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A Hyper-Velocity Impact In the Asteroid Belt?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-played-that-game dept.

Space 114

astroengine writes "Astronomers have spotted something rather odd in the asteroid belt. It looks like a comet, but it's got a circular orbit, similar to an asteroid. Whether it's an asteroid or a comet, it has a long, comet-like tail, suggesting something is being vented into space. Some experts think it could be a very rare comet/asteroid hybrid being heated by the sun, but there's an even more exciting possibility: It could be the first ever observation of two asteroids colliding in the asteroid belt."

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114 comments

Its Chang (0)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819700)

Spock: Gas! Gas Captain.

Re:Its Chang (0)

Zarf (5735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819800)

First time I heard that line I thought he was complaining about the beans.

Re:Its Chang (0)

CTalkobt (81900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820110)

This is the first time I've heard it (or remember hearing it more likely) ... it sounded to me like he was asking for the Captain to be killed. (Wouldn't Spock be a fun character on Dexter turning into a homicidal vulcan psychopath? )

Re:Its Chang (0)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820500)

(Wouldn't Spock be a fun character on Dexter turning into a homicidal vulcan psychopath? )

[Excerpt from police interview]
Spock:
The captain has been bossing me around for years, putting me in harms way, and worst of all, trying to evoke responses from my human side... It was only logical that I put an end to this madness.

Re:Its Chang (2, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822828)

(Wouldn't Spock be a fun character on Dexter turning into a homicidal vulcan psychopath? )

Well, considering the new Spock is played by the guy who plays Sylar... not much of a stretch of the imagination at all.

Re:Its Chang (0, Offtopic)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30825094)

First time I heard that line I thought he was complaining about the beans.

Suit yourself, but somehow I enjoy thinking it's all about the heapin' helpin' of garbanzos Spock scoops up in the Enterprise cafeteria's salad bar. Vulcans just can't get enough of that Terran delicacy, smothered in Thousand Island dressing and a thick crust of black pepper. The first time Uhura and Sulu saw Spock doing that, they were like "whoa!", while Chekov was like "ay yay yay!".
Scotty grimaced, stole a quick gulp of whiskey from his flask masquerading as a phaser, and breathed out with a slow whistle.

An outraged Bones approached Spock at his table and said "Are you out of your Vulcan mind, you green blooded bastard? Do you have any idea of the discomfort you are putting your fellow crewmembers on the bridge in?" Spock slowly turned and replied "It is my understanding, Doctor, that the Enterprise's ventilation system is quite adequate at handling any situation that may arise from my culinary preferences".
"Well at least take these chewable tablets, then". "I will do no such thing, Doctor. It is not the Vulcan way".

Kirk was amused no end, silently pondering his secret enjoyment of Spock's emissions while scanning for the outraged faces of the bridge crew. But more than anything, the sadistic Kirk relished sending redshirts to fetch Spock in his quarters. You know, Kirk's idea of a dutch oven is to get Spock alone in the Enterprise elevator, down and sideways to the hangar and back again, that sick fuck.

Re:Its Chang (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30825302)

Scotty grimaced, stole a quick gulp of whiskey from his flask

That would be whisky.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820122)

It's Nibiru and the Anunnaki are going to conquer Earth on Dec 21, 2012!

Who was driving? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30819808)

A collision between asteroids? Who wants to bet a woman was driving one of them?

Re:Who was driving? (2, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819934)

Your cowardly anonymization brings to light the heart of the matter, does one want to admit to being the one that called out the women drivers of the world?

Regardless, you should feel safe on slashdot.

Re:Who was driving? (1, Funny)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820416)

does one want to admit to being the one that called out the women drivers of the world

Well, yes. My girlfriend and wife both agree that woman are terrible drivers, hence I do all the driving on any trip.

Re:Who was driving? (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820980)

My girlfriend and wife both agree that woman are terrible drivers, hence I do all the driving on any trip.

That's funny, the last time I was with your wife and girlfriend they did all the driving, if ya know what I mean...... ;)

Re:Who was driving? (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821040)

Hmmm ... read "soon-to-be-exwife" :-)

Girlfiend (not a typo) doesn't like me referring to the other "her" as wife anymore either :-)

Re:Who was driving? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823594)

They pegged you?

Re:Who was driving? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823854)

And your ass is still sore from their big rubber “drivers”? ;)

Re:Who was driving? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821172)

"My girlfriend and wife both agree that woman are terrible drivers, hence I do all the driving on any trip."

I doubt you have both a girlfriend *AND* a wife seeing as you are Slashdot.

Either way, though, this is really just a ploy for them to nap while you drive all 12 hours of the trip. It's not agreeing, it's manipulation.

Re:Who was driving? (2, Insightful)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821244)

Sadly I do (see my other post) ... funnily enough when I was single I looked at all those guys with more than one woman and thought "Man, I wish I had their problems"...

I now look at all those guys with no woman and think the very same thing

Re:Who was driving? (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823782)

I doubt you have both a girlfriend *AND* a wife seeing as you are Slashdot.

Shouldn't that have been:

"I doubt you have both a girlfriend *OR* a wife seeing as you are Slashdot"?

Re:Who was driving? (2, Funny)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30825328)

Anything goes in Second Life!

Re:Who was driving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820420)

Well at least his statement is statistically accurate.

Statistically, women are far worse drivers than men but typically result in minor repairs. Statistically, when men have accidents, they are far more violent and more commonly result in serious injury, death, and/or large repair bills.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820776)

It probably goes without saying that small accidents are more common than large ones. If women have more accidents in general, of course the number of small accidents is larger. You can only say "typically" like that because the numbers are so skewed. It has no bearing.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821568)

That's because they drive slow, as well as erratically. Men drive fast to get to their destination, and occasionally fail to avoid the women who left early for their destination. :-)

Re:Who was driving? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30821062)

Quick disclaimer: I am a female, and I'm not trying to be judgmental or give off a feminist frame of mind.
Observing sometimes as a pedestrian, I think women are far less likely to yeild than men. It's my theory that this is in part because in the back of a woman's brain there's this precedent set by manners--people hold doors open for women to go first all the time. Also, women are more social, so when they're driving, their minds are far more likely to be thinking about people, where they are going, when they will get home, all of that, and not so much thinking about actually driving.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30825756)

Quick disclaimer: I am a female, and I'm not trying to be judgmental or give off a feminist frame of mind.
Observing sometimes as a pedestrian, I think women are far less likely to yeild than men. It's my theory that this is in part because in the back of a woman's brain there's this precedent set by manners--people hold doors open for women to go first all the time. Also, women are more social, so when they're driving, their minds are far more likely to be thinking about people, where they are going, when they will get home, all of that, and not so much thinking about actually driving.

Or they're just too busy yappin' on their damn cell phones.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

rhendershot (46429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826900)

I think women are far less likely to yield than men. --[men] hold doors open for women to go first all the time.

wow. that's an oblique way to blame the men again! ;)

Re:Who was driving? (1)

jackalope (99754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820670)

A collision between asteroids? Who wants to bet a woman was driving one of them?

According to this recent article, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=pregnant-brain-as-racecar [scientificamerican.com] , they (at least the pregnant or postpartum) have a lot more on their minds than us simple menfolk.

Re:Who was driving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820810)

If the brain becomes better at something simply through hormonal changes, you would think there's something it becomes worse at at the same time. Apparently not for women who transcend these conventional stereotypes.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821094)

If the brain becomes better at something simply through hormonal changes, you would think there's something it becomes worse at at the same time. Apparently not for women who transcend these conventional stereotypes.

From the referenced article: "The hormones do have a downside. Some new mothers suffer from depression and in rare cases, even psychosis. Research at Tufts University and elsewhere suggests some potential animal models and endocrinological mechanisms for postpartum mental distress, broadly defined. It suggests that hormones are to blame: an acute pull-back, addict-like, from the rich concentrations of steroids that characterize pregnancy may play a role in the severity of postpartum reactions."

Add to that classic male mental strengths of spatial relationships, detail, and attention focus and you do get a more balanced picture. But it's all averages, it tells us nothing about any specific man or woman.

Re:Who was driving? (1)

jackalope (99754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821188)

Thankfully, the brain growth does not seem to be a zero-sum game. Meaning, that one does not gain in one area at the expense of another.

Re:Who was driving? (2, Funny)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822048)

All asteriods could be women, up until now no asteroid has been seen venting gas.

Re:Who was driving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30825596)

All asteriods could be women, up until now no asteroid has been seen venting gas.

Be careful now, as you know, the revenge of an insulted woman once resulted in a fiery death to all dinosaurs.

Or, maybe... (0)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819832)

The Alpha Centari battlestar is venting waste prior to invasion...

Re:Or, maybe... (2, Interesting)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819858)

For the love of god... somebody kick these nerds asses!

Re:Or, maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30819942)

You mean the Marcabian Invasion Fleet? XD

Of course commanded by Overlord Xenu.

SCNR

Re:Or, maybe... (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 4 years ago | (#30824030)

You're close, this is exactly how the movie Armageddon starts
A comet roaring through the asteroid belt knocks loose a chunk the size of texas and sends it hurdling towards earth

Anybody got the phone number of Bruce Willis?

Re:Or, maybe... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827532)

The Alpha Centari battlestar is venting waste prior to invasion...

Nonsense, we've been at peace with the Centari since 1947. They wouldn't dare invade now.

Asteroids boring? (3, Funny)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819876)

They don't generally collide!? What about when the Millenium Falcon hid in one? Does that mean the Empire Strikes Back was all made up? Next thing you're going to tell me that there aren't giant space eels living in the bigger rocks. (Places fingers in ears and sings loudly Star Wars theme song)

Re:Asteroids boring? (1, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820192)

Relax! That was Long Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. Our asteroid belt is boring, with every rock more or less tidally locked to each other. Their asteroid belt is dynamic and exciting, and filled with hungry, hungry space eels.

Re:Asteroids boring? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820426)

Also the force of gravity used to be much less extreme, even at close distances, so our asteroid field is actually much more sparse, otherwise it would quickly coalesce into a planet.

Monty ref (2, Funny)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820536)

Their asteroid belt is dynamic and exciting, and filled with hungry, hungarian space eels in hovercrafts!

Re:Asteroids boring? (3, Interesting)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822400)

Our asteroid belt is boring, with every rock more or less tidally locked to each other.

It's also a lot sparser than a lot of people realize--enormously more empty than any representation you see on film, TV or video games. You could fly through it and never see an asteroid with the naked eye except as a point of light.

to heck with the star wars vernacular (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820474)

can you possibly understand what grave implications this has in store for superman? the kryptonite is coming!

Re:Asteroids boring? (0)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820532)

Wrong Galaxy! It's the RDA ship co0ming back from Pandora. They picked a different time in the continuum to plot a new strategy for taking unobtanium from the Na'vi.

Re:Asteroids boring? (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820808)

-1 Unfunny Avatar reference.

Re:Asteroids boring? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821448)

Here's a copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Art Carney ROCKS!

Missed Solution (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819898)

They just should have slammed down the 'Hyperspace' button...sigh...

Re:Missed Solution (1)

zztong (36596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821886)

You're right, plus the article doesn't make any sense. Asteroids just pass through one another.

If it's a result of a collision... (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819930)

What way did the other one go? Time to call Bruce Willis, methinks.

Re:If it's a result of a collision... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820160)

If the observed one keeps doing a circular orbit, then probably the other didnt had mass enough to move it, so probably is small enough to not worry about it, even if by extremely low odds is coming here.

Re:If it's a result of a collision... (1)

PGOER (1333025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822996)

I think we should call Harrison Ford and Aerosmith.

Damn you spaceballs! (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30819980)

Silly spaceballs and their ludacris speed foiling our scientists and their methods.

Re:Damn you spaceballs! (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821254)

Silly spaceballs and their ludacris speed foiling our scientists and their methods

They've gone bling!

Re:Damn you spaceballs! (1)

MisterZimbu (302338) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822042)

Please never spell "ludicrous" like that again.

Like a big pool table.... (1)

Fbelch (9658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820000)

So... did this collision send anything in our direction?

Lateral spray (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820074)

Seems to me that an asteroid collision would most likely produce lateral debris spray that would be more tangential to the orbit than perpendicular to it.

Re:Lateral spray (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30821426)

The tail isn't a debris spray. It's a spray of sublimating ice that was recently exposed by an impact, but had previously been covered by less volatile material.

Okayy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820096)

So what they are saying is comets usually orbit from the Oort cloud to the sun and back out again, while asteroids "usually" have a circular orbit as they are the left over bits from the solar systems creation and/or the by products of previous collisions between other asteroids. So there must be Nothing else flying around out there that may have both these characteristics?Nothing to see here, move along..

Re:Okayy.. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820234)

Maybe they've got some sort of exchange program running?

Why there's a difference. (5, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820262)

There's a reason you don't normally see icy bodies in circular orbits in the asteroid belt: they'd be blown clean of the ice within a fairly short period of time, astronomically speaking. that's what the tail consists of, dust embedded in the ice being released as the ice sublimes. Which means that the ice here has to have been exposed fairly recently.

The Goa'uld are trying to kill us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820186)

The Goa'uld are trying to kill us

The Aliens are coming (1)

ommos (1643271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820190)

It could also be that a spaceship has arrived in our solar system and they are using the asteroid belt to decelerate...

Re:The Aliens are coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820214)

Don't worry they only came for Pizza.

Re:The Aliens are coming (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821232)

And fissionables to wash down the pizza.

Re:The Aliens are coming (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821492)

Well, Domino's does have a new crust.....

My insurance premium is going to kill me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30821402)

I forgot where I parked my ship, and now some idiot has ran into it... again!
My insurance agent has no sense of humor. (Or sense of smell for that matter.)
Guess I'll have to cut my anthropological survey of indigenous primitives short to deal with this. =:-(

(Hey! You with the butterfly net, just calm down and take a seat, it's a joke. Yes, that's right, a joke, much like you. Only humans and really good chat-bots ever post to slashdot.)

Even more exciting possibility! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820290)

If the scientists are coming up with such dull scenarios, how can they motivate the youngsters into science?

It is well known that when rebels jump into hyperspace to escape the pursuing imperial battle cruisers, they might pop out in an asteroid belt. But most people think it is always possible to negotiate the craft around it and escape. Such false notions are strengthened by reports of more manuevrable craft deliberately entering asteroid belts to escape pursuit. But they don't always succeed and they might actually collide with an asteroid. The danger has always been there.

Also there is an even more exciting possibility of cave dwelling gigantic worms that live in these asteroids might once in a while actually close their mouths well in time to trap the unwary spacecraft and digest the contents. The by products of such digestion are usually ejected with high velocity and can be seen for millions of miles. True Story.

SHI!T!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30820320)

Whether you DOG THAT IT mIS. IT

Hyper-Velocity (0)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820404)

What exactly do they mean by hyper-velocity? Are we witnessing a collision between two objects whose velocities add up to more than the speed of light? Eg. one coming in from the left at 3/4c and one coming in from the left at 3/4c.

Re:Hyper-Velocity (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820612)

What exactly do they mean by hyper-velocity?

It's exponentially more than extreme velocity.

Re:Hyper-Velocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30821068)

Isn't there always a frame of reference in which two objects' velocities add up to more than the speed of light? Unless they're completely stationary relative to each other...

If not (I'm just guessing), what velocity would they have to have relative to each other in order for there to be any frame of reference in which v1+v2>c?

Re:Hyper-Velocity (3, Informative)

Convector (897502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822182)

Only in Newtonian mechanics. However, if the objects' velocities are so fast that they would sum to more than the speed of light, then you need to use relativity. In no reference frame does the velocity of one relative to the other exceed c. I'm afraid I'm too lazy to look up the formula. The shelf with all my physics books on it must be 10 feet away from me (although at 0.8c it's only 6 feet).

Re:Hyper-Velocity (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826924)

>>However, if the objects' velocities are so fast that they would sum to more than the speed of light, then you need to use relativity.

Mr. Pedantic: You always have to use relativity, not just when combined vectors exceed c. Realistically, of course, you only have to start worrying about it when velocity starts exceeding some sizeable fraction of c (but still well before > c in Newtonian physics).

Re:Hyper-Velocity (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821924)

Okay. Apparently hypervelocity [wikipedia.org] is an actual astronomy and/or material sciences term:

The term hypervelocity usually refers to a very high velocity, approximately over 3,000 meters per second (6,700 mph, 11,000 km/h, 10,000 ft/s, or Mach 8.8). In particular, it refers to velocities so high that the strength of materials upon impact is very small compared to inertial stresses. Thus, even metals behave like fluids under hypervelocity impact. Extreme hypervelocity results in vaporization of the impactor and target.

Re:Hyper-Velocity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30822866)

OK it's been almost an hour and not even one "+1 Informative" mod for a post that concisely answered a question about the article. Are all the people with mod points over at the Wii story or just totally against any post that uses Wikipeadia as a link?

Imprecise calculations from the navicomputer? (1)

jzarling (600712) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820414)

Han said ..."Without precise calculations... we'd fly right through a star, bounce too close to a supernova, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?"

Re:Imprecise calculations from the navicomputer? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820572)

Silly, the Na'vi don't have computers. They have all of nature as a network.

Re:Imprecise calculations from the navicomputer? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822318)

Wait a minute, that's not right. Navi *is* a computer.

"Hello, Navi."

A complete sentence? (0, Flamebait)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820448)

Subby, what the fuck is so hard about forming a complete sentence? If you're going to resort to a lame ass question headline, could you at least make it a question that ASKS SOMETHING?

Re:A complete sentence? (2, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822292)

Humans are good at context recognition. We can often gather information when data is missing or incomplete as much of human speech is effectively redundant. Thus, we can often complete a . In this case, the incomplete sentence made the headline shorter and made it very clear what was being communicated. The headline communicated that there may have been an asteroid collision but that scientists were very unsure. Headlines frequently use sentence fragments so we can quickly scan over them and see if we are interested. Newspapers have been doing this for some time. Indeed, many famous headlines are only one or two words.

Does it happen (3, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820490)

Does it happen to look like a Big Boy statue? Maybe it's Dr. Evil coming back.

I for one welcome our gas venting overlords! (1, Redundant)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820726)

What?! Someone was going to do this sooner or later... Don't kill the messenger!

Re:I for one welcome our gas venting overlords! (1)

Convector (897502) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822244)

No, MESSENGER [jhuapl.edu] is going into orbit around Mercury next year.

How is that more exciting? (2, Insightful)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820784)

How is an asteroid collision more exciting than some kind of funky, very rare asteroid/comet hybrid?

Re:How is that more exciting? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30824532)

As a kid, which was more fun - a rock that looked different from other rocks, or smashing a big rock on an even bigger rock?

Adults are just big children. Collisions may not be more interesting, but they'll always be more exciting.

We need an asteroid in the face, folks. (5, Insightful)

FreakerSFX (256894) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820930)

Seriously...not anything big but something Tunguska sized would do, especially over a moderately populated area.

We spend peanuts on detecting potential collisions that could be the cause of the next extinction event. Mark my words, there'll be more money spent on earthquake analysis for Haiti and other "sensational" causes than will be spent on detecting PHOs (potentially hazardous objects) in the next 10 years. I am not denigrating the need to spend money on Haiti - that's a tragedy for sure - but when you look at how reactive we are with public money (New Orleans, anyone? Despite warnings, no one saw this coming?) when a much smaller amount spent up-front would potentially save not just a lot more lives but a lot more money....if better building codes had been in force in Haiti - how many more people would have survived? How much money would have been saved?

I despair for our race. If we saw a dinosaur killer coming and had a program in place already we could probably survive it. Asteroids move slowly but are heavy and require a lot of time/energy to deflect so we would see them early and be able to react...comets move much, much faster but are lighter so presumably if we had the detection gear and a few mass drivers in space already, we could deal with it in a safe time frame.

So give us our Haiti or Katrina from space, please. Make it hurt but not too much - just enough to wake up the people handing out government cash.

Re:We need an asteroid in the face, folks. (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821512)

Make it fall on the people handing out goverment cash, the irony would not go unnoticed among their replacements.

Priorities are a function of Probabilities (4, Informative)

Orne (144925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821696)

Scenario 1: Asteroid strike. I defer to NASA JPL [nasa.gov] , the Tunguska event (100-meter class = ~ 15 mil tons TNT) asteroid occurs once or twice / 1000 years. A 1000-meter class is 1 in 15 million years. An 8000-meter class (dinosaur killer) is 1 in 50-100 million years.

Scenario 2: Earthquake. San Francisco [usgs.gov] has an annual forecast of earthquake probabilities, and they predict a 68% probability of a 6.7 Magnitude or greater in the next 30 years. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] gives a probability scale for earthquakes, where a Magnitude 7 (similar to what struke Haiti) occurs 18 / year. A single 6.7 earthquake (P = 120/year) is equivalent to 16 kilotons of energy, or about 1 Tungaska event (P = 0.004/year).

Given the disparity in the probability of asteroid strikes (on populated areas, no less) vs earthquakes, it should be no surprise that the world governments believe money is better spent on earthquake prediction and evacuation relief, not on asteroid strike detection. The "bang for the buck" is clearly higher in earthquake spending.

Re:Priorities are a function of Probabilities (3, Insightful)

FreakerSFX (256894) | more than 4 years ago | (#30822878)

From an open letter to congress, here:

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=9866 [spaceref.com]

"We cannot rely on statistics alone to protect us from catastrophe; such a strategy is like refusing to buy fire insurance because blazes are infrequent. Our country simply cannot afford to wait for the first modern occurrence of a devastating NEO impact before taking steps to adequately address this threat. We may not have the luxury of a second chance, for time is not necessarily on our side. If we do not act now, and we subsequently learn too late of an impending collision against which we cannot defend, it will not matter who should have moved to prevent the catastrophe . . . only that they failed to do so when they had the opportunity to prevent it. "

We do have the technology. We do have the money. We have a moral obligation to our species to protect it.

Re:Priorities are a function of Probabilities (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823470)

Given the disparity in the probability of asteroid strikes (on populated areas, no less) vs earthquakes, it should be no surprise that the world governments believe money is better spent on earthquake prediction and evacuation relief, not on asteroid strike detection. The "bang for the buck" is clearly higher in earthquake spending.

1. An earthquake affects a relatively small population.

2. A single dinosaur killer could wipe out humanity.

3. Probability for all these events approaches 1 as time goes on.

In light of the above your "bang for buck" argument is silly. It's like counting the pennies while sitting on the railroad track with your back turned to a huge locomotive with blaring sirens that's about to hit you at 100km/hr and arguing that it costs too much to turn around and look at how close it is, never mind get off your ass and out of the way of the train.

Re:Priorities are a function of Probabilities (1)

phliar (87116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30824146)

And what exactly do you suppose we puny humans can do about that "huge locomotive with blaring sirens that's about to hit [us]"? We can neither deflect the "locomotive" (your "dinosaur killer"), nor can we get out of the way (move the whole planet).

Not like there's anything we can do about preventing earthquakes either.

But even if we had the ability, do we have the wherewithal to actually do anything about either asteroids or earthquakes? We're demonstrating how good we are about ignoring the future and playing ostrich, just look at the prospects for our petroleum-happy way of life.

Re:Priorities are a function of Probabilities (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30826646)

And what exactly do you suppose we puny humans can do about that "huge locomotive with blaring sirens that's about to hit [us]"? We can neither deflect the "locomotive" (your "dinosaur killer"), nor can we get out of the way (move the whole planet).

We can't deflect it in the stupid way portrayed in movies, but we may well be able to change it's trajectory. How do we know? Have we spent any significant time or resources trying to find a way? Your defeatist attitude is awful, and we'd never have survived as a species if we'd all been that way from the start.

Re:Priorities are a function of Probabilities (1)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30827322)

I don't think the "bang for your buck" argument is silly because it's an incredibly common fallacy that no doubt affects the people making the decisions as well. The fact that it's fallacious makes it no less a motivating factor for those who control our money.

Probably not (5, Funny)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30820956)

Everyone knows the asteroids pass right through each other. It's either been shot or it has collided with a ship.

Honestly, what kind of education are scientists getting these days?

Re:Probably not (1, Informative)

Rick Genter (315800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823640)

Those who moderated the parent "Insightful" should be meta-moderated as either "Clueless" or "Humorless".

Re:Probably not (2, Insightful)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30825798)

The mods sometimes do mod a good joke "Informative" or "Insightful" to add more fun to it, in this case suggesting the classic Asteroids game physics were real. I'm not sure who is "Clueless" or "Humorless" in this case.

Two asteroids colliding (2, Informative)

xupere (1680472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30821792)

Well, where do you think baby asteroids come from?

A video of it happening! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30823964)

Someone achieved to capture it on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZfsnA7dAHI [youtube.com]
Unbelievable. I wonder what that thing in the middle is...

Re:A video of it happening! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30826506)

Whow, you can clearly see signs of alien interaction in the center of the video !

Last stop! (1)

docwatson223 (986360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30824272)

I wonder if it's something braking before it gets into the inner planets...
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