back to article The universe speaks: 'It's time to get off your rock!'

The twin visitations from our solar system on Friday – one expected and one not – are yet another signal that mankind really needs to get out and about a bit more if we are to survive as a long-term species. Those with an interest in space had already blocked out Friday on our calendars for the flyby of the asteroid 2012 DA14 a …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

There might also have been a strike in Cuba, apparently:

http://www.heavy.com/news/2013/02/meteorite-like-object-strikes-cuba-as-asteroid-buzzes-earth-after-russia-meteorite-strike/

...possibly the main rock has calved and there are a few below-detection-threshold bits and pieces in a cloud around it. Not sure how feasable that is...we have, after all, been looking at the asteroid fairly hard of late.

1
1
Pint

Call the sub-editor!

"Sooner or later we're going to get hit by something, and if it's big enough our the planet could be inhabitable by humans for years or even decades."

8
0
FAIL

Re: Call the sub-editor!

Not forgetting "global warning wouldn't have been such a major issue any more.", too. Aren't global warnings exactly what the article is about?

2
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Call the sub-editor!

If we add in all the other 'eventualities' - untracked objects, massive tsunamis, Yellowstone park going pop, the old 'rapid magnetic pole shift', etc. etc. (even before the usual 'apocalyptic warnings' 'cos we are all heathens) it's what makes things interesting here. The more we learn about how the planet wobbles about the more it's a surprise we're still around in the first place.

Yeah, yeah, the sky is going to fall in, it's happened before -- maybe next time the planet will end up with an intelligent life-form, you never know.

16
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Call the sub-editor!

Some would say: "Again?"

See, if there's one thing youcan count on in this life, it's humans having no sense of REALLY long term planning and a very short term memory.

0
0

All I read was the headline

And immediately thought... Duh. Is it really a debate?

4
0
Silver badge
Pirate

Re: All I read was the headline

Sadly, it is a debate, which is why the race is essentially doomed, unless one or other of the super-rich currently playing around with big fireworks come good.

GJC

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Is it really a debate?

Given that people who say "manned space flight is essential to the survival of the species" are vastly outnumbered by people who say "why do we waste money on space research, when we have so much poverty" or "apart from non-stick frying pans, what did the space programme do for us?" or those simply believe fictional deities are the best defence against planet-killing rocks, it is a debate that largely covered by a Somebody Else's Problem field. We'd probably need a strike large enough to halt all iPhone production and take Farcebook offline to promote it to the status of 'no-brainer'.

6
2
Silver badge

Re: Is it really a debate?

There is something else to consider. Even if we can find another rock to live on, there is nothing to say it will be in any less jeopardy of a species annihilating rock strike. It seems the best bet in space research is to figure out how to protect the rock we have rather than going looking for another one with greener grass that may or may not be destroyed before this one. We only really need to find another rock when our Sun goes out, well preferably somewhat before then actually.

1
1
Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: All I read was the headline

Don't know many flat-earthers, do you?

0
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Um, Eddy....

It's not about any particular individual surviving. It is about the species as a whole continuing. If we live on two rocks, one rock-killing asteroid cannot wipe out the species. If we live on lots of rocks, so much the better.

Anyway, that aside, we've pretty much used up this planet, so some new ones with more resources to consume are required.

GJC

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Is it really a debate?

manned space flight is essential to the survival of the species

And why is that important, again?

0
1
Silver badge

Re: Um, Eddy....

Oh, I never figured it would be any particular individual and I certainly have no intention of hanging around until Sol's lights go out. I just don't see rock hopping in the near future but I do see a need to defend this rock as a shorter term goal than getting the rock out of here and moving to other planets like an Asimov novel.

For wiping out the species, I can't say for sure that folks making a long space journey and ultimately populating the next rock will much resemble Sapiens. It is likely that such stresses will force evolutionary adaptations that could be quite extreme and the critters that come out the other end may not look anything like the ones left behind on this rock and could easily be a different species. I guess it comes down to how you define the species surviving, e.g. does dinosaurs going the way of aves count as survival? Populating multiple rocks across the universe may produce multiple flavors of Homo, whether they are Sapiens and whether that matters, I don't know.

0
0

Re: Is it really a debate?

I'd argue that any action not directed toward creating redundancy is immoral.

0
0
Terminator

If humans die off ..

... they'll be no one to care about it ...

5
0
Silver badge
Coat

Re: If humans die off ..

I dunno... There is a small probability* that there's an advanced civilization out there that's monitoring the human race.

If we were to go extinct, the loss of their main source of comedy would be devastating!

*Eh, greater than zero, say, one in a billion^10

4
0
Silver badge

Re: If humans die off ..

More to the point, why should anyone care before it hits? Why bother paying for it?

Taking the rational approach, what's the chance of it shortening my life vs what's the chance of something else shortening my life?

Isn't the main cause of premature death in the west heart disease? We are eating ourselves to death. We've still got enough bombs to end the world. I'd say that historically, we're pretty cavalier regarding death. In the UK, we kill almost of quarter of million people every year, before they are even born. Is there any particular reason why we should worry more about people after they are born than before?

If we are just an accident of the universe, why would we worry more about humans than foxes or seals or fish or that pretty stone in your garden?

8
18
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: If humans die off ..

There's a very good reason for bothering. Life can be fun, and the fun stops if you get hit on the bonce by a massive rock from space.

True, Sandra from around the corner might be sporting huge bingo wings, but that is her problem not mine, and while I can watch my weight over the next few decades, I don't want my enjoyment of Mass Effect 12 spoiled by a hundred metre wave washing my house into the north sea.

And anyway. Just imagine how cool it would be and how smug we'll all feel if we do divert a dino-killer?

8
1
Bronze badge

Re: If humans die off ..

Our invisible galactic overlords may or may not be interested. See http://homepage.ntlworld.com/m.gorman/religdream.htm

0
0
Silver badge

Re: If humans die off ..

if you die of heart disease becaue of lack of funding, nobody cares also there'll always be humans breeding who dont have heart disease since heart disease generally strikes at the older folks past breeding age.

If a big space rock comes in , young and old alike are fooked and no more humans....

Boris

4
1
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: If humans die off ..

"they'll be no one to care about it ..."

"there'll be no-one to care about it..."

2
0
Bronze badge

“no-one”

Sir Runcible, you’re right on there’ll, but wrong on no-one: there is no entry for no-one in the OED. (There is an entry for noone as an archaic spelling of none, though.)

2
0
Bronze badge

I Care Now

Yes, but aside from those who die caring about their death and suffering at the time they are experiencing it, which would be enough reason to stop the asteroid if it were about to hit now, and enough reason to prepare to stop it if we care about our descendants, even if it happened in the distant future, we who live now may care that our accomplishments and achievements will be forgotten and go to waste.

1
1
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: If humans die off ..

@P. Lee

We should care about humans surviving vs. foxes or rattlesnakes because to the best of our knowledge humans are the only creatures alive who can contemplate and appreciate our world and the universe. To a fox, stars are just lights in the sky and grass is just soft and green and maybe offers a place to hide while trying to sneak up on the next kill. The fox doesn't see beauty or experience admiration. The fox has no awareness of what grass is, what the stars are and how it's own existence is tied to both of them.

In short, the process of understanding and appreciation is a good in and of itself, even if tomorrow some cosmic event were to wipe humanity out.

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

@Marketing Hack Re: fox awareness

"The fox doesn't see beauty or experience admiration."

How do you know that? Have you looked up any research on animal cognition? There is increasing evidence that many animal species are self-aware and capable of cognition in ways that we are only just discovering. A quick google of "animal intelligence" or "animal cognition" will turn up some very interesting articles on the subject, and if they teach us anything at all, it is that human intelligence differs from that of other animals only in the extent of our abilities to harness the natural forces and materials of our environment.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: If humans die off ..

Lots of seriously clever humans have warned against anthropocentric tendencies. The idea that humans are the only things here that matter is rooted in the fairy stories of Abrahamic religions, and our sense of self importance could well be a big reason why the planet is generally in such a poo state at the mo.

3
0

Re: If humans die off ..

Well, that's ass-backwards:

"The idea that humans are the only things here that matter is rooted in the fairy stories of Abrahamic religions."

This should be "Abrahamic religions are rooted in the idea that humans are the only things here, there or anywhere that matter", and there is ample evidence from all around the world that this hubris is part of the human condition.

"our sense of self importance could well be a big reason why the planet is generally in such a poo state at the mo."

I'll give you that, all right :)

2
1
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Space Monkeys

I can't see humans colonising space as a safeguard against the rest of us being wiped out, because it would be ridiculously expensive. Would you be happy to give up half your salary in taxes for the rest of your life to be able to send a bunch of monkeys out to the stars? What's in it for you? Not a lot.

7
12
Silver badge

Re: Space Monkeys

As opposed to the current situation, where half our salary (or that of US citizens at least) is spent fighting pointless wars?

I'd rather have the monkeys in space.

35
2
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Space Monkeys

What is the cost to not? Literally all the wealth that ever has been and ever may be. The price to not get offsite backup of Mankind is the entire value of the Milky Way at least, and all the universe at most. Because if we don't do it before the smiting we will never acqure those things, but if we do pay our descendants will.

Makes spaceflight seem darned cheap.

18
2
Alien

Re: Space Monkeys

Even SG-C established an Alpha site. To not do so would just be poor planning (Something most governments are good at).

0
0
Silver badge
Megaphone

Re: Space Monkeys@Daniel B

"I'd rather have the monkeys in space."

Look at the Iranian leadership in this area. And I'll bet they could Photoshop us a huge space ark that will take the entire population of Earth to safety on some distant world, ideally one inhabited by huge, nude, sexy blue aliens with whom we can fight and interbreed.

7
0
Paris Hilton

Re: Space Monkeys

I would happily pay half my tax to get rid of a large proportion of the planet...

All the Z list celebs, all the work shy chavs, and most if not all politicians (from all parties).

We could build something like a space arc, tell them the planet is doomed, they can go in Ship C , ship A and B are still under construction and we'll catch you up...

The next thing you know they'll have landed and used leaves as currency

Paris as a Z list celeb

5
4
Bronze badge

Re: Space Monkeys

Though if we're going to be spending money, surely it's easier to work out ways to divert an asteroid than to move a chunk of civilisation into space.

The best spacecraft for humans is the one we're all currently standing on, and that's not going to change any time soon. We're better off concentrating on keeping it going - it's far better at keeping people alive than any human-built replacement for the forseeable future.

6
1
Bronze badge

As opposed to ... wars

Bzzzt. Logical error: false dichotomy at line 1.

Nobody said that was an either-or. How do you suggest that the military spending of the planet should be diverted towards colonizing space? I look forward to an argument which will convince both the US Congress and North Korea.

2
1
Facepalm

Re: Space Monkeys

"Though if we're going to be spending money, surely it's easier to work out ways to divert an asteroid than to move a chunk of civilisation into space."

How about shelling out the cash to actually spot the death rocks first! Last year NASA only got about 5.8 million for their asteroid survey, which I imagine is roughly equivalent to to that of our leaders dog grooming bills (possibly excluding the Queen).

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Space Monkeys

"I would happily pay half my tax to get rid of a large proportion of the planet...

All the Z list celebs, all the work shy chavs, and most if not all politicians (from all parties).

We could build something like a space arc, tell them the planet is doomed, they can go in Ship C , ship A and B are still under construction and we'll catch you up..."

Hmm, sounds a bit like you may be there with the telephone sanitisers

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Space Monkeys

I'd rather have the monkeys in space.

so would the rest of us!

0
0
Silver badge

Re: As opposed to ... wars

the clouds part, a mahoosive finger descends, and a deep booming voice instructs;

DO IT NOW!

fixed :-)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Space Monkeys

Exactly. Any feasible space ship will have nothing like the radiation hardening and ability to handle minor meteorite strikes, let alone the ecological stability. Trying to ensure the survival of the human race by building spaceships is like trying to ensure the survival of a ship's passengers by throwing some of them off with life jackets and hoping they land somewhere.

3
1
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Space Monkeys@Richard Gray 1

"I would happily pay half my tax to get rid of a large proportion of the planet..."

Whereas I'd happily pay half my tax to interbreed with nudes, sexy blue aliens. Which means that (in addition to drawing distinctly the wrong message from Avatar) I will get better value for money than you, that my wife is not going to be pleased, and my tastes are wide ranging*.

* I was going to say my tastes were catholic , but of course that means something different altogether now.

And finally, this is one of those posts you wonder whether should have been AC, But as a pseud, what the hell?

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Space Monkeys

NB, don't get me wrong. I love space science more than most (believe me), and look forward to every space mission that takes place. But it's completely ridiculous to imagine that the human race will have the inclination or capacity to travel beyond our solar system. It's sheer science fiction. The practicalities of interstellar travel mean that resources spread across the Milky Way would never be at 'our' disposal, and you come back to the question, why devote a massive portion of the economy to provide a possible alternative habitat for a relatively small group of people? It just doesn't make any sense. Sure, we should and do spend a ton of cash on space science, but it's entirely fanciful to dream of mankind venturing far into the cosmos. Also, don't forget that we live on a planet that is perfectly made for our purposes. Rather than dreaming of sending monkeykind out into the pristine cosmos, we should instead think more carefully about how to care for and protect our wonderful planet.

If one day we get splatted by a mega-asteroid, I for one won't be thinking it's a shame that we don't have ambassadors on Beetlejuice 6. For all I know, that planet already has a lovely ecosystem, and good luck to them.

By the way, it would be great if we didn't have to spend money on wars, and I'd love to see a world where the defence budget was zero and the science budget was enormous. But we do have politics and human nature to deal with, which kind of gets in the way. All the war spend in history wouldn't be enough to get a goldfish to Alpha Centauri.

9
4

This post has been deleted by its author

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: Space Monkeys

How about a deeply-buried moonbase with a genebank; stored knowledge and enough resources to last for 20 years or so and get back to Earth autonomously? I'm a firm believer in backups.

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: Space Monkeys

People like you are fated to perish from a plague spread by an un-sanitized telephone.

2
1
Bronze badge

Re: Space Monkeys

If we get enough people off Earth within the Solar System, soon enough mankind will be able to build reflectors to control enough of the Sun's output that we will be able to vaporize any pesky asteroid just about when we feel like it.

And then we'll have the resources to think about other stars.

2
1
Silver badge

Re: Space Monkeys

"The best spacecraft for humans is the one we're all currently standing on, and that's not going to change any time soon"

About 100 years ago engineers were saying that the Titanic was its own lifeboat because of its doublehulled design and the unique watertight compartments which meant the ship could stay afloat if up to 5 were breached.

We all know how well that worked out, don't we?

(Conjecture: It's thought that if the ship rammed the 'berg headon, it would have crushed the bow and first watertight section, killing most of the off-duty boiler crew in their bunks, but everyone else would have been saved. Others argue that the shock would have fractured already glass-fragile cast iron rivets(*)along the hull and sent her to the bottom even faster than she did go)

(*) Cast iron of the day became incredibly fragile at temperatures below 3C. That wasn't well-known until some time later(**) but it explained the massive size of the gash in the ship's hull - survivors were castigated for vastly exaggerating how large it was when it turned out that if anything they'd underestimated the damage.

(**) White Star line and the builders were aware there was an issue after examining damage to titanic's sister ship in 1912 and seeing how hull plates had shattered after hitting a sandbank in the Irish sea. This gives rise to speculation that the sinking was an insurance job which went wrong.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: As opposed to ... wars

If that russian rock hadn't broken up on the way down, it would fit the bill quite nicely.

0
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Space Monkeys

"Though if we're going to be spending money, surely it's easier to work out ways to divert an asteroid than to move a chunk of civilisation into space."

It's all wonderful diverting an asteroid but you have to see it coming. Not only do you have to see it coming but you have to see it soon enough to do something about it. The majority of the night sky isn't watched.

Also asteroid are not the only danger that might wipe out all human life. The long term survival of humans requires us being able to get off this rock. It's the whole "eggs in one basket" thing.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums