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 …

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  1. moiety

    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.

  2. 2FishInATank
    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."

    1. Alan Mackenzie
      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?

      1. Elmer Phud 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.

    2. ecofeco 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.

  3. Nanners

    All I read was the headline

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

    1. Geoff Campbell
      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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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'.

      1. Eddy Ito 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. Geoff Campbell
          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

          1. Eddy Ito 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.

      2. Michael Wojcik 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?

      3. zoogler

        Re: Is it really a debate?

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

    3. ecofeco Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: All I read was the headline

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

  4. 0_Flybert_0
    Terminator

    If humans die off ..

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

    1. Captain DaFt
      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

    2. P. Lee 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?

      1. cnapan
        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?

      2. Boris the Cockroach 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

      3. Marketing Hack 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.

        1. Steven Roper
          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. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          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.

          1. Daren Nestor

            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 :)

    3. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver 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

    4. Sir Runcible Spoon 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..."

      1. Irony Deficient

        “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.)

    5. John Savard Silver 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.

  5. Mike Bell
    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.

    1. Daniel B.

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Jonathan Richards 1

        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.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: As opposed to ... wars

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

          DO IT NOW!

          fixed :-)

          1. Alan Brown 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.

            1. Reginald Gerard

              @ Alan Brown - Re: As opposed to ... wars

              That russian rock has such a shallow path that it would have left the atmosphere again had it not exploded due to the sudden increase in temperature caused by it's long flight through the sky. Had it come down vertically it wouldn't have had time to heat up enough to explode and would have made a massive dent in ground.

      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Space Monkeys

        I'd rather have the monkeys in space.

        so would the rest of us!

    2. Mikel
      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.

      1. Mike Bell

        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.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. John Savard Silver 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. FutureShock999

          Re: Space Monkeys

          Actually, our planet is NOT perfectly suited for us. Indeed, it is trying its level best to kill us. Go read Jared Diamond's "Collapse", and realise that the entire planet is just seething with megaearthquakes, supervolcanos, etc. that are just ITCHING to do their thing - and that isn't even counting the incoming missiles from space. The fact that they have been quiet during the very, very brief period of human existence means NOTHING. Yellowstone WILL blow again, with all the force of several atomic arsenals. Those shifting tectonic plates WILL create huge tsunamis and drop pieces of civilisation into the sea.

          Now, it may be that we are better off figuring out how to live on a planet that is uninhabitable - underground living, giant domes, etc. That may be much easier than space travel.

          But in my mind, there is simply no getting around it - we have to STOP BEING HUMAN. Human evolution has come almost as far as it can go, and it will not survive on this planet forever. Arthur C. Clarke posited intelligences that "had encoded the fabric of their beings into space and time" in '2001', and that would be the ultimate goal. But in the meantime, it probably involves getting rid of flesh and bones, firstly by using mere metal and plastic machines. But maybe ultimately, we have the option of doing even more clever tricks with biology, things beyond our comprehension. But one thing is for certain, it will not be mankind as we know it that will be here in 1000 years...

          1. David Hicks
            Stop

            Re: Space Monkeys

            In the deep long-term we do absolutely have to get off this rock.

            The Sun will continue to (ever-so-slowly) output energy at higher and higher rates, burning up its fuel faster and faster. 5.4 billion years down the line and the Sun will expand and engulf the earth. But well before that, 800 million years in fact, the increased output will mean the earth is too hot for liquid water to exist and life as we know it will have to come to an end at that point.

            So.... 800 million years to come up with a decent spaceship design... best get started!

            1. OrsonX

              "800 million years to come up with a decent spaceship design."

              What we need is a spaceship design committee.

              Probably the first item on the agenda should be, what colour do we want the spaceship to be?

          2. Vic

            Re: Space Monkeys

            > Human evolution has come almost as far as it can go

            No, human evolution has come almost as far as it *will* go.

            To evolve more, we need greater evolutionary pressure - and that means a higher mortality rate. I don't see that happening[1] any time soon...

            Vic.

            [1] Absent any cataclysmic events, naturally, which would probably be too devastating to generate much in the way of evolution...

    3. mIRCat
      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).

    4. Richard Gray 1
      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

      1. Elmer Phud 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

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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?

      3. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Space Monkeys

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

    5. cnapan

      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.

      1. Katie Saucey
        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. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. moiety

            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. Alan Brown 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.

      4. Thorne
        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.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

    try surviving indefinitely on any other planet within travelling distance.

    The grass is not just greener here - we are on the only planet we know about that is able to support any form of grass/plants/life in general.

    1. Dick Pountain

      Re: If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

      Absolutely right. What's more, why does the human race deserve to live for ever? Nothing else will, including the sun and the whole galaxy. Sci-fi nuts like Heinlein loved to raise such romanticised, fake concern for the future of the race in place of doing anything to help actual people, here, now.

      1. madestjohn

        Re: If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

        The idea that we should just colonize another planet as an insurance against something bad happening to ours is fairly simple minded.

        It like think hey ... My house might burn down so i'm just gonna go live on an ice flow. .. Except the ice is dry ice, the water is radiation and the air, isn't

        Yes we live on earth, and earth is a planet, ... This in no way implies that other planets are in any way suitable places for us to live.

        Yes , i hope that eventually we will figure out a way for descendants of us to (semi) prementantly survive off earth its the idea that will will accomplish this by attempting to inhabit another planet that is just, well, ..silly

        1. Aldous

          Re: If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

          its more like saying "my house might burn down so i will keep a caravan out of fire range"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Angel

        Re: If you think living on planet Earth @Dick Pountain

        "why does the human race deserve to live for ever?"

        Who said we deserved to? But that's no reason not to aspire to stick around as long as possible, ideally evolving into something new. But thank you for giving me an opportunity to paraphrase that fabulous, fabulous Gandalf quote:

        “Don't deserve it! I daresay they don't. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out extinction in judgement. For even the Commentards cannot see all ends.”

    2. Keith 72
      Alien

      Re: If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

      A massive underground bunker would be a better insurance policy and has the advantage that they could emerge to actually help the survivors. It'd be much easier to keep the equipment needed to rebuild (and repopulate) society in a hole under a mountain than it is to try and ship it to a remote planet that currently can't sustain life. Even in a worst case scenario we'd have a better chance of terra-forming a ruined Earth than any other planet in our solar system as it's the only one currently in the goldilock zone.

      I fully support getting colonies on the moon and Mars, but not for the reasons given in this article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you think living on planet Earth is a precarious existence

        "A massive underground bunker". The Dr Strangelove solution. Now where do I sign.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Dennis Wilson
    Pint

    Lucky

    We escaped lightly. The meteor could have exploded over a pub.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Dennis Wilson (was: Re: Lucky)

      Do you really think there were no pubs under the shockwave?

      Your parents must be so proud of you.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: @Dennis Wilson (was: Lucky)

        Sounds a bit like the intro from Sam and Max hit the road:

        Sam (holding a bomb): Max, where should I put this so it doesn't hurt anyone we know or care about?

        Max: Out the window, Sam. There's nothing but strangers out there.

        Sam: (looks at the bomb in his hand and throws it out the window behind him)

        (Bomb explodes outside the windows)

        Sam: I sure hope there was no one on that bus.

        Max: No one we know, at least...

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: @Dennis Wilson (was: Lucky)

        It is Russia- think of all the broken glass, and bottle.

      3. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: @Dennis Wilson (was: Lucky)

        They don't have Pubs in that part of the East......

        1. Irony Deficient

          pubs in that part of the East

          Richard Taylor 2, have you considered the Fox & Goose* at 177 Kirov Street (улица Кирова 177), right in Chelyabinsk?

          * — To see the image from this link, JavaScript is required for https://secure.flickr.com/; for just the image itself, no JavaScript is required.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Lucky

      Just fortunate that the rock went skipping across, instead of straight down.

      Sad - Finger up the arse, while the nukes sit in the silos for bankster / corporate stand over merchant bullshit games....

    3. ecofeco Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Lucky

      KHHAAANNN!!!!!

  8. jake Silver badge

    Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

    ... random. I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

    It did, however, remind me to check & rotate the emergency supplies (including water) that I keep around for when the Rogers Creek Fault, probable home of The Bay Area's "next big one", reminds us all that we're really not all that important in the Cosmic scheme of things.

    Serious question, kids ... How many days worth of food & water do you have on hand for all the critters that depend on you for same (including spouse, kids, pets & livestock), in the event of disaster?

    I can go about three months, with no losses to the livestock, which should be enough time to fall back & regroup and start living off the land. I think. Not looking forward to testing it, mind ;-)

    1. IHateWearingATie

      Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

      None my friend. I just need the means to take the supplies I need off other people. It's the UK, and hardly anyone has a gun :)

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Whatever. Random... (@IHateWearingATie)

        No guns.

        Do have a bow, couple of swords, axes (felling, hand and throwing) spears and javelins.

        Oh and body armour.

        All of which are in working condition.

        There again, they should be given re-enactment season starts again in April.

      2. BCS

        Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

        Very true. I do possess such a device.

        The meek only inherit the world if the strong have left and gone elsewhere...

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

      I can go about three months...

      in this context, why would you want to?

      i cant really see the great benefit in slowly dying of thirst/starvation 3 months after everyone else.

      1. Graham Dawson

        Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

        On the other hand, it gives him three months to come up with an effective solution.

        What the hell is wrong with commentards these days? The lot of you are such negative ninnies! Oh your solution isn't perfect, might as well kill yourself now and be done with it!

        God in heaven...

        1. jake Silver badge
          Pint

          @Graham Dawson (was: Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...)

          Roughly four times a year, we go completely "self contained", nothing but wood & steam and Clydesdales (and my personal hot-rod Percheron & buckboard), for a week or ten days. It's part of our "at risk kids" camp. It's amazing how fast attitudes change when you teach a kid something as basic as milking a cow, and then turning the milk into cheese. Milling wheat and running down to the coop to get eggs to make pasta is another big one :-)

          Beer. We make that, too. But for the adults. Proper Rootbeer for the kids, though ;-)

    3. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

      "How many days worth of food & water do you have on hand?"

      At the moment, about 10 miles worth of reservoir. Should see me through for a bit I reckon.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

          If there's a nuke war I don't give a rat's arse about the water, I'd rather be dead, and quickly.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. jake Silver badge

        @SRS (was: Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...)

        10 miles of reservoir?[1] This keeps you and yours going for "a bit"[2] ... how, exactly? And is it open to the atmosphere, and thus subject to contamination by <thingy>?

        [1] Is "one mile of reservoir" an ElReg unit of volume I'm unaware of?

        [2] What's a bit? In my world, it's either a one or a zero. Or 12.5 cents.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: @SRS (was: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...)

          @Jake,

          I have no idea how deep they are, but as they're in the mountains I expect they are fairly deep - there're more than one around here, I just mentioned the one that's a few minutes walk away and that's about 10 miles long.

          It's fairly narrow though so there might be less in it than I expect.

          If they all get contaminated I can always rig up a moisture trap - it's damp as hell round here, and there's always the sea.

    4. Don Jefe

      Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

      I've got two weeks of food and water for me and my wife. I have two dogs named Ralph the Emergency Meal I & II. I'm set.

    5. Vic

      Re: Whatever. Random acts of the cosmos are just that ...

      > How many days worth of food & water do you have on hand

      One.

      It's mostly Scotch...

      Vic.

  9. Local G
    Trollface

    "The twin visitations from our solar system"

    Don't these things usually happen in threes?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "The twin visitations from our solar system"

      Don't these things usually happen in threes?

      Apparently they're run by TfL, so yes. Uncannily similar, even: one whizzes by so fast you can't catch it, the next crashes and burns. It remains to be seen what happens to the third.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: "The twin visitations from our solar system"

        The third one was listed on the timetable but the usual glitch has just marked it as 'out of service' with the next one due a millennium after that.

        We still know the third one is coming but not a clue when.

      2. Naughtyhorse
        Joke

        Re: "The twin visitations from our solar system"

        i am reliably informed that due to signalling work at mars junction, the third rock has been replaced by a bus service

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To sum up...

    ... we're screwed.

    It seems completely obvious that the world will be unable to get it's shit together until a threat is imminent - and if the threat is too large, game over for life on earth - at least for a very long time.

    It's horrible to say this, but our best bet is to have a strike which does some severe damage - enough to galvanise the world into action, but not enough to wipe us or our civilisation out.

    A useful analogy here is the dangerous stretch of road your local council knows they should address, but only bothers doing so when a coach load of people end up in a ditch.

    That's *exactly* how the human race will galvanise itself into action - just like that council dallying over the dangerous road, it'll take a major impact before anything gets done.

    Sad, but true.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: To sum up...

      Too true- the only sustained Goverment policy is Burning Rome Fiddling- or just Fiddling in general.

    2. Naughtyhorse
      Trollface

      Re: To sum up...

      "It seems completely obvious that the world will be unable to get it's shit together until a threat is imminent - and if the threat is too large, game over for life on earth - at least for a very long time."

      are you talking about space rocks, or CC

      <Grins, Ducks and Runs away>

  11. Zmodem

    the space agencies might always unite and build the new shuttle with a 6mw perpetual generator on with sci xenon thruster or plasma, and goto mars in a few months when not preventing impacts

    1. Zmodem

      actual design and research of their own materials would only cost £20-30 billion, another 10 billion for production

      1. Zmodem

        no, aerogel insulates most things, all the hard research was done for nasa shuttles

        a joint effort would keep costs down, and whos got the best material for the job and part

        1. Zmodem

          they all make thehr own graphites for differents they would never release to the public along with hundreds of metals

          a whole new modern shuttle would be 200 tons lighter the nasa shuttle

          the real chore for them all to go hybrid ramjet or nasa oldskool launches with bigger cargo

          a perpetual dynamo generator needs no fuel or crappy solar power for a mini super computer under the floor

          1. NumptyScrub

            quote: "a perpetual dynamo generator needs no fuel or crappy solar power for a mini super computer under the floor"

            Perpetual dynamo generator? I must have been paying attention to the wrong science at school, because I never heard about those. Are they fission powered, or are you talking about actual perpetual motion that somehow doesn't slow down when power is extracted from it?

            I only did A-level Physics (and dabble in Quantum Electrodynamics), so I'd still be of the opinion that actual perpetual motion is, in fact, not possible if you intend to draw power from it. Please enlighten me how I am incorrect :)

            1. Vic

              Perpetual dynamo generator? I must have been paying attention to the wrong science at school, because I never heard about those. Are they fission powered

              Nah. They'll be powered by Desert Eagle rounds...

              Vic.

              [Removing tongue from cheek...]

    2. Trollslayer Silver badge

      And whoever got there would be sterile due to long term radiation exposure.

  12. Mage Silver badge

    London Capital of the World?

    Really?

    Maybe Capital of British Empire.

    1. Chris Miller

      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.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: London Capital of the World?

      same thing

    3. Zack Mollusc
      Meh

      Re: London Capital of the World?

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

  13. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  14. Ed Powell

    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

    1. John Deeb
      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.

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        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.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        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?

        1. Local G
          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

        2. Tequila Joe

          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.

      3. Grikath Silver badge

        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.

  15. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Chicken Marengo

      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

    2. Steven Roper
      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!

  16. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Grikath Silver badge
        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.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. TooDeep

    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.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Long-term survival is impossible

      Edgy teenager detected.

      1. TooDeep

        Re: Long-term survival is impossible

        Then your detector needs a significant recalibration.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Long-term survival is impossible

          Sometimes teenagers exist in old bodies.

    2. Rol Silver badge
      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.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Rol Silver badge

          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.

  18. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

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

  19. Tony Green

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

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

    1. DJV Silver badge
      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!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        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!

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

          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)

          1. Tequila Joe

            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 ?

      2. Naughtyhorse

        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

  20. Spotthelemon

    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

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Reg's Response

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

    2. ecofeco Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Reg's Response

      It only takes one.

      What are the odds of that being zero?

      Yeah. That.

  21. Steven Jones

    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.

    1. Lord Voldemortgage

      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.

  22. Mikel
    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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

      1. Zmodem

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

        all space technology is only 45 years old

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Local G
          FAIL

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

          But it probably will

        2. Mikel

          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.

  23. David Dawson
    Happy

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

    Made my morning, thanks!

  24. JDX Gold badge

    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!

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      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.

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        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.

      2. JDX Gold badge

        Re: This whole debate...

        Rubbish. Even with a very significant event, our climate will STILL be less difficult than that of Mars/Moon.

        I'm not talking about billions of us surviving, but tens of thousands is all that is needed. That's a pretty huge colony.

    2. Steven Roper

      @JDX

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

      I recommend you look up a book/documentary called "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He's an anthropologist who spent 30 years researching why Eurasian civilisations dominated the world over other cultures, and his thesis states that geography - specifically the temperate conditions that allowed certain species of food plants (wheat, oats, barley) and animals (goats, cattle, horses) to exist - is what gave the Eurasian cultures their edge, by freeing them from the exigencies of survival and enabling specialisation. When they attempted to colonise the tropics, their traditional survival methods failed because the plants and animals upon which our civilisation depends were not adapted to survive there.

      So we do need surprisingly specific conditions to survive, or at least to maintain the structures of advanced civilisation. Without our temperate-zone climate, wheat and other staple foods don't grow, and without them civilisation as we know it cannot stand.

      In a post-impact Earth, survival alone becomes only a thin possibility. If we look at past extinction events - the Permian-Triassic or the Cretaceous-Tertiary, for example - we see that the climate changes that resulted from them weren't measured in decades or even millennia. The lushness of the Permian gave way to the deserts of the Triassic; likewise with the verdant Cretaceous and the barren Tertiary, both of which lasted for millions of years before the Earth recovered.

      In a mass-extinction event of this magnitude, large, complex lifeforms cannot survive. Only the smallest, simplest creatures can eke out an existence, and give rise to new evolved forms over time; the dinosaurs from the Permian-Triassic, and the mammals from the Cretaceous-Tertiary. The poisonous atmosphere, the centuries of global winter darkness resulting from an impact - these effects would last far longer than our civilisation has already existed and developed, and so the chances of anything much more complex than a frog surviving them are marginal at best.

      So "re-colonising Earth" is simply not a viable proposition in the aftermath of such an event. Not unless we can maintain a civilisation in underground bunkers for a few million years at a stretch, until the Earth becomes inhabitable again...

      1. Vic

        Re: @JDX

        > or at least to maintain the structures of advanced civilisation

        I think we should probably attain them, prior to maintaining them...

        Vic.

    3. Thorne

      Re: This whole debate...

      "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!"

      Aren't you assuming there will be an earth to re-colonise? There are plenty of potential disasters which could mean that the earth can't be re-colonised. A good bet is another planet and the best bet is another star system

  25. Youvegottobe Joking
    Terminator

    "Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein summed it up best: "Once the human race is established on more than one planet and especially, in more than one solar system, there is no way now imaginable to kill off the human race."

    There is; religion.

    And more specifically, religious fanatics/nutters. Just give them access to some nice education and a selection of nasty viruses and thats one planet gone. Given enough time, friendly rivalries will turn into outright aggression and ultimately thermonuclear winter will kill off everything but the cockroaches.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      And look what happens when you combine the two -- we get ElRon!

    2. Grikath Silver badge
      Holmes

      Actually Heinlein was known for warnings about the destructiveness of religion, and quite a few of his works are easily recogniseable as a warning against unbridled fundamentalism, usually centering on bible-belt type Literalism, but not failing to take a poke or two on just about anything else related to the Great Hoax.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or politics. Having multiple planets with WMD is not more "safer" than having multiple countries with WMD. I'd hedge my bet or surviving a natural threat other a human one any day. Nature does not hold grudges.

    3. JDX Gold badge

      I think people thinking they're smarter than they really are is far more of a danger than religion.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge
      Holmes

      There's a funny thing about space: stupid people don't live very long in it.

      It's quite the Darwin filter.

  26. Rol Silver badge
    Joke

    Name it iRock

    Then as it enters the atmosphere a crack team of lawyers can sue it out of existence.

    1. Dick Pountain
      Happy

      Re: Name it iRock

      Only if it's shaped like a round-cornered rectangle

      1. ecofeco Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Name it iRock

        OH SNAP!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    none of this is new

    Any money spent on colonizing space is futile in the very long term. The petri dish for the organism called the human species is finite. Traveling to distant planetary systems is impossible. I repeat, impossible. Wonderful imaginative exercise, but impossible. They are simply too far away even at light speed, which can't be achieved. It is highly unfortunate, but in this specific simulation, all life is doomed. Whether by object strikes, or the eventual expansion of the Sun's corona. Neither can be stopped long term. Pray, wish and hope all you want, no difference it will make. The only thing we have is today with a distinct need to learn how to control population growth and get along until the eventual end. We all individually die, and species die as well. Sad, but true, so rejoice. Towards the end, we will blast millions of high speed projectiles out into space with dessicated DNA and tissue in the hopes that at least one will land on a planet capable of supporting the process of life and evolution, just like our originators did very long ago.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Trollface

      Re: none of this is new

      Suicidal troll?

      Do not feed anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: none of this is new

        Realistic visionary ....

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: none of this is new

          Evolutionary dead-end.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: none of this is new

      ... The petri dish for the organism called the human species is finite. Traveling to distant planetary systems is impossible. ...

      The petri dish for the organism called the human species is INFINITE. Traveling to distant planetary systems is impossible with the knowledge we have today. But who knows what amazing methods of travel human ingenuity will develop in the future?....

      There, fixed that for you...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: none of this is new

        Hope springs eternal. However, the reality of the day in which we live is the only reality there is. Will the future bring hi speed inter-stellar travel? Maybe, maybe not. As of today, right now, interstellar travel with humans actually living through the experience is not possible. Period. Non-debatable. Nor, can you find any rational scientist willing to say that humans can survive the hundred(s) or so year trip that would be required to get to the nearest star that may have suitable planets to inhabit - and oh, yeah, don't guess wrong on the planets being habitable, cause there's not much wiggle room there. That is, if a piece of space dust doesn't rip a hole in your ship in flight. Real life isn't the movies. The realities are far harsher and few people are even willing to have the discussion because it is flippin uncomfortable. Knowing you're stuck on a sphere floating in space that over time is devastatingly vulnerable to a wide variety of normal extra-terrestrial and terrestrial events is quite unnerving when realized in its entirety. If anyone wants to pull in nebulously hopeful future possibilities and somehow consider that reality, then I guess it makes folks feel better, but does little to change the facts as they exist today.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: none of this is new

        "The petri dish for the organism called the human species is INFINITE"

        I think it's finite but boundless...

    3. Thorne

      Re: none of this is new

      "Traveling to distant planetary systems is impossible. I repeat, impossible."

      Why is it impossible? Even with current technology we could build a multi generational colony ship. The only reason why we haven't is politicians won't spend money on something that you won't see the results for hundreds of years.

      If they knew the earth was going to be wiped out and knew it couldn't be stopped, then money is no object.

      If you look at possible improvements in robotics, cryogenics and zero G manufacturing, getting to another star system becomes a real possibility. The first step is to work out where our best bet is as far as possible star systems.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      FAIL

      Re: none of this is new

      "Traveling to distant planetary systems is impossible."

      No, just highly prohibitive in terms of money, energy and time. There is no law of nature that prevents it happening. The Voyagers are already doing it, but at a very slow pace given the size of the universe.

      Would that be one of those "facts" like the assertion by the UK Astronomer Royal that space travel is "Utter bilge"?

      Perhaps, because the context of the quote was the proceeding line that "It would cost as much as a major war just to put a man on the moon."

      Currently its impossible for someone to start a journey to another star and be alive at arrival.

      But more technological progress has been made since (roughly) the mid 19th century than the previous 18 centuries combined.

      Things change.

  28. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    I have to agree with this article's title

    Step one is figuring out an economical way to get people and materials into orbit. Until we can do that the best you are going to get is "we managed to build a spaceships for a few hundred/thousand people and we called it saving humanity".

    1. Dick Pountain

      Re: I have to agree with this article's title

      And which step is figuring out a way to feed everyone on this planet?

      1. Thorne

        Re: I have to agree with this article's title

        "And which step is figuring out a way to feed everyone on this planet?"

        Soylent Green

        More food and less people eating. Problem solved!

    2. Rol Silver badge

      Re: I have to agree with this article's title

      You can get a hell of a lot of humans into one tiny test tube and they wouldn't eat much on a ten thousand year journey!

  29. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    WTF?

    I happened to mention this issue...

    ...to a group of my friends in a pub a year or so ago, and suggested that , out of all the threats I knew about, this one really needed to be addressed.

    The general consensus was that I was either drunk or insane.

    This seemed to be based on the belief that WE are down here, and SPACE is up there, and so the two things are nothing to do with each other. Furthermore, anyone who starts talking about space as if it was somewhere to go is obviously living in the far future - 'thousands of years hence' was mentioned. Indeed, one wag suggester, to general approval, that humans would have evolved into another species before we needed to worry about what was on the Moon.

    Anyone who wants to address defences against meteorites will have to address this attitude first...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: I happened to mention this issue...

      "Anyone who wants to address defences against meteorites will have to address this attitude first..."

      For a lot of people space is a prgramme, not a place.

      But as it is a place, stuff can come from there as easily as it goes to there (actually it's rather easier).

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. Local G
    Devil

    "Watch out, human beans"

    Or dat big, black hole gonna getchoo.

  31. Alan Firminger

    NASA's preference is "land on the foreign object and deflect it in situ"

    Why would humans on the rock be necessary ? We don't have to negotiate with or even civilize the natives.

    Mechanics can be automatic. Setting a sail, that is as on a yacht adjusting it for the required effect, can be done from a wonderful control room containing 300 engineers all looking to party, and probably an equal number of tv feeds.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought but..

    If ol' Elron's "master plan" is actually to use all those surplus billions to build an army of itty bitty bootstrap probes containing nanotech, human DNA and a small but potent LENR reactor then around the time the "lights go out" 7K years from now humanity and most of Earth's biosphere will be spread out to the hundred or so nearest stars by good old fashioned slower-than-light methods.

    AC

    1. Jason Ozolins
      Devil

      Re: Just a thought but..

      Presumably an LENR reactor built with the same advanced insight that produced the classic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_About_Radiation.

      Reminds me of the time a local mad guy was advertising at the refectory of the University where I worked for help in building a fusion rocket using his amazing "divide by zero" technology. I'd already found a screed of his that he'd left behind on a bench, and said feat could apparently enable all sorts of amazing technology, instead of just producing an NaN. The mathematical arguments employed to prove that assertion were only slightly more bizarre than the sort that postmodernists use when they try to muscle in on maths or physics. And they get tenure.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Just a thought but..

        Good old ElRon's minions have missed a possibility though.

        Imagine that the DNA gets damaged in transit, but is still viable - all sorts of weird and wonderful 'monsters' evolve out of the muck and eventually they come back to Earth to find their progenators - discover us, and assume we wiped out their forebears and kill us all.

  33. snafu

    Another technique

    There is this deflection technique that consists in having a spaceship travelling alongside the asteroid, so that its minuscule gravitational force pulls the celestial body off its original trajectory enough to avoid Earth. No bombs, no tricky landings, no fighting the asteroid spin, etc.: just having enough mass and advance time to do the trick.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Another technique

      I believe that plan calls for a swarm of ships and a couple decades notice. If Apophis were going to hit us in 2036 we'd be deploying that solution now for it to have a chance of working.

  34. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge
    Alert

    Doomed...

    They swore blind the planet was about to be eaten by an enormous mutant star-goat, or some such thing

  35. ptmmac
    Angel

    Paranoia

    I know I am paranoid. The question is am I paranoid enough? Am I paranoid about the right things?

    I would guess that living with this little dilemma is the basis for all the religious foo foo rah that has been going on for as long as there have been human beings. Maybe we really need just a little bit of faith to go along with all our new knowledge. I would also wager that no one will be heading off of this rock any time soon without taking time to say a little prayer about making it back in one piece.

  36. Philip Lewis
    Mushroom

    Did the commentards call for an asteroid proof shield to be built over every nuclear power station yet?

  37. Local G
    Trollface

    Picture a moldy cheese ball a couple of days before el reg's xmas party

    Everyone knows that the nut-covered ball will vanish long before the cheap wine and the partiers do. Thriving on the surface of the cheese ball dwells microscopic colonies of anxious mold. And their thoughts were about the immenent destruction of the cheese ball, into the maws of voracious IT writers. In the most intelligent circles, the very best and brightest of Moldo sapien, the discussion was how best to escape their birth cheese ball to a better ball, and save their mold line from extinction. There were Bries and Camemberts and Goudas all around but inter-cheese travel was olny dreamed about and hadn't been developed. The furthest they had travelled was only to other cheeses on the same cheese plate.

    Could they ever get to the wheel of Emmentaler at the nearby cheese store?

    Certainly not before el reg's xmas party.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two whole planets full of humans?

    Sounds fine until war breaks out between them.

  39. Electric sheep
    WTF?

    Why the suprise over the russian hit?

    Meteors and asteroids are the products of collisions and its safe to say the huge one that passed us by was going to have some debris following it. It was the size of an Olympic pool Friday but it would have been even bigger thousands of years ago, did they think the fallout from millions of old collisions just evaporated?

  40. Jason Ozolins
    Flame

    Babylon 5 and "all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars" quote

    So, apparently we have to "go to the stars" for anything to be worthwhile. Let's try to clarify this:

    How many of us have to go there? You, me, our kids... what if it was just the Murdoch and Koch and Ellison and Gates and Jobs and Putin and Romney and <insert lots more 1% names> families? They're humans, too... and they have a lot more resources at their disposal than most ordinary people do. Why shouldn't they be entrusted with the stewardship of the works of Buddy Holly and Aristophanes, etc? Who gets to be the payload, and who gets to be discarded as early stages of the great rocket of humanity?

    Do the ones that go have to be the same species that we are now, or some offshoot of humanity? Will they even care about all that culture? I am trying to convince my son to care about Aristophanes, but he's more interested in Minecraft. How far removed from us could any descendants be and still care about carrying the essence of "us" into space somehow? Do you feel that you are representing for the Homo Habilis crew every time you make a tool?

    What about just sending some AI carrying all of recorded human knowledge/culture, which can explain it all for someone else to appreciate? What's so great about my 1,000th generation descendant shrugging at the works of Marilyn Monroe and Buddy Holly before getting back to Space Minecraft version 4982? Perhaps something that is not in anyway descended from my or any other human loins might feel more appreciation for "Peggy Sue"?

    I know for a 100% fact that I will die. Sometimes in the meanwhile I get to enjoy being alive just doing my own thing, but apart from that it's all about how I interact with the living, reacting world around me; people, and animals, and even the plants in my garden. Of my small impact on that world, even less would ever have a chance of being known unto these wonder-entities who will carry all the "proper achievements" like Marilyn Monroe out into space and eternity; guess my life is worthless. Oh well.

    Flame away, space lovers...

    1. Florida1920 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Babylon 5 and "all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars" quote

      Doomsday Asteroid

      (apologies to) Buddy Holly

      Every day it's a-gettin' closer

      Goin' faster than a roller coaster

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLBWkM0jzK0

  41. Florida1920 Silver badge
    Pint

    No need to travel afar. The young-rich-famous-and-fertile could board an Earth-orbiting station, accompanied by robotic orbiting capsules containing post-apocalypse survival supplies. Caviar, pate and other essentials. Durable necessities could be cached in secret locations on earth. Wait out the disaster, then return when the smoke clears and repopulate. If the whole planet goes "pffft" then at least they have a front-row seat. Free beer and crisps for the rest of us.

    1. Jason Ozolins
      Coat

      @florida1920: earth-orbiting station idea

      Depends what you're worried about. A gamma-ray burst that takes out life on earth will also take out any life in orbit around the earth. The "to the starz!" folks are so committed to preserving humanity that they would spend all our resources making sure that we can spread humans so far out that even a gamma ray burst couldn't stop us from using all the resources of other places to keep spreading ever outwards. And so on.

      As for the visionary qualities of science fiction, I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned that great Kurt Vonnegut short story, "The Big Space F**k". In it, humanity's last gasp at some demented form of survival is shooting a rocket full of freeze-dried sperm at a space-time wormhole that will send it to somewhere near the Andromeda nebula, in the hope of "finding something fertile out there". Billboards beside roads advertising this grand scheme proclaim "F**k you, Andromeda!". Seems about as much point to it, honestly.

      [and yes, Kurt Vonnegut uses the proper swears]

  42. Sprismoid
    Mushroom

    Here I am thinking about doom and forgetting to work..

    I had better get coding or I won't be able to afford either-

    A: a ticket with Bill &Co, or

    B: a mind transfer into the probe thingy A.I., or

    C: oh and why do we always want to put a 'C' in every list of alternatives??

    It's all too much :-)

    Icon of doom!

  43. sisk Silver badge
    Joke

    Armageddon alone has 168 physical impossibilities

    What? You mean we can't land a bunch of out-of-shape guys on an asteroid, have this drill a big hole, and drop in a nuke all to a soundtrack that includes Aerosmith and ZZ Top? Dang. Guess I need to make new retirement plans.

    On a more serious note, Deep Impact was a much better movie. Why does Armageddon get all the media love?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Trollface

      That's showbiz!

  44. Alan Dougherty
    Windows

    Hammond

    Strangely, I can only read this article with the voice of Richard Hammond (TG) in my head. Makes it seem more DON'T PANIC! for some reason.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Rainy Days and Mondays"

    It's our beholden duty to spread our self-proclaimed human loving kindness and the music of The Carpenters to the four corners (or more) of the Universe (whatever).

  46. weetbixkid
    Windows

    Issue of priorities

    The human race needs a priority check!

    We live on this planet as if we believe that nothing will ever knock us off our perch.

    How immature and naive of us. its embarrassing to know that most people on this site, who share the same ideology share some fragment of their DNA with the " intellectuals" and the "powerful" individuals who call the shots around the world and set the priorities on behalf of all of us.

    There needs to be a wake up call, and unfortunately i don't believe it can happen subtly. We have fallen too far into a sleep like state that we've built for our selves in form of all sorts of distractions, where we've stopped excelling in what has gotten this species to the point where we are now. The basics of exploration have taken a back seat . Something that was at forefront of our forefathers, before the world got smaller.

    We need to rewrite our priorities if we are to pro-long our existence as a species.

    We're ignoring the most obvious signs, we dont control all aspects of nature, as much as we think we may do. We are at the mercy of it and so very vulnerable.

    The world's list of priorities is currently steered by rich individuals who are driven by impulse of greed and this extends to all current governments around the world. If their priorities are not in research of ways to sustain our species than their priorities are purely superficial.

    What technological advancements have we progressed in over the past 50 years? microwaves and internet, smart phones and flat screen TVs? its obvious that "people" have been suppressed and our advancement curved to almost a standstill where there are more "new" advancement in the virtual form than there are in the actual hard reality.

    Whilst the progress and priorities are driven by money and money is controlled by rich short sighted individuals, I'm afraid the voice of the realism is just that, a voice and nothing else....

    1. Sprismoid
      Go

      Re: Issue of priorities

      We should remember that the exploration of the past was also driven by the financial motive. Columbus was looking for riches for the queen of Spain, the wild west was conquered for gold etc..

      Maybe DSI and the rest are really the natural heirs of that drive.

      I wish them luck.

      Positive icon!

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