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Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:34 PM

The biggest asteroid threat we know of (2036)

Last edited Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:18 PM - Edit history (2)

Apophis asteroid (named after the Egyptian god of darkness and destruction because scientists are eternal optimists) will be a close call with Earth in 2036. On a Friday the 13th. (really) The thing is 1,000 feet across, which isn't civilization ending but would kill billions (starvation mostly) and dominate the news for a few generations. Even Rand Paul wouldn't dare compare any subsequent event to a 1,000 foot diameter asteroid strike.

For those who prefer to look on the bright-side... it would stop global warming in its tracks, inaugurating a multi-year winter.

The thing is not expected to hit us, but is expected to come within 18,000 milesócloser than some of our satellites. The moon averages about 240,000 miles distance, so we are talking about 13th of that distance. Or, another way, the Earth is about 8,000 miles diameter... so a miss of 2.25 Earth widths.

This Earth-Moon picture is to scale, from wikipedia. Apophis will come closer to Earth than the length of the word wikipedia. (In my browser)



But if Apophis comes near another objects or objects on its journey a slight deflection could make it a 36,000 mile miss or a 0 mile miss. (aka a hit)

Question: If we find out in 2015 that the asteroid has deflected and is 50%-50% to hit Earth in 2036, what year will we start taking it seriously?

a) 2035
b) 2036
c) 2037
d) 2038

In terms of greatest asteroid threat ever... our moon is a chunk of Earth that was knocked into space by something about as big as Mars smacking into the Earth. The weirdest thing we discovered studying moon rocks is that they are not weird at all. They are Earth rocks. The stray planet-thing hit us at a bit of an angle. If it had hit us smack perpendicular Earth would not exist. There would be a second asteroid belt here instead. (The Earth and Moon are both spherical today because of gravity. At the temperatures generated by such a hit pretty much everything was molten.) It was a near thing, but Earth survived, and was bigger for the experience, literally, and had a remarkably large moon of a size that could never have been captured by our gravity, in the way most moons are acquired. This was a loooong time ago when the Earth itself was pretty newly formed.

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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply The biggest asteroid threat we know of (2036) (Original post)
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 OP
OriginalGeek Feb 2013 #1
longship Feb 2013 #7
OriginalGeek Feb 2013 #9
longship Feb 2013 #15
OriginalGeek Feb 2013 #16
yellowcanine Feb 2013 #2
FSogol Feb 2013 #3
LibertyLover Feb 2013 #4
Nye Bevan Feb 2013 #5
Evasporque Feb 2013 #12
apocalypsehow Feb 2013 #6
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2013 #30
flamingdem Feb 2013 #8
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #13
nadinbrzezinski Feb 2013 #24
MineralMan Feb 2013 #10
baldguy Feb 2013 #11
davidn3600 Feb 2013 #14
exboyfil Feb 2013 #17
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #21
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #31
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #18
Orrex Feb 2013 #19
longship Feb 2013 #20
Orrex Feb 2013 #22
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #23
Orrex Feb 2013 #25
wandy Feb 2013 #26
mikeysnot Feb 2013 #27
Pholus Feb 2013 #28
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #35
Pholus Feb 2013 #36
bluestateguy Feb 2013 #29
lunatica Feb 2013 #32
Neoma Feb 2013 #33
Agschmid Feb 2013 #34

Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:35 PM

1. The second they send Aerosmith and Bruce Willis up to fix it

That's when I'll know it was worth worrying about!

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:51 PM

7. "Guess what guys. It's time to embrace the horror!"

Quote Steve Buscemi in Armageddon. Sorry I couldn't find a YouTube on it, but there is this one which comes as close as is possible to nearly, almost, kinda redeem this abomination of a movie.


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Response to longship (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:58 PM

9. Heh - I love Steve Buscemi

Whatever he's in. And sometimes it might not be something great. But it was better for him being in it. Even if it stiiiiiiiiiiiinks, it stinks less if Steve Buscemi was in it.

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Response to OriginalGeek (Reply #9)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:03 PM

15. I agree. The guy's totally unbuttoned.

His best is still Fargo which richly deserves all the accolades it has received. Buscemi and Stormare were positively chilling, as was the ND/MN winter in the plot. McDormand richly deserved her Oscar.

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Response to longship (Reply #15)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:10 PM

16. Fargo is one of my top five all time favorite movies.

Agree with all of your post.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:37 PM

2. "0 mile miss"

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:41 PM

3. Has Pat Robertson announced whose fault it is yet?

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:44 PM

4. Oh, I'd say roughly

around 2039.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:44 PM

5. Boehner: "this incoming asteroid gives us leverage in discussions about wider fiscal issues".

"There is a price for everything", Boehner told the President during a meeting to discuss ways to prevent the incoming asteroid from devastating the Earth.

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:01 PM

12. BWWAAAAHHH.....lol...nt

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:45 PM

6. The earth is like a lucky boxer - keeps dodging right hooks and left jabs. But luck runs out

with even the luckiest boxer eventually, and one of those blows connects. Let's hope earth advances technologically enough to first detect and then deflect or destroy one of these things before our luck finally runs out.

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Response to apocalypsehow (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:17 PM

30. I read an interesting article years ago...

That answered the question " why doesn't the Earth look more like the moon with all of its craters?"

Two reasons. Weather and thus erosion and Jupiter.

Jupiter has acted like the Solar Systems giant vacuum cleaner for billions of years. The reason we don't get hit very often anymore is because of Jupiter.


I thought that was interesting.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:54 PM

8. Good, we need another 2012 type scare

to market the crap out of

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Response to flamingdem (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:01 PM

13. NASA predicts it will come between Earth and our GPS satellites

That's not the same thing as saying ancient Mayan mystics predicted something.

18,000 miles is a rounding error.

It is not predicted to hit, but everything we know about the universe predicts it will be a ridiculously close call.

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Response to flamingdem (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:23 PM

24. This s science, not popular mis interpretations

Of Maya traditions. The scientists who studied the Maya, or those of us who talked with them, had a severe attack of the funnies.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:59 PM

10. Well, if I'm still around in 2036, I'll be 91 years old.

That would be a helluva way to go out.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:00 PM

11. Maybe we need a Zat gun?

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:02 PM

14. The question is...if the govnt knew a large asteroid was going to hit, would they tell us?

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:10 PM

17. No.

But that is something someone can easily figure out. You could not keep a lid on it.

One of my favorite books as a kid was Lucifer's Hammer. Maybe I need to dig it out.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #17)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:15 PM

21. Sadly, the RW slant really sticks out today

I loved that book as a kid, and enjoyed it a year or two ago as an adult, but the Niven/Pournelle wing-nut vibe diminished my adult enjoyment.

As a kid my favorite author in the world was Heinlein. Today I can't read him. It's like Glen Beck with a higher IQ.

Such is life.

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Response to exboyfil (Reply #17)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:19 PM

31. I LOVED Lucifer's Hammer. But yeah, that RW and racism thing.......

Still, it was the TEOTWAWKI novel that jumpstarted my love for the genre.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:11 PM

18. They would have no choice. Amateurs can find these things.

To may telescopes in too many places... and computers.

The government wouldn't even be the first to know.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #18)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:14 PM

19. You're right: Frodo would find it first.

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Response to davidn3600 (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:15 PM

20. Jeez! No way could it be secret.

Astronomers do not answer to government, any government!

There's no way to keep near Earth asteroid orbital parameters secret since those very parameters exist only because astronomers share data. Plus, anybody who can do orbital mechanics calculations can find out if the damned thing is going to hit.

This stuff may be rocket surgery, but it's not secret, nor could it be kept secret.

The SETI astronomer, Seth Shostak says that the last time they had a strong candidate for ET calling the New York Times contacted him and he never heard from anybody in government.

Something tells me that if astronomers see a chance that an asteroid would hit, they'd have to go to Congress with hat in hand before anybody in government would pay attention. Even then, they'd have a bunch of Congress critters claiming it's bunkum and Michelle Bachmann would be saying, "Good! That means Jesus is coming back."

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:18 PM

22. We cannot allow a mineshaft gap

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Response to Orrex (Reply #22)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:20 PM

23. And the females Strangelove would take to the mineshaft in 2036 aren't even born yet

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:24 PM

25. Has Lars von Trier issued a statement yet?

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM

26. You've got to wonder what we would do were it to be a 0 mile miss.....

Would we cower in fear?
Would some among us destroy the rest trying to have those "last good times"?
Would we combine resources in an actual attempt to send "Aerosmith and Bruce Willis up to fix it"?
Would the 2035 equivalents of John Boehner and Mich McConnell block any attempt (in typical republican fashion) to do anything? Anything at all?

So... So you think you can tell.....

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM

27. Best bet is to institute more tax cuts for the wealthy...

.1%

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Response to Pholus (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:33 PM

35. That is based on current observations. (There's a meaningful distinction here)

We know these things with terrific precision assuming nothing changes. On the Newtonian side of things we are rock solid.

We do not, however, know everything the asteroid might experience in its travels. We are not even aware of all matter it will encounter. So we can estimate, but we do not know.

It is unlikely to hit us. Even exceedingly unkely to hit us.

But it is still precisely what the OP says it is, 1) the greatest asteroid threat we have ever discovered, and 2) unlikely to hit us.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #35)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 10:26 PM

36. Really. Seriously we have a pretty good handle on that right now.


Apophis was yesterday's news as far as threat goes. In fact, the only time we thought it posed a significant risk was back in 2004. The 2036 impact was never particularly likely, but after all the press it was worth beating down the uncertainties. And the only remaining concern about that was removed by the Goldstone observations last month.

As far as the greatest CURRENT asteroid risk, that is 2007 VK184 hands down and that is only a "1" on the Torino scale (in other words, nothing to get to worked up about either).

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:09 PM

29. Fortunately that rock is small enough that we could blow it up with a missile

Would that still cause some collateral damage? Yes, but that is far preferable to a near ELE.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:26 PM

32. I'll be 108 years old

And I may be just mean enough to still be alive. All that just to get killed by a fucking asteroid.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:29 PM

33. Well, nice knowing everyone.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:31 PM

34. Well if it's this Congress...

We will talk about it years in advance... then put it off.
We might come up with an arbitrary deadline a few months in advance... then put it off.
Then the networks will come up with graphics...
Then it will become a serious issue...
But only then.

Although we might still put if off...

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