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2004 MN4, Even Higher Probability

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the keep-your-will-in-order dept.

Space 524

phreakuencies writes "Worried since the recent post about the MN4 2004 asteroid, I added a bookmark to its 'impact risk' section at NASA. The asteroid started as having a 1/233 probability of hitting earth. Later it raised to 1/63. Daily computations made on 25 Dec raised its chances up to 1/45. Optimists can now say it has a 97.8% probability of missing earth." And Veteran writes " NeoDys offers the 'Orbfit' software package (source code released under the GPL) which can be used to get a pre-release view of the situation with Asteroid 2004MN4."

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Party like it's 2099 (4, Informative)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182190)

And now it's 4 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale [nasa.gov] .

The way I see it, we've got about 24 years to party before the world ends. Have another glögg [finland.fi] !

Seriously, if it hits 5 or greater on the scale, then we'll have reason to really worry. In the meantime, it's sufficient to just watch and see what happens. As phreakuencies pointed out, right now there's a 97.8% chance of absolutely nothing happening.

Re:Party like it's 2099 (1)

Wdi (142463) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182252)

It was already yesterday, before the upgrade.

Incoming Asteroids? Use a nuclear warhead. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182294)

Incoming asteroids are not really much of a problem. There are, at least, 2 solutions. One is to load a Delta 4 rocket with gallons of white paint and then to smash the rocket into the asteroid. The newly painted asteroid will change course ever so slightly as the sun's rays will nudge it away from the earth.

The second solution is to load a hydrogen bomb onto a Delta 4 rocket and to send the contraption to the asteroid. Within a mile from impact, explode the hydrogen bomb. The explosion will nudge the asteroid slightly and send it in a direction that avoids earth.

The catch here is that if we utilize a hydrogren bomb in this way, we must quickly replace it. The Chinese military is eagerly looking for any weakness in our conventional or nuclear arsenal and would use such a weakness to exploit us [phrusa.org] .

Re:Incoming Asteroids? Use a nuclear warhead. (1)

jnguy (683993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182368)

I would imagine, if it came to it, it would be a world effort. The impact of this will devistate the entire world, I wouldn't be surprised if China contributed their own nukes. There is no reason that the United States should be the only one safeguading the sky, its our world.

Re:Incoming Asteroids? Use a nuclear warhead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182393)

I doubt anyone would help if it fell on mr Bush ;)

Besides. A nuclear bomb would perhaps only push this a fraction off its course. Så we need to really shoot at it soon for it to be effective.

Re:Incoming Asteroids? Use a nuclear warhead. (2, Insightful)

jnguy (683993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182417)

Pushing it a fraction off course should make the difference depending on where.

Re:Party like it's 2099 (1, Insightful)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182300)

this thing wouldn't take out the world, it's about a 1/4 mile across or so. But it will be bad. Big hole, and sever damage in the area. If we are lucky it will hit texas.

Or maybe the Yucatan Peninsula, then we can find if Asteroids ever strikes the same place twice.

Re:Party like it's 2099 (5, Informative)

TimToady (52230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182376)

Sorry, it's aimed mostly at the eastern hemisphere. If it hits, it'll be at about 9:22pm in London (.89 of a day at UTC), and since the rock is coming in almost directly from the night side of the planet, it's mostly aimed about 3 zones east of London plus or minus 6 hours. Or were you thinking that Iraq would have been renamed "Texas" by then?

Re:Party like it's 2099 (1)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182404)

I'm really doubting they will be even remotely able to predict where its going to hit (if it's going to hit) till a few months from time of impact.

Re:Party like it's 2099 (3, Funny)

zoobot (682357) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182328)

I guess I don't need to worry about my social security afterall!!!

Re:Party like it's 2099 (4, Interesting)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182388)

Talking of the Torino scale, does anyone have any idea at what percentage probablility of impact it would move up to the orange (threatening) section of the scale? As far as I can tell, both the orange and red (impact!) sections are based more on the predicted amount of damage rather than likelihood of a collision, so I'm guessing it's pretty high. Also, assuming that the estimated size and consistency of the object don't change, it looks like an object would not be given two separate orange or red scores. If that's the case then I'm guessing that if MN4 is going to hit us it'll go to five, then eight based on a play with the damage predictor.

In any case, we have 24 years and it's not *that* big. Plenty of time to nudge it off course with some of those surplus nukes we have lying around if it is going to hit...

The GNAA is under attack again! (1)

MooKore 2004 (737557) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182196)

Help save the GNAA! [wikipedia.org]

Which Comes First (3, Funny)

husker_man (473297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182197)

Which will come first, 2004 MN4 asteroid, or
Duke Nukem Forever?

Re:Which Comes First (0)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182308)

What makes you think they aren't one in the same?

Re:Which Comes First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182399)

The asteroid, DNF will burn up in the marketing department.

Whew (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182199)

At first I thought it says " it has a 97.8% probability of hitting earth"

Good thing i read it over again.

amazing. (1, Interesting)

Roachgod (589171) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182201)

Watch how all the end of the world loonies start going crazy and selling all their stuff. Anyone looking to get into the real estate market? Now is the time! first post?

amazing-Logic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182224)

"Watch how all the end of the world loonies start going crazy and selling all their stuff. "

Sell it and do what? How do you hide from the effects of the impact of an asteroid?

Re:amazing-Logic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182283)

Uhm.. Like move some hundred kilometers away if you happen to live right where it hits?

Re:amazing-Logic? (1)

atam (115117) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182338)

Remember Heaven's Gate?

Re:amazing. (1)

phreakuencies (829080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182249)

Yeah, first post... What's that anything to do with this? If you dig up some info, you'll see that it's the first asteroid that reached 4 in the Torino Scale. Even more, no other asteroid has ever reached higher than 1 in the Torino Scale.

Re:amazing. (1)

stfvon007 (632997) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182334)

Its also passed 1 on the Palermo Scale (1.03) (meaning its 10 times more likely to hit earth than the backround chance of one hitting in the time period between now and the expected date of impact) This is only the second time ive seen an asteroid above 0 on the Palermo Scale. (the other asteroid isnt expected to hit till the late 2800's and is around a .2 (50% above backround))

In case of /. effect.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182209)

Impact Probability

The calculation of impact probability involves the disciplines of orbital dynamics, estimation theory, and numerical analysis. The orbit of a comet or asteroid is determined from a set of observations (right ascension/declination coordinates). The observations are typically accurate to 0.5 arc-sec, although this can vary somewhat according to the pixel size used in the CCD detectors: some observatories have only 1.0 arc-sec accuracy. Because there are some errors in the observations, there will be uncertainties in the orbital determination for the object. The uncertainty in the orbital elements also depends on the number of observations and the time span over which they are made. The more observations we have, and the longer the time span, the less the uncertainties will be, and the more precise the orbit will become. Thus, for a newly discovered object, the uncertainties tend to be large initially. As more observations are obtained on the object's position, the uncertainties are reduced, and any potential impacts are then eventually eliminated for the vast majority of the cases. See also this animation, courtesy of the Spaceguard Foundation in Italy.

Impact Probability: 2.2e-02

2.200000000% chance of Earth impact

or

1 in 15 chance

or

97.80000000% chance the asteroid will miss the Earth

Re:In case of /. effect.. (2, Funny)

paylett (553168) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182333)

1 in 15?

That calculation has a 1 in 1 chance of being wrong.

Re:In case of /. effect.. (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182361)

Last I checked, that was a 1 in 45.4545 chance, not 1 in 15.
Regards,
Steve

Impact calculator (5, Informative)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182210)

Just to reassure you
http://janus.astro.umd.edu/astro/impact/ [umd.edu]
The impact comes out as somewhere between 450MT and 1.6GT, depending on speed and composition

Re:Impact calculator (1)

Xentropy (843502) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182247)

NASA's site as originally linked says 1.57GT of impact energy. Granted, not incredibly severe. Unless it hits your home town. (~4km diameter crater + 7.8 magnitude quake.)

Re:Impact calculator (1)

MeanSolutions (218078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182316)

"Not incredibly severe" ... Uhm, I reckon that thing, if it hits, will have slightly more impact on global weather systems than Krakatoa had when that went "pop" big-style last time around.

Where-ever this things lands, lets hope it lands where the most despicable living politician in the world currently is residing. And to borrow a phrase from current despicable politicians and top brass, any civilians that goes in the same bang, they are "just collateral"...

Re:Impact calculator (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182275)

For comparison, the Tunguska [wikipedia.org] blast, which felled trees over 2150 square kilometers, was 10-15 MT. So if this rock hits us, it will be about 43-160 times more powerful. This won't end life as we know it, but it'll be really bad for the area it hits. Let's hope it doesn't land in the ocean.

Re:Impact calculator (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182408)

The largest nuclear bomb ever detonated had a power of 50 to 57 MT, and the light from the explosion, despite a cloudy sky, was visible from over 1,200 miles away, and I think scientists measured its shockwave circumnavigate the earth three times.

450MT and 1.6GT is a LOT more than even that. If it hits, it won't wipe out humanity, but I think it might have a very strong effect on the weather and water if it hits water, and it might collapse or destroy a few nation-states if it hits land.

Laser time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182214)

Hmmm, what probability would constitute: time to start building a huge laser? I guess as soon as it makes the mainstream news we'll have people lobbying their governator for lasers. Give the people what they want I say.

Astroid movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182215)

I can't decide if Hollywood will use this an an opportunity to cash in on another round of terrible astroid-hits-earth movies, or if it would be considered bad taste.

Maybe a reality show...

Re:Astroid movies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182389)

its speled 'asteroid' morron.

I can see my house from here! (1)

cgsamurai (786876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182226)

So, does anyone know if the DOD has rampped-up any effors to restart any Star Wars - type missions, or tests regarding this?

Re:I can see my house from here! (3, Funny)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182320)

Yeah, Han and the gang are going to trick Darth into moving the Deathstar right into the path of it. Then the DoD will claim it to be a Two for One event.

Re:I can see my house from here! (3, Funny)

jabex (320163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182336)

Pfft. Before that can ever happen, I think we all know that the Stargate team would be able to send the asteroid into hyperspace for just a few seconds, coming out on the other side of the planet (and thus missing it).

Re:I can see my house from here! (2, Funny)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182346)

Dude, Stargate isn't real.

In all seriousness we all know Captain Kirk will find a Klingon bird of pray, fly around the sun to go back in time to get some Wales and snicker bars, then fly out to the asteroid and offer the Snickers bars to the asteroid to get it to not destroy us, while scotty cooks up some wonderful roasted whale to celebrate the saving of the earth.

Re:I can see my house from here! (1)

jabex (320163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182426)

Oh my god, wrong again! Obviously, Picard would find a time portal to send Data through, where he could then cannabalize his body to build a tachyon emitter that would ionize the asteroid, and send it through a newly discovered wormhole to the delta quadrant.

That is, assuming Count Bakula doesn't get there first, prematurely starting a klingon-earth war.

Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (0, Redundant)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182227)

I can't think of a better person than a strict fundamentalist to start working on averting an Act of God...er, I mean a natural catastrophe.

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182297)

Your implying that it's the United State's job to unilaterally stop this thing, assuming that it would hit. Come on man, we're talking about a global catastrophe here! I'd like to see the rest of the world get off their collective ass and give a damn.

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (0, Flamebait)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182337)

The problem is the US will decide that our solution is the best one and override suggestions or plans by any other nation. If France has a idea, and maybe even a better one then us, The US will say "fuck you" and do it our way. And since stopping it would be a one shot deal, thats not a good thing to have happen. It's probably a one shot deal cause if the first try to stop it messes up the way the thing is setup, it might mess up all the plans other groups have.

Me personally think that a hit that would posse good odds of destroying the world would be a great thing for world unity and get the whole planet to work as one to solve the problem, and maybe from that we can learn something.

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182380)

What an optimist...

The good odds you are talking about is US trying to go unilateral (as per usual). I am pretty certain that the non-Jesusland people in US would like to colaborate with the rest of the world on a solution, but the Jesusland contingency there is no reasoning with, so better that the rest of the world watches in apathy and hope the asteroid take out as much of the Jesusland part as possible.. At least the world population would have a chance of dealing smartly and efficiently with the next possible collision object...

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182384)

Err France will not have a better idea than the U.S. It makes sense for the US to take over here, we have the most experience in space, one of the largest space programs, and the only country to get anything on Mars. Most foreign scientists use our tools simply because of their superiority. I'm sure that other countries will make suggestions, but I'll stick with the country that has the most space experience, the most nukes (and other weapons), and arguably the most intelligent scientists in the world.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182397)

Most of scientists that work in US labs are foreigners. But this is probably too difficult for you to learn that, you are so intelligent, nobody else can be better than you.

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182410)

I never said they weren't, in fact I stated that most foreign scientists use our tools. I know this from experience. Tons of foreigners come here for education and for jobs, I have no problem with that, most are very intelligent. In the United States, everyone is an immigrant so its no big deal and highly accepted. I do have a problem when they take advantage of the system, contribute nothing back to the country that gave them the education and instead just export it back home.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Well, I'm glad Bush is in power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182339)

Given that it's American policy to militarize space and prevent anyone else doing so, by force if necessary, I'd say it was America's job to deal with it. You want power, you take responsibility. That simple.

power and responsibility (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182386)

My observations of the Bush administration lead me to believe that they want power, but will do everything possible to avoid responsibility.

Great! Just Great! (1)

OgTheBarbarian (778232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182228)

I hit my 'Freedom 55' retirement and POW!!!! I'm gonna sue somebody. Harrumph!

Re: Great! Just Great! (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182278)


> I hit my 'Freedom 55' retirement and POW!!!! I'm gonna sue somebody. Harrumph!

At least the USA doesn't have to worry about Social Security running out of money...

Nuke Dukem Forever (2, Funny)

sci50514 (722502) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182231)

Come on, bring on the jokes about Nuke Dukem Forever. :)

Could be worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182255)

The torrino scale only rates it as
"A close encounter, with 1% or greater chance of a collision capable of causing regional devastation."
This means that only a portion of the world will be brutally smashed into oblivion!:-)

10 Bucks on Florida (4, Funny)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182234)

'nuff said

Ohio (2, Funny)

katharsis83 (581371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182326)

Considering the 2004 US Presidential Elections, it'd be pretty damn ironic if it hit Ohio.

Wonder how the Christian fundamentalists in America would spind THAT.

Something to bear in mind (1)

topynate (694371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182246)

Even if - as is likely - 2004 MN4 is not on course for Earth, the probability of impact will increase with each observation that does not exclude it hitting entirely, as the region of possible places it can be shrinks.

Re:Something to bear in mind (5, Informative)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182296)

That's not necessarily true. It depends on the characteristics of the error.

If the errors are Gaussian, if the nominal trajectory (i.e. "it misses the Earth by X+/-Y km") is accurate, but imprecise (that is, X is correct, but Y is large compared to X) then the probability of impact will decrease as the precision is improved (i.e. as Y decreases) because the "Earth impact" possibility moves farther out on the fringes of the observation, and the area doesn't shrink fast enough to compensate for this.

Of course, if the errors are flat (all solutions are equally likely - actually, if the PSF falls off slower than the area shrinks) then you're correct. I'm pretty sure that they're Gaussian, or approximately Gaussian, though. So the only way the probability could be increasing is if the nominal trajectory's impact parameter is decreasing - that is, closer impact.

Sweet sweet asteroid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182251)

This is great having an world destroying asteroid hitting eart, this'll mean that I can get pity sex (and thus loose my virginity) once I'm 45!

What's that you say?, 98%+ chance of missing, only regional damage, women don't work that way ... ... Hmmm, I wonder if I can get some pity sex for writing this post here on Slashdot?

We're doomed! (3, Funny)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182253)

In 29 hours, the impact probability has gone from 0.015873 to 0.022.

If this trend continues, expect an impact in another 4629 hours, or about 193 days!

It's going to be one hot summer...
;-)

Re:We're doomed! (1)

nocotigo (820504) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182298)

Mod parent up. It was a funny joke, you just didn't get it.

Re:We're doomed! (1)

TiPeRa (637202) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182352)

Mod parent up. It was a funny joke, you just didn't get it.
Please Explain

Re:We're doomed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182374)

Mod here. It wasn't that funny.

Seriously, you might as well relax. (3, Insightful)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182256)

You know in all those movies where some guy, sometimes just an amateur scientist, sees something in his telescope/seismograph/thermometer/disease-modeling -software that all the high-up professionals miss, and rushes in to warn the government?

That doesn't happen.

So kick back and relax in the knowledge that, even if a global catastrophe is imminent, there's fuck-all you can do about it, except make yourself a quick drink.

Re: Seriously, you might as well relax. (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182267)


> You know in all those movies where some guy, sometimes just an amateur scientist, sees something in his telescope/seismograph/thermometer/disease-modeling -software that all the high-up professionals miss, and rushes in to warn the government?

> That doesn't happen.

You're with the agency that makes those guys disappear, aren't you.

Well in this case (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182284)

I think it would be something that probably would be averted. I mean think: there's 24 years before this happens. So if it becomes known that it will, for certianty, happen, we have over two decades to solve the problem.

Generally, if we can predict a disaster with enough lead time, the disaster is averted because we work to avert it. This certianly isn't true of everything, but I'd give a pretty good chance that we could come up with something to mitigate the problem of this asteroid in 24 years.

Realize this... (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182347)

...we're looking at very little of the sky *at one time*. I don't think it takes much amateur equipment to spot something which would be missed by "normal" study, which usually involved spendning forever looking at one tiny fixed part of the sky to gather enough light/EM to make a clearer picture than the last one (i.e. mapping space).

Kjella

Obligatory Airplane quote... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182258)

"It's coming right for us!" >crash

It's 20+ years out... C'mon... When we get within a year or two and it still has a 97.8% chance, I'll worry. But we've got to prove we can't blow the world up ourself first!

How big? (1)

utlemming (654269) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182259)

FYI: It is a 400 meter astriod. http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/asteroid_2 004_mn4.html

escape plan (1)

jabex (320163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182262)

1) build spaceship
2) build mars habitat (hurry not much time left)
3) ...
4) profit!

My uncle is really pissed. He made some thought experiment (32 questions) for "if the world was no longer habitable" and the date he picked was just a few years off.
http://32q.com/ [32q.com]

If only he had picked the right date, he probably could've started his own cult or something. Then he could use their power to build a space ark and profit, as noted by the guidelines above. Well, back to the drawing board.

MOTHERFUCKER!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182263)

I guess Santa didn't bring you a dictionary, cock clown. I don't listen to space science advice FROM ILLITERATE MORONS WHO CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ITS AND IT'S!!! Fuck!

Re:MOTHERFUCKER!!! (0, Offtopic)

phreakuencies (829080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182279)

a) I know the difference. It was a typo b) My first language is not english. A typo doesn't make me illiterate. c) Where did I say it was an advice?

Re:MOTHERFUCKER!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182419)

A typo would be itd, or ots, or itsa. The fucking apostrophe is all the fuck the other side of the keyboard.

Science Desk Home for the Holidays (3, Interesting)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182268)

I have to confess I have been googling on this matter the last 24 hours and am surprised by how many news sites picked up on the 1/233 1/300 chance when at 2 on the Torino scale, but a full day later, no major news sites are mentioning the move to a 4 (currently a 1/45 chance).

I don't see a conspiracy here, and do think we will be missed, but given how much they hyped previous possible events with less statistical support it is curious they aren't doing follow ups. Could just be that it's Christmas, and things in the science departments are on autopilot.

If this thing stays greater than 1/100 by Monday, expect the papers and television to start picking up on it again. There was a close encounter today with 2004-vw14 (something like 5 lunar orbit distance), and the kooks where on the net prophesizing doom (even though it wasn't all that big a rock). It may take some years to really get a bead on where this thing is going, likely going up and down in probability.

Expect no fewer than a dozen Death-Cults if it stays in double-digit probabilities. Do the Darwin Awards cover Death-Cults?

Exciting! (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182269)

Am I just sick, or do other people find the possibility of this thing hitting to be pretty damn exciting? The chaos, the devestation, the panic, the collapse of all social systems... jeez, that would honestly be one of the coolest (And last) things to ever happen in most of our lives. The timeframe is nice too... many of us that are currently in our late 20's, early 30's will be wiped out before things start going really downhill for us (physically), but we'll have enough time to get a decent bit of fun stuff done too. Bring it on!

Re:Exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182322)

Unfortunately, the bad guys on the planet would not stop doing the stuff they do, beheadings, bombings, etc. if this asteroid hit. That thing would have to hit _them_ smack-on to do any good. One problem, were are _them_ at? Here, there, everywhere?
Only in Science Fiction movies (50's) do foes unite against a common "outer space" enemy.

Re:Exciting! (4, Insightful)

fionbio (799217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182327)

It's hard to find such thing exciting if you have children.

Re:Exciting! (2, Interesting)

MeanSolutions (218078) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182343)

Yeah, you're sick. :)

Joke aside, if they ramp up the risk of this thing hitting earth to one in five, and hype up the devastation it will make, perhaps it will shake people into action to oust all bad governments once the thing misses?

Common mistake in press coverage (4, Insightful)

AxelBoldt (1490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182270)

Many press reports essentially say "the chances of impact is relatively high with 1 in 45, but don't worry since it is almost certain that future observations will exclude the possibility of impact." Even the original NASA report contained a sentence like that.

It's important to note that if the chances of impact are 1 in 45, then the chances that future observations will exclude the possibility impact are 44 in 45.

The two events "asteroid hits us" and "we can never exclude the possibility of it hitting us" are equivalent: the first happens if and only if the second happens. Therefore the two events have the same probability.

So the "don't worry" part of the above sentence is pointless: the second half sentence is a mere reformulation of the first; there is no reassuring "extremely high" probability that future observations will correct the number downward.

Re:Common mistake in press coverage (2, Insightful)

lordfener (842728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182332)

I'm not so sure that I follow you. The impact happening or man being able to predict it are two independent concepts. We can predict that it will happen and still be wrong; likewise, we can predict that it won't happen and be dead wrong (literally). The impact probability is cumulative, but every observation introduces a certain amount of error, some of which can be compensated for (known quantities like the CCD resolution of the telescope that took the measurement), while others can't (human error, poor calibration, the fact that every observation is performed at a different place, time and by different people, and so on). Therefore, the probability that any one observation will change the impact probability either way is unknown--because you don't know how many observations will be made between now and the estimated time of impact and you don't know the final result--a bit like playing roulette with a wheel that has infinite numbers.

Terminology (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182277)

Let's get the terminology straight here.

Chance is measured in percent. Probability is measured as a decimal or fraction between 0 and 1, with 1 being 100% certainty. Odds are measured as a ratio such as 1,000,000 to 1.

Re:Terminology (1)

phreakuencies (829080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182303)

Measuring in % is just a way to get a more readable number (people tend to like "round" numbers like 10 and 100). A probability can be easily expressed as a percentage. It's just a matter of scale. But, well... probability tends to be defined as fraction between 0 and 1.

Probability now 1/12. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182289)

Re:Probability now 1/12. (1, Informative)

topynate (694371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182325)

Bollocks. You just fed the percentage-to-fraction converter with a higher number.

Wagering on Survival (2, Funny)

spywarearcata.com (841806) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182290)

I, for one, will give 100,000-to-1 odds that the favorite, earth, will survive 2004 MN4. Paypal accepted.

1/233 probability (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182293)

That Linux will be ready for the desktop by then

Not too big a deal, I think (4, Insightful)

philovivero (321158) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182299)

From the last post about this, I went and read up on the whole thing. I went to the beautiful CGI script where you input asteroid size and velocity and all that, and assumed I was 100km from the impact.

I had to up the asteroid size to 1300 metres and a velocity of 14kps of dense rock colliding with porous rock before I could interpret the results as something that would suck for me (2nd degree burns on my body from the fireball).

There would be no major earth effects of such an asteroid hitting Earth, so it said.

Compare these stats against our current fearsome asteroid.

In one thread I saw someone refer to this as possibly a human-extinction event. I have a hard time believing that once I actually bother to go check this out. It'd sure suck for everyone within 100km of the impact site but for everyone else, I guess we'd have about the same effects as a major earthquake to deal with.

Re:Not too big a deal, I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182406)

You have not taken into consideration the collosal amount of fallout that will cause thich clouds that would block the sun. That will spread much further than 100km.

Did it take NASA out? (1)

GlassUser (190787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182304)

It looks like that server just got hit by a meteorite. Oops.

Just remember what Douglas Adams would say... (0, Redundant)

comrade009 (797517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182311)

Don't Panic.

Furthermore (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182318)

In response to the story about the giant rock hurling through space that is set to devastate our planet in a horrible event, Merry Christmas everyone!


At least if it hits on April 13 we won't have to file our taxes in 2029...

but where is ti going to hit? (1)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182323)

Now I know this might be a world killer, etc, but someone should be able to tell me with the trajectory it is on, which way the earth would be facing should it hit....

I'm just curious what will be cratered, what will be melted, what will be evaporated, and what will just die.

Re:but where is ti going to hit? (1)

TimToady (52230) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182425)

6-8 square kilometers of eastern hemisphere, more or less. In theory, you can obliterate a large city. But nobody will die, because we'll make sure it doesn't hit, unless civilization collapses really soon, in which case we're all hosed anyway.

it actually can be a good thing (4, Insightful)

BigGerman (541312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182341)

you know.

Imagine how much technology boost all the related stuff will receive. If the Moon shot (the pure publicity stunt) generated so much progress, imagine this.

By the time we will know it is going to miss by 500km, we will already have cheap reliable interplanet travel and will be able to melt/mine/whatever the asteroids. Cool.

I thought this said.... (1)

WizardRahl (840191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182358)

2004 NHL may be possible... oh well it is in my dreams :P

Maybe I'm a sick puppy.., (4, Interesting)

TLLOTS (827806) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182360)

...but I sort of hope it is found to have a much, much higher likelyhood of hitting earth, so much so that's it's almost certain to occur.

Why? Simply because it would post such a great challenge for humankind. It could well bring much greater cooperation between countries, cooperation of a level presently unheard of.

Certainly, I'm not hoping it actually strikes earth, merely that people work together in order to stop it.

Just be glad that Bush won't be the president at the time. If it did hit, in US soil no less, then he'd start pouring billions per month into NASA for the development of spacecraft to fight the alien 'terrorists' who threw that asteroid at America.

Note to self... (2, Funny)

rwyoder (759998) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182372)

First thing Monday morning, talk to bank about refinancing house with a 25-year balloon mortgage.

at least it's useful for something (2, Funny)

schmu_20mol (806069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182383)

Crivens! At least we now know why to welcome our new absinth overlord that day.

1 in 2! AAAAAA!!!!! (1, Funny)

helix400 (558178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182387)

Look, the chances are now 1 in 2!!!

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/ip?0.5e-0 [nasa.gov]

Actually, it's not. The URL just lets you plug in any scientific notation number. Hope I didn't alarm you too much. =)

The torrino scale creates unneeded histeric people (2, Insightful)

Psychic Burrito (611532) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182391)

You know what? I think we need sometime else besides the Torrino scale.

With all those asteroids, it's always the same game: high probability at the start, it goes up or down and after 2 weeks, we've got some numbers that really mean something, but the problem is that during this time, people start freaking out because they would like to hold to some true numbers, not just "probabilities that are bound to change".

So, what we need to communicate with even more weight than those torrino scale numbers is a "measurement progress percentage" and tell everybody "if it's not 100%, don't worry yet". That way, with the always updated percentage number, the masses can reliably hold to something, and know that "progress below 100% means that what we know is not reliable".

Actually, for the current incident, we don't have this number, so I really won't wonder if some people will be freaking out over the next few days.

Astronomers: full exposure it the name of the game! Tell us how long it will take to measure the path, and where you are currently standing!

Thank you.

no wonder nasa got all that new funding (1)

f05t3k (837340) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182401)

and when does social security run out? Please don't tell me that we're entering that belt of asteroids in our galaxy that supposedly caused mass extinctions every 40 million years, I thought we had at least...tens...of...millions...of...years...left.

Oh wait, in 30 years we may be able to move the entire solar system. If we'd just stop sqwabbling over the limited remaining resources of this planet. we get em all except europa right :P

100%! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11182416)

Hey, now it's 100%!

Link Here [nasa.gov]

Re:100%! (1)

lightdarkness (791960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11182421)

It was funny the first time.

Now it's just stupid.
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