Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A one way ticket please

Some 3000 years ago the Egyptians worshiped Apophis, an evil god of destruction, "a demon that was determined to plunge the world into eternal darkness."

(Picture not enough? Click it for a fun end of the world video.)

And some genius in our time decided to name an asteroid after him (her?). Like out of a Hollywood picture our heroes discover there is a giant space rock flying toward Earth that has "an outside chance of hitting the Earth in 2036, and would release more than
100,000 times the energy released in the nuclear blast over Hiroshima."

A couple of things to note....

1) None of us really have any concept of 100,000 times the energy released at Hiroshima. All we know is it was bad and this will be worse. But how much worse? Destroy all of Japan or all of Earth? Relax... The Earth will survive. The species on it however....

2) In Hollywood they find out they've only got a week to train the crew to fly into space and destroy the asteroid. In reality we've got awhile....

So now I'm going to relax... Wait? What's that you say Mr. Scientists?

"It may be a decision in 2013 whether or not to go ahead with a full-blown mitigation mission, but we need to start planning it before 2013," said Prof Fitzsimmons. In 2029, astronomers will know for sure if Apophis will pose a threat in 2036. If the worst-case scenarios turn out to be true and the Earth is not prepared, it will be too late. "If we wait until 2029, it would seem unlikely that you'd be able to do anything about 2036," said Mr Yates.

Oh great... and here I was worried about the subprime mortgage implosion and its effects on the economy.

I'm not actually sitting around waiting for the end of the world, but it does beg the question, what should we do as a species?

I think we need to get off this rock and establish some other places to live. That means a huge investment in exploration and colonization. Yes, I know it seems crazy, but why put all our eggs (and sperm and babies and ... and... ) in one planet? We know there will be asteroid strikes in the future. They've happened in the past and there is no reason to expect that we'll dodge all the bullets. Perhaps we'll get the technology up in time to divert or capture and mine potential threatening asteroids.
(EARTH FIRST! We'll mine the other planets later!)
By the way - do a search on www.youtube.com for Apophis.. there are a dozen videos out there.

I actually got my information from a real news source.

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