Good News/Bad News: Tyson On Asteroids

I suppose this isn’t really news, but it came up when I looked at google news so I’m counting it for this week, I mean last week, and because of the mix of hope and dubious implications if we are held back by such simple things as funding priorities, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s article in Wired magazine today shall be our stories for the day.

So, welcome to last week’s good news/bad news, where each week, usually a day late, I find some good news and some bad news to share with you, the good people of the internet and soothe you into taking your leave from this blog with something from youtube designed to make you smile.

It’s your job to decide whether I succeeded I suppose.

Take a lookie here for the article. As always Tyson is extremely eloquent and a riveting communicator of science.

In discussion about the threat of asteroids to the earth today, Neil Tyson mentioned three ways in which we could possibly prevent asteroid impacts. Stop me if you’ve heard this but it’s always interesting to me to ponder how we could save ourselves from destruction without the aid of Bruce Willis and Steven Tyler’s over-sized mouth.

1. Nuclear bomb

2. Neutron bomb

3. Gravitational tractor

The first involves blowing up the potentially deadly target, the second would alter the asteroid’s orbit through detonation and the third would attempt to alter the direction of the space rock with the gravity of a probe sent towards the asteroid.

The third seems like the best choice at the moment, although if the odds remain in our favour we will have no need to deploy any of these, so keep your fingers crossed and ignore those who would tell you that an impact is ‘due’.

The bad news I suppose is that, even if we dismiss the coastal damage that could be caused by the impact of Apophis in 2036 (if its trajectory happens to hit the right/wrong angle), that earth will in all fairness probably be hit by an asteroid long before it gets swallowed up by the sun expanding.

So if you were planning on staying alive for millions of years and being the captain going down with your ship, you’d better work out some way of increasing funding for these preventative measures.

Now since we’re in Tyson’s area now, how about some melodies from the man himself.


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