The media frenzy is building up about the near miss asteroid which will just pass our planet in 5 days time.
This after being told that another near miss won’t be as close as expected. Things of course will die down again with some disappointment expressed by doomsayers that the world still hasn’t come to an end after the anti-climax of 21 December 2012.
What matters in life is the long term. NASA is launching its OSIRIS-REx mission in 2016 to get more science on yet another large near earth asteroid candidate. What to do according to expert scientist Edward Beshore of the University of Arizona, if we find out it might cause us severe damage?
The key to all these strategies is to discover the asteroid well in advance of its impact date and attempt to deflect it early, according to Beshore. “If you’re trying to deflect an arrow, you wouldn’t need to apply much force to the arrow to make it widely miss the target if you could deflect it as it left the bow,” says Beshore. “On the other hand, if you had to deflect it right before it hit the target, you’d need to push on it a whole lot more to get it out of the way.”
Perhaps he should have used a bullet analogy (see below)? Even so the arrow image illustrates that even Newtonian physics is full of uncertainties, without talking about the proposed solutions, one of which might be: “Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do about it”.
Might as well face up to it now by investing in the scientific and technical education of our brightest future generations – perhaps one of them will come up with a world-saving idea before it’s too late?
Ironically, if they live in Arizona where the expertise currently lies, they face a state with some of the most liberal gun laws in the USA. This means that they may get hit by a speeding object on the way to the observatory.
Guess we’re really doomed then?