Skip to main content

Giant Killer Asteroids -- Coming Soon

Today, I had the distinct pleasure of watching Naked Science, and learned all about killer asteroids. I took from this episode that we will find ourselves in the path of a deadly asteroid at some point, and that our scientists really don't know what to do about it.

One scientist showed us how we could put a giant magnifying glass in space, and harness the sun's power to incinerate and deflect the asteroid. To illustrate his idea, he used a magnifying glass to play the part of the giant magnifying glass, and a grapefruit to represent an asteroid. Ah, delicious grapefruits! Another scientist told us that we could send a spaceship equipped with a special claw which would grab the asteroid, and shift its course. That scientist made an important point about his idea -- it would take ten to fifteen years to develop, which means we're in trouble if an asteroid comes our way in the next few years. You can also forget about the Hollywood-inspired idea of using nuclear bombs to destroy an approaching asteroid. The nuclear power requirement to destroy an asteroid is too great, and even if we were able to shatter the asteroid, it would likely cause thousands of radioactive "asteroidlets" to shower us.

Another problem with the ideas presented by our scientist friends is that we will only know if their ideas are effective if they work as hoped when the time arrives. According to information presented in this episode, the government budgets four million dollars annually for research into these asteroids. That's not much money, so it doesn't seem we'll make any rapid progress in developing preventive technology.

I do appreciate the work that some of these scientists are doing to try to help. Their efforts are heroic, though underappreciated by the majority of the human race. Most of us would rather remain ignorant so as not to worry, but there are scientists who are facing this potential catastrophe daily in order to protect us.

It's not clear when an asteroid will hit us, but it's clear that it has occurred in the past, and that our orbit does put us in danger. One scientist put it in perspective by describing our orbit as a highway, and the paths of asteroids as small side streets that intersect with that highway. The intersections don't have traffic lights, and the asteroids don't look both ways before crossing the highway. We've been lucky in our lifetimes that we haven't been at one of those intersections at the same time as an asteroid. How much longer will luck be on our side?


Popular posts from this blog

Unmasking My Mask Problem

I like to think of myself as a caring person, and attempt to behave compassionately towards others. Sometimes I fall short in that effort, but failing is what humans do, and successful humans learn from failure. I'd like to discuss what I believe is one of my more recent failures, and what I've come to learn about what's behind it. When the masking guidance and mandates first dropped, it short-circuited me. I reacted in disbelief, anger, and refusal to enter places that required masks. Masking was a simple act that was both scientifically and morally justified. I wondered if I really was a decent person, or if this reflexive pushback was just uncovering undiagnosed sociopathic tendencies. I started to wonder if my outward behaviors of positivity and kindness were just facades that I'd constructed around a dark psyche. Given the rhetoric surrounding mask-wearing, which can — as far as I understand — be reduced to “you're a monster if you don't do this,” it was ha


At the end of 2019, I began casually practicing mindfulness meditation. Just over a year later, it's become a nearly essential part of my routine; it provides me an off-ramp to ease back into my personal life after an eight-hour (often longer) workday. Some folks have expressed interest in hearing more about this routine, so I thought it would be helpful to chronicle my experiences: the good, the bad, and the frustrating. Buddhism has been an interest of mine for several years now, and I have a particular affinity for the simplicity of Zen Buddhism. It strips away a lot of the religious/spiritual elements more common in forms of Buddhism found in Tibet, for example. I sometimes use the term Zen meditation , when it is probably more accurate to refer to it as mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation focuses on being aware and present for each passing moment. Contrary to popular belief, it's not about emptying the mind or teleporting to some sort of astral plane. It's


The criminals who invaded the capital on January 6th, 2021 are not patriots. There is nothing noble or heroic about violently storming the capitol building and disrupting a legal proceeding that is outlined in the constitution of the United States . Those who took part in — or even endorsed — such actions are seditious goons with an axe to grind because the election results didn't favor them. The events yesterday were a culmination of unhinged ramblings and lies from the occupant of the White House, and years of disinformation emanating from the dark recesses of the web. Finally, there is simply no room for whataboutism here. The events of the summer do not hold a candle to the actual sedition that we witnessed yesterday. The demonstrations — and yes, violence — from this summer were to protest hundreds of years of oppression and marginalization of Black people. To equate those protests to yesterday's domestic terrorism is fallacious and ignorant.