2004MN4, a 420 meter asteroid moving at 13 meters per second, has a 1 in 45 chance of hitting earth in 2029. This is narrowed significantly from 1 in 233 chance last week. This isn't exactly what you'd call “astronomical”. I've won bigger parlay bets in basketball gambling. Don't mistake this for hurricane projection either. Earth is an unpredictable organism. Space is a vacuum where the variables are almost nonexistent. If nothing interfered while this rock picked up speed to 13 meters per second, nothing will interfere to slow it down or alter it.

For the superstitious, the digits in 2029 equal 13. To go really nuts with numerology, 13 reduces to the number 4. In Western culture, 13 is unlucky. In the East, 4 is also unlucky but carries an extra specific meaning: Death.

Upon impact, there will be an 8km ^ 2 impact zone accompanied by a 1900 megaton explosion. Everything within 100 km will be torched. To put this in perspective, Hiroshima had a paltry 20 megaton explosion. The largest nuclear explosion ever was 50 megatons. After impact, the planet will go dark from a thick cloud cover and the temperatures will drop to tundra quality for a long time.

You've never seen an end of the world cult until you've received the hard data from astronomy dorks at NASA. For example, one of my children will be the Chosen One. It is 100% GUARANTEED that this kid will stop the asteroid Matrix-style. Before you come rushing to submit your request to bear my children, understand that the Prophecy(TM) forbids me from supporting this child. If you are cool with that (considering what's at stake), feel free to contact me.

If you want to ignore the Prophecy(TM) and do things the hard way, there are theoretically possible actions you can take. To avert this catastrophe, we could send Bruce Willis with a bomb. A more effective tactic would be to paint half the asteroid white and let the pressure of light change the trajectory over the next twenty years. Given the surface area, that's a lot of paint. Think three football fields of white paint. The problems of getting it up and then applying it are nontrivial. Project Orion studies pulse engines which are essentially controlled nuclear explosions to propel a spacecraft. Such technology could be very useful when attached to this rock.

There are a lot of things that can be done with enough time. The problem is that there are a lot of big rocks out there. The biggest one could end up coming out of our blindspot. Beyond the inability to see asteroids hidden by the sun, there are at least 44 more with a 1 in 45 chance that we don't know about.

So…Party like it's 2029! Merry Christmas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− five = 1

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>