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Schoolboy Corrects NASA's Math On Killer Asteroid

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the little-child-shall-lead-them dept.

Space 637

spiracle writes "A German schoolboy, Nico Marquardt, has revised NASA's figures for the chances that the Apophis asteroid will hit earth. Apparently if the asteroid hits a satellite in 2029, its path could be diverted enough to cause it to collide with Earth on the next orbit, in 2036. NASA had calculated the chances as 1 in 45,000 but the 13-year-old, in his science project, made it 1 in 450. NASA agreed." Update: 04/16 16:47 GMT by Z : This is not entirely accurate, it turns out — more details.

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Not peer reviewed. (5, Funny)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086082)

Not peer reviewed.

Other news stories on this (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086110)

NASA previously estimated the chance "Apophis" the asteroid would strike earth in 2027 was 1 in 45,000. But a german schoolboy, Nico Marquardt, pointed out that NASA overlooked the probability the asteroid would strike one of the 40,000 sattelites orbiting Earth and enter a new solar orbit intersecting Earth in 2036. A german newspaper reports that NASA now concurs the chance this will happen is about 1 in 450. If the 200 billion tonne ball of iridium and iron stikes the planet then it's literally light's out for earth: 800 foot tidal waves followed by an indefinite period of dust cloud covered darkness, not to mention metal vapor in the atmosphere. The original Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org] was in 2007 when the odds were better. At that time it was known that there was a small risk of a gravitational slingshot dropping it into the 2036 collisional orbit, however, to do so the asteroid had to pass through an improbable 400 meter wide strike zone to be properly deflected, as described in 2006 in Popular Science [popularmechanics.com] from 2006. Today's announcement of the new finding is here [physorg.com] and here [yahoo.com] .

Re:Other news stories on this (2, Funny)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086142)

Still, no one has scrutinized the boy's work for math errors. So don't start training Bruce Willis just yet.

His peers (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086158)

Still, no one has scrutinized the boy's work for math errors.
Well surely we can find another school boy to peer review it.

Re:His peers (5, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086296)

Thoughts of another schoolboy:
"But if we make it strike the Earth and not one of those sattelites in 2029, the probability of it striking the Earth in 2036 is NIL. NASA agreed."

Friday the 13th (4, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086210)

By the way, it passes by the earth in 2027 on friday the 13th. If it hit's it will hit in the pacific ocean. So California may get wet. The energy content is said to be 26,000 Hiroshimas which is not that much but recent calculation suggest is more than enough to darken the earth.

Re:Friday the 13th (5, Interesting)

terrymr (316118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086378)

> 26,000 Hirshimas

So a little less than 1 Mt St Helens then.

Re:Friday the 13th (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086460)

Well, it just so happens that there are 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world. That's a lot more than 26,000 Hiroshimas, especially considering that nuclear weapons are a whole lot more efficient now. So if worst comes to worst, every country on Earth could aim every nuclear weapon on Earth at Apophis and still be able to repel it, even if it hits the atmosphere and starts falling. Of course detonating 27,000 nuclear weapons does not come without consequences...

Re:Other news stories on this (0)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086212)

Oops, well it looks like it might have been reviewed by NASA. This means only one thing, we need to start training Bruce Willis for space flight so he plant a nuke on Apophis and save us from impending doom!

In related news (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086344)

Congress announced today that there's a 1 in 450 chance you will be eligible for social security at retirement.

There's an alanis morriset kind of irony here. If we were just moneys in trees and had not put up the sattelites we would not have magnified our risk a 100 fold.

Given that sort of cosmic irony, I predict it has to hit Hubble.

And speaking of hubble they should have known it had a faulty mirror when they say the stencil on it that said "asteroids in mirror are closer than they appear".

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Google translation of German source (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086412)

Here's the (semi hilarious) machine translation [google.com] .

I forgot the World Downfall chosen! ... AND NASA HAS SAID, I HAVE QUITE

BY MICHAEL SAUERBIER

Potsdam - He is the greatest threat our planet: On Sunday, 13 April 2036, the asteroid crosses "Apophis" the orbit.
Nevertheless, the probability that we killer lumps from the All true, is 0.2 percent! This is a student from Potsdam calculated.

And doing so, Nico Marquardt (13) the research of NASA corrected! For his disturbing discovery was the small physics genius now for the youth researchers Prize.
"The asteroid has left me no rest," says the SiebtklÃssler from Potsdamer Humboldt Gymnasium. "On the Internet, I had high bets on the impact of Apophis was discovered. But NASA is the impact likely only 1 to 45000. I wanted to know how it really is. "
With the telescope of the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam Nico was allowed to observe asteroids train.
The student: "Then I said Spahn professor at the University of Potsdam, as the attractions of the sun, moon and earth the way of Apophis influence." Astrophysicists had a suitable formula.
Nico: "With Professor Landgraf, ESA's satellite control center, I train then recalculated."
Frightening picture: "The harvest probability is 1 to 450," said a young astronomer. For comparison: For a lottery-six (without super number), it is at 1 in 14 million.

Nico: "When would the impact force of 98000 Hiroshima bombs freely. Stürben million people, dust would darken the sky, a super-tsunami swamped parts of the earth. "
But: "I hope that Apophis nearly vorbeischrammt to us ..."

Re:Other news stories on this (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086414)

NASA previously estimated the chance "Apophis" the asteroid would strike earth in 2027 was 1 in 45,000.
Hah! I bet they now regret not naming it Anubis [wikipedia.org] ! ;)

Re:Not peer reviewed. (2, Interesting)

commander_gallium (906728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086218)

I call bullshit on this story. You can clearly see [nasa.gov] that NASA hasn't "agreed" at all.

Re:Not peer reviewed. (3, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086288)

You are right that NASA has not updated it's site since 2006. Here's what they said a while back [nasa.gov] :

The future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth's gravity field.

This is within the distance of Earth's geosynchronous satellites. However, because Apophis will pass interior to the positions of these satellites at closest approach, in a plane inclined at 40 degrees to the Earth's equator and passing outside the equatorial geosynchronous zone when crossing the equatorial plane, it does not threaten the satellites in that heavily populated region.
So what is being claimed here is not so implausible. It is going to pass within the geosynconous orbit distance.

Re:Not peer reviewed. (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086294)

Thinking about the likelihood of a satellite collision in the first place, and then the probability that it would adjust the orbit of Apophis so that it would impact Earth, I'm going to have to intuitively agree with NASA on this one. The odds of an impact with a satellite should be vastly below 1 in 450, which alone means that this should be wrong. Let's wait for a real account of this, not a pop-media summary with a lot of holes.

Re:Not peer reviewed. (5, Informative)

commander_gallium (906728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086360)

You are right that NASA has not updated it's site since 2006.
Just to be clear, the Impact Risk Page [nasa.gov] is kept current (pretty much to the day). You'll see the link for Apophis if you scroll down a little. If the odds of impact jumped by a factor of 100, this would be one of the first places to show it.

Re:Not peer reviewed. (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086428)

Isn't this the definition of peer review? I mean one person correcting the published work of another.

Damn zeros (1)

jfholcomb (60309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086084)

What's a couple of zeros when it's life or death...

Re:Damn zeros (4, Funny)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086174)

I guess NASA was using MS Excel to do their calculations.

Re:Damn zeros (4, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086240)

I guess NASA was using MS Excel to do their calculations.

Or faced political pressure to predict something other than a fairly decent chance of doom. I mean really: does anyone think a 13-year-old outsmarted every scientist at NASA?

Exactly right (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086364)

Perhaps you were really gunning for a funny.

Once you're below a certain threshold, a few more zeros really does not change anything. Very unlikely vs extremely unlikely is hardly relevant. Increasing my chances of being hit by an asteroid by 500 times still does not put it on the radar. Increasing my chance of a car crash by 50% is much more important.

Re:Exactly right (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086464)

Uh, your chance of perishing in a car crash are not so high as 1/450. 2 tenths of the people on earth are not run over by cars

Re:Exactly right (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086468)

oops make that 2/10ths of a percent

space race consequences? (1)

xiong.chiamiov (871823) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086088)

I thought that all this removal of music and art from our public education system was to make us super-strong in math...

No suprise here... (2, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086092)

A friend of mine "used" to work at NASA JSC. He would tell me stories of people with a clue being broken by people in charge that had no clue. He finally got fed up and left... He is not alone.

Re:No suprise here... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086264)

And this observation is applicable for exactly what reason? Are you claiming that NASA management is screwing up the calculations? Or are you just talking out of your ass and trying to insinuate that NASA is always incompetent in whatever it does?

Btw, in case you are not aware, the NEO office is at JPL--not JSC. And JPL is run by Caltech for NASA--not directly by NASA.

Now that we have that cleared up you should feel free to continue your bullshitting and insinuating via hearsay.

Re:No suprise here... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086274)

A friend of mine "used" to work at NASA JSC. He would tell me stories of people with a clue being broken by people in charge that had no clue. He finally got fed up and left... He is not alone.

Like the outside is all that logical?
     

Not Math Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086094)

If they simply forgot about "one or more of the 40,000 satellites orbiting Earth."

Oh, greeeaaaat. (4, Funny)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086096)

From TFA:

The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.


And thanks to little Nico, we now know that the likelihood of this happening is one thousand times greater than we thought.

Thanks, little buddy! You're a regular ray of sunshine.

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (5, Funny)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086124)

one hundred, do you by chance work at NASA? :P

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086198)

Ahhh... less than 30 years...

but then again who's counting!!! :}

Not you, the parent or NASA apparently.

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086420)

one hundred, do you by chance work at NASA? :P
Yes, and he's using the Imperial probability system, not the metric probability system.

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086300)

From TFA:

The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.


And thanks to little Nico, we now know that the likelihood of this happening is one thousand times greater than we thought.

Thanks, little buddy! You're a regular ray of sunshine.
Correction: one HUNDRED times greater.

--Another schoolboy

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (1)

mabersold (1171751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086410)

Looks like we'll need to assemble a ragtag team of oil drillers.

Re:Oh, greeeaaaat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086462)

Hopefully Bruce Willis will still be alive to save us.

Oblig. (4, Funny)

Alaren (682568) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086100)

Never tell me the odds!

Damn him! (4, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086108)

Little bastards gonna get us all killed!

Re:Damn him! (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086214)

Damn straight. I was happier not knowing. How am I supposed to sleep at night now? I'm going to lay awake for the next 21 years worrying.

Re:Damn him! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086444)

Righhht.... sure, Lord Apathy, we believe ya....

Re:Damn him! (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086336)

Now lets burn down the observatory so this can never happen again!

Impending doom (1, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086116)

I guess we might as well start an impendingdoom tag meme?

Re:Impending doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086166)

See you in 2037.

mod +funny +5informative -5flamebait net: +5 OMG WERE ALL GOING TO DIE!

oh shit! (1, Funny)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086118)

Not Good!!!

In other news... (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086122)

In other news, the sales of fallout shelters has dramatically increased within the past few days.

Re:In other news... (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086168)

fallout shelters won't help.

It would interesting if funding in SpaceX and the other alt-space companies went up as a result of this.

Rich people: get us off this rock.

all me (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086126)

i was about to submit the same corrections, but i was too busy making frist posts on /.

btw, frist post.

oh well.

But... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086140)

Maybe NASA performed their calculations in a vacuum...
Or maybe the kid did!

:)

Unix 1 - Humanity 0 (5, Funny)

rubypossum (693765) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086146)

And the 2038k problem solves itself, thus vindicating Ken Thompson and pessimists everywhere.

Re:Unix 1 - Humanity 0 (1)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086254)

What if this is his doing? I bet it is... let's kill him and see what that does for his precious "probability"!

Re:Unix 1 - Humanity 0 (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086316)

2038 years should be enough for anybody

Either NASA was using FORTRAN again... (4, Funny)

Theatetus (521747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086154)

...or they forgot to do the metric conversion. Again.

So..... (2, Interesting)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086164)

What's Plan B?

Giant laser? Kinetic kill vehicles?

Nuke it from orbit?

Re:So..... (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086188)

No, the plan is Harrison Ford.

Re:So..... (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086248)

Try sticking your head in between your legs and kissing your ass good bye. Well us old farts have one major advantage over you young nerds. We'll be to senile to give a fuck. Hell, for most of us it might be a mercy killing.

Plan B: GTFO (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086280)

GTFO!

Where's the math? (4, Interesting)

meatmanek (1062562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086172)

I want to see the math. What miscalculation did NASA make? Did they use centimeters instead of meters? Was it a simple math error? Did they use an incorrect statistic?

Why did the kid have access to this information?

Re:Where's the math? (0, Flamebait)

creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086206)

Or maybe German math education is better than American math education? I don't think the three R's are taught in American schools anymore.

Re:Where's the math? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086252)

You and your parent need to RTFA. The kid didn't find a math error. He found a conceptual error.

Re:Where's the math? (4, Funny)

fmarkham (1091529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086366)

The fourth R which is no longer taught is RTFAing

Re:Where's the math? (1)

crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086290)

I don't think the three R's are taught in American schools anymore.
Well, considering that only _one_ of the three R's ACTUALLY BEGINS WITH R, I think that's a good thing.

New 3 R's (0, Offtopic)

Free_Meson (706323) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086348)

I don't think the three R's are taught in American schools anymore.
Of course they are. The current administration just redefined them to better position the U.S. to compete in the post-2037 world:

1. Religion
2. Righteousness
3. Regressive taxation

Re:Where's the math? (4, Interesting)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086426)

IIRC - The last PISA study put Germany and the US next to each other in the math rankings - i.e. neither had any reason to brag.

Interestingly, this caused shock in Germany as Germans had regarded themselves as having one of the best education systems in the world. In the US, people are so used to the idea of having a shitty education system that it passed without notice.

Re:Where's the math? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086226)

He didn't really correct NASA. He only extended their prediction: NASA predicted, correctly, that the asteroid had a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting the earth in 2029. Nico pointed out, also correctly, apparently, that if the asteroid missed the earth but hit a satellite in 2029, then it would have a 1 in 450 chance of hitting the earth in 2036.

Re:Where's the math? (2, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086456)

I want to see the math. What miscalculation did NASA make? Did they use centimeters instead of meters? Was it a simple math error? Did they use an incorrect statistic? Why did the kid have access to this information?
Why wouldn't he have access to the info? Scientific data gets published. You know, so that other people can read it and check the results. And correct them if they're wrong. Like in this case (though as others have pointed out, it may be less of a correction and more of a clarification).

What I want to know... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086182)

...is if this asteroid can't even properly hit Earth, as big a target as it is, how the hell is it going to hit a satellite -- even if there are 40,000 of them?

If the entire increase in risk is due to this, that means he's basically giving this thing a 1 in 450 chance to hit a satellite. Somehow, I don't think so.

So if it does hit a sat will we know about it? (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086192)

And how long will it take to figure out if we're boned? 2 years? That leaves about 5 years to do something about it.. or, ya know, go on a long killing spree.

Dang (5, Funny)

mandolin (7248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086220)

I hope that kid won the science competition he was in!

"... and for my science project, I proved NASA wrong and made a discovery of potentially epic proportions..."

Kindof tough to follow that one.

Nonlinear optimization (2, Interesting)

LandruBek (792512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086384)

Maybe it's in the genes... [wikipedia.org]

there's no way this is true (3, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086224)

A 1 in 450 chance that this thing will hit an asteroid in the way that makes it MORE likely to hit Earth?

Hitting anything in space is like hitting a needle in a haystack. Actually, that's vastly understating it.

There better be an explanation of exactly what it is going to hit and how it will "improve" its trajectory.

Re:there's no way this is true (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086320)

Hitting anything in space is like hitting a needle with another needle from two hundred miles away.

Re:there's no way this is true (1)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086362)

Yes but hitting 1 of 1000+ items orbiting around a planet with a decent amount of gravity is a different matter once you already know an asteroid is going to be in the general vicinity.
Still having asteroid scares is a good way to increase space funding too.

Re:there's no way this is true (3, Insightful)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086416)

seriously ... BS detector is flashing red on this whole article.

But it does raise the point that apocalypse cults are best kept away from space tech.

no worries kid... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086228)

you'd have to be 340 years old to get hit by it...

OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086230)

if the many worlds theory is correct, this means that the earth in 1 out of every 450 parallel universes will have some sort of event. of course if theres infinite universes, then that is still a lot, but not as much than everything.

and it would be a lot less if it wasn't for this german asshole.

i have a feeling that i have a gross misunderstanding of all of this.

Hang on ... (5, Interesting)

attonitus (533238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086238)

... it will create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes ...
If this thing weighs 200 billion tonnes, it seems surprising that hitting a satellite is going to divert its course very significantly (unless that satellite is the moon). And:

NASA and Marquardt agree that ... [it] will crash into the Atlantic ocean
Ah, so there's only a 1 in 450 chance of it hitting earth, but we know which ocean it will land in if it does (7 years after it hits the satellite).

Next week: 13 year old boy discovers new chemical reaction in which a combination of scientifically illiterate PR bunnies and sub-editors produces large quantities of bullshit.

Re:Hang on ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086282)

Knowing how Earth moves in space, they simply had to look up which part of our planet would be facing the asteroid when it comes back.

Re:Hang on ... (4, Insightful)

attonitus (533238) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086388)

Right, but the asteroid has hit a satellite between now and then, a satellite which has, apparently, increased its chance of hitting earth from 1 in 45000 to 1 in 450, which means that its trajectory has changed fairly significantly. In particular, its orbital period has probably changed, which makes it seem unlikely that we can say anything accurate about an impact time 7 years later. There's only a four hour window to hit the Atlantic.

Not only that, but the Atlantic only covers one fifth [wikipedia.org] of the earth's surface, which means that even if, despite all the uncertainty, we knew exactly what time it would hit the earth, the Atlantic would cover at most about one half of the target. So I very much doubt that anyone who knows what they are doing would be prepared to "agree" that it will hit the Atlantic.

So I smell bullshit in the science lab. To be fair, it's possible that a bad translation from the original German article was required as a catalyst.

Re:Hang on ... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086306)

Next week: 13 year old boy discovers new chemical reaction in which a combination of scientifically illiterate PR bunnies and sub-editors produces large quantities of bullshit.

      This technology has been known since ancient Greece, and is applied routinely by politicians.

Hang on a minute (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086342)

Wait a minute, how will an asteroid create create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes?

Re:Hang on ... (2, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086386)

NASA and Marquardt agree that ... [it] will crash into the Atlantic ocean
Ah, so there's only a 1 in 450 chance of it hitting earth, but we know which ocean it will land in if it does (7 years after it hits the satellite).

Yes, actually, that's the easy part. We know very precisely when and from what direction it will be coming, the question is will it go left, right, or straight down the middle? (Metaphorically speaking... I don't know the details, for all I know we're above and to the left of the center track.)

Once you know when and what direction, you know which hemisphere. Once you account for projection distortion, that puts the odds as pretty good it lands in an area well less than half of the Earth's surface. Something the size of, say, the Atlantic Ocean.

Obligatory... (3, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086242)

I for one welcome our new German asteroid overlords.

DOUBLE OH-NOES!!! (4, Funny)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086256)

OH-NOES! Kurzweil predicted that sometime in the 2030s computers will be able to match human brains. Combined with this recent news, this means we have to worry about killer robot overlords AND killer asteroids ending the world! OH-NOES!

Re:DOUBLE OH-NOES!!! (4, Funny)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086374)

Don't worry; with the skies darkened, they will have no source of energy.
Oh, wait...

Better add Keannu Reaves to the 2029 roster.

I want to see NASA's acknowledgement he is right (4, Insightful)

MarkLR (236125) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086270)

This does not sound right. The article states that Apophis has a mass of 200 billion tonnes. How would colliding with a satellite which except for the ISS max out at about 20 tonnes do anything at all to Apophis' orbit? Forget the link to the wire story where is a link to NASA statement that the impact chance is really 1 in 450?

2029? no, try 2012... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086276)

I thought that Apophis was due for 2012 and will come between the moon and earth and may come so close it will come UNDER our satalites (hope the ISS isn't in the way).

2029 is the predicted return of comet swift, source of the persieds.
which was last predicted to show up in the late eighties but did not! It is also predicted to come very close to earth.
Its brother comet 9P-Tuttle came close enough to be visible to the naked eye on the second day of January 2008, Tuttle is responsible for the leonid asteroids which come into close proximity with the earth every year producing the anual leonid meteor showers.

If the Earth was to tangle with a comet, even a near miss there could be fireballs from the comets tail raining down from the sky over much of the earths surface introducing large quantities of unknown contaminants into the earths water.

Original article (5, Informative)

ulash (1266140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086304)

Here is the original article [www.bild.de] , in German, from the German newspaper. It looks like a professor helped him (Professor Spahn from Potsdam University). Bild is semi-infamous in Europe for sensationalizing stories but at least we know that the boy is real if nothing else...

Um, was this by any chance an April Fools paper? (5, Insightful)

TheMohel (143568) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086332)

Let's see. We begin with the original source of data, "telescopic observations." Good, but perhaps a bit, shall we say, lacking in nine-digit precision. Then we add the element of a bright schoolboy (always a favorite in the papers) doing something big and being validated (instantly!) by "NASA" (not a person, but apparently the entire agency). Oh, and "NASA" told "ESA", but we still don't have the identity of anyone other than the putative schoolboy.

So far, doing well.

Then we hit the big problems. First, we have the scare factor of "40,000" satellites surrounding Earth. Most of which, actually, are in LEO, with a few more in geosynchronous orbit. Which makes the space around the Earth only about 99.999% empty space, rather than a few more nines. As it turns out, space is big.

But it sounds good to imply that somehow there's this asteroid belt around the earth, and that the "killer" asteroid might hit a satellite.

Well, WHICH ONE? They have a lot of different masses, they are going in different directions, and we pretty much have to get a specific momentum change in the right direction in order to get just the right perturbation. Hitting a small piece of space junk is one thing, but the variation in weight of those "40,000" satellites is orders of magnitude. And that makes a big difference in orbital perturbation, even if the difference in orbital velocity is small compared to the velocity of the asteroid. We're talking about a subtle effect here.

And let's not figure in things like elastic collisions, off-center collisions, pieces flying off, or anything else. Nope, it's gonna happen perfectly, just like that seven-ball four-cushion bank shot we all can hit again and again.

Heck, they even called the pocket. Right into the Atlantic, after an orbit measuring in the decades. Now I will grant that the orbit is pretty well known, but again, that little "satellite assist" must be just precise as heck.

A nice touch gives us the "destroy both coasts and darken the world indefinitely." While it's good to be so certain, couldn't they be more specific about the method of destruction? Seeing as how they apparently know everything else, and all.

And finally, we have the 450:1 odds. Not 500:1, and certainly not 1000:1, but exactly 450. Cool. About as believable as my old homework excuses, but infinitely cooler. Can you say "significant figures"? I knew you could.

I think it's what you get when you let AFP (my source of news of the world for sure) loose in spring.

Re:Um, was this by any chance an April Fools paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086418)

04.04.2008

dated by the Germanian article:
http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/2008/04/04/ich-hab-den/weltuntergang-ausgerechnet.html

No april fools, but still room for skepticism.

Re:Um, was this by any chance an April Fools paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086432)

Can someone mod parent as troll?

Geez, way to take the fun out of it...

Re:Um, was this by any chance an April Fools paper (2, Interesting)

GalacticLordXenu (1195057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086438)

May I add that NASA, at least currently, doesn't even mention this? http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/apophis/ [nasa.gov] Where do they get this info, if this isn't anywhere on NASA?

Re:Um, was this by any chance an April Fools paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086474)

not to mention if a tiny satellite can change the orbit of this thing to hit the Earth, surely another one can be lined up to deflect it AWAY from Earth. Problem solved. Wheres my news article?

There is no spoon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086334)

Perhaps by believing alone, that there is a 1 in 450 chance f it happening, we have condemned ourselves to living with those odds.

If we fail, at least I can tell all my friends I witnessed the apocalypse.

In other news... (4, Funny)

kpainter (901021) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086346)

NASA has plan to deal with killer satellite by 2054.

200 Billion Tons of (mostly) Iron?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23086372)

What would it take to get that baby locked into an orbit with us, and then melt it down with mirrors? A space foundry might actually promote our desire for progress.

And we wonder why US companies outsource. (-1, Flamebait)

Prisoner's Dilemma (1268306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086390)

And we wonder why US companies outsource.

wrong wrong WRONG (1, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086430)

Here's a little detail to add to it. None of the satellites we'll be using in 2029 when it passes are in space right now cuz the recommended lifespan of satellites is like 8-12 years or something. Oh and if it hits a satellite, it can be deflected ANY direction depending on where it gets hit. Anyone ever played pool before? That alone puts it to about on in a trillion. And then we don't know if that new path will cause it to collide with another object in the solar system during its huge orbit which would deflect it nowhere near us. We could just barely put together some remotely accurate numbers if we knew the speed and direction of every object and know every particle and force in our solar system plus a map of all the gravitional forces caused by them the entire time. Nasa and the german kid are kidding themselves if they think that either of their guesses is accurate.

Hollywood (5, Funny)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086440)

And now Hollywood can turn the German boy into an American boy, chuck the complex math for a backyard telescope, name the asteriod after the boy, throw in a baby to add drama and get Morgan Freeman to play the President... Oh wait... ...never mind.

That's it... (3, Funny)

FoolsGold (1139759) | more than 6 years ago | (#23086448)

We're all gonna die!

I bet by the time 2036 hits, stats will how it's now without a doubt, the year of Linux on the desktop. But it won't matter cos we'll be dead. Wouldn't that be a kick in the balls.
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