back to article 'Doomsday' asteroid Apophis more massive than first thought

Astronomers following the so-called doomsday asteroid Apophis, which will be whizzing past Earth on Thursday morning, have found the rock is much larger than had previously been assumed. Since the asteroid could hit Earth in 2036, that's a problem. The asteroid, named after an Egyptian god of chaos, darkness and destruction, …

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  1. wowfood

    Friday 13th

    We're doomed.

    1. tirk
      Coat

      Re: Friday 13th

      At least we know which side of the date line it will land!

    2. jonfr
      FAIL

      Re: Friday 13th

      Again?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Friday 13th

        Its orbit crosses ours at some particular point, which happens to be where it's April 13th in many places. It is no coincidence any more than it's a coincidence that it takes the Earth a year to complete one orbit.

    3. boltar Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Friday 13th

      If something that size hits the pacific then we pretty much are. It'll do a damn site more than "sandblast" the west coast of the US , the debris will wipe out the entire continent and will fuck up the world climate for decades. Certainly long enough to make sure there are worldwide crop failures and billions starving to death.

      1. Great Bu

        Re: Friday 13th

        No it won't.

        It's not big enough.

        Contrary to what you may have heard, size does matter.....

        1. boltar Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: Friday 13th

          "It's not big enough."

          You might want to check out what a purported 100 metre wide comet did to Tunguska. That was a 3rd the diamater and probably half the density so had about 1/50th the mass (using 4/3 * pi * r^3) of this asteroid yet it still produced a blast equivalent of 15 megatons. I don't know about you but potential 750 megaton blast sounds pretty bad news to me.

          1. Great Bu

            Re: Friday 13th

            All the Tunguska blast did was knock over some trees and make a couple of pretty sunsets.

            Yes, this impact would cause tidal waves and (bearing in mind the sensitive geological situation of west coast USA) probably earthquakes but it would be on a par with a big natural disaster, like a volcano erupting (bigger than Krakatoa but a long way off the sort of 'supervolcano' scenarios that would result in having to sacrifice Bruce Willis), so:

            It's not big enough.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Friday 13th

              "All the Tunguska blast did was knock over some trees and make a couple of pretty sunsets."

              It flattened 80 million trees down over an area covering 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi).

              Something 10 times the size, impacting the Earth, rather than an airburst like the tunguska bolide, would certainly cause continental-level disaster, and would screw up the climate for a fair while.

          2. TomChaton

            Re: Friday 13th

            Bearing in mind that the Tunguska event is conjectured to have been an airburst. The likelihood of this rock having the same composition is slim; therefore a comparison would not appear to be appropriate here.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Friday 13th

            > I don't know about you but potential 750 megaton blast sounds pretty bad news to me.

            Not a planet killer though. The 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami was equivalent to 9320 gigatons of TNT or about 600 million times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. Makes Apophis look like a firecracker.

          4. CN Hill

            Re: Friday 13th

            The Russians exploded a 57 megaton device in 1961. No one outside the USSR noticed.

            1. asdf Silver badge

              Re: Friday 13th

              Bullcrap breaking windows in Norway and Finland means a few other neighbors noticed. And you can be sure there is a decent chance the US took almost as good a pictures as the Russians did of it. I know Russian observer ships had a habit of showing up at almost all US tests including right under the space shots.

      2. annodomini2
        Thumb Down

        Re: Friday 13th

        @boltar, The rock that is believed to have killed the Dinosaurs was more than 10x the size of this thing.

        Will it do damage, yes!

        Is it world killer, no!

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Friday 13th

          Not only a lot bigger than 10x the size, but hit in just the wrong place (shallow sea underlain by a lot of limestone) at just the wrong time (after a long period of heavy vulcanism had put paid to a lot of the large wildlife anyway)

          land hits = bad

          ocean hits = very bad

          shallow sea hits = very very bad.

          Apophis hitting would make a big mess and disrupt things badly, but it's not a civilisation-ender (unless the civilisation in question is directly under the strike zone), let alone a planet killer.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Re: Friday 13th

            ".....land hits = bad

            ocean hits = very bad

            shallow sea hits = very very bad...."

            Has anyone looked at the chances of it hitting the Moon and playing a bit of inter-planetary billiards? A collison with the Moon could lead to much bigger problems for the Earth than a direct hit by Apophis alone.

            1. Jared Hunt
              Alert

              Re: Friday 13th @ Matt Bryant

              Using that analogy, imagine what would happen to that same billiard ball if it were hit by a grain of sand. It amounts to the same thing.

      3. James Micallef Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Friday 13th

        "the debris will wipe out the entire continent and will fuck up the world climate for decades"

        Alternatively, it will leave a huge amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere and turn down the dial on global warming, saving the world's climate from further destruction

      4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Friday 13th

        "...... It'll do a damn site more than "sandblast" the west coast of the US , the debris will wipe out the entire continent and will fuck up the world climate for decades......" Cool, could you just repeat that a bit louder as I have a few spots left to sell in my bunker complex.....

    4. An(other) Droid

      Re: Friday 13th

      As the world+dog tries to decide if the asteroid is big enough, Bruce waits patiently at the space center.

      Bruce: "Make up your minds, m*********"

    5. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Friday 13th

      Just checked, April 13 2036 is a Sunday.

      Its also my 76th birthday.

  2. Ketlan
    Devil

    Bye Bruce...

    I say we send Bruce Willis up there and THEN start firing paintballs at it.

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Bye Bruce...

      We could send bruce up there with a paintball gun and a few pallets of ammo......

    2. Thorne
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bye Bruce...

      He could host "Pimp My Asteroid"

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bye Bruce...

          Who do you mean (on top of bankers, politicians, and Romans)

    3. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Re: Bye Bruce...

      I'm a bit worried by this news. Bruce is going to be (say it quietly) really old by the time this monster comes to wreak Michael Bay style havoc on Hollywood.

      So shouldn't we pop him in the freezer to keep him fresh for the inevitable (and entirely logical) drill-a-hole-an-bung-in-a-nuke shuttle mission that will save mankind to the sound of Aerosmith? A quick spell alongside the oven chips will also have the beneficial side effect of stopping him making movies.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: shouldn't we pop him in the freezer

        No, Stallone gets popped into the freezer.

        Bruce either has the portrait of Dorian Grey or knows where the real fountain of youth is, because we know he's alive to save the Earth in the 23rd Century when The Great Evil comes.

    4. trottel
      Megaphone

      Re: Bye Bruce...

      Do i really have to say it? Please give Chuck Norris a call. On angry glance and the asteroid will reverse its course and head for Andromeda.

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Alien

    The (Gran) Torino Scale of Risk??

    What, we're being bombarded from space with muscle cars? Is it a logarithmic scale, where 0 is the mass of one Gran Torino, but 4 would be the mass of 10,000 Gran Torinos?

    There's something very el Reg about that scale!!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: The (Gran) Torino Scale of Risk??

      No, it has to do with Clint Eastwood and keeping immigrant asteroids off your grass.

      1. John 62

        Re: The (Gran) Torino Scale of Risk??

        That was a great film until the stupid Jamie Cullum song at the end with Clint 'singing' in a really horrible voice.

  4. Nathan 13

    2036

    When we are all using either iOS164 with its 10 by 30 row of icons and ability to run 2 apps at the same time, or Windows52 with its revolutionary multiple windows tiles.

    Either way a direct hit it cant come soon enough.

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: 2036

      You forgot the 15-blades razor!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2036

        You forgot the 15-blades razor!

        I'm sure I saw one of those in the shops while I was doing my Christmas shopping... by 2036 it'll probably be up to somewhere around 500 blades...

        Come and get me Apophis... pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssse.....

      2. annodomini2
        Megaphone

        Re: 2036

        I want my lightsaber razor!

      3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: 2036

        You forgot the 15-blades razor!

        One blade shaves you close!

        The second shaves you closer still!

        The third blade shaves you even closer!

        The fourth blade makes sure the previous three were on the job.

        The fifth blade shaves you even closer!

        The sixth blade slices skin.

        The seventh blade strips your flesh into ribbons.

        The eighth blade flenses the flesh from your bones.

        The ninth blade cleans your bones.

        The tenth blade smooths and polishes your bones leaving you just a grinning skull.

        The next five blades are just there because we love blades.

      4. I think so I am?
        Thumb Up

        Re: 2036

        No NO, not 15 blades, you'll only have to look at the razor and instantly have the "closest shave a man can get"

    2. Thorne
      Mushroom

      Re: 2036

      Apple will have patented three dimentional objects and we'll all get sued by then...

    3. Martin Huizing
      Mushroom

      Re: 2036

      2036? Funny, that's the year my Excel calendar generator stops at...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tie a yellow ribbon around ol' Sol-3

    It's not an asteroid, you idiots. They're coming to take us home!

    Why can't you just be happy for me.

  6. Chris Hawkins
    Linux

    Apopis - Send SG1

    No Need to panic!

    This scenario has already been envisaged.

    http://youtu.be/JvBsXxNc7k8

  7. Fr. Ted Crilly
    Alert

    Hammer time

    Ok;

    Hot fudge Sundae falls on Tusdae next week then.

    1. stucs201
      Stop

      Re: Hammer time

      <--- It's supposed to be this icon for "Hammer time".

    2. Chris Miller
      Headmaster

      Re: Hammer time

      Aren't you confusing Lucifer's Hammer with Inconstant Moon? It's the latter that features hot fudge sundaes.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Hammer time

        > Aren't you confusing Lucifer's Hammer with Inconstant Moon? It's the latter that features hot fudge sundaes.

        Nope, you're wrong. Inconstant Moon is a novella about the Sun barfing at us and frying half the planet.

        Lucifer's Hammer is about a comet that hits us and in the early part there's a scene where people are discussing the consistency of comets.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: Hammer time

          Inconstant Moon (at 27pp a short story not a novella) features hot fudge sundae as one of the things to do before you die. Am I detecting a hot fudge sundae theme in Niven's work?

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Hammer time

            Does it? Ah. Well it's probably both then :)

            For the record: Sundae on a Tuesdae.

            'Scientists are drawn in for help on the network documentaries, and this leads to some black-comedic dialogue as some Jet Propulsion Laboratory people try to explain the possible effects of a collision:

            "When the mass is above a certain size, it stops being important whether Earth has an atmosphere or not."

            "Except to us," Forrester said, deadpan.

            Sharps paused a second, then laughed ... "What we need is a good analogy. Um ..." Sharps' brow furrowed.

            "Hot fudge sundae," said Forrester.

            "Hah?"

            Forrester's grin was wide through his beard. "A cubic mile of hot fudge sundae. Cometary speeds."''

    3. Nerden
      Thumb Up

      Re: Hammer time

      Lucifer's Hammer was a fantastic book,

      1. Rob 21
        Happy

        Re: Hammer time

        And it has a great recipe for pemmican too. One of THE Survivalist classics.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    2036?

    So we just have to survive another two years after that until the real end of the (Unix) epoch kills us all then?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: 2036?

      Your last sight is something resembling a gigantic burning penguin falling from the sky!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too soon to tell what it will do. So many things will affect this thing between now and then, the probable location (Hell, the date!) will change.I'm sure with events happening all over the world the way they are, it's the least of our worries til then. When it swings back this way in 2036, we may be eager for it to strike! I can almost garantee that it will strike this planet the exact day I retire, and probably a chunk of it will strike me as I walk out the door for the last time.

  11. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "It certainly doesn’t sound as ridiculous as sending Bruce Willis up there."

    That rather depends on how HARD we throw him at it, doesn't it?

    1. veti Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "It certainly doesn’t sound as ridiculous as sending Bruce Willis up there."

      OK, so Apophis has an estimated mass of approximately 27 e9 kg, and its mean orbital speed is about 30 km/s.

      Bruce Willis is quite a big guy, has an estimated mass of about 95 kg. Let's call it a nice round 100 kg for ease of calculations.

      If we could somehow accelerate him to 0.1 of the speed of light, then ignoring relativistic effects, he'd hit Apophis with a kinetic energy of 45 petajoules. For comparison, that's about the energy of a 1 MT nuclear bomb. If we timed him to hit Apophis at the point where it had just passed Earth and was heading back out into space, he would speed it up by a paltry 11 cm per second.

      The good news is that if Apophis were in geostationary orbit at the time, he would be enough to knock it out of Earth orbit completely. The bad news is, it wouldn't be enough to knock it out of the Earth's orbital path round the sun, and thus prevent it from threatening us again.

      Could we use him to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane, thus ensuring that it would only cross our path once every several thousand years? Ah, I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

      1. Martin Budden
        Go

        Re: "It certainly doesn’t sound as ridiculous as sending Bruce Willis up there."

        "Could we use him to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane, thus ensuring that it would only cross our path once every several thousand years?"

        Yes, but he'd have to hit Apophis from above/below the current orbital plane, which means we need to accelerate him two times: the first to move Bruce above/below the current plane (this can be a smallish acceleration), the second for the big hit to knock Apophis into a different orbital plane. TBH once we have the tech for the second acceleration then the first should be fairly trivial.

        All in all it would be a moving experience.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: "It certainly doesn’t sound as ridiculous as sending Bruce Willis up there."

          Can't you just accelerate him once out of the orbital plane and slingshot him around the sun a few times to hit the asteroid from the upper or lower side?

          1. I think so I am?
            Coat

            Asteroid path adjustment project

            also called "the yippie kay yay motherfucker!"

  12. fizprof
    WTF?

    This is silly

    When a scientist says the radius of the asteroid is 270 m give or take 60 m,

    it means that the most likely radius is 270 m from the measurements,

    and that there is about 30% chance it is larger than 330 m or smaller than 210 m.

    Another way of saying this is that the revised best estimate of 325 m is within one standard deviation,

    so the original estimate was basically RIGHT ON as measurements go.

  13. Katie Saucey
    Happy

    Screw Apophis....

    Bart Simpson: The point of dinosaurs is that an asteroid is going to wipe us out no matter what we do, so we should just party hard and wreck the place.

    Homer Simpson: Yeah, why should the asteroid have all the fun?

  14. Daniel B.
    Happy

    So now I understand...

    That's why the 32-bit UNIX time field will overflow in 2038. The Almighty Dennis Ritchie knew the world would end before that happened!

    1. Michael Dunn
      Joke

      Re: So now I understand...

      He must have had a private copy of a smuggled 'different' Mayan calendar!

  15. Efros

    Bruce Willis

    Can't we send him up there anyway?

    1. Thorne
      Angel

      Re: Bruce Willis

      If he fails we have Chuck Norris as a backup. Chuck never fails.

      The only point to sending Bruce first is we don't have to try and bring him back...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bruce Willis

        But we wouldn't need to get Chuck back. He would walk back when he's finished.

    2. Mark Leaver
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bruce Willis

      Only if we can send Ben Affleck up there with him...

  16. Dan Paul
    Devil

    Bruce would be happy

    If Bruce Willis found himself able to be sent up into space o blow up Apophis in 2036 I assume he would be one happy man

  17. ian 22
    Thumb Up

    Santa Monica, California?

    No problemo, as long as the tsunami can be surfed and Ye Olde King's Head survives for après surf brews.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: Santa Monica, California?

      There's a short (and rather terminal) scene in Lucifer's Hammer like that. It ends with something like '..but now there's a sky scraper in his way.'

      :)

  18. The Grump
    Mushroom

    Wait, this may be a good thing...

    So you are saying that this space rock has a good chance of destroying both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi at the same time ? And wipes out most everyone who voted for them ? C'mon asteroid, hurry up. I can't wait to celebate their demise with a good Wyoming beach party. We don't need CA's lousy wine anyway - good riddance to a state that cannot stop spending what it doesn't have.

    1. Tim Brummer

      Re: Wait, this may be a good thing...

      I was thinking exactly the same thing!

    2. Swarthy Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Wait, this may be a good thing...

      The question is, will jake be moving his ranch from CA to somewhere more... pedestrian? if the a fore mentioned civil ills haven't made him move (given the strength of his opinion in his posts) then I for one, doubt that an asteroid will.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Wait, this may be a good thing...

      "......good riddance to a state that cannot stop spending what it doesn't have." In that case, can't we send up Bruce to divert it into the Med, aiming for just off Athens?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any truth to the rumour....

    ..that the asteroid is being directed by Anonymous?

    Santa Monica?

    That's darn close to Hollywood and those MPIAA suits!

  20. csumpi
    FAIL

    Science fail.

    The weatherman can't predict weather 24 hours out. The astronomers can't predict an asteroid's path 24 years out. So what the hell are all those supercomputers doing? Crunching numbers to game the stock market? Designing the next generation grow lights?

    1. Chemist

      Re: Science fail.

      "So what the hell are all those supercomputers doing?"

      Suggest you read about chaos theory

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Science fail.

        Though you may find the book in a position slightly different from where you thought it was...

        1. Tom 13

          Re: position slightly different from where you thought it was...

          I thought was Heisenberg's?

    2. Steve Coffman
      Joke

      Re: Science fail.

      "So what the hell are all those supercomputers doing? Crunching numbers to game the stock market? Designing the next generation grow lights?"

      Sweet 16 bracket predictions...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science fail.

      "Science Fail" should be your handle.

      The motion of objects moving through space is understood with a great deal of accuracy, this is why they can predict how close Apophis will be this time around, and exactly when that will be; your comment about weather forecasting is a poor comparison.

  21. Haku
    Angel

    Wrong Bruce Willis movie

    The Fifth Element seems a better choice for dealing with rogue asteroids...

  22. Silverburn
    Boffin

    New glasses required

    Watch its Earth flyby live tonight

    Watching a semi-reflective 325m object travelling at high speed 36,000km away...looks like I'll be needing new glasses then. And that's even assuming there clouds will let you see any of the night sky at all.

    1. annodomini2
      FAIL

      Re: New glasses required

      9M miles, 36,000km pass is in 2029.

      Would be interesting to see if it ran into any Geostationary satellites.

  23. Daniel Bower

    Tiny odds?

    Is it just me but 250000-1 seem pretty scary odds given what's at stake...

    1. Mark Leaver
      Facepalm

      Re: Tiny odds?

      I'd put 100 on that sort of odds...

      But I dont think that there would be anyone left to collect if it does hit...

    2. stucs201
      Joke

      Re: Tiny odds?

      250000:1 is better than 1000000:1 (that happens 9 times out of 10)

  24. Flakey

    By 2036

    I’ll be 81 years old and assuming I’m still alive, will have fathered 2 children, divorced once and loved a few more times, hopefully watched my daughter become a very successful businesswoman (she’s half way there already) and seen my son fulfil his dream of directing a film. I’ll have seen some of the most beautiful places on Earth (Angkor Wat, the Pyramids and standing at the foot of Everest looking up) seen the football team I support play at Wembley 3 times (won 1 lost 2) along with having eaten and drunk much more than is good for me in my life. So I reckon I’ll be more than happy to face the impending doom of an asteroid crashing into the planet.(skips off singing "its the end of the world as we know it but I feel fine")

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: By 2036

      Whilst I've been nowhere, done nothing and life has sucked thus far - another 23 years of it and I'll be ready to go as well......

      1. S4qFBxkFFg
        Pint

        Re: By 2036

        "Spend entire day drunk." now added to calendar for 13/04/36.

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: By 2036

          day only? Hell why not go on a bender for the whole month before at least.

    2. NomNomNom

      Re: By 2036

      wait until your kids have kids then you might not be so happy about the prospect of *their* world ending

      (apparently I do not personally know this)

      1. IglooDude
        Joke

        Re: By 2036

        My kids (and their kids) live in Arkansas. I'd file it under putting them out of their misery.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: By 2036

      (skips off singing "its the end of the world as we know it but I feel fine")

      With any luck, it'll miss the Earth, but only by 5 feet or so, taking Michael Stipe's head with it as it whizzes past.

  25. inverse137

    Imagine how boring the news would be if copy writers were required to be honest and not use sensational headlines. Imagine what the world would be like if people weren't idiots and needed sensationalist headlines...

    "An asteroid with a known trajectory that poses no threat of impact with Earth is found to be 20% larger than first thought."

  26. Mostly_Harmless Silver badge
    WTF?

    nomenclature

    Naming it after an Egyptian god of death hardly seems like a good move if you want to avoid causing panic among the populace.

    Are we going to stop giving hurricanes names like Sandy and start calling them things like "Mighty Wind of Doom"?

    1. cnapan
      Pint

      Re: nomenclature

      "Are we going to stop giving hurricanes names like Sandy and start calling them things like "Mighty Wind of Doom"?"

      Yes, it's already happened.

      In the UK, we have already replaced the word "Winter" with "Beast From The East".

      I believe there's one coming now. Run for the hills! (Or just put a coat on)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "had been thought to be around 885 feet (270 meters) wide..."

    "..., plus or minus a couple of hundred feet (60 meters)". But it wasn't.

    How do you represent error bars in the error bars?

  28. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Devil

    What about Global Warming?

    ...I'm sure human produced CO2 must have caused this somehow...

    ...or are we looking at the next big scare, complete with world-wide taxation and anti-asteroid legislation...?

  29. NomNomNom

    "The asteroid, named after an Egyptian god of death"

    that was a bad decision

    on a related note has anyone figured out how come the Earth takes precisely a year to orbit the Sun? Seems too much of a coincidence to be down to chance.

    1. A.A.Hamilton

      Oh you daft bugger: it's just simple arithmetic: look how far it has got to go and what speed it's travelling at. It's bound to take a year (it's along way).

      Gawd, young people these days -... no common sense, etc etc

      [exits stage left to an asymptotically decreasing level of grumble]

    2. cnapan
      Pint

      It would be better if they called it "Fluffy"

      Imagine the world's news media having to say sentences like

      "Fluffy is coming: Prepare your family for oblivion"

      This would make me laugh a bit, (or hysterically depending how close we are to the end).

  30. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I for one

    Would like that stone Apofiz to pass right through that "gravitational keyhole". That would clearly focus the minds of enough people to cause a few stupid but influential governments around the world to finally do something interesting.

    Like starting a few megaprojects to build a) a big plasma or laser anti-asteroid cannon on the Moon, b) a fleet of big nuke and rail-gun carrying space battleships, c) spaceports and space stations infrastructure to support all that, c) a moonbase (for manning the cannon), d) a marsbase (to build bunkers for escaping billionaires and politicians) and e) plenty of other wonderful things.

    All of that will also come in handy to fend off the inevitable aliens attack when it comes (because with 17 billion potentially habitable planets in just this one galaxy it's a question of when rather than if) - and most importantly it's the only viable long term solution to the economic crisis the West is currently in.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I for one

      Given that the likely responses of America, Russia and anyone else with a lot of plutonium knocking about will be to dust off the plans for Project Orion and proceed to build one or more in ever so much of a hurry, I for one would really rather they didn't bother. A partial mass extinction from a relatively clean asteroid hit is one thing, but the fall-out from several ground-launched spacecraft propelled by letting off H-bombs behind them is not a nice prospect.

      Much better to concentrate our efforts now on making super-strong carbon nanotubes, to build a ground to geostationary beanstalk. Once that is done, getting a kilo of anything from ground to orbit goes from £10 000 down to £100. At this point, we can start thinking about simply sending over something with an ion drive to nudge the asteroid off its collision course, and do all this without polluting the biosphere with more radioactivity.

      1. NumptyScrub
        Go

        Re: I for one

        quote: "Much better to concentrate our efforts now on making super-strong carbon nanotubes, to build a ground to geostationary beanstalk."

        Put a giant carbon-nanotube catchers mitt on the end of the space elevator and it could be directly funded by the anti-asteroid panic money too :D

        Sounds like win-win to me...

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        @ Dr Ian Holdsworth Re: I for one

        No. I want space battleships.

        Also, it's still 23 years till 2036 - not much of a hurry at all...

        1. ShadowedOne
          Facepalm

          Re: @ Dr Ian Holdsworth I for one

          I, for one, would not trust any government on the face of this planet with a fleet of space battleships.

        2. Jtom Bronze badge

          Re: @ Dr Ian Holdsworth I for one

          The US Congress will focus on it like a laser - In March of 2036.

  31. AdamSweetman

    Capture opportunity in 2029?

    What would it take to tag and bag this thing in 2029, or at least fiddle with it enough that the subsequent approach places it in a relatively harmless orbit? Delta V would be huge 2029 for sure but it may be worth exploring what force would need to be applied to not leave the next pass to chance, as well as secure it for future use.

    Lots of grumbling about the cost of sending meat bags to asteroids, would be a bit silly to pass up an opportunity to grab a juicy one when it comes so close. Exploring an asteroid in NEO would be significantly simpler.

    Is this thing big enough to act as an anchor for a nanotube tether?

    1. GregC

      Re: Is this thing big enough to act as an anchor for a nanotube tether?

      Off on a bit of a tangent, some years ago I was involved in running an ARG (alternate reality game, think their know as chaotic fiction these days...). The basis of the story? Captured asteroid (we decided on Toutatis in the end) moved into geostationary orbit and used as both the tether for a space elevator and an orbiting habitat.

      Was hard work, but a hell of a lot of fun. Happy days...

  32. NomNomNom

    "After checking the data and weeding out the false reports, Apophis was downgraded to a level one threat and is currently expected to whizz past on Friday, April 13, 2029 at a distance of about 36,000 kilometers, just inside the orbit of our geostationary satellites."

    Someone check my math and correct me

    Radius of Earth = 6378km, so this rock is passing within 6x earth's radius...

    If you treat a circle of 12x earth's radius like a dartboard and throw rocks at random positions on the board, the chance of scoring a "hit" on Earth is 1 in 144.

    If you throw such a "dart" every 100 years you'd expect to hit Earth on average every 14,400 years.

    If you throw such a "dart" every 1000 years you'd expect to hit Earth on average every 144,000 years.

    Evidently there were no massive asteroid induced extinctions for millions of years. So darts cannot be being thrown at the dartboard this regularly.

    In which case isn't it a bit weird that we are seeing a rock like Apophis now? If it is a 1 in 100,000 year event then the odds of it happening just as we have the ability to see it coming.

    Not saying that Apophis is not a coincidence, but...I figure I am wrong and the puzzle is figuring out what error I have made in reasoning. Perhaps "darts" have lower probability of hitting the center than other equal sized areas on the dartboard. I can't see why though.

    1. Chemist

      "what error I have made in reasoning"

      I'd think the error is assuming the asteroid has been passing close to Earth regularly for millions of years - it may be relatively new, having been produced by collision between asteroids or the orbit may have just started to coincide with Earths recently. The orbits of everything are affected by everything else - hence my mention of Chaos Theory earlier.

      1. NomNomNom

        but this is the problem. If it's relatively new, or an otherwise unusual event, isn't it a bit of a coincidence for it to happen now precisely in the 50 year time frame we can track it?

        1. Chemist

          "isn't it a bit of a coincidence"

          The only coincidence I can see is that between the rock and the Earth. Don't know how many countless others have passed by in the millenia when we couldn't track them. There are a lot of asteroids moving in chaotic orbits , even though the sol system is very big given enough time one will hit again.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    And none of the dumb fucks....

    Are refitting their loads of ICBM's for long range, deep space, long duration missions.

    And none of them are using every opportunity that every asteroid that goes past presents, to take pot shots at them and perfect the techniques of breaking them into bits and or knocking them into the sun / into deep space.

    What are they doing?

    They are sitting on their fat corporately funded arses, peering through the telescopes, saying, "Oh my god, gotta watch out for that one!"

    Satan - she understands ruling the earth with fire.

  34. Panicnow

    Only 1 in 250,000!!!!

    Er "Tiny risk" = 1 in 250,000 on a once every 15 year risk....

    Many people insure their homes for the risk of burning down on a lower risk that that.

    Please be proportionate with risk * cost.

  35. Andy ORourke
    Joke

    So Unlucky.......

    "The odds of a 2036 impact are still tiny – an estimated 1 in 250,000 "

    So the year after I retire (assuming I dont have to work till I'm 110 by then) I still have more odds of being struck by an asteroid than winning the lottery (Much better odds if I recall, isnt the lottery 1 in 14,000,000 or something?)

    1. Chemist

      Re: So Unlucky.......

      Your chances of winning the lottery will be much better assuming you enter twice every week for ~23 years.

      I'd make it ~~1 in 6000 ( if you just spent £1 a time )

      Good luck !! ( either way). Of course your number might be drawn the day the asteroid falls.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: So Unlucky.......

      Actually the odds of dying for each individual human are much greater

      It hits the ocean off the west coast of the US and kills 25 million people by direct impact and 1 billion by the way of climate change leading to crop failures (Note: the countries with the most arms will also get most of the food in the aftermath)

      So your chances of snuffing it are much great than the 1 in 250 000 chances of the rock hitting earth.

      But then you get a 1 in 1 chance of snuffing it anyway

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll hit the Pacific off Santa Monica, California

    So basically it's God's way of getting rid of a load of whackos, weed heads and gays.

    1. asdf Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: It'll hit the Pacific off Santa Monica, California

      Yeah thank God it won't hit a true bastion of society like Mississippi. Where would we be without Southern Baptist holy creationists who run the casinos,or the redneck nascar loving white lightning drinking wife beating trailer park drunks, or the didn't finish 3rd grade sister loving homophobes?

      1. Thorne

        Re: It'll hit the Pacific off Santa Monica, California

        "Yeah thank God it won't hit a true bastion of society like Mississippi. "

        Sounds like we need a second asteroid....

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a precedent

    The Titanic took about 2 years to build and the Iceberg that it hit was born at around the same time.

    So an asteroid which has probably broken away from the asteroid field is scheduled to meet the earth quite soon with a bit of a bump. I am concerned about inevitable destiny.

    My friend tells me its all controlled by missing scientists in the Bermuda triangle.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The NRA Solution

    The National Rifle Association has solved the problem. Simply arm every living creature on earth, and that asteroid won't dare come near.

  39. SpaMster

    Isn't this site supposed to be British?

    So why arnt you giving us the times in GMT? was somebody too lazy to work it out or something?

  40. tony2heads

    We need the Great Cat!

    In ancient egypt the enemy of the demon Apep (Apophis) was the Great Cat

    http://www.duatdesigns.com/image-viewer.htm?gallery/lolcatlarge.jpg

  41. Stevie Silver badge

    Aiee!

    Aiee!

  42. jtwaldo
    Mushroom

    Why not nuke it after it safely passes in 2029, just in case?

    The asteroid will come much closer in 2029, given us an opportunity to eliminate the risk of future collisions with this particular near earth object. Of course the risk of nuclear detonation directly against the asteroid BEFORE it reaches Earth is that smaller pieces will enter the atmosphere, but what about shortly afterward? Essentially we'd need to launch a nuclear warhead-armed rocket chasing after the asteroid after it safely passes Earth and outside the orbit of the furthest satellites.

    1. Red Bren
      Mushroom

      Re: Why not nuke it after it safely passes in 2029, just in case?

      Could you be certain of pushing it into a safer orbit? You might accidentally change the next near miss into a collision course. Or if you blow it to pieces, you might ensure the earth gets peppered with city-destroying fragments on every close approach.

  43. SwedishCodeMaffia

    2036?! Just scramble rouge squadron

    They'll blast it with proton torpedoes from their X-Wings

  44. asdf Silver badge
    Trollface

    hmm

    Missing the albedo so badly seems to me to more the problem than missing the size estimate. How can you estimate the odds even half way accurately decades in advance without it, unless of course Morgan Freeman is hiding the truth from the unwashed masses just like on TV.

  45. Derk
    Mushroom

    Watch our leaders, and their kids.

    If our illustrious leaders have been telling us all porky pies about the chances of a later hit, then they and their offspring will be living it up, like its the end of the world for the next 16 years. Which it could be.

  46. Vin King
    Meh

    I hope it does hit California

    That way, I don't have to watch another crap movie come out of Hollywood.

  47. Sampler
    Coat

    Screw Bruce Willis

    There's a lot of talk of sending Brucie up to battle this bad boy - what we really need to remember is to NOT send Steve Buscemi!

    1. asdf Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Screw Bruce Willis

      As out of place as Steve Buscemi at the top of a most beautiful people list. Or in his lame characters words God I always hate being right.

  48. Jtom Bronze badge

    California Dreaming

    The State of California is taking this very seriously. The state legislature is already working on a way to tax it.

  49. Flakey

    The British Government

    will form a committee to discus this situation and will publish their findings sometime around summer 2037

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was it in the Daily Express?

    I won't believe this story until it's in the Daily Express, alongide the snow and Princess Diana stories!

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aaaaand "Weekly World News"..

    SPACE ALIENS PUT "APOPHIS" ON COLLISION COURSE!!!!

    :-)

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