Bad Universe Twitter giveaway – including an actual asteroid!

By Phil Plait | August 25, 2010 2:34 pm

So my TV show "Phil Plait’s Bad Universe" premieres on the Discovery Channel this Sunday, August 29, at 10:00 p.m (did you see the sneak peek?). And I figure, what better way to promote it than another BA giveaway contest?

Yay! So I’m giving away a lot of swag related to the show, plus some other neat stuff. To wit [click the pix to embiggen]:

Specifically, the winner will receive:

– A signed copy of my book Death from the Skies! on which Bad Universe is based
– Actual shrapnel from the rocks we hit to test asteroid mitigation techniques (see pic on right)
– Shrapnel from the aluminum ball used in the kinetic impactor test (on the upper left of that pic)
– A (really funny) Bad Universe promotional postcard
– Hubble paper clips
– Stickers, including a CfI "Science Saves" bumper sticker
– A NASA 2010 calendar (I know, but the pictures are really pretty)
– Space images DVD
– Hubble Space Telescope documentary DVD
– An official NASA Hubble pin
– A Hubble cookie cutter. Seriously.
– Other miscellaneous stuff I have lying around with an enormous coolness factor.

… and, oh, how about also

An actual honest-to-FSM meteorite, a piece of asteroid that fell to Earth!

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention. This is a chunk of Sikhote-Alin meteorite that fell in Russia in 1947. It weighs 129 grams (4.6 ounces) and is about 5 x 3 x 2.5 cm (2 x 1.2 x 1 inches) in size. It’s almost solid iron, very heavy and dense, and if you’ve never held a meteorite before, well, you’re in for a treat. It’s awesome. I’ll include a writeup I did of the meteorite as well.


So how do you win this great stuff? Here’s the deal:

0) This contest is free.

1) This contest will be held on Twitter. Leaving comments here will not enter you in the contest. So yeah, you need a Twitter account to win, but it’s easy and free to get one.

2) On Wednesday, August 25 at 2:30 p.m. Mountain time (20:30 UT), I posted a tweet that says:

Bad Universe giveaway: book, TV show swag, a real meteorite! Retweet to enter. Rules: #BadUniverse

The #BadUniverse hashtag is critical! See #4 below.

3) To enter the contest, you must retweet that tweet.

4) All retweets must be posted between Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 11:00 MDT and Friday, August 27, 2010 at 11:00 MDT. After that time, I’ll pick two random numbers, and then search Twitter for all instances of the hashtag #BadUniverse. The first random number will be the search page result (using 50 results per page), and the second will be the number of the retweet on the page (1 – 50). That person will then win the Bad Universe swag!

I will notify the winner via Twitter, who will have until Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 11:00 MDT to respond. If I don’t get a response, I’ll pick another random retweeter, who will have until Sunday at 11:00 MDT, and so on.

5) Anyone on Earth is eligible, except (to be fair) for people who know me in real life. I’ll leave that up to you to decide if you count or not. People who know me can certainly retweet it, but they cannot win the bounty. Those retweets will count in the random numbers I pick (in other words, if my wife retweets it, I won’t give her the prize, but her RT will be counted in the search results). Please don’t retweet it more than once. That’s a tasing.

6) Just so’s you know, this is not an official Discover Magazine or Discovery Channel or Bad Universe contest. It’s just me playing around and having some fun. I’m doing this, duh, to promote the show. Remember, this first episode is a pilot, and the more eyeballs watching it the better the chance Discovery Channel will do the right thing, which in this case is pick it up as a series and send me wheelbarrows full of hundred dollar bills. And we all want that, don’t we?

Well, I do. So go and retweet for great justice!

MORE ABOUT: giveaway, meteorite, Twitter

Comments (82)

  1. Excellent way to promote your show!!

    Best of the best for you and your pilot!

  2. Scott

    *Step 3 addendum: you must post a tweet that is viewable to the search that will be used. (Private tweets may be excluded due to Twitter privacy restrictions.)

  3. C. Robert Dimitri

    If you just click “retweet,” can you distinguish which tweet belongs to which person? I initially just clicked that button, and then when I did a hashtag search, it didn’t seem like the individual handles were showing up. Then I deleted it and just did a regular tweet with the copied text and a “RT.”

    Very cool contest! The odds seem astronomical, but it would be awesome to win.

  4. KiltBear

    IMPORTANT!!! I believe you should NOT use the built-in new way of Twitter to ReTweet. Copy and paste the text into your status field otherwise you do not seem to show up as retweeting the message when doing a #BadUniverse search.

    Is there another way for you to see the new Twitter based ReTweets???

  5. Bob


    sweet swag – but the odds of winning….

    booooooooo ….

  6. oohhh I want I want. I already have my DVR set to record your show.

  7. Mr Greedy


    I’ve been anti-Twitter as long as Twitter has existed, but now I’m going to have to make an account and tweet exactly once (or be tased).

  8. As #3 said: do not use the “ReTweet” button. For it to show up on a search page with the hashtag results, you have to copy and paste the original text — i.e. Retweet the old-fashioned way.

  9. Richard

    I echo the question “Do new-style retweets count?”

  10. Heading to the woods tonight, won’t be back until Tuesday. Guess I can’t win. :(

  11. Steve Ulven

    Wow! Looks awesome, almost awesome enough to abandon my vow to never join Twitter, but just almost.

  12. Bill Snedden

    @4 & 8: My “new-style” retweet showed up in a #BadUniverse search, so apparently they will…

    I’m @wmsnedden if you want to attempt to confirm… 😉

  13. Cool! I just created an account just for this, I hope I win! And congratulations on the show!

  14. Cochise

    I had to join twitter for this. Will pressing retweet work? If not, where exactly do I copy and paste your tweet Phil? Congrats on the new show! I’ll definitely be DVRing it.

  15. Anybody knows when BU will be available in the Latin American Discovery signal?

  16. Adrian Lopez

    Like others have suggested, be sure to retweet by hand instead of through Twitter’s retweet mechanism. Your tweet will not appear under your name unless you copy Phil’s tweet and paste it as your own tweet.

  17. NewEnglandBob

    Twitter – no thanks.

  18. jrpowell

    I cut the cable/satellite tv cord last month. Please please please let us all know when Discovery Channel has the full episode video online for PPBU. (That’s pretty funny when you say it out loud.)

  19. Josie

    does it count if i no has any followers?

    I made a twitter account a while back but this is my first tweet:(

    and ummmm if I win I’ll bake a batch of Hubble sugar cookies for your family Phil 😀

  20. Ward

    I am disappointed that in order to particpate in this giveaway I have to use Twitter. Since I refuse to use Twitter on my general principles I am excluded from this event. I realize that the choice is mine to not use Twitter and that the choice was yours to use it. I would hope though that future events such as this would not require the use of something people may not want to use. Just my two cents on the matter.

  21. Cochise

    @Ward #20
    It’s just a twitter account, not the ebola virus. I too refused to join Twitter…until now. I’m wondering the same thing as Josie, do you have to have followers? I know the whole point of this is to get word out about your show.

  22. Michael Swanson

    Twitter? Blech. But I’m anxious to see the show even without the chance to win cool stuff.

  23. Ohio Mike

    Okay, I’ll be the first to say it…that meteorite looks like a shrunken Alien head. Go Ripley!

  24. Are you guys sure about this manual vs new retweet? Mine always shows who retweeted at the bottom of the tweet. (when viewing from web and hootsuite.)
    I already did a regular retweet. But the rules indicate only one retweet. So can I have a “gimme” and do the manual retweet? Cause this whole only doing it once thing is really cramping me. I had a finely tuned 6 tweet plan in which I scheduled my retweets at intervals I felt would be most likely to win (in my own mind) and then re-read the rules and I can only do it once. sigh. I know I’ve lost my own piece of space already. Life is unfair!

    Something to consider – the more times I retweet the more opportunities for people to get the PR message.

    Also, I plan to sulk if I don’t win. Just so you know.

  25. And I think Ohio Mike should be disqualified for defiling my piece of space with his Pareidolia visions.
    I using positive imaging to make sure I win. I learned it from Deepak. What?

  26. Lascas

    Well, i have no idea if i did it correctly, like many others, i dont like twitter. But i do like astronomy and therefor its my responsibility to spread the word about the show. Hope its a blockbuster phil, you sure deserve it.

  27. Michael Swanson

    @ 25. Non-Believer Says:

    “I[‘m] using positive imaging to make sure I win.”

    I pull out my +5 intercessory prayer to combat your positive imaging! ROLL!

  28. GK4

    It’s legal to buy and sell meteorites? I thought they’d all be kept in museums and research centers. Or can they be released after all scientific information has been gleaned from them?

  29. stephen

    golly gee i got off my high horse and registered for a twitter account for this contest, so here’s hoping something good comes out of it :)

  30. cgmonkey

    Looks like you picked a pretty good way for just tech support and/or twitter geeks to enter the contest. This contest looks enticing, but I swore I’d never ever get a twitter account, and after some of the comments here, i don’t feel like doing all that troubleshooting just to enter.
    Plus, I don’t have cable tv so I’ll miss the show anyway. :-(
    But good luck to all who enter and best wishes for the show, Phil.

  31. Jeremy

    I’ve no interest in being a Twit, so I guess I’ll pass. That’s some nice swag for whoever gets it, though, and I’m looking forward to the show.

  32. Geri Monsen

    OT, but I have to bring it up. Methinks Calamities of Nature may be poking fun at a certain Bad Astronomer:

  33. Wayne on the plains

    It took the chance to win a meteorite to make me join twitter.

  34. Too bad you have to join twitter. I am brokenhearted, because the meteroite is the coolest giveaway I have seen in some time, but alas, I will remain a dinosaur and stay off Twitter and Facebook for now.

  35. CaptTu

    This will finally push me into signing up for twitter…. kicking and screaming.

  36. I gave your show a big plug on my facebook Phil. That’s an extra 6,000 viewers for you! Good luck!


  37. It’s only a pilot! Damb! If they have ANY sense at all they’ll pick it up. Also, Phil, be sure to give us a way to buy the DVD or BluRay when those become available. I don’t have cable or sat TV & rely heavily on optical media…

  38. FDM

    Hey Phil,
    I already have a personalized signed copy of Death From The Skies so if you want to toss that meteorite my way that sure would frost the cake. Skip the Twitter…

  39. FDM

    Hey Phil,
    I already have a personalized signed copy of Death From The Skies so if you want to toss that meteorite my way I won’t object. Skip the Twitter bit.Can hardly wait until Sunday night for the pilot and all the episodes after that, that will surely follow. :)

  40. Messier Tidy Upper

    Add me to the list of anti-twitter folks. I suppose I could join it just for this but ..nah. I’ll pass & save the BA even the remotest possibility of having to pay an enormous sum in international postage to Australia. Well on my behalf anyhow. 😉

    BTW. I just got the Hubble DVD there as a birthday present the other week! As for the old astronomy calendars one of the first things I do in the new year is turn my old astronomy calendars (yes I usually get more than one) is transform my old calendars into lots of astronomy posters! 😉

  41. NAW

    Haha, I am glad I am not the only one jumpy about a twitter account. Good luck to those of you that do post on it. I may give in though.

  42. Cobey Cobb

    Danggit, why do all of these people read your blog!? I NEED A METEORITE!!!

  43. Michel

    I allready have a piece of asteroid, so I´ll pass. That way someone who doesn´t might have a chance.

  44. Gebo

    Cool contest. Can’t wait to see the show.

  45. Grand Lunar

    Well, don’t have a Twitter account, so I’ll leave it to those that do to win this one.

    Would be funny to have written this;

    “Your asteroid fragment will arrive via airmail. Targeting may not be exact.”

  46. Andy Beaton

    Cool stuff, but not worth the price of twitter.
    I’ll still watch the show, though.

  47. RMcbride

    Is there a way to get that first tweet now if we don’t already have an account?

  48. Eh… there’s nothing ANYONE can offer that will tempt me to join that puerile, brain-dead waste of time Twitter. Oh well.

  49. Robert Carnegie

    Is that the USS Enterprise-D at the top of the Hubble thing’s cover picture?

  50. Bob

    “Please don’t retweet it more than once. That’s a tasing.”

    I see people all ready doing this – *sigh* they don’t read the rules – hope Phil takes this into account.

    @47 it’s not the first tweet that wins, Phil is going to randomly pick two numbers, one for the page of re-tweets he looks at and one for the person on that page, that is the winner (if they are allowed under the rules).

  51. RMcbride

    @48 the temptation of getting a chance at the occasional BA stuff is just too much. If I join his page is it like getting just BA’s tweets or would I have to get all of the retweets too?

  52. @anti-Twitter folks. I don’t get it. It takes about 10 seconds to sign up, you don’t ever have to use it again and you have to follow all of one person. If you sign up, you could get some cool stuff. If you don’t win, you don’t ever have to sign in again if you don’t want. It costs nothing.


  53. Phil, out of curiosity, do you ever use/read your Facebook pages? Your FB page appears to only post your twitter feed, and your fan page doesn’t have anything from you since January, and that was about Twitter.

    While I’ve got your attention…

    I was watching “Through the Wormhole” (again) last night, and something caught my ear. He was talking about the Big Bang, when he said something along the lines of “after all, it’s still just a theory”. (In the same way I suspect many creationists talk about evolution.) It just rubbed me the wrong way. Did anyone else catch that?

  54. I think I signed up for a Twitter account some years ago, though I’ve never used it. Now, what was the login and password again???

  55. To those who are upset about the Twitter nature of this contest.
    I’m at a loss to understand the logic behind not joining twitter because you find it so low.

    I don’t have a problem with it not being your thing – that’s fine. What I don’t understand is how signing up for one tweet will somehow hurt you in anyway at all. Speaking skeptically – just wondering how that fits.

    It basically hurts no one but you in this case. Your tweet would not help Phil at all. You would have no followers so it would not be of value to him. So whether you participate or not is of no value to Phil.
    If you don’t sign up and do this one tweet you cannot possibly win something you express an interest in winning. So this is a negative consequence to you.

    I’m sure I’m missing some logical reason for your choice.

  56. @ #52 drksky

    I can’t speak for others, but for me it’s the principle of the whole thing. Many people, including myself obviously, loathe Twitter. It’s faddish, obnoxious, utterly meaningless and a complete waste of time. In my opinion, Phil’s contest should be open to all readers of his blog, not all users of Twitter. Maybe you think I’m being narrow-minded, but I don’t agree with the way this contest is set up. So, I will not be signing up for that Twitter crapfest (not even for one tweet), even though it would be way cool to have an extraterrestrial rock on my shelf. As I said, it’s the principle. In the final analysis, it’s Phil’s contest to run as he chooses, and that’s peachy-keen by me. No hard feelings, I just won’t participate, that’s all.

  57. Will the contest also include a DVD of you on the drums? Heard you were featured drumming on the thank you video PZ put on his blog…very cool. Love the huge kit.

  58. Josie

    yessssss yesssss Twitter is bad. Do not sign up for Twitter –it’s low class and causes balding. :)

  59. RMcbride

    I’m in agreement with gumbythecat #56 and I’ll add that I had some friends/family bug me to join facebook and I went in kicking and screaming. That was a great way to add inane emails to the spam that I click through. Only with twitter that will only be worse. @ the comment that all we have to do is create an account and then ignore after, that may have been possible if BA had announced an upcoming tweet. AFAIK it’s in the ether right now. I understand that he is free to give his stuff away in any manner he likes but wish that it were available to those who are not sheeple.

  60. Rider

    People adding @BadAstronomer to the tweet should be disqualified.

  61. Rider

    Oh and people bitching about social media, stop it with the I’m better than everyone act. Oh those those idiotic commoners who like to actually socialize……

  62. Rider

    If you were not on newgroups the day AOL opened the flood gates to idiocy then you have no basis to be elitist.

  63. Cochise

    @Rider #60
    I’m new to Twitter, what does that mean?

  64. Cochise

    One more thing, since I have no followers on twitter, I’ll be posting on facebook to spread the word.

  65. Josie

    @59….how does entering a contest make anyone a sheeple (shepson? sherson?)?

    I made a twitter account, signed up to follow NASA, the KSC and the ESO on the chance I might sometime get to see some nifty pictures. I then did not go back to the website until Phil made this fun contest.

    I don’t have a smart phone so I don’t have ‘mobile updates’ and I don’t get email updates from twitter. This was my first tweet.

    To my view you become sheeple when you do something that is of no benefit to you and you do it only because someone suggests you should.

    This is of potential large benefit to me, I visit only when that potential exists and it is by my choice alone.

    Just because we are exploiting a free to use networking service for personal benefit and to promote worthwhile programming we are not sheeple /rolleyes

    By the way I made my Facebook page in 2004, when you still had to be a college student to do so…and promptly abandoned it. So when friends implore me to make one I can honestly tell them that I am way more FB OG and they are late to the party :)

  66. Valerie Coffey

    Hey Phil, Congrats on the Discovery program–that’s a big deal!! I’ll retweet. Is facebook “real life”? If so, your 5000 facebook Friends would be ineligible to collect the swag! Who’s left!? I’m arguably out…although…have we actually met? The answer is hereby “definitely not.” Count me for the contest!

  67. cgmonkey

    While I’m personally anti-twitter (and therefor will, sadly, not be eligible for the contest), it’s not for any of the emotional reasons others have stated. I just don’t need another social medium tracking my stats, location and personal interests.

    Twitter has it’s uses, for sure, and is appealing to many people for various reasons, and I’m sure there are ways to sign up to game the system with fake info and all, but it’s just not worth the time and effort.

    Still, I’m puzzled why, as one poster said, if this benefits neither Phil nor Twitter to do the contest this way, why do it this way? Why negate a potentially large portion of the readers of your BLOG from a contest we read about on your BLOG? We’re fans and readers of the BLOG, let us enter that way.

  68. Cochise

    I understand where you’re coming from, but you’re missing the point. Phil is trying to spread the word about his show. All of us BABlogees already know about it, Phil’s trying to get to a wider audience. Therefore, Twitter or Facebook would accomplish that.

  69. Can you be sure to say “Don’t re-tweet more than once!” in your tweets about the contest? Since you didn’t, and I hadn’t read this page, I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to re-tweet more than once. :-( I thought it was a once-a-day thing.

    As for those sniffing about Twitter–oh, I completely understand. Believe me. Before I was assimilated, I felt the same way. But now…well, it’s like an ongoing really interesting cocktail party, with lots of interesting bits and pieces drifting your way. You do, however, need to sign up to follow interesting people. Like science bloggers. And science fiction authors. And the Old Spice Man. And pals & buddies who blog.

  70. Rob G.

    Unfortunately, I’ve never really seen a need for Twitter. Guess I’ll just have to wait for you to hold a “regular” contest. :)

  71. MartinMcK38

    Hmmm… great idea. Decided it was worth learning twitter, just this once, just for a chance at that meteorite. Succeeded in finding the post (“tweet”??) But I completely failed to figure out how to “retweet”. Tried quite a number of times, both by hitting “reply” and “retweet” but nothing much seemed to happen. I guess I wasn’t holding my tongue right or something. The #baduniverse search doesn’t show me as having retweeted. Bah! O well. Best of luck with it anyway. Oh, and MANY THANKS for your wonderful blog!!! ….. Martin McK:-)

  72. Floyd

    I never have gotten Twitter to do anything useful, though Phil’s website is useful on its own.

  73. Karl Silver

    Excellent! We don’t actually have to watch you on TV in order to enter!

  74. Lascas

    can next time instead of a twit be something else? i vote for something that involves beer.

  75. fred edison

    Is “11:00 MDT” (Mountain Daylight Time) AM or PM? My cat wants to know.

    Nice contest. I’ll be watching the show on Sunday and best of luck with it.

  76. dhun1234

    I’ve tried more times than I can count, different ways, and my retweets won’t show up in the search!!!!! Aargh. Can’t wait to see the show!

  77. RMcbride

    @65 I’m using sheple to refer to those who have joined twitter. Now if only I could get rid of my face book.

  78. GeekGoddess

    Phil also chose to advertise this contest on the INTERNET so I for one refuse to get on the internet just so I can win this swag. Sorry he had to do it this way, but I see no value in using the internet and won’t sign up for it just so I can log on one time to read about this. He could have sent it out on newspapers and by personal postcards.

  79. Rider

    I’m way to busy doing important things like commenting on blogs to do something as silly as use twitter.

  80. bearsense

    what’s twitter ?

  81. John Paradox

    Just FYI about the show, here’s the description on Titan TV:

    Bad Universe : Asteroid Apocalypse
    TDC-W 23 – Sunday, August 29 – 10:00 PM
    A curious astronomer explores the theory that a strike from a massive asteroid exterminated the dinosaurs millions of years ago, and he delves into the possibility that such a cataclysmic event could eventually happen on Earth again.

    Curious? I thought it was “Bad”!



  82. Leigh

    Congrats to the winner, whomever he is, and thanks for the chance. Since there has been such a great response (and I too-eagerly misread the original time parameters!), how about another giveaway or two and/or a Twitter “party” w/giveaways for the Bad Uni debut tomorrow? : ) Just a thought; know it’s short notice. Regardless, we’ll be tuning in.

    Thanks much!


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