Death By Giant Asteroid

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about Apophis, an asteroid that will be coming dangerously close to Earth in 2029:

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  • DDM

    The earth’ll end long before 2029(or 2036). 2012 or bust.

    • Alex

      You don’t seriously believe that, do you?

      • DDM

        Try and stop me.

        • Offred

          Me too.

          (Life won’t end but it will be pretty miserable for anyone who remembers living like we do… no matter what happens)

  • Joel

    You gotta love how Tyson makes a horrific asteriod impact sound totally cool! Does anybody know if there is, realistically speaking, anything we can do if this rock does indeed pass through the keyhole Tyson describes. I’ve seen and read materials discussing asteroid deflection, but could we actually do it in the given timeframe?

    • DDM

      With the proper motivation(IE: A meteor about to destroy all life on earth except possibly creatures at the bottom of the sea who won’t evolve enough to walk on land again for thousands of years after, like has occurred many, many, many times before), I’m sure we could put our brains together and get it done. That or just put our hands together and try to pray it away.

      As to how to solve it, we could just takes a team of astronauts up to the meteor with a nuke on their spaceship, have them drill a hole into it, and then explode the meteor into two distinctly, yet cleanly separate pieces that avoid Earth entirely.

      • Elemenope

        As to how to solve it, we could just takes a team of astronauts up to the meteor with a nuke on their spaceship, have them drill a hole into it, and then explode the meteor into two distinctly, yet cleanly separate pieces that avoid Earth entirely.

        LOL! But we must have a cosmonaut played by Peter Stormare. Otherwise, the thing just won’t work.

        • Siberia

          Where’s Bruce Willis when you need him?

          • Angie the Anti-Theist

            Anyone else notice that Deep Impact and Armageddon are the exact same movie? Only one had good actors and the other had Aerosmith.

            • Jabster

              Isn’t that true of most Hollywood blockbusters?

    • Yoav

      I very pessimistic. Like we do with other things we are usually not paying attention to science until there a crisis and then we complain that no one can come with a magic solution when the crisis does come. Our ability to go to space have not improved or maybe even went down in the last decades. 7 years may not be enough to develop the technology required to stop an asteroid and that assuming that this is the asteroid that will hit and that we will have the 7 year heads up there may be another asteroid up there that was not detected yet that is going to hit a lot sooner and if we don’t put some more effort into space exploration the first time we find out about it is when it’s comming through the atmosphere a few seconds before impact. The big issue is can we get the public and the government to understand that investing in science may not have an obvious immediate monitary reword but we should keep trying to understand our world so we are ready when a crisis happen.

  • Siberia

    On the bright side, if we die, at least we will die a spectacular fiery death.

  • Offred

    Sorry folks I won’t be there for that party =)
    hope someone does the movie soon.

  • Measure

    What I want to know is how early we’ll be able to tell if the asteroid is heading for the keyhole. If we can tell 5 years before the first approach, we better throw something at it while it’s passing by to alter its course.

  • Alphonsus

    What he doesn’t mention is that the odds of the asteroid hitting the keyhole are very remote at this point (40,000:1 against, if I remember right).

    And while I ordinarily wouldn’t worry too much about this ’cause we have Chuck Norris (he would just be able to round house kick that SOB back into hell where it belongs), Chuck might not live that long. Even if he does, if he takes it as an Armageddon God thing, he might think it’s supposed to end like this.

  • KH

    Every year the calculations of the orbit are refined, and recent data seem to indicate an extremely low probability of impact in 2036. See and also links at the Wikipedia entry.

  • Liudvikas

    I can’t wait for it. There will obviously be some panic and it is hilarious. :)

  • trj

    Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 2029.

    • Offred


  • Daniel

    If it’s the size of the rose bowl I seen nothing wrong with blowing it up when it gets here on the first pass. One megaton ought to do it, I mean the Russians had one that did 50 megatons that destroyed an entire island. Hell it’s a win/win astronomers can even have the (small) pieces to study and I get to justify my love of nuclear bombs.

    • wintermute

      Blowing it up just means that you have the same mass heading towards Earth, but now it’s in dozens of pieces that all have to be deflected individually. Not really a very good solution.

      • rodneyAnonymous

        Wouldn’t a bunch of smaller meteorites burn up on atmospheric entry, instead of one big meteor that makes it through?

        • Siberia

          Depends on the size of the meteorites…

          • rodneyAnonymous

            Hm. From

            One of the often proposed solutions is firing nuclear missiles at the oncoming asteroid to vaporize all or most of it. Even if not completely vaporized, the resulting reduction of mass from the blast combined with the radiation blast and rocket exhaust effect from ejecta could produce positive results. The largest problem with this solution is that if the asteroid breaks into fragments, any fragment larger than 35 m across would not burn up in the atmosphere and itself could impact Earth. Tracking the thousands of fragments that could result from such an explosion would be a very daunting task.


            • Elemenope

              I think though that the bottom line is if you succeed at breaking up the asteroid into pieces, the nastier secondary consequences of impact can be mostly avoided. Sure, thousands of volkswagen-sized rocks may do some serious damage (though about 70% of them would still hit water and cause negligible damage) but you wouldn’t get the dust-shroud effect that does the real planet-wide *catastrophic* damage, e.g. temps drop 10 degrees, crops and livestock all die, radical rainfall pattern changes, etc..

  • Olaf

    Cool we can now test if prayer does work!
    Can prayer deflect an astronaut?

    • Olaf

      Correction I ment a asteroid.

      • Yoav

        Maybe they can start small by deflecting an astronaut and then work their way up to asteroids by 2029.

  • Annie

    I’m not afraid of all the biblical horrors that fundies throw at us. Giant asteroids, however, scare the crap out of me.

  • Cody

    I just wanna know what happens when we die. I mean if its just lights out then you’d never know anything, but what if you woke up somewhere else =O. I just dunno, spiritual things happen so often on earth. Or theirs a crap ton of crazy people.

    • Nathan

      …spiritual things happen so often on earth. Or theirs a crap ton of crazy people.


  • Cody

    Oh and how do I sign up. Please God someone help me. I see subscribe, but I don’t want e-mails on topics. I need the screen where I put in my screen name and password.

    • rodneyAnonymous

      There is no such screen. Do you mean set an avatar? (tracked by email, not username)

  • Olaf

    I want to point out that astronomical orbits are very cool things.
    Even though the asteroid orbits are curved, they do follow percise and predictable orbits.

    The fact that it gets so close to Earth than our sattelites does not mean anything. I does follow physical rules and it will not suddenly decide to change orbit and fall to Earth.

    Getting so close to Earth could also be a good thing, depending of the location it could get a gravity assist and could be slingshotted away from earth never to return.

    Unlike what people think it is damned hard to get something in space to hit the Earth. A bit too slow or too fast and it misses it completely. Unless it is an intelligent asteroid of course that can alter it’s trajectory with it’s hidden rockets. LOL

  • rodneyAnonymous

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is a great speaker, very funny. Heard a segment on the radio from him, about the relinquishing of Pluto’s planet-hood.

    • Elemenope

      He was on The Daily Show a few months ago. Very funny interview.

  • Siberia

    But someone else traveled in time and filmed it for us: fiery d00m.

  • Michael

    Lol, am I the only one who caught Cody’s post? Where did that come from?

  • 3D


    Angie the Anti-Theist wrote:
    “Anyone else notice that Deep Impact and Armageddon are the exact same movie? Only one had good actors and the other had Aerosmith.”

    Jabster wrote:
    “Isn’t that true of most Hollywood blockbusters?”

    In many cases yes, they copy each other. But in this case, it is widely believed throughout the industry that there was a mole inside Disney/Miramax that was leaking scripts to Dreamworks, allowing them to put out ‘copy’ films before Disney could get those scripts made, so that it would appear that Disney was ripping them off. This resulted in, among others, “Deep Impact/Armaggedon” and “Antz/A Bug’s Life”.

    Also, Deep Impact had quite a few more differences from Armageddon than just a better cast and not-cringeworthy Aerosmith soundtrack. For one thing it was a lot more scientifically accurate (which isn’t saying much because Armaggedon’s science was like two notches above creationism).

  • smiling gandalf

    how about a giant space lazer or maybe a page or two from the hitchikers guide to the galaxy wouldnt go a miss :)