoming the chosen international language of the world (sorry Parisians- even the Mandarin speakers acknowledge this)

    By coincidence I recently read a (local) article about the official EU language politics potentially breaking down. Apparently EU politicians when they meet tend to do as we all do for best effect, choosing a sort of minmax principle of using the most (max) spread language at a useful (min) level instead of the stated policy of using the (approved) ones they know best and then have to put up with translation. Which most often means english.

    [IIRC there was an interesting aside that this is reflected in media as well, now providing english translations, which opens up a more international arena – especially since the UK luckily is quite isolationistic and doesn’t take the opportunity to push an agenda.]

    So if EU in practice is going for a two language region (english + native) instead of the formal target of a three language education (native + two; i.e. enforcing something added besides english), it seems hopeful that this will be another large language arena that may ultimately facilitate the use of english.

  57. Jane Jones

    Maybe one day, we will discover that space is denser than solid matter and thus be able to manipulate matter. Once this happens, it is all a matter of playing pinball – Right on Tommy!

  58. gizmo

    I’m not worried about asteroids. The free market will take care of ’em….


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