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No, the Earth (almost Certainly) Won't Be Hit By an Asteroid In 2032

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the too-late,-already-panicked dept.

Space 142

The Bad Astronomer writes "Last week, astronomers discovered 2013 TV135, a 400-meter wide asteroid that will swing by the Earth in 2032. The odds of an impact at that time are incredibly low — in fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%! But that hasn't stopped some venues from playing up the apocalypse angle. Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop. We can breathe easy over this particular asteroid."

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well... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167213)

...that's until the U.S.'s tolerance of gay marriage changes its trajectory.

Hey Mods! (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#45167347)

...that's until the U.S.'s tolerance of gay marriage changes its trajectory.

I'm not sure why this was down modded. I actually got a chuckle out of it personally.

Re:Hey Mods! (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45167527)

Because a thought crime was committed, citizen. The mere mention of certain words is no longer accepted, especially any pertaining to race, religion, or sexual orientation. Welcome to the future. Now please perform crimestop.

Re:Hey Mods! (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45167985)

It was modded off topic according to the history. Some mod was mad that we weren't taking "We probably aren't all going to die in 2032" seriously, or at least not directly discussing it.

I, for one, am glad that if I am smooshed by a big rock in 2032, odds are around 99.99998% that it will be a big terrestrial rock and not a space rock. Perhaps slightly lower given that there are other space rocks out there which could fall on me.

There, anonymous troll mod, are you happy?

Re:well... (1)

adamstew (909658) | about a year ago | (#45167905)

undoing mod. It was funny, not overrated.

Re:well... (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | about a year ago | (#45168069)

I think your comment just undid your undoing of the aforementioned mod.

Sure, you say that now... (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | about a year ago | (#45167223)

But how do we know you aren't preparing for a quick bug out when its only a month away? I've seen 2012, I know how this stuff works!!

Re:Sure, you say that now... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45169057)

Protip Tiger, we all saw 2012 and we all woke up December 26 2012 didn't we?

Let's also not forget Y2K.

We all survived that didn't we?

All throughout history each generation preaches the end is nigh.

Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167251)

Being such a huge failure in my life I would definetely welcome an asteroid

Re:Too bad (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#45167483)

You don't think you'll be able to turn it around in 20 years?

Re:Too bad (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167599)

You don't think you'll be able to turn it around in 20 years?

Not likely. Have you SEEN the turning radius on an asteroid?

Re:Too bad (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45169069)

It took Red Dwarf 4000 years to make a U-turn.

Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167617)

You don't think you'll be able to turn it around in 20 years?

Not with this Congress..

Re:Too bad (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#45168005)

You don't think you'll be able to turn it around in 20 years?

Not with this Congress..

With this Congress, the best thing that could happen to the planet would be a direct impact on Capitol Hill!

Re:Too bad (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45169081)

Nice, place the blame on Congress but leave the DICKtater Obama alone.

Statistics (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45167261)

In fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%

Since the odds of any asteroid of a city-destroying size or larger only hit the Earth every 5,000 years or so... this particular asteroid's odds are 36.5 times better than the average one's.

Re:Statistics (1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#45167815)

In fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%

Since the odds of any asteroid of a city-destroying size or larger only hit the Earth every 5,000 years or so... this particular asteroid's odds are 36.5 times better than the average one's.

We've had cities for 5,000 years. How many have been destroyed by asteroids?

None. Overdue for one dont-ya-think?

Re:Statistics (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#45167967)

None.

That we know of.

Like a large, isolated city that just disappeared. And stories were written how it sank under the water...

Re:Your Sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168263)

What's the other kind of person? Huh? WHAT'S THE OTHER KIND, DAMN YOU?

Re:Your Sig (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45169109)

The second kind is apparently ADD from poster not finishing their sig.

Re:Statistics (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45168023)

not really, three percent of the earth land is covered by cities. but that is of 29% of earth covered by land. We'll thus probably go for hundreds of thousands of years before a city gets hit by "city-destroying" asteroid. boring.

Re:Statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168231)

Cities only cover a tiny fraction of the earths surface. We've been hit by at least one city-destroying asteroid within fairly recent history. The Tunguska event, which was a little over a hundred years ago, was on the order of 10 MT. I would put that firmly in the city-destroying category.

Re:Statistics (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45168973)

None. Overdue for one dont-ya-think?

No. If you roll a six-sided die and you roll five 1s in a row, what's the odds that the sixth roll you make will be a 1? 1 in 6. What you're doing here is called the Gambler's Fallacy.

Re:Statistics (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#45169095)

I know that game destroyed my spare change when it came out, I'm sure it could have impacted a few cities.

Just for that I'm going to the Kaiper Belt (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45167273)

If you tell me that there's going to be no asteroid, then I'll just go up and make one hit the Earth, just to spite you.

You'll know it by the blinky LED lights I'll have on it that will spell out "2032 suckers!" in bright red and green lights.

2 in 10 million... (3, Funny)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45167279)

99.99998% miss from extinction-level objects means that, on average, they kill a mere 1,400 people.

Re:2 in 10 million... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167361)

1,400! That's half a 9/11! Quick, start spying on our citizens and molesting old ladies at the airport!

Re:2 in 10 million... (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45167579)

Heh by 2032 the only one allowed to do any traveling at all will be the asteroid.

Re:2 in 10 million... (1)

CreatureComfort (741652) | about a year ago | (#45168763)

But it will still have to submit to being groped by the TSA before conducting its terrorist assault.

Re:2 in 10 million... (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about a year ago | (#45168369)

After an error was corrected in TFA, the asteroid is now expected to kill well over 100 000 people. The trend is certainly worrying.

What astronomers are missing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167309)

the whole human element. What is the one thing that can change that 99.99998% to 1% or lower? Humans. The same people who thought that there would be no way that 18 humans would kill themselves by flying planes into buildings are the same people who think that there is absolutely no way that humans would do the same thing. The way I see it is the ultimate "suicide bomber" is just a step around the corner.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#45167557)

If someone has the resources to shift the orbit of an asteroid sufficiently to cause an impact, there are tons of other things they could be spending those resources on that would be much more destructive, and much more immediate.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45167623)

If someone has the resources to shift the orbit of an asteroid sufficiently to cause an impact, there are tons of other things they could be spending those resources on that would be much more destructive, and much more immediate.

Yes, but shifting an asteroid is way more fun.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167933)

It is all a part of my diabolical master plan!

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year ago | (#45168153)

In a perverse way, you have a good point. If you have the money to move this thing, you have the money to do it any number of ways much more cheeply than slamming an asteroid into the planet would be.

But if you're going to end all life on the surface of the planet anyway, who cares how expensive it is? Might as well have some fun with it.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45168381)

I'm using credit cards and default swaps from people in the target zone.

I figure they'll never collect anyway.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167647)

If you really think that 9/11 is the first instance of someone crashing planes on buildings, you are highly delusional. Many countries have laws that forbid commercial flights over populated cities for that exact reason (plus the increased risk of an accident).

Just one example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-25_Empire_State_Building_crash

Captcha: imminent

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167849)

Who said it was the first, you glue-sniffer?

Captcha: go fuck yourself.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45167931)

First, your B-25 example was an accident. While the pilots where not where they should have been at that altitude, they certainly didn't intend to hit the building. 9/11 was decidedly done on purpose.

Second, in the US, there are flight restrictions about flying over populated areas (buildings and such) but the restriction is about how high above such areas you have to stay. Generally, there are no flight restrictions over urban areas or cities as long as you stay high enough. Large cities do tend to have large airports and large airports tend to have restricted airspace around them, but those are about the airport and not the all the people on the ground. Just keep the minimum height and you are golden.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167665)

Do you have any idea of what would be involved? What do you think, that the bad guys (or the good ones, at that) have Star Trek-level technology? Methinks that you would do well to learn some physics and engineering.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (3, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#45168251)

Do you have any idea of what would be involved? What do you think, that the bad guys (or the good ones, at that) have Star Trek-level technology? Methinks that you would do well to learn some physics and engineering.

Just change the gravitational constant of the universe.

Re:What astronomers are missing is... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about a year ago | (#45168609)

And eat 10 chocolate sundaes. Can't forget that part.

Probability gobbledygook. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year ago | (#45167315)

Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop.

This makes no sense. If "the chance of an impact will certainly drop", one might as well lower the quoted chance now.

In fact, if the quoted chance is the best we have right now, there's roughly a 99.99998% chance that the quoted probability will reduce over time. And a 0.00002% chance that it will increase. That's not certain, it's just probable.

Re:Probability gobbledygook. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#45167795)

over 5 orders of magnitude is as close to "almost certain" as science gets.

Re:Probability gobbledygook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168141)

Really? I don't know, the origin of life seems to be nearly impossible to me then.

Re:Probability gobbledygook. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#45168361)

So? Nearly impossible things happen all the time given a sufficiently large sample.

Re:Probability gobbledygook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168229)

Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop.

This makes no sense. If "the chance of an impact will certainly drop", one might as well lower the quoted chance now.

Orbit determination is a pretty fascinating problem. I haven't read TFA, but how it works is we have a set of measurements that have some known uncertainty. We propagate the uncertainties to the orbit properties, which basically gives us an ellipsoid of potential position at any given time. Propagating this uncertain orbit out to 2032, the resulting ellipsoid encompasses Earth, but only if our best guess is fairly well away from the true orbital parameters (>5 standard deviations if it were one parameter, but with six orbit parameters it's more complicated). That's where the number comes from -- that is exactly the chance based on current observations. That means it will change one way or the other as soon as a new measurement is taken into account, but until it does, quoting a different chance would just be pulling numbers out of thin air. And we probably only have one measurement source right now. Once we point some more telescopes at it and start gathering simultaneous measurements, our estimates will improve (even if those other telescopes have a larger uncertainty than the first!) and that ellipsoid of potential orbit states will shrink.

Disclaimer: this is from an aerospace engineering perspective where we use Kalman filters to do this sort of thing automatically in flight. Not sure if astronomers have a better way that is too computationally intensive for on board computers.

Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45167349)

While I'll admit it's a problem for everything within about a 200 mile radius, and has a potential to create a 50+ meter tsunami, depending on where it hits... globally speaking, it doesn't represent a significant threat.

Re:Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45167507)

A far greater risk is the high probability that the Pacific Rim will unzip from BC down to CA sometime in this decade.

That means tsunamis and 9.0 quakes and volcanoes like Rainier going.

But ... there's not a single thing you can do about that, so stop wasting time worrying about it.

Re:Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45167877)

High probability? Do you mean it's probable that you imagine such things while you're high? Because back in the real world the probability of such an event is pretty close to zero.

Re:Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45167925)

The probability on any day is close to zero.

But we know the Cascade Subduction Zone does rip over the entire chain, and it's done this quite a few times in recorded history, based on temple records in Japan and other areas of Tsunamis and local tree subsidence (ghost forests) and grey zones in the tidal aspects from the deposits.

As I said, you can't do anything about it, but it will happen and we're in the middle of the highest probability zone right now.

Re:Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45168289)

Wasn't clear, sorry. I was mostly referring to the sometime in this decade portion of the post as being unlikely.

An event as large as you describe, stretching from BC to CA, doesn't appear in the record anywhere. Tsunamis, ghost forests and the like are the effects of local events that, while they may be devastating to the area affected, are not region-wide disruptions. In fact to my knowledge an earthquake on that scale is pretty much unknown anywhere on the planet, ever. Rainer's last eruption 10,000 years ago would have been associated with local earthquakes but was probably the source of them, not the effect.

Re:Even if it did... it's not a huge threat (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45168407)

Wrong.

If you want more info, just check out the UW recent research.

I think you're confusing eruption of an active volcano with eruptions within a timespan of a few years of active volcanoes (plural) including other triggered events.

Of course, just ask people in the Phillipines how safe they feel right now.

It isn't called the Ring of Fire because we like to have beach cookouts, you know.

odds (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about a year ago | (#45167439)

Lower odds has not stopped people from buying the lottery, and so let them at least make up stories of the apocalypse. Human nature is such that they have more fun hoping for the worst.

Re:odds (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45167679)

That is lower odds of success. This is about very low odds of failure. Tell any banker that the odds of losing in an investment are so low and probably will lend all the money of the world to bet all on it (probably 1 in 10 would be enough to invest millons, and this is several orders better).

"incredibly low" (1)

RichMan (8097) | about a year ago | (#45167453)

99.99998% of a miss.
0.9999998 ^ 100,000 = 0.980 -> 2% chance of at least 1 hit with 100,000 such events
Or approx 3.5 million such events for a 50% chance of at least 1 hit

Next questions are
a) how often do such events occur ?
b) how long since the last such event ?

So what your saying is... (2)

CHK6 (583097) | about a year ago | (#45167461)

There is still a chance that a viral zombie outbreak will happen before we are hit by an asteroid? Because a population ending asteroid would ruin the fun of it. Now if a population ending asteroid wanted to hit say after humanity overcame the zombie apocalypse, then I'm okay with that. Unless there is a space alien invasion. Then we need a zombie outbreak to be in full swing just as the space aliens invade. Then an asteroid can hit killing everything. However, if there is a chance for machines to become self-aware and bent on killing all organic life, then we need to hold off on the asteroid. So first we have the zombie outbreak, then the space aliens invade, and finally the rise of the Terminators comes about. Then after the dust settles, an asteroid can hit.

Re:So what your saying is... (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45167541)

Not really. Local flora and fauna would kill off a zombie epidemic fairly quickly, if live humans weren't around. Just insects alone would have a field day, and in 72 hours would grow fast enough to deal with it.

The Earth really doesn't need us.

Just more from Big Astronomy (5, Funny)

LNO (180595) | about a year ago | (#45167475)

It's all a scam. They're hiding the possible cure for asteroid impacts, because this way they can continue to get unlimited grant money from the government. They've already planned their off-planet habitat for when the earth is destroyed, but they won't admit to its existence because then the sheeple would question the purpose of those radio telescopes and interplanetary probes.

WAKE UP! STOP BIG ASTRONOMY!

Re:Just more from Big Astronomy (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45167571)

You're only complaining because they rejected your application for the asteroid vaccine trials.
Would it make you feel better to know th*&!@at th&$#^ som%$* minor^%!)* side-effects?

Isn't that a bad estimate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167481)

Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop

If the number given is the best estimate of the chance of impact based on available data, then additional data should have a 50% chance of increasing that chance and a 50% chance of decreasing it.

Re:Isn't that a bad estimate? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#45167597)

You sure? I would think it's a lot easier to detect an asteroid that's headed for earth, than to detect all those ones that are nowhere near earth.

Re:Isn't that a bad estimate? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#45167851)

Not really. if current measures are accurate, and there is a 99.9999 chance of a miss, more measures are 99.9999% likely to support that miss and only 0.0001% likely to contradict it.

Its not quite as simple as that, but its not anywhere near 50/50 like you suggest.

Re:Isn't that a bad estimate? (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#45167913)

Actually, no. If you think of all the future paths plotted as a probabilistic cone, Earth occupies a very small portion of the end of the cone. More data will narrow the cone, almost certainly moving it off an Earth-intercept. Almost.

Re:Isn't that a bad estimate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167995)

Not really. Say a person has ~10% chance of being color blind, if the only thing you know is that he is male.
Assume for simplicity that a test for color blindness is 100% accurate.
If you test the person, you have a 10% chance of increasing your probability estimate (to 100%), and 90% chance of decreasing it (to 0%).

Either the asteroid will hit us, or it won't. Most likely the latter. Since it probably won't hit us, further observations will probably confirm that indeed it won't.
That doesn't change the initial probability, so it's not much comfort in itself, but at least we can stop worrying about it.

Corrected (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167569)

Phil Plait just posted a correction, 99.998% chance of a miss. [twitter.com]

It's kind of a pity (1)

Alejux (2800513) | about a year ago | (#45167583)

If the odds were higher, then governments might start taking money off their war spending and start putting some serious money into space technology and asteroid deflection programs, which would certainly lead to a faster space colonization, asteroid mining and so on,

Re:It's kind of a pity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168859)

You've got to be kidding, right? Why would they lower their war spending? This could BE war spending. Imagine the various armed forces of the world working on deflecting an asteroid onto their perceived enemies. The US could work on deflection towards North Korea, Iran, etc. Most not-so-nice-places-to-live would work on deflecting it towards the US. It is war...

Math. Sigh. (5, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | about a year ago | (#45167685)

Folks- Please note a couple of math errors in the article (and in the headline I submitted here at /.). 1) The chance of it missing is 99.998%, and not 99.99998%. I misplaced a parenthesis when I did the math and wound up essentially getting 100 - 1/63000 instead of 1 - 1/63000. D'oh. 2) Also, the original circle I drew in the article was too big. This one makes me smile wryly: I first drew up the analogy as the circular cross-sectional area of a target region in space versus the cross-section of the Earth. Both are circles. However, a pixel is square! So my circle was too wide by a factor of the square root of pi, since the radius of the circle is the sqrt(area/pi). Put in 63,000 pixels for the area and the radius is 141. I corrected the article, sent a note to TPTB at Slashdot, and beg the forgiveness of math pedants everywhere. :)

+1 funny... (1)

komodo685 (2920329) | about a year ago | (#45167873)

...after reading your username

Re:Math. Sigh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167983)

However, a pixel is square!

A pixel is not a little square. [princeton.edu]

Re:Math. Sigh. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#45168067)

The chance of it missing is 99.998%, and not 99.99998%

The chances of it happening went up a thousandth of a percent in the half an hour since the summary was posted? If these trends continue, the asteroid will have a 157.68% chance of hitting us!

(9 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 2 half hour x 0.001 chance, if anyone's curious about what I typed into my calculator. There are bigger problems with the above statement anyway. To any cable news journalists reading, this is a joke.)

Re:Math. Sigh. (1)

Bearded Frog (1562519) | about a year ago | (#45168687)

You can add "The Bad Mathematician" to your title now sir.

Well yeah, people are stupid. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about a year ago | (#45167691)

The odds of an impact at that time are incredibly low — in fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%! But that hasn't stopped some venues from playing up the apocalypse angle.

A 1 in 5,000,000 chance of this asteroid hitting is super high compared to the 1 in 175,223,510 [powerball.com] odds of winning the grand prize in the Powerball lottery, yet tons of idiots still line up to play.

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about a year ago | (#45167809)

And now with the updated number, so it's 1 in 50,000 odds of this hitting us, nearly 3,500 times more likely than a lottery win.

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167987)

Oh crap! We have lottery winners nearly every week! We are DOOMED, DOOMED I say...

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167829)

Damned people ruining my chances.
If only more of those people would stop playing, maybe I would be in for better odds.

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#45168053)

but you're confused, only one person wins the lottery jackpot but we're *all* playing the asteroid game.

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168189)

The odds of an impact at that time are incredibly low — in fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%! But that hasn't stopped some venues from playing up the apocalypse angle.

A 1 in 5,000,000 chance of this asteroid hitting is super high compared to the 1 in 175,223,510 [powerball.com] odds of winning the grand prize in the Powerball lottery, yet tons of idiots still line up to play.

NO
The lottery is a random drawing.
The chance of it gliding safely past us (or hitting us) is not based on random events, but rather calculated based on the margin of error in our current measurements and calculations. If we were able to 100% accurately measure and calculate the trajectory, we would be able to simply say yes or no in regards to the Earth being hit.
The ACTUAL chance of us being hit is either 0% or 100%. The "odds" being tossed around are the chances that our math is wrong.

Re:Well yeah, people are stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168955)

That doesn't matter though, the odds of winning the powerball with a single ticket and the odds of getting hit by the asteroid are both the chance we think it could happen based on given information. We don't have 100% accurate measurements of the asteroid. The reason someone wins the Powerball is because millions of people play it, and the chance someone will win it is not the same as any given person will win it.

bummer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167713)

would've fixed a lot of problems around here.

While this one may miss us... (1)

wavedeform (561378) | about a year ago | (#45167725)

...it's still worth reading The Last Policeman. [wikipedia.org]

Huh, universal quantor again (1)

paavo512 (2866903) | about a year ago | (#45167727)

chance of an impact will certainly drop

If it would certainly drop, then it would be already zero today. The reason why the estimate is currently 0.00002% is because it is not known at which side the real value is. Actually, a defining criteria of a proper estimate is that it is located in the middle of the probability distribution, meaning that the actual value might lie on either side, with equal probability.

Note that the original article uses "likely" instead of "certainly".

The UN has just announced IPAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167739)

International Panel on Asteroid Collisions.

They are circling around Uranus.

"The chance of an impact will certainly drop"? (1)

PacoSuarez (530275) | about a year ago | (#45167753)

> Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop.

What is that supposed to mean? It should get closer to 1 or to 0. It will get closer to 0 with probability .9999998, and to 1 with probability .0000002. So it will not "certainly" drop.

Re:"The chance of an impact will certainly drop"? (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about a year ago | (#45168463)

pr(impact) = 1 - pr(miss)
If pr(impact) decreases, it is equivalent to pr(miss) being increased (by the same amount).
So if pr(impact) drops closer to 0, then pr(miss) increases closer to 1.

Re:"The chance of an impact will certainly drop"? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#45168897)

I think what he means is that they have already made up their minds that it will miss us, so as their calculations get better the probability that it will miss is going to go up from .9 to 1.0.

But, right now we have calculated that there is a .9-whatever chance that it is going to miss us, and their is a .0-whatever that it is going to hit us. In the real world it has already been decided, but we are unsure what which course is already set in stone.

So there is a 99% chance that there is a 100% chance that it will miss us, so 99% of the time the 99% chance would go up as our measurements increase.

Dagnabbit... (2)

DdJ (10790) | about a year ago | (#45167839)

...I was hoping to avoid the 2038 bug.

Climate Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167859)

... will already have whipped the planet clean, so why worry?

Boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167891)

Humanity needs an apocalypse to shake things up a little...

Captcha: Kaboom

statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45167971)

Yes, there is a 99.998% chance that the chance of a hit will decrease when more measurements are taken, and a more accurate trajectory can be calculated.
BUT: there is also a 0.002% chance that the new data will increase the chance of a hit all the way up to 100%, and a 0.02% chance that the chance of a hit will increase to 1:10.

Coming up on the Discovery Channel... (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about a year ago | (#45168215)

Asteroid Apocalypse: What Could Happen, But Probably Won't, in 2032

[Cue a solid hour of CG destruction porn.]

yeah whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45168337)

Y'all said Fukushima wouldn't be no big deal, either.

We have to act fast! (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year ago | (#45168965)

With only 19 or so years to go, we'll have to act quickly to get a long range space craft up to this asteroid if we want to alter its trajectory so it certainly will hit Earth! There's no time to waste if we're going to set up for this future crisis!

There goes my party plans... (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a year ago | (#45168989)

I had a big retirement fund blowout bash planned for 2032. After all, you can't take it with you. Now I'll have to text everyone that's it's been cancelled....

Probability is up to 1 in 48,000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45169017)

I've followed http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov for years and this is the first time I've noticed an impact probability increase instead of decrease. Usually the first observations suggest a possible impact and with additional observations, the probability of the impact decreases. Two days ago, the probability stood at 1 in 63,000. With an additional two days of observation it's risen slightly to 1 in 48,000.

The uptick is most likely a blip and a few more days worth of observing will drive the impact probability down.

What would happen (1)

geeper (883542) | about a year ago | (#45169021)

What would happen if it came really close but didn't hit? Like 2 miles up? What about 500 feet above land? 50 feet?

The blind leading the blind. (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45169055)

I'm sorry. Astronomers didn't detect Eris until 2005. Eris is a dwarf planet that's more massive than Pluto (that's why Pluto's not a planet anymore, we'd have to admit there was another planet closer and bigger than Pluto, and that we're basically blind. Now, when we factor in that these city or country or world killing asteroids can be smaller than dwarf planets... Yeah, sorry bub. You've got no legs to stand on when you make predictions. The evidence doesn't bear out. This particular asteroid probably won't be striking Earth. Big fucking deal. You moronic "Scientists" have no clue how to interact with people. You want Astronomy and Space exploration funding? Keep downplaying the fact that you don't really have a clue of what's out there. You humans are basically blind when it comes to space; Seriously you really are blind. If we compare your world wide telescopes' vision for things within your own solar system with that of a human in the average size basement, you're worse off than folks who are legally blind.

Protip: Your chance of extinction is 100%, ask any astronomer. It's only a matter of time. Doesn't even have to be an Asteroid or comet. How's about a gamma ray burst? You're hundreds of thousands of years overdue for a mass extinction event. As the higher minded of a sentient race it's your responsibility to spurn the lazy among you into letting you build self sustaining off-world colonies and at least TRY building the infrastructure to prevent global extinction. You call the politicians morons, but they know how to sway the herds -- It's not with reason, but with appeals to those primal emotions, you dolts.

You have a chance to literally save the world, and you screw the pooch every damn time. A dwarf planet! Gimmie a fucking break!

Re:The blind leading the blind. (0)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#45169067)

)

You lose at probability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45169211)

"as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop."

That's not how probability works. First of all, the real probability is either 1 or 0, because it will either happen or it won't and it's not a random event (nothing really is). What we're talking about is scientists' estimate of the probability. But that's too nitpicky. I haven't read TFA (don't need to for this little rant), but you are correct that the estimated probability will probably change frequently. They ran their trajectory models and predict a miss, and .002% is the chance that they're wrong according to the assumed uncertainty. Later scientists will record the asteroid's new position and rerun their trajectory models, and as the asteroid gets closer the level of certainty in the model results will go up. But that does not mean they will get more certain that the asteroid will miss. It's just as likely that the newer measurements will show a closer trajectory than expected and their estimate of the odds of collision will go up. That is the very definition of probability. You cannot know in advance if the probability you measure tomorrow will be higher or lower. Instead, you know the probability that it will be higher or lower!

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