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Rand Expert Says To Keep Mum About Killer Asteroids

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the ignorance-is-the-end-of-the-world dept.

Space 415

crashnbur writes "NASA is conducting a survey of the sky to find asteroids large enough that a collision with earth could 'extinction-type impact', and none studied so far will threaten us in the next 200 years. Of course, if a doomsday asteroid is discovered, the current policy is not to say a word: 'If you can't do anything about a warning, then there is no point in issuing a warning at all', says Dr. Geoffery Sommer. The issue may be making its rounds because an asteroid was discovered orbiting the sun between Venus and Earth earlier this week. Space.com presents a lengthy, four-part 'Impact Debate' (next three parts coming next three Tuesdays). Apparently we are just as likely to die by asteroid impact as in a plane crash."

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Rand is a hack. (-1)

returnofthe_spork (552824) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309263)

Only uneducated simpletons would believe her "philosophy."

fp (-1, Offtopic)

CowboyTodd (611194) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309267)

ohhhh well I guess my karma can take anouther hit, I just can't resist first post

Duct tape. (5, Funny)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309271)

Duct tape. Just be sure you have plenty of duct tape. It could save your life in the event of an asteroid collision.

Re:Duct tape. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309320)

And plastic sheeting! Lots of plastic sheeting.

Re:Duct tape. (1)

king_penguin_05 (582695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309324)

Don't forget the plastic wrap.

That and a desk to get under in the event of nuclear war.

This Sucks!! (5, Funny)

loknor (583729) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309375)

If they don't tell us then how will we know when it is time to start looting, raping, and pillaging!

Re:Duct tape. (1)

DoctorRad (608319) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309377)

Of course... I thought everyone knew it was the embodiment of The Force. It has a dark side and a light side and it binds the universe together...

Re:Duct tape. (4, Funny)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309394)

Bah, duck tape won't do anything! Too fragile, too many cracks.

Personally, I'll be sealing myself and my wife inside of a giant tupperware container.

FP! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309272)

FP MUTHAFUCKA!

Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309275)

I think with the advent of CCD imaging (which gets better by a factor of 2 every 12 months) and sophisticated telescopes in the hands of amateurs, any approaching asteroid of any size will be reported forthwith.

Re:Not true (2, Insightful)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309406)

To qoute the movie Armageddon:

"Begging your pardon, sir, but it's a damn big sky."

SealBeater

Godd news (4, Funny)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309276)

That's good news for me considering that I never fly.

True, but... (3, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309346)


if you were under the plane when it went down, you would die in the crash, too.

Glad I could help. &:-)

Did you hear about the guy who took a train. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309436)

because he was afraid to fly?

A plane fell on it.

KFG

Excuse me? (4, Insightful)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309277)

If you can't do anything about a warning, then there is no point in issuing a warning at all.

You might not be able to anything about it. Chances are nobody else will be able to do anything about it. But FFS issue a warning because the brains of the world can collectively work on saving our collective ass.

Thank you very much.

Re:Excuse me? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309293)

id like to know so that i could ask a girl for sex

"so... we only have 2 days left before we all die, can i fuck you?"

i must have sex before i die!

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309418)

It's gonna be hard to find a condom with all these people planning to have sex before they die at the same time.

Oh wait...

And if need be pay for it. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309460)

on a credit card.

KFG

Re:Excuse me? (4, Insightful)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309314)

My reaction was: You've just found out that everyone on the planet will be dead in two months. And you're afraid to tell, because...things might get worse?

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309326)

Dr. Geoffery "nobody is cleaverer than me" Sommer can just make an anonymous coward post on the NASA website.

What about no fear of concequences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309373)

But FFS issue a warning because the brains of the world can collectively work on saving our collective ass.

I'd rather have my last remaining days, hours, and minutes free of people who are acting without fear of consequences. Even if you _could_ do something, in the mahem which would most likely prevent you from carrying out your brainy solution.

Re:What about no fear of concequences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309395)

I agree. We live in a world of fear (and here in America, many of us lead lives governed by fear). Perhaps certain people high up in the government need to know, but being the mindless peon that I am I much prefer blisfull ignorance and (more importantly) the blissful ignorance of the people around me.

Re:Excuse me? (2, Interesting)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309380)

Nah, they'll just have an expose in the "New New York Times" or the "New Washington Post" 50 years later about how we really did know about the impending asteroid crash, but were planning on using it as a pretext for something.

Bah.

I know I'm going to live through whatever it is. I just seem to have that kind of luck. Look on the bright side, all those whackjob survivalists will finally discover there is no way to stockpile solar power, potable water, or oxygen. If you think a little bunker with tanks and cans is going to save you, I'd like to point out that I'm going to be enjoying oblivion at my local bar having a party to celebrate? Why? Because wherever we end up after this world has got to make a lot more sense than here.

And for the same reason (1, Troll)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309414)

NASA and the various other governmental space agencies shouldn't have a monopoly on the access to space.

This is why... (4, Funny)

enos (627034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309284)

...we have the ISS. If there is an impact in the next few months, the three men on the ISS will come down to earth and repopulate. Yeah, that's it.

Re:This is why... (0)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309299)

How do 3 men initiate a re-population?

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309334)

It was joke you dumbass.

Re:This is why... (1)

gorf (182301) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309337)

You've got all you need. Just clone the men, but while you're at it throw away the Y chromosome and provide an X from one of the other clones.

Of course, sustaining a pregnancy in a glass jar may pose a bit of a problem...

Re:This is why... (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309462)

Not really. A fertilized embryo could be implanted in a male body fairly readily. Just because a woman has a sac already handy for it doesn't mean it couldn't latch on anywhere else.

Re:This is why... (1)

ZeDanimal (574161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309343)

Did you not see - and completely believe - "Jurassic Park?" Nature will somehow "find a way."

Of course, it could also be argued that Nature was probably not interested in repopulating the species, seeing as it had just provided the big rock that killed us all in the first place.

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309344)

i think his post was meant to be funny. because 3 MEN cant repopulate the world..... unless they evolve somehow =P

(p.s. i do NOT want to be reincarnated in this future world, where there are all men and reproduction involves anal sex.. no thank you)

Re:This is why... (2, Interesting)

destiney (149922) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309355)


Simple.. cloning.

The cloned humans may only live 6 years or so, and may have serious health issues the entire time they are alive, but what the hell..

Sure beats _not_ playing God huh?

Re:This is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309362)

it's a joke you moron.

it could happen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309461)

what was that arnold schwarzenegger movie again?

That's a relief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309288)

I don't fly anywhere so I can't possibly die in a plane crash.

Does anyone else dislike vague and pointless statistics?

How do they know we can't do anything about it? (2)

TXP (592446) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309290)

Maybe I have a super asteroid killer 1000 in my basement and they don't know about it? (Bruce Willis downstairs I swear) Or better yet what If I have a fallout shelter to protect me from the blast, quakes, tidal waves? It seems very closeminded to assume that no one can do anything about an incoming asteroid. If you have a weeks noticed maybe you could evacuate a city and save millions of lives?

What's So Good About Living After? (1)

aerojad (594561) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309342)

But would you want to survive? If you make it past the impact, survive in your shelter as the massive P-waves rip most above-ground construction apart, happen to live through the tidal waves and global forest fires raging overhead, you walk out of your little shelter into a world that is blackened, dead, burning, and is a million times worse than the world's collective nightmare squared. Would you really want to see that sort of world?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I would love to get a shelter and try to live through this thing just like the next guy, but when your options are dying instantly or dying gradually over the next few years (blocked out sun = no photosynthesis = no green plants = no food = good luck), unless the chances were greater than 50/50 of dying anyways, I'd much rather be living my simple little life out to the end.

The living at least get the option of Envy (2, Interesting)

Syncdata (596941) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309401)

But would you want to survive?....but when your options are dying instantly or dying gradually over the next few years (blocked out sun = no photosynthesis = no green plants = no food = good luck)
I don't like to see this kind of pessimism, at least not on /.
Okay, so the asteroid hits, dust in the air, no sunlight. Check. Sounds like it's about time to crack open a couple of books on hydroponic gardening, and rigging up an impromptu electric generator.
I've never bought the whole "living will envy the dead" cliche. By god, I like to think humanity is made of sterner stuff. Asteroids. So you killed the Dinosaurs....big deal. If you can't pull off a mass extinction more than once, you can't do it at all.

ummmm. (2, Insightful)

CerebusUS (21051) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309291)

How can that be?

Are they saying that as many people have died by asteroid strike as plane crash?

I call shenannigans.

Re:ummmm. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309369)

The standard deviation of the number of victims of asteroid strikes over a single year is so large that a mere 100 years of recent history isn't enough to make a statistical comparison. You have to compare the theoretical means.

I'm confused. (5, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309292)

Can someone explain the economic reasoning to me on why we are bothering to spend money searching for life-ending asteroids when:

a) We can do nothing but panic if we find one. and

b) If the people searching for them find one, they won't even tell us?

Re:I'm confused. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309319)

The people doing the research will still get to run and hide.

Linux? (0)

oliver22222222222222 (649186) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309423)

Towel: here it is.

Forgive me... (3, Insightful)

$$$$$exyGal (638164) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309294)

This sounds like security through obscurity.

--sex [slashdot.org]

Re:Forgive me... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309316)

as i said before

show me your boobies!

Re:Forgive me... (1)

enos (627034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309370)

This sounds like security through obscurity.

It's worse than that. It's security through ignorant bliss.

Incidentally ... (0, Troll)

torpor (458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309298)

... the same policy is applicable to:

- Non-stoppable domestic terror attacks

- Aliens landing and harvesting us all for our brains (GWB2.0 is safe, though)

- The return of Christ

In either event, the U.S. Government is supposed to tell FEMA heads to activate the Iron Mountain facility, and leave it at that.

Divert asteroid (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309300)

If we could secretly divert an asteroid to Iraq, it would be seen as a definitive act of Allah.

Re:Divert asteroid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309432)

Uh, give it a few weeks, then USA will be in Iraq, and the asteriod will need to head over to N. Korea.

Department of Homeland Security says... (4, Funny)

miketang16 (585602) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309304)

In the event of an asteroid impact, lay flat down on the ground, with your hands covering your head, and you will be protected.

Re:Department of Homeland Security says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309390)

Not quite. The Department of Homeland Security, with it's new Faith-Based protection has a different answer. Stop, nneel, pray, and you will be Saved.

Re:Department of Homeland Security says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309422)


In the event of an asteroid impact, lay flat down on the ground, with your hands covering your head, and you will be protected.


Nah. Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.

Slashdotted (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309305)

They could publish info about imminent space catastrophe and I wouldn't be able to read about it because somebody'd post it on Slashdot first.

Sweet oblivion.

Why not warn? (5, Interesting)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309307)

The issue for me, is if they beleive that nothing can be done about it, maybe they have not thought of the clever solution to fix the problem.

Yes you will frighten the populice, yes the world may increase in suicides etc. The thing is, if you had undeniable proof that an asteroid WOULD hit the earth, and it WAS BIG ENOUGH to destroy it in a very convincing, end of the dinasours way, you could drive any arbitrary amount of money into finding a solution. Who is to say that with the combined ability of every nation on earth that there wouldnt be a way to put enough explosion on target to move such an object?

I mean, we have TONS of nuclear weapons, and possibly even the ability to create even more horrendous things that can explode quite violently, who is to say that a 100 year or so effort to put that much firepower into space to avert such an object wouldnt come to not? I mean imagine if you had the entire planet set forth to figuring out a solution, instead of a small relatively smallg roup going "welp sucks to be us lets not tell anyone that our kids or grandkids are going to explode in a fireball"

even if it was going to come within a few years, at least SOMETHING might be done, some way to preserve what as humanity are. I know it sounds a bit star trek, but having something aroudn to say "we were here" would be just as important as doing nothing.

Oh well, probably a lot more info in the article, but hey, can't just ignore it, especially if it won't go away.

Re:Why not warn? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309323)

Da Germans could use their potato canons!

Re:Why not warn? (1)

BenV666 (620052) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309431)

Somehow I've got the feeling that IF they discover such an asteroid, there would be only a couple of weeks left before impact....

Re:Why not warn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309452)

I find it difficult to believe that world leaders won't be told, and will just continue on as if nothing is going to happen. Hey, if I knew an Asteroid were coming, I would let some of my bills slide, and spend the money on food, etc. instead of sending it off to the Credit Card Company. Maybe that's why they don't want the word to get out.

As an asteroid impact freak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309313)

I'm renting both an East Coast and a West Coast apartment in case an asteroid is predicted to impact one of the coasts, and now I learn that I also need to fund my own network of asteroid tracking telescopes? Gimme a break, NASA.

*I* want to know (2, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309317)

'If you can't do anything about a warning, then there is no point in issuing a warning at all', says Dr. Geoffery Sommer.

Like hell. If I know Armageddon is coming, I can be finishing the last bottle of wine from my cellar just as the shockwave hits.

Re:*I* want to know (1)

Bryan_W (649785) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309353)

Or you could be screwing your wife/gf/so and go out like a man

Re:*I* want to know (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309389)

For over twenty years I've wondered: if I knew the end was coming, and I had a willing woman handy, could I live in the present enough to perform, or would I be too distracted by my impending obliteration? (Note that she may have analogous performance issues. The first friend I had this conversation with joked, "You seem a little dry, honey.")

With luck, I'll never find out how I would do in this situation.

Re:*I* want to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309410)

Or you could do your absolute best to become the fabled 'Last man on earth.' There's no way she could say no then!

Re:*I* want to know (1)

ClarkEvans (102211) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309458)

I can be finishing the last bottle of wine from my cellar

Or trying to protect your 13 year old daughter from a gang of thugs. I for one, *like* the policy as stated thank you very much.

You could have left me a note on the fridge (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309318)

that a huge asteroid was heading for earth, because I was working on my secret subspace deflector beam in the garage, and I could have easily moved it into another dimension and saved us all a lot of finger-pointing. But becuae you decided to keep it a big secret like a little schoolboy, I didn't go get the last part I needed at the mall Radio Shack and went to see the Matix sequel instead. Now the sun is blotted out for a hundred years and we are all fucked. Thanks a lot.

In Soviet Russia... (-1)

I'm not a script, da (638454) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309416)

...asteroid impacts you!

The same could be said.. (4, Insightful)

EvilTwinSkippy (112490) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309332)

For airplanes hitting skyscrapers or lunatics with VX gas or bacteria.

Sheesh, if I had a nickle for every false alarm our "Homeland Security" folks issued I'd be rich.

Actually, we should probably call it "Der Vaterland Sicherhiet." I never thought I'd see the day when you would see assault rifles and fatigues in American airports.

(Say, don't you thing that Green Camoflague is a bit inneffecting in an urban combat environment, like an Airport?)

Re:The same could be said.. (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309437)

Actually, we should probably call it "Der Vaterland Sicherhiet." I never thought I'd see the day when you would see assault rifles and fatigues in American airports.

You've obviously never been to a military base, then. I grew up expecting the military guys to be guarding the airport.

Say, don't you thing that Green Camoflague is a bit inneffecting in an urban combat environment, like an Airport?

Yes and no.

Yes, because it makes for shitty cameflogue.

No, because there's no such thing as good urban camo, and the green camo's utility as a uniform is far better.

And, no, because most cities have parks and surrounding woodland.

In light of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309335)

I say we let EVERYONE know, EXCEPT this selfish jackass... we find the likely impact area, quickly build a house on it, and tell him he's won the house as part of some contest. :-)

My money says.. (1)

gearheadsmp (569823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309349)

this guy is related to either W, Ashcroft, or both. You know, both of them behaving like Hoover and all.

wow (0, Offtopic)

reelbk (213809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309350)

That was the most coherent post I've ever read.

Bin Laden is hijacking asteroids now??? (2, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309354)

"Apparently we are just as likely to die by asteroid impact as in a plane crash."

Since some 3000 people died as the result of airplane crashes in 2001, I don't find this terribly reassuring.

Well, if Bin laden is capable of hijacking an asteroid, then he must have gottten the rocket from somewhere. Yet another bit of missile technology Iraq failed to declare...

Re:Bin Laden is hijacking asteroids now??? (3, Funny)

Znork (31774) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309391)

Then again, some 50K people in the US died as the result of traffic accidents in 2001.

Better hope Osama doesnt get his hands on a car manufacturing plant.

Putting risk of dying in perspective (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309356)

The chance of being dying as a result of an asteroid impact is statistically the same as dying in a plane crash, for the following reason: if the earth is hit by a large object, it would be an 'extinction event'; nobody would survive. Phrasing the statistic without that piece of information could lead one to imagine that people are hit and killed on a regular basis, which we know isn't true. Based on this logic, the chance of any of us being killed in our lifetime by an impact seems to be much lower than being in a fatal plane crash.
Not to say we shouldn't be concerned; perhaps we should look at the larger picture and remove the individual from the statistical claim. An impact is not something that would affect us on an individual level. Humanity would be wiped out by such an event, something that should trouble us on a much deeper level.

Code Red (4, Interesting)

kindbud (90044) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309358)

'If you can't do anything about a warning, then there is no point in issuing a warning at all', says Dr. Geoffery Sommer.

Would sopmebody pass this along to Tom Ridge and the rest of the Bush administration?

No way (3, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309364)

The real reason they are keeping mum is to prevent hoardes of geeks making fools of themselves camping outside Natalie Portmans house trying to get a date before they depart to techno heaven.

Re:No way (1)

ZeDanimal (574161) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309424)

Hell yes. Our tax dollars go towards this kind of research, the least we can expect is that the government should help provide a little pre-end-of-the-world nookie.

Unless, of course, this is another plank of the Religious Right's abstinence-only platform. Fighting for that to the bitter end, I gotta respect the tenacity.

But still...can anyone be that uptight? I mean, the world would be ending and all, you'd think being proved right about Revelations and Armaggedeon would be enough for them. But noooooo....

somebody else mixing up statistics vs. probability (4, Insightful)

LuxFX (220822) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309379)

Apparently we are just as likely to die by asteroid impact as in a plane crash

Except one of the situations happens often enough to make headlines multiple times every year...and the other doesn't. So why are they listed as the same?

My guess is that somebody was considering that a great number of people would die as a result of a large meteorite impact. Taking this into consideration, then over a long period of time (long enough to include one or two significant meteorite impacts), then yes. If you counted the number of people that die from meteorite impacts and those that die from the sum total of all plane crashes, then they might be equal. But this is statistics, not probability. The probability of being killed by a meteorite would be much much lower.

The same thing is seen in a coin toss. For instance, say that you have flipped a coin six times, and each time it has landed on 'heads'. Statistically, you know that only 50% of flips will result in 'heads', so you might think that the odds are very low for the coin to land on 'heads' a seventh time -- 1 in 32 or so. BUT the seventh flip has the same 50/50 chance of landing on heads that any other flip had. That's probability.

Re:somebody else mixing up statistics vs. probabil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309448)

hmm... and what does a coin have in common with a plane or an asteroid?

Re:somebody else mixing up statistics vs. probabil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309459)

Because we don't know when the next large meteorite will impact, it could be next year. If there's one chance in 10 million that something will kill half of the population next year, that gives you a one over 20 million probability of dying of asteroid impact next year, like it or not.

When you see it in the sky (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309383)

You can pray:
~~~
SAINT JOAN OF ARC, GIVE ME STRENGTH!
In this, my time of need, I beg thee to come to my aid. I humbly ask thee to help me bear my trials with honor, As I remember you in your earthly agonies.

BLESSED JOAN, DUTY BOUND TO GOD, GIVE ME COURAGE!
You who left family and friends to enter into God's service, Devout and valiant to uphold righteousness to the end, While being insulted and harmed by your enemies.

HOLY JOAN, DAUGHTER OF GOD, GIVE ME FORTITUDE!
Help me to prevail in life and death over evil, While bearing my injuries with the dignity you showed When wounded in the
breast, head, thigh, and heel.

PIOUS JOAN, HELP ME TO BE FEARLESS!
Abandoned by the king you yourself had crowned,Captured and sold to the highest bidder,You put your trust in the
King of Heaven to deliver you.

VENERABLE JOAN, HELP ME TO BE UNWAVERING IN MY FAITH! Beaten, bruised, questioned and accused, You were denied that which you loved most: Communion, confession, mass and public prayer.

HEROIC JOAN, HELP ME TO UPHOLD JUSTICE!
Imprisoned, neglected, threatened and condemned, Sentenced to die as a heretic the most cruelest death, To die by the fire and be raised up in heaven!

GLORIOUS VIRGIN, PLEASE INTERCEDE FOR ME.
Hear this petition and my heartfelt plea. Pray for me in this, my time of need, For I believe
God will deny you nothing. Amen. (Here mention you specific request.)
~~~~~
And why not pray it today anyway? :)

Well Then This Would Mean (4, Insightful)

deadline (14171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309384)

So if Dr. Geoffery Sommer goes to his physician and the physician finds he has 8 weeks to live, he should keep it a secret because Geoffery and his family may panic.

It is nice to know we have such people looking out for us. But it does not matter because their
is an asteroid headed our way. By the way, that is why all the aliens left, but they did not tell us that either.

This is where some understanding of. . . (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309399)

statistics comes in handy.

I've known several people who have died in plane crashes ( one of whom ended his life against the World Trade Center). I've never known anybody killed by an asteroid. Neither have you, or your parents, or *their* parents.

This statistic is derived because relatively few people die in plane crashes, whereas *IF* an asteroid hits a great many people will die.

Technically, mathmatically, the statement is correct, but really has nothing to do with whether or not *you* will die by being hit with an asteroid.

It's this same misunderstanding that leads people to believe there were no old people 200 years ago, because the *average* age was low. Whereas a quick study of the death age of America's founding fathers would put the lie to that idea.

The low *average* age is heavily weighted because so many people died before they were two. . .days old. The so called "Life Expectency" has absolutely *nothing* to do with how old any particualar person might be at their time of death.

So don't bother spending the rest of your life looking over your shoulder for asteroids. *You* are far more likely to die by having a plane fall on you.

KFG

Bugger. In most of the above. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309415)

where I've typed "statistics" I meant to type "probability".

So shoot me.

KFG

Re:Bugger. In most of the above. . . (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309421)

What are the odds of that happening again ?

Not in a long time... (1)

xmnemonic (603000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309402)

I see no reason for the probability of an asteroid collision of earth to be increasing, as most people seem to behave. We aren't any more likely to get hit by an asteroid as we were in the 1700s, a time in which we didn't have any sort of asteroid detection/warning efforts. In fact, earth has not been hit by an asteroid in at least several hundred thousand years. Why do people suddenly feel protection is urgent now?

Atmospheric Shield! (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309405)

We should make a Planet Druidia-style airlock and make the combination 1-2-3-4-5. That should deflect any incoming asteroids!

Ah, don't worry... (0, Offtopic)

larien (5608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309408)

It'll burn up in our atmosphere and what's ever left will be no bigger than a chihuahua's head [snpp.com] ...

Airbags (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309420)

What we need is an EABP (Earth airbag project).

We need to calculate where the asteroid will hit. Then we simply inflate a giant (the size of several US states) airbag over the region.

When the asteroid hits the airbag, it will slow down enough that it won't be dangerous, just like a guy who is falling from a building.

There's a good reason (1)

barakn (641218) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309426)

The kind of information they are likely come up is not "a 10 km. asteroid is definitely going to hit New York next week." More likely it will be "a .5 km asteroid has a 1:300 chance of hitting the earth in the year 2080." Then they will track it for a few more months (or find it in archival photos), and recalculate its orbit. "Upon further analysis, we don't think it has a snowball's chance in hell of coming within the moon's orbit in the year 2080."

we've been here... (1)

trefoil (153310) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309428)

on this planet.. for how long? and there hasn't been a doomsday asteroid yet.. why is it that suddenly it's a high priority? It's just more political propaganda...

Devil's advocate (keep it quiet) (5, Insightful)

kaltkalt (620110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309433)

If the government announced that everyone has been sentenced to imminent death (which is what such an asteroid announcement would be), I don't have enough faith in humanity to presume that the majority of people would act like grown-ups about it; rather I feel most people would go running around, screaming, looting, crashing cars, smashing things, blowing stuff up, etc. All religious people would immediately go insane.

If a doomsday asteroid is heading for earth, there's nothing we can do about it, and if you think there is you've watched too many Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay movies.

Bottom line, if we have one year to live, it would be better for everyone if that last year were not spent in anarchy.

That being said, I remember reading an article (wish I could find it and cite it) that said there were only 4 government employees whose job description includes looking for asteroids to hit earth; most of the people doing this are amateur astronomers. They won't keep it quiet. So, if there is such an asteroid on a collision course with earth (which there is, somewhere), the odds highly favor it being discovered by an amateur astronomer who will immediately tell everyone which makes this entire thread moot.

Re:Devil's advocate (keep it quiet) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309456)

All religious people would immediately go insane

I disagree. Not all of the religious people would go insane. Wishing it doesn't make it so.

Humanity doesn't need to know (1)

SoVi3t (633947) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309443)

If people know, yes, the collective brains could possibly think of some sort of contingency plan. But what about the other 99.9% of the planet. They'll just go apeshit, and rape, pillage, and murder. It's as simple as that. When confronted with the end, the majority of people will just snap.

Here's the plan: (1)

Space Coyote (413320) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309449)

If we suddenly see NASA people making a lot of big purchases with their credit cards, we'll know.

100% success rate! WAHOO! (2, Funny)

herrd0kt0r (585718) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309451)

here's the headline on another article linked to the one posted above:

David Morrison figures his long effort to keep the world safe from asteroids has been very successful. "In 11 years of protecting the planet, not a single human has been killed," he pointed out to me recently.

heaoeahoahaohea
oh, these wacky astrophysicists and their humor. and to think, i was beginning to believe that they were, you know, all brain, no penis.

I smell a sponsorship! (3, Funny)

LongJohnStewartMill (645597) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309455)

I wonder if Taco Bell will sponsor this. If a killer Asteroid hits a special target (like the franchise on my street), they could give everybody on Earth free diarrhea.

Dangerous Thoughts (1)

instantkarma1 (234104) | more than 11 years ago | (#5309465)

Lets recap....They propose not telling the world to avoid the 'unnecessary' social costs (ie mayhem). Of course, if this is a certainty, we will all surely die. So what's a little social disorder (understated, I know). The public has the right to know. In this certain scenario, any social disorder is moot.

Who are these enlightened people who get to make such sweeping judgements for all of mankind? Where do I sign up? They are scientists, not social engineers. However, that does not give them the right to make that type of decision. Depending on your religious flavor (or the lack thereof), these last few minutes/hours/days/weeks/months might be of the utmost importance.

I believe if they know the end is nigh, we should be told. I want the last days of my life to be judiciously spent with the ones I love.

Maybe we cant do anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309466)

... but if humanity can live long enough to see Rosie, Tom Arnold, Rosanne, and Al Sharpton shot into the sun, the rest of us can die in peace.

What I would do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5309468)

I've thought about what I would do if something like that would happen.
I figured if I believed it was going to destroy everything, I wouldn't take shelter or anything. I wouldn't be afraid. I would completely accept the fact that I'm about to die and there's nothing I can do about it.
I would like to be at a place I enjoy with a view of the horizon, with my family, friends & girlfriend and have a nice, loving time.
Then, when the time was right, we'd all look off into the distance, waiting to see whatever comes screaming over the horizon, sealing our fates.

In short, I would rather just accept it and die happy with the people I love rather than sitting terrified in a hole.
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