Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Sky Is Burning (aka, A Slow News Day)

On September 12, 2007, comes this from the once-respected New York Times (thanks for highlighting this to Bob McCarty of Bob McCarty Writes):
Earth Might Survive Sun's Explosion
What happens to planets when their stars age and die? That's not an academic question. About five billion years from now, astronomers say, the Sun will run out of hydrogen fuel and swell temporarily more than 100 times in diameter into a so-called red giant, swallowing Mercury and Venus and dooming life on Earth, but perhaps not Earth itself.
On first reading, one might think "what do I give a porcupine enema about an alleged event 5 billion years into the future?". Others -- part of the AlGore/Di Caprio "blame anything on human-generated global warming crowd" -- will point to this and scream, "SEE?!", followed by incredulous verbal gymnastics, and tortured dyslogical efforts to blame this futuresque event on Bush.
Richard Nixon must really love GWB right about now, but I digress.
Still others will read it, shrug, and go the daily horoscope to see if this news affects their karmic outlook for the day.
And then there'll be those who read it -- like me -- and figure it was perceived to have been a slow news day at the NYT. Immediately followed by one of those tell-tale *TOING*s, and maybe even an uh-oh.

I mean, one needn't have to look 5 billion years ahead for something that will just plain sh** in ones' Wheaties, one not-so-fine morning. Especially celestially speaking:

- Asteroid 2005 YU55, is slated to have a possibility of coming close enough to Earth to either be a near-miss or an "oh sh**!", on or about November, 2011.

- NASA, along with others, are also tracking "precisely or nominally", whatever that means, a number of PHA-classified asteroids (Potentially Hazardous Approaches). As I was able to discern from the list I printed from the PHA website , there are two in particular that are projected to pass within "spitting distance" of Earth, celestially-speaking, and quite possibly within our respective lifetimes: the aforementioned 2005 YU55; and one even closer, Apophis, in April of 2029. Of course, these are the ones that have been discovered and their orbits/tracks have been "nominally verified", though in the 16 pages of identified PHAs, I didn't see any with suggestive names like "2008 KYAG" or "2012 Oh F***".

- asteroid tracking "precisely and nominally", as NASA defines it, might be as clear as the definition of "is", according to Bill Clinton: 1950 DA, a 1.1 km asteroid, has been referenced as the most precisely tracked asteroid as can be, and has probably the best chance of hitting mother Earth, based on computer models and Norman Hsu money-laundering fund raising for Hillary. It was discovered in 1950; it was then lost track of by astronomers until December 31, 2000. If you compare this definition of "precision" along side of Bill Clinton's vacuous definition of "is", and your local meteorologist's daily reliability...eh. It works, I guess. At any rate, before you run right out and stock up on Doritos and beer, please bear in mind that 1950 DA is scheduled to come close to, if not hitting Earth, in the year 2880. Chips and dips laid in now will be well petrified by then (this has been your consumer savings tip for this blog).

- and, of course, there's the "you can't HANDLE THE TRUTH" element in government and/or the media: in June of 2002, a soccer field-sized asteroid passed within 75,000 miles of Earth. I don't recall hearing about it; perhaps it wasn't such a slow news day for the NYT back then, and they had more important things to whine, bitch and fabricate about. Had it hit us, it would have been harder for the NYT to ignore than the latest Clinton fund-raising scandal, though I'm sure they (the NYT) would have tried.

At any rate, folks, thanks to a slow news day at the NYT, now you have it: life on Earth is doomed in 5,000,000,000 years. Start making your plans accordingly now. Assuming, that is, an asteroid, fauxglobal warming, a Hillary presidency, Al Qaida with nukes, the grand dame of all hurricanes, Uranus Attacks! or another William Hung on American Idol doesn't get to us, first.