The war against asteroids

I pointed out on Monday that statistics expert Nate Silver has calculated that your odds of being on a flight that is the target of a terrorist in the last 10 years is 10,408,947 to 1. You could board 20 flights a year, and still have better odds of being struck by lightning.

Fine. You want an even better bet?

How about something like this hitting us?


It’s the Apophis asteroid and it’s heading our way. NASA calculates that there’s a 1 in 45,000 chance the asteroid will hit Earth on April 13, 2036. Another calculation puts it at 1 in 233,000. Whatever. We’re doomed in the long run.

That doesn’t concern you? Tell it to Russia. Today, Russia announced it’s beginning a project to — in the understated words of Pravda — “save Earth.” The head of the Russian space federation said his organization is developing plans for a spacecraft to intercept the asteroid.

Depending on what happens when the next measurements are taken in 2013, scientists think it will pass within 49,000 miles of Earth.

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