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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 …

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London Capital of the World?

Really?

Maybe Capital of British Empire.

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Re: London Capital of the World?

The phrase is used figuratively. But in 1908, London was easily the largest city in the world and the centre of government for ~25% of the world's population and land area, so it had few rivals for the title.

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Re: London Capital of the World?

same thing

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Meh

Re: London Capital of the World?

Asking around, it seems London is the Capital of the Universe.

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From Babylon 5:

"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics, and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes, and - all of this - all of this - was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0517658/quotes

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Anonymous Coward

No, let's get snooty about faith.

But before we get too snooty about faith, let's not forget that it has only been in the last 250 years or so that in some quarters of science have even accepted the existence of falling chunks of rock from the sky.

Well yes, maybe so, but at least science got it right in the end, because of its insistence on evidence and testing your beliefs against reality, whereas faith is still getting it wrong and will continue to because it is based on nothing more than wish fulfillment and making any old shit up that furthers its primary purpose of power-grubbing and social control.

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Boffin

Re: No, let's get snooty about faith.

Modern science was by any measure born inside the Church and the Islamic philosophy. So it's indeed snooty to contrast faith with science when there was hardly a stand-off but over a few theological matters which ended up being more politicized challenges than anything else, all wrapped us some imaginary "science vs church" battle.

In all ages you can witness battles between ignorance and reason. In all ages you can see forces of irrational conservatism arming itself against any idea of progress or radical change in thinking. Of course one can find this struggle in the history of the Church as well but the moment one broadens the intellectual horizons a bit, it does become rather snooty to make it about faith and "reality" however that term works for you personally.

And even now inside the halls of science, insistence on evidence and testing is increasingly not the main "thing" any more. It's gotten way too complex to only talk about evidence or testing. In many cases it's just about theories, their implications and peer support. Simply because the topics have become too complex for "hard" evidence or a simple test. And I won't even mention the fields of macro-economics or sociology.

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Re: No, let's get snooty about faith.

Many within the church had a lot of moral problems to deal with as the more they discovered the more they questioned the existence of some form of deity or came to grief when the church found out.

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Happy

Re: No, let's get snooty about faith.

"And I won't even mention the fields of macro-economics or sociology."

You appear to think of these subjects as "sciences."

Why?

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Re: No, let's get snooty about faith.

"And I won't even mention the fields of macro-economics or sociology."

Neither of those fields of human interest can be classed as Science. At best they are the living embodyment of truth about statistics: that it is a tool to be wrong with absolute conviction.

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Boffin

"some quarters of science have accepted the existence of falling chunks of rock from the sky.

I can observe quite a bit of 'Henny Pennyism' here at el reg this week.

An ice cold sitz bath is prescribed for the very agitated.

(signed) Dr. Turkey Lurkey

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Re: No, let's get snooty about faith.

Why?

Educashun and meeja!

Oh how oi laffs when I hears the Beeb talkin on bout sum govermints having "EU Technocrats" imposed upon 'em. Because whoever thought they could pass off ideological political stooges as in any way technically competent like engineers... well, they must be even more stupid than they believe we are just because we talk differently.

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Re: Time to fund more asteroid spotting investment

>>such as catastrophe would server to cancel out world debt

I assume that as Eadon posted this, it would have to be a Linux server? Presumably Microsoft are to blame for the asteroids in the first place.

Actually, I think Atari were to blame

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Trollface

You're slipping, Eadon!

This article is about asteroids hitting the Earth. You should have been able to work in at least one little MS diss in there somewhere!

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Oh really?

Such a colony would have to be susaintable without ANY support from Earth - assuming one could be started.

"mankind really needs to get out and about a bit more". Get out a bit more? You don't get far with a day ticket on the bus. This article is well.... I'm not even sure what it is saying.

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Boffin

Re: Oh really?

On the other hand, all the technology and science involved to establish an off-planet colony, interstellar or not would be just as applicable on our own planet, making the issue of cost and investment rather moot. Success in developing this type of advanced technology *always* pays off, one way or another, which is something the local sourpusses here forget.

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Long-term survival is impossible

As the universe expands life is only possible anywhere for a relatively brief period (i.e. now) after which everything becomes too dark & cold.

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Re: Long-term survival is impossible

Edgy teenager detected.

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Re: Long-term survival is impossible

Then your detector needs a significant recalibration.

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Re: Long-term survival is impossible

Sometimes teenagers exist in old bodies.

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Rol
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Alert

Re: Long-term survival is impossible

Long before the lights go out, or more likely, gets uncomfortably hot, we will have mastered the ability to convert matter to energy and energy to matter.

This technology could then feed into a world encompassing array of engines that gently pushes our rock out of the way of our, soon to be, helium chomping sun and out to better climes.

Alternatively, we could start manufacturing hydrogen while mining the suns helium so maintaining the sun with our own "thermostatic" control.

Then again this is a few billion years away, but is does suggest we will have the technology to maintain life long after the universe has switched the lights off.

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Rol
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Re: Long-term survival is impossible

Lets see...

A missile covered in iShield to protect it from the heat, pressure and radiation, is fired into the heart of the sun, where iBosuns are then spillled out around the core.

The iBosons capture the helium that is slowly smothering the core (being denser than hydogen) and are transported using iEntanglement to an iFission station where they are unravelled to make hydrogen.

The hydrogen is then transported back using the already mentioned iEntanglement process so feeding the core, which in turn creates enough energy to conteract the force of gravity, which would if left unchecked raise the temperature to the point helium fusion occurs.

Easy!

I bet that all this will be invented over the next two billion years, or I'll eat my iCoffin.

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Mushroom

I say, "go with the nukes"

Breaking a big asteroid into ten thousand smaller increases the surface area thereby increasing atmospheric abrasion. And I'd rather deal with 10,000 Russian-sized events, many of which would fall over uninhabited parts of the world (hint: the ocean), than one giant impact that could take out a small country and put several decades worth of dust into the atmosphere. It's the difference between easily survivable and widespread starvation.

And I haven't done the sums, but I suspect the radioactivity wouldn't be that bad when spread across the world.

But the bottom life is we'd be better off spending the money it would take to start an off world colony into asteroid defence and surviving an impact; we'd get more bang for our bucks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re:"I haven't done the sums,"

Please get the sums done and then get back to us.

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Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

...is it really a good idea for us to infest another one?

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Mushroom

Re: Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

Yes, we've got to keep trying until we manage not to fuck one up!

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Facepalm

Re: Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

Welcom to the Universe where Entropy may increase in unexpected places and self-assembling agents are not magically fully rational.

Oh surprise!

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Re: Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

"But I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me. "

Richard Feynman

(oddly enough Brian Cox paraphrased this recently - but it's allowed as Feynman is his hero)

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Re: Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

maybe getting splatted by a fuck off space rock is our best chance for us not to fuck this one up

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Re: Considering the mess we've made of this planet...

"...Brian Cox paraphrased this recently - but it's allowed as Feynman is his hero."

I'm guessing, though, that given the choice of Feynman's Cargo Cult Science lecture, or having his face on the box for BBC-Green fees...

But why guess, he's ALWAYS on the box, isn't he ?

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Reg's Response

its all a conspiracy by the worlds scientists & Al Gore to raise taxes, The data shows that the effect of impacts on the planet have actually DECREASED dramatically SINCE 1908 not increased. The planet has been hit by objects before & it obviously hasn't done any harm since we're here now. Its an entirely natural process & therefore OK & scientists are just scaremongering to get big grants. There were times in the past when there far more strikes on the planet than now. The data is wrong, all scientists claimed this last object would hit earth & destroy the planet & it didn't so the science is wrong & the models to predict the paths of such ojects are wrong. Anyhow the majority scientists say theres no danger from these objects at all, 3 have signed a letter to prove it. The effects are localised & no threat to people at all provided you wear a hat.

Well this is The Register isn't it

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Trollface

Re: Reg's Response

To many words for a proper trolling, or even piss-take, post.

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FAIL

Re: Reg's Response

It only takes one.

What are the odds of that being zero?

Yeah. That.

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Debatable bid for immortality.

Species go extinct. That will include humans; get used to the idea, although it will be almost certainly irrelevant for those of us alive today. In the meantime, maybe we ought to concentrate on making sure this planet doesn't become uninhabitable through our own actions.

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Re: Debatable bid for immortality.

"Species go extinct. That will include humans; get used to the idea,"

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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Unhappy

If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

In about 7,000 years this Holocene interglacial epoch will end regardless of mankind's CO2 forcings because of Earth's orbital dynamics and the current ice age will resume. At that time the earth's atmospheric temperature at ground level will plunge 4-8C in only a few hundred years as the self-reinforcing dynamic of glaciers growing because it is cold and reflecting sunlight into space without warming air turns the world to ice faster than you would believe possible. It would have happened already maybe, but for all our use of coal and such.

As the cold sets in we'll burn more coal to stay warm - and toward the end we'll probably be burning coal to cook limestone to deliberately release even more CO2, plowing permafrost in the summer to optimize methane melting, dredging the arctic sea floor for clathrates to set free. But ultimately we are puny, the sun and Earth are vast. And then it will get cold. Bitter cold. The kind of cold the crops we feed our 7 billions with don't grow in. Glaciers will scrape our cities into the sea. Right about the time Russia and Canada run out of food we'll discover we're not as evolved and intelligent as we thought we were. That ought to take about 90 minutes. The survivors will be warm for a few minutes, as nuclear bombs are exothermic.

The people who survive will fight over resources as best they can as the habitable zone shrinks. Unfortunately, it shrinks to zero and stays there for hundreds of thousands of years. So about 7,000 years from now if we haven't figured out how to live in space it's Game Over for Man - and we don't have to wait for an asteroid impact that comes once ever 50 million years to see it happen. We won't be here when it lands.

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Re: If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

Thing is, we still have one edge over other species: we can adapt. Hey, if the Inuit can live in the Arctic all year long, perhaps we will over time. Plus we're good at building things..You'd think in 7,000 years we'd have better access to fission and fusion technology which is basically temperature-agnostic. Rig to some geodesic domes and use the snow and ice for water and you have a fair go, I'd say, regardless of how cold it gets.

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Re: If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

all space technology is only 45 years old

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Facepalm

Re: If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

...and toward the end we'll probably be burning coal to cook limestone to deliberately release even more CO2, plowing permafrost in the summer to optimize methane melting, dredging the arctic sea floor for clathrates to set free. ,,,

Umm.. No, we won't.

Because, as must be quite obvious to everyone now, CO2 and NH4 concentrations really don't affect the atmosphere's temperature very much. If at all.

When the next Ice Age starts, we will either:

1 - know what causes them and address that issue, or

2 - burn the coal, etc to keep us and our food provision systems warm.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

I can assure you that significant concentrations of NH4 (ammonium ion) in the atmosphere would have dramatic effects on life on Earth. And given the effect of only a few hundred ppm of carbon dioxide, the rest of your statement is pure monckton, too.

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FAIL

If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better not get a 'fail' from Matt Bryant

But it probably will

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Re: If an asteroid wants to wipe out mankind, it had better hurry

I'm sure you're talking to Dodgy Geezer here. Agree the effects would be dramatic. Pretty sure they would also not be sufficient in the long term as they react with other atmospheric elements and their warming properties degrade.

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Happy

"..although it's not known if the agency counted Ben Affleck's attempt to portray believable emotion.."

Made my morning, thanks!

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JDX
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This whole debate...

... is predicated on the axiom that there is some special reason why our race should survive. Evolution/natural selection inspires life-forms which seek to stay alive but by avoiding predators and so on, not planning centuries ahead. Perhaps the blind assumption that we must/should spread from Earth is part of the same thing?

In my opinion, any impact other than one which would literally destroy the planet would not wipe out humankind or life in general, and would leave behind more people than we could set up on a colony. We're not dinosaurs, reliant on a certain climate or delicate environment, but tool-users able to survive a wide variety of conditions.

Putting the time/money into building a framework - libraries, tools, etc - that would allow a remnant of the population to survive the harshest conditions following a major event seems better. For the cost of a program to build a self-sustaining colony on Mars, we could surely build 100 equivalent kits which could be used to re-colonise Earth!

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Re: This whole debate...

"We're not dinosaurs, reliant on a certain climate or delicate environment"

I don't quite know how to put this politely, but we need the fucking Sun to survive. If there's a dust cloud encircling the planet for a hundred years we're all fucked.

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Re: This whole debate...

Actually, in a pinch we wouldn't need the sun anymore (up to an obvious extent). We're quite capable of building decent greenhouses with artificial lighting. Yeast does not need light to grow. There's plenty of technical solutions mankind can apply to the problems of a post-impact world to survive relatively unscathed.

It won't be a picnick, but survival outside the immideate blast radius and the various aftereffects is quite possible. Our global "civilisation" will most certainly come to an end, but mankind as a species is not so easily eradicated.

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