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Asteroid 2004 MN4 May Hit Earth After All

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the take-evasive-action-spaceship-earth dept.

Space 857

ControlFreal writes "Asteroid 2004 MN4 was introduced earlier on Slashdot, and although scientists are now fairly certain that is will miss earth on April 13th, 2029, the modification to its orbit caused by Earth's gravity may still cause an impact one or a couple of orbits further down the road, the Times reports; the impact probabilities in 2035, 2036 of 2037 will not be known until the exact modification to its orbit is known; in 2029, that is. By then it may be too late for effective counter-measures. An impact would cause an energy release equivalent to about 1 Gigaton of TNT (~4e+18 Joule), and while that won't cause a massive extinction event, it causes widespread devastation. More info on 2004 MN4 can be found here and here."

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857 comments

Good! (2, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273480)



From the summary:


An impact would cause an energy release equivalent to about 1 Gigaton of TNT (~4e+18 Joule), and while that won't cause a massive extinction event, it causes widespread devastation.


I hope this rock hits our planet. I really do.

This may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late. It would be an unprecedented catastrophe, but still survivable, and it seems like this is the only way we're going to learn.

Then again, it could be a bad thing...instilling a sense of false security. (Hey...this asteroid hit us, and we're still here. Guess all those asteriod doomsday scenarios are bunk.)

I rather suspect the former will be the prevailing attitude...trouble is, mankind has a notoriously short attention span...would this command enough attention for us to start a space colony project...and actually finish it?


The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.
- Larry Niven


Will our eulogy be: "The humans became extinct because they couldn't concentrate hard enough on their space program."?

Let's make an Ark B (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273521)

I've got a list of politicians and patent lawyers all ready and waiting for it.

The only problem is, I'm not sure whether we should be on it or they.

Lets put them (5, Funny)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273638)

Lets put them on the same ship as the hairdressers and telephone sanitizers.

Our Eulogy (5, Funny)

Alaren (682568) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273552)

No.

The only Eulogy the human race gets is "You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! God damn you all to hell!"

Re:Good! (4, Insightful)

Momoru (837801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273602)

Establishing an off planet colony isn't exactly the same as getting up to turn the TV off, even if we started really focusing on this idea now, without some new propulsion technology i doubt even by 2029 we will have this option.

Re:Good! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273617)

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.

How do we know that? Who says they didn't? All of human history would barely register on the fossil record. An intelligent saurian race could well have evolved, had a catastrophic world war, etc. and we'd be none the wiser... except maybe a large extinction event...

Re:Good! (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273618)

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.

How do we know the dinosaurs didn't have a space program? Obviously the ones who remained behind became extinct, but the ones who took to the stars would still be en route to Proxima, would they not?

Re:Good! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273620)

The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program.
- Larry Niven


Wouldn't it be funny if they did have a space program and just haven't bothered coming back?

Re:Good! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273628)

The problem is which part survives?

If Europe and/or the USA survives we just might do that.

If the rock lands say in the mid atlantic crush both with debris, and tidal waves, china would then rule supreme.

It all depends on who is alive afterwards.

Re:Good! (1)

daeley (126313) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273753)

If the rock lands say in the mid atlantic crush both with debris, and tidal waves

USA != East Coast

Re:Good! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273650)

No goddamnit. The dinosaurs became extinct because they were liberals!

Re:Good! (1)

tavilach (715455) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273676)

Our eulogy will actually be, "I am the last human ali-- Oh crap!"

Re:Good! (5, Insightful)

Camel Pilot (78781) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273697)

In general terms, having your collective dna stuck at the bottom of a gravity well relying on the "stability" of a single biosphere is not a a good long term policy.

Re:Good! (4, Insightful)

zapadoo (807744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273702)

I hope this rock hits our planet. I really do. This may be the spur humanity needs to get us up off our collective keisters and establish a viable off-planet colony before it's too late.

Personally, I think we should focus our efforts on keeping the planet we live on viable. If some big rock later undoes the hard work, so be it.

Meanwhile we're hell-bent on destroying a perfectly viable planet with our own home-grown stupidity - at the rate we are going we'll eventually finish the job whether or not an asteroid beats us to the punch is just a matter of timing.

Re:Good! (2, Funny)

darkstar949 (697933) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273721)

More likely is that people will ignore it until a week before it hits because they would treat it the same way as global warming - it doesn't exist until it begins to affect them, and then it sits in committee for awhile while people decide what to do about it.

Date of impact (4, Funny)

thewiz (24994) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273483)

My bet is it will hit Earth on April 13, 2029. After all, it's a Friday!
I wonder if Jason http://www.fridaythe13thfilms.com/ [fridaythe13thfilms.com] will show up.

Re:Date of impact (4, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273537)

Not to worry. As I learned from the movie Armageddon, we can just sent a couple construction workers to the asteroid, plant a dynamite on the asteroid itself.... blow it up before it hits earth. They'll have no problem volunteering as long as they never have to pay taxes again.

Re:Date of impact (1)

BigFlirt (632867) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273711)

Or... As I plan on learning at the end of this month... I need to meet Mos Def and make sure he brings along his Sub-Etha Sens-o-matic and a couple of towels.

Re:Date of impact (1)

panchondo (869537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273641)

What about idioteque, the Radiohead song (who infinity times superior to U2)? what does that mean then mr latin?

Orion Project (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273485)

in 2029, that is. By then it may be too late for effective counter-measures.

Bull. 2029 to 2035 gives us ~6 years to prepare. If the asteroid actually posed clear and present danger, then a crash program to build an interceptor could be accomplished. With apologies to Pournelle and Niven [amazon.com] (warning, associates link), the catch-22 is that we would have to give up our fear of the Orion [wikipedia.org] . Using standard building practices + what we know of advanced hydrogen bomb design, we could potentially launch an Orion within three years. The options would be to either send it on an unmanned kinetic-impact course with the asteroid, or to send a team ala "Armageddon" (or some other lame stop-the-asteroid movie) to manually plant and detonate the charges.

If I'm reading the info correctly, the asteroid is a mere 46 gigatonnes. So as long as we get to it fast enough, there shouldn't be any difficulty in nudging it into a higher orbit. Of course, we may only be able to buy some time in the short term. Orbital mechanics is tricky, and not as simple as just "pushing" the asteroid out of the way. We may actually have to push it toward earth to slingshot it into a more acceptable trajectory.

One way or another, we have the tech. It's just scary as all hell to behold, and in a crash program would almost certainly add a small amount to the nuclear pollution that already exists on our planet. But if it's a choice between three random deaths from cancer or millions dead from a massive impact, I think the choice is fairly clear. Especially when the former is theoretical and the later is firm.

Re:Orion Project (1)

Neopoleon (874543) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273529)

*2029*?

And to think I got all excited when I read the title...

Re: 6 Years!! (1)

yamcha666 (519244) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273583)

Bull. 2029 to 2035 gives us ~6 years to prepare.
6 Years!?! That's plenty! Bruce Willis only had what, like 18 days [imdb.com] to prepare?

Re:Orion Project (4, Insightful)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273744)

Bull. 2029 to 2035 gives us ~6 years to prepare.

You've never had any experience trying to get the government to actually do anything concrete, have you?

yikes! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273504)

That's it. I'm moving. This neighborhood is really starting to suck.

Bummer (2, Funny)

pfizzle (862806) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273506)

So...let's party like it's 1999?

*cue music* (5, Funny)

blew_fantom (809889) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273507)

~~Don't wanna close my eyes. Don't wanna fall asleep. 'Cause I'd miss you, baby. And I don't wanna miss a thing. Cause even when I dream of you The sweetest dream would never do. I'd still miss you, baby. And I don't wanna miss a thing~~~

Thanks a lot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273601)

I'm going to have to go listen to Toys in the Attic at least 5 times through to get rid of the pain you just caused me.

Re:*cue music* (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273649)

If we're lucky they'll take all existing copies of that movie and place them in a big pile at ground zero, so that at least some good will come of this.

oohh shit... (3, Funny)

charon_1 (562573) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273517)

**puts on tin foil hat**

Re:oohh shit... (2, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273635)

That won't protect you.

However, for $699 per head, we can protect you.

Sincerely,

Darl Mcbride.

Re:oohh shit... (2, Funny)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273643)

I'd like to know what a piece of tin foil is going to do against a meteor impact.

2037... (4, Funny)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273518)

I'll be 59 in 2037 which is when I can start withdrawing from some of my retirement accounts.

I guess I should go ahead and blow my money on a car or something instead since how big my 401k is isn't gonna matter when the monkeys take over the Earth.

Re:2037... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273664)

I'll be 59 in 2037 which is when I can start withdrawing from some of my retirement accounts.

You are forgetting that we should get cure for aging in 20 years. So you might be 59, but you could look and feel like 20-30-year old. Retirement accounts are propably cancelled and people have to work their whole lives, unless they collect enough money to be without work for few decates.

Other effects (4, Interesting)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273531)

I wonder if anyone's thought about the effects if the asteroid doesn't directly strike earth. Could it cut a swath through the geosynchronous satellites, destroying one, two or dozens directly? Might it perturb their orbits enough to destabilize the whole lot of them?

I wonder how close it would have to come to have an effect like that, and what those probabilities would be like?

As it is, I'm not losing sleep over a %0.042 chance that this puppy will shorten my retirement.

Re:Other effects (1)

myukew (823565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273626)

I guess the probability of it hitting the earth and missing it by 150km are about the same

Re:Other effects (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273671)

I wonder how close it would have to come to have an effect like that

Well, I gather it would be 22,300 miles away...

Re:Other effects (2, Funny)

Cymage (612344) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273738)

You don't have to imagine a Near miss scenario [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Other effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273765)

It may tear the atmosphere off. Then we are faced with an oxygen shortage, solar radiation, etc. It looks like extinction, no doubt. What is Geo. Bush planning?

Conspericy theorists Unite!! (0)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273535)

Isn't it JUST a little fishy that they would first announce it won't hit, and then they bring it back as a possibility?! I don't care whatever their reasons are, they are all conspiring I tell you! COSPIRING! God help us all!!

2035 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273542)

I knew the Republicans were lying about there being a Social Security crisis in 75 years. Now I don't have to worry about it. Whew.

I know what to do, are you with me? (4, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273543)

I reckon if we gather up as much lead and place it by the Oval Office, we might just be able to alter the asteroid's trajectory and save ourselves from self-anihilation.

So let's start collecting lead! Who's with me?

Ha! (2, Funny)

Sairret (786685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273546)

I knew my Y2K shelter would come in handy. Who has all the Spam now!?

The Spam is here in Hawaii (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273747)

Hawaii eats 75% of the all the Spam made by Hormel.
They even have gourmet cooking shows featuring Spam.

If you guys start buying and storing Spam in your Y2K shelters we are going to send some Moke's to have beef wid you...

--ken

so we can forget about the 32bit Unixtime thing?:) (5, Funny)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273549)


19th January 2038 half of us will be dead! Who needs to count the seconds after
that? :)

Re:so we can forget about the 32bit Unixtime thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273703)

The other half?

no problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273553)

we can just shoot some nuclear missiles at this asteriod.

Preperations (1)

raider_red (156642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273555)

We need to get a couple of spaceships ready for a rondevous. We'll also need a very high yield nuclear device, or a very powerful rocket to alter the orbit of the asteroid.

Also, we'd better put Bruce Willis in cryo-freeze for the next 24 years.

Not enough time for counter-measures (5, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273558)

I have no way of knowing, but at the rate technology is going right now, we'll probably have something capable of blowing the thing into gravel by 2035. Or at least something that we can knock it out of the way with.

I can't even imagine what things will be like in another 30 years...I mean, if in 1915 you told someone that in 30 years a bomb would be built powerful enough to flatten a small city, they'd laugh at you.

Re:Not enough time for counter-measures (2, Interesting)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273743)

I can't even imagine what things will be like in another 30 years...I mean, if in 1915 you told someone that in 30 years a bomb would be built powerful enough to flatten a small city, they'd laugh at you. And in 1970 you told someone that in 30 years we would not colonize mooon at some extent, they'd laugh at you. So what's your point? All we can say is future is unpredictable, we can either have a technological breaktrhough of some sort and can zoom into awesome techs or just stay right here..

Re:Not enough time for counter-measures (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273752)

I still wouldn't like to be in the path of 320^3 metres of gravel at inter planetary speeds.

Heck, even if you managed to blast it into smithereens, they would still hurt :(

Practice makes perfect (4, Insightful)

matth1jd (823437) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273568)

So this asteroid may not hit the Earth but one will probably slam into us eventually. So why not use this one as a practice run?

From TFA:

"This is most likely not the object with our number on it, but one day we will have to address this question and we'll need the technology."

So let's develop the technology now, when a screw up won't mean utter devastation of part of the planet.

Re:Practice makes perfect (2, Insightful)

timtwobuck (833954) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273642)

The only problem is what if we fail, and it becomes bird-shot instead of a bullet.

Then it
1. Becomes even harder to prevent from hitting us 2.It does even more damage if it does

start stocking up (1)

aclysma (734395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273570)

Start stocking up... no tinfoil hat will save you from this one :)

Re:start stocking up (1)

myukew (823565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273660)

*replaces tinfoil with Adamantium*

Not a huge amount of energy. (5, Interesting)

Eunuch (844280) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273571)

The Asian earthquake was some magnitudes greater than that. Of course it's all in how the energy is dissipated.

Before we get our hopes up... (1, Insightful)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273580)

...let's get one thing straight: an impact will not lead to a Cowboy BeBop future, I don't care how cute you think Ed and Ein are or how sexy Faye is. Wishful thinking.

With the fanboy wave-off out of the way, I would like to say that the mere threat of this should get our notice. We're not in danger right now of running out of oil but sooner or later we will be, and without energy on hand, getting access to nuclear fissile materials will be next to impossible never mind refining them and we still won't magically overnight be any closer to getting fusion or mass-energy conversion working.

Add to news of the Yellowstone mega-caldera and the possibility that we're headed towards a cooling phase planet wide, and this rock being in the neighborhood ready to drop in and we're looking at a pretty good picture of a species with less security than a corporation firewall administered by your neighbor's five year old and much more serious ramifications.

Of course we need to spread out and make sure the species can sustain itself past such an event. Problem is, will anyone really grasp it when so much more pressing stuff is on the plate, like who's still in the running on Amazing Race?

I feel a disturbance in the force.... (1)

TsukasaZero (850187) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273581)

As if a million shareholders cried out in torment and were silenced at once.

..it causes widespread devastation.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273590)

Let's hope it wipes out Europe.

Mixed signals (1)

nakly (772203) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273594)

So first it's gonna kill us [slashdot.org] , then it's not going to kill us [slashdot.org] , now it's going to kill us again? When will the /. gods make up their minds?

Coincidence (2, Interesting)

ectotherm (842918) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273604)

Hmmmm, just happens to be a "change of course" call around the same time NASA budgets are up for review... ;)

My Complaint About Splinter Cell: +1, Patriotic (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273609)

Dear Slashdot: Please report some real news instead of copying other sites' postings. Thanks for nothing.

BTW, Here's my complaint about the newest of BushCo's war criminals: John Bolton.

I just want a little editorial balance here. Although not without overlap and simplification, I plan to identify three primary positions on John Bolton's objectives. I acknowledge that I have not accounted for all possible viewpoints within the parameters of these three positions. Nevertheless, Bolton's desire to reap a whirlwind of destroyed marriages, damaged children, and, quite possibly, a globe-wide expression of incurable sexually transmitted diseases is incontrovertible evidence that Bolton harbors some insidious grudges. Now that that's cleared up, I'll continue with what I was saying before, that some people think it's a bit extreme of me to detail the specific steps and objectives needed to thwart his ill-bred, odious little schemes -- a bit over the top, perhaps. Well, what I ought to remind such people is that Bolton is doing everything in his power to make me cry. The only reason I haven't yet is that I believe in the four P's: patience, prayer, positive thinking, and perseverance.

Although Bolton obviously hates my guts (and probably yours, as well), if Bolton had done his homework, he'd know that if he can one day infiltrate the media with the express purpose of disseminating atrabilious information, then the long descent into night is sure to follow. Although he has unfairly depicted me and those who share my beliefs as traitors and so-called experts, we are neither. Yes, we should give Bolton a taste of his own medicine, but his shell games are a mere cavil, a mere scarecrow, one of the last shifts of a desperate and dying cause. Even though he presents a public face that avoids overt tribalism, it seems clear that the issue of what to do about obdurate politicos is a hopelessly tangled and complicated issue, impossible to discuss due to the intensity with which each side holds its beliefs. But we ought to look at the matter in a broader framework before we draw final conclusions on the subject: We see that Bolton contends that his animadversions are not worth getting outraged about. Excuse me, but where exactly did this little factoid come from?

Here's an idea: Instead of giving him the ability to move sick revanchism from the moonstruck fringe into a realm of respectability, why don't we lead him out of a dream world and back to hard reality? If we do, we'll then be able to expose the connections between the pudibund problems that face us and the key issues of extremism and credentialism. In the end, we have to ask, "Why can't Bolton live among us in peace?" A complete answer to that question would take more space than I can afford, so I'll have to give you a simplified answer. For starters, unless Bolton provides unequivocal evidence to the contrary, I will continue to insist that his machinations appeal to people who are fearful about the world's political and economic situation and long for simple solutions to complex problems. That's pretty transparent. What's not so transparent is the answer to the following question: To what depths of depravity does he need to descend before the rest of us realize we must stop the Huns at the gate? A clue might be that I respect the English language and believe in the use of words as a means of communication. Stuck-up lunkheads like him, however, consider spoken communication as merely a set of noises uttered to excite emotions in the most brusque bohemians you'll ever see in order to convince them to pose a threat to personal autonomy and social development. I suspect that another piece of supporting evidence is that investigators who have spent many years attempting to penetrate the dark recesses of his lawless underworld frequently conclude that it is incumbent upon all of us to confront his demands head-on. My views, of course, are not the issue here. The issue is that if we let him poke and pry into every facet of our lives, all we'll have to look forward to in the future is a public realm devoid of culture and a narrow and routinized professional life untouched by the highest creations of civilization.

As a time-honored expression maintains, "Juxtaposed to this is the idea that Bolton's perversions have a distinctly beer-guzzling tone". The denial of this fact only proves the effrontery, and also the stupidity, of what I call unbalanced, wily vendors of diabolism. What I'm saying is this: if anything, Bolton really struck a nerve with me when he said that we should abandon the institutionalized and revered concept of democracy. That lie is a painful reminder that Bolton complains a lot. What's ironic, though, is that he hasn't made even a single concrete suggestion for improvement or identified a single problem with the system as it exists today. Whether or not you realize this, Bolton's practices are an icon for the deterioration of the city, for its slow slide into crime, malaise, and filth.

All kidding aside, Bolton's attempts to eroticize relations of dominance and subordination are much worse than mere sectarianism. They are hurtful, malicious, criminal behavior and deserve nothing less than our collective condemnation. Bolton has never been able to assimilate and accept the humane ideals, civilized aims, and social aspirations of his peers. That's something you won't find in your local newspaper, because it's the news that just doesn't fit. I have a soft spot for ungrateful wheeler-dealers: a bog not too far from here. This is a lesson for those with eyes to see. It is a lesson not so much about his vile behavior, but about the way that I'm not writing this letter for your entertainment. I'm not even writing it for your education. I'm writing it for our very survival. Last I checked, if one believes statements like, "Society is screaming for Bolton's epithets," one is, in effect, supporting militant clods.

What that means, simply put, is that I, for one, want to unify our community. Bolton, in contrast, wants to drive divisive ideological wedges through it. Pardon me for not being able to empathize with the worst types of impertinent jaundiced-types I've ever seen, but we must remove our chains and move towards the light. (In case you didn't understand that analogy, the chains symbolize Bolton's silly, bloodthirsty smears, and the light represents the goal of getting all of us to give him a rhadamanthine warning not to create anomie.) Although chimpanzees can be convinced to wear clothing, understand commands, and even ride bicycles (if well paid for their services in bananas), it would be virtually impossible to convince Bolton that his bedfellows claim that fetishism brings one closer to nirvana. I say to them, "Prove it" -- not that they'll be able to, of course, but because if fanaticism were an Olympic sport, Bolton would clinch the gold medal. Because "parallelogrammatical" is a word that can be interpreted in many ways, we must make it clear that his votaries are too lazy to force him into early retirement. They just want to sit back, fasten their mouths on the public teats, and casually forget that Bolton refuses to come to terms with reality. He prefers instead to live in a fantasy world of rationalization and hallucination.

His hypocrisy is transparent. Even the least discerning among us can see right through it. I can only reveal the nature and activity of Bolton's proxies and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate final aims if Bolton's army of passive-aggressive dissemblers is decimated down to those whose inborn lack of character permits them to betray anyone and everyone for the well-known thirty pieces of silver. What I call iconoclastic goofballs may endanger our property or our security or our economic well-being, but Bolton endangers our souls. He is too pernicious to read the writing on the wall. This writing warns that implying that his decisions are based on reason is no different from implying that granting him complete control over our lives is as important as breathing air. Both statements are ludicrous.

Someone needs to prevent the production of a new crop of chauvinistic troglodytes. Who's going to do it? Bolton? I think not.

Let me be clear. He is careless with data, makes all sorts of causal interpretations of things without any real justification, has a way of combining disparate ideas that don't seem to hang together, seems to show a sort of pride in his own biases, gets into all sorts of inarticulate speculation, and then makes no effort to test out his speculations -- and that's just the short list! There is an unpleasant fact, painful to the tender-minded, that one can deduce from the laws of nature. This fact is also conclusively established by direct observation. It is a fact so obvious that rational people have always known it and no one doubted it until Bolton and his peons started trying to deny it. The fact to which I am referring states that there are three fairly obvious problems with Bolton's quips, each of which needs to be addressed by any letter that attempts to prescribe a course of action. First, Bolton's attitudes are wrong for the same reason that drug use, adultery, lust, murder, and lying are wrong. Second, I find Bolton the most phlegmatic person in the world. And third, if the only way to introduce an important, but underrepresented, angle on Bolton's dishonest cop-outs is for me to lie awake at night wondering who Bolton's next victim will be, then so be it. It would certainly be worth it, because we must draw the line somewhere, and everyone with half a brain understands that.

I can't help but wonder: Why does everyone hate Bolton? Is it because of his business practices, exclusivity, disloyalty, disrespect, or because Bolton keeps trying to break up society's solidarity and cohesiveness? Whatever the answer, anyone who hasn't been living in a cave with his eyes shut and his ears plugged knows that I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people. I can therefore assure you that if we don't remove the John Bolton threat now, it will bite us in our backside sooner or later. Bolton maintains that he defends the real needs of the working class. Even if this were so, Bolton would still be postmodernist. But the real question here is not, "What is Bolton's secret agenda?". The real question is rather, "Where do snivelling half-wits like Bolton come from, and what are we going to do with them?" After days of agonized pondering and reflection, I finally came to the conclusion that prudence is no vice. Cowardice -- especially Bolton's damnable form of it -- is. It is never easy to judge what the most appropriate or effective response to his sinister actions is, but one unfortunate fact remains clear: He exhibits signs of arrested development. But the problems with his witticisms don't end there. Stand with me, be honest with me, and help me dole out acerbic criticism of John Bolton and his phalanx of superstitious stooges, and together we'll tell you a little bit about him and his irresponsible artifices. We'll enable adversaries to meet each other and establish direct personal bonds which contradict the stereotypes they rely upon to power their disreputable fibs. I'm counting on you. Thanks for reading this.

Every dark cloud has it's silver lining... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273610)

So be sure to purchase lots of stock in insurance companies today! Either way - you're a winner.

Re:Every dark cloud has it's silver lining... (1)

fr2asbury (462941) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273766)

Unless it hits Hartford CT. :-( Then the damage TO the insurance companies may be to great.

hubble (1)

sfcat (872532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273612)

I guess NASA's budget is more important after all. It would be nice to know this type of stuff before we have to que Bruce Willis. Does Hubble or Chandra provide some of this orbital data necessary to calculate the orbit of this rock. I would think so (someone correct me if I'm wrong), but it would be nice to send a probe with a nuke on it to blast it before it has a chance to hit us (or the pieces after the blast). It is much easier to deal with before it in headed straight for us.

Asteroids 2k4 (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273614)

Asteroids 2004! Its about time they've updated that classic video game! I hope it is in 3d and color, now, and you can play against other people online...

Re:Asteroids 2k4 (2, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273701)


That game was actually written by NASA, in order to train the nation's children for just such an eventuality.

Just in case ... (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273615)

I formally welcome the inhabitants of Asteroid 2004 MN4 as the new overlords of earth.

(Hey, do you know if it's inhabited or not?)

Re:Just in case ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273712)

Its probably inhabited by Crystaline Gods that are just doing a driveby to get a better look at earth. It happens all of the time, and they hire aliens to ship us to a different part of the UNiverse all of the time.

Either that or just made that up, I report you decide.

Lets solve this problem the American Way! (5, Funny)

Daravon (848487) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273619)

Lets have Microsoft patent asteriod collisons and then we'll send all the lawyers after the asteriod to deliver a cease and desist order. Worst case scenario is that we're out a few lawyers.

Interestingly enough... (1)

stuffduff (681819) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273625)

April 13, 2029 looks like it will be a Friday making it Friday the 13th. Guess it will be ok not to pay your taxes until Monday the 16th, if ever!

Curious about gravitational pull claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273629)

Benny Peiser, from Liverpool John Moores University, who is an expert on asteroid hazards, said: "We don't know what that asteroid is made of and that might influence the way it's affected by the Earth's gravitational pull. [...]"

Where does the object's composition enter the equation F=G*m1*m2/r^2 ?

Bring It On! (1)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273631)

Whether we get hit or not, what is it about me that wants this to be really-really-really close and require an intercept mission? It isn't just the anticipation of a revived space program, though that would be nice. Big, big disasters, tragic as they are still offer some fascination, some distraction from the drivel that usually is news.

Perhaps it is just boredom and curiosity about how we would live in a post-apocalyptic world. You don't really want to see anyone hurt, but the uniqueness of it all, the change of pace.

I say: Bring It On 2004-MN4!

Why take chances? (1)

McBainLives (683602) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273636)

Wouldn't be a good idea to try adjusting the thing's orbit in advance of the 2029 encounter just to prove that we *can*? We've spent a lot of taxpayer dollars in the past just to prove a concept- why not do it again? There'll probably be plenty of applications for how-to-land-on/move-an-asteroid technoloogy in future decades...

Re:Why take chances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273740)

Ahhhh, yeah. Let's see if we can change the orbit to hit earlier. Maybe we can boost the impact velocity and really do some real damage.

Bunkers? (5, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273658)

The exact effects of any impact would have varied based on the asteroid's composition, and the location and angle of impact. Any impact would have been extremely detrimental to an area of thousands of square kilometers, but would have been unlikely to have long-lasting global effects, such as the precipitation of an impact winter.

I wonder if people will build more bunkers. I know a person who owns a house, and there is a bunker in the back yard, from the days of a USSR nuclear strike threat (Back in the 70's and early 80's the drill for a nuclear strike was to climb under the desk in the school). It looks kinda flimsy to me, I am guessing the salesperson was real good. It looks more like a shed that is half way in the ground.

But, if someone wanted to make a good bunker, not just to ease the mind, but something to survive in, how deep would it need to be? I live on flat land, so I can not tunnle into a mountain, which I would assume to be the best choice. What is needed for a good oxygen supply, can you generate your own, or do you need an exhaust? How long would you need to stay underground, and where would you store the water and food? And would you have more than one exit out of the bunker, in case one side suffers damage and is burried under?

I think it would be cool to have a series of bunkers, with some pre-picked neighbors, people you trust. Have 7 or 8 bunkers, maybe a mile apart, each one acting as a node. The chances for survival would increase, and the time would pass quicker.

Re:Bunkers? (1)

myukew (823565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273727)

depends on where the things lands I guess. If it chooses your house, I'm afraid a bunker can't be deep enough.
Howerver a few kilometers away and a half buried shed may be enough to save your life.

Re:Bunkers? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273757)

You would get a lot more responses to your question if you included " ... and what OS should I run on the PC in charge of dimming the lights inside?"

Hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273662)

Ben Affleck will learn to act by then.

This reminds me of Revelation 8... (1)

bladx (816461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273665)

8The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, 9a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. 10The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water- 11the name of the star is Wormwood.[a] A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. 12The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night. (Thanks to biblegateway.org)

Not enough time... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273675)

...for super volcano to erupt! D'oh!

time.h is a prophecy. (1)

more (452266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273680)

In 2029 we learn that the world will end 2038-01-19.

Why not do something now (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273683)

They know it will be close in the other years, so why not start planning NOW so that if we know it by 2029 for sure we can either use whatever we worked out or use it for something else.

The reason it will not happen is because it will still not be eminent and it will be something only those earth saving tree huggers could work with.

Others have more importand things to do, like making money and the plan of the company only looks ahead 5 years, not 50.

Well, it was nice knowing y'all.

Visual aid (1)

mr_majestyk (671595) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273684)

A snapshot [resonancepub.com] always help me put these predictions into perspective...

In other news... (1)

SQLz (564901) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273686)

The U.S. announces its "war on large rocks".

NASA's impact risk summary (4, Informative)

Aspasia13 (700702) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273694)

The following NASA page contains an impact risk summary of several near-earth object:

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/ [nasa.gov]

Note that this one is in the top three, but with due respect to Douglas Adams, "Don't Panic" appears to be in order.

ah what difference does it make? (2, Funny)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273707)

I am probably more apt to be hit by an African Swallow then be killed by this asteroid.

Solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273710)

Superman flies up and punches it out of the way! Duh!

Xian fundamentalists listen up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273713)

To all the Christian fundamentalists out there. Now is the time to drink the magic kool-aid so the rest of us can live in peace for our last few decades.

Typical... (1)

Sunnan (466558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273714)

The very day I finish a project on time for the first time in my life, I find out that the world is probably ending soon.

Simpsons obligatory quote.. (2, Funny)

Man in Spandex (775950) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273716)

Homer: It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
Reverend Lovejoy: Run for your lives people We don't have a prayer!

Like A Sick Fetish (1)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273720)

What is with us humans? Always hanging about and waiting for the end of the world?

My House (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273723)

As long as it doesn't hit my house im cool with it.

Stop f*cking with my homeowner's insurance! (3, Funny)

IronChefMorimoto (691038) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273724)

For Christ's sake, scientists -- MAKE UP YOUR FRIGGIN' MIND ABOUT THESE GLOBAL KILLER ASTEROIDS!

I just went through paperwork HELL getting the "Asteroids, Meteorites, and Other Heaven-to-Earth Bodies" coverage removed from my AllState homeowners insurance. This after I put it on there when you FIRST told us it was going to hit us!

Then I had to call Jean, my agent, and f*cking tell her to shred that whole contract and contact my mortage lender when you f*cking scientists said, "Whoa -- wait -- it might NOT hit after all. Our bad." But, of course, the fax machine at my office was on the fritz that week (screw all-in-one concepts, HP!), so I had to take a 2 hour ride through traffic BACK to my house to get the paperwork and OVER TO Jean's office.

Now, after FINALLY getting the signature pages right, 'cause Jean's assistant can't friggin' spell "interplanetary" for sh*t, I gotta do the whole g'damn thing again.

Christ -- I'm going to just leave it on there this time and pay the extra 20% on my homeowners insurance premiums this year. It's not friggin' worth going through all that hassle, having to take time off, explaining to my boss what why I'm having to factor "global extinction" into my homeowner savings plan, etc. Dammit.

I guess, now, that those f*ckers from Homeland Security are going to change the f*cking color of the alert this week too. Then I'll have to go back and talk with Jean about that "Dirty Bombs, Biological/Chemical Agents, and Other WMDs" clause. Dammit.

IronChefMorimoto

no need to worry (1)

Arctic Dragon (647151) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273732)

As Homer Simpsons said, "What's everyone so worked up about? So there's a comet, big deal. It'll burn up in our atmosphere and what's ever left will be no bigger than a Chihuahua's head."

Oh wait, that's a comet he's talking about, not an asteroid. WE'RE DOOMED!!!
*hides in bomb shelter*

I always wondered... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273736)


how the dinosaurs' felt when they became extinct.

This will be the greatest form of extinct species empathy ever!

2029? (2)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273742)

Darn...can't it just wait until 2030? I think that Duke Nuke'em Forever is due out in 2029...

N. Korean nukes to teh rescue! (1)

bchernicoff (788760) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273750)

I knew they would come in handy for something!!

Just imagine... (1)

rgremill (442250) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273758)

The number of people trying to hitch a ride on a spaceship.

What about ineffective preparations? (5, Funny)

cbiffle (211614) | more than 9 years ago | (#12273761)

If we don't have time for effective preparations, where do I donate toward the ineffective preparations?

I, for one, want a massive Wile E. Coyote-style flag to pop out of the Earth immediately before the asteroid hits. Preferably reading "Yipe!"

Switching around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12273762)

I also hear Dell is going to start shipping AMD.
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