[ExI] Asteroid Defence (Was: Re: META: Overposting (psychology of morals))

Ben Zaiboc bbenzai at yahoo.com
Wed Mar 2 15:57:12 UTC 2011

Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> explained:
> On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 7:11 AM, Ben Zaiboc <bbenzai at yahoo.com>
> wrote:
> > At this point in history, I think our ability to
> protect ourselves from a dinosaur-killer asteroid is
> > doubtful, to say the least.
> Not at all. If we find it in time. That's why the NEO
> program is so
> very important.
> 1) We have now successfully landed space craft on asteroids
> (or at
> least crashed into them).
> 2) There are several competing mechanisms for tugging an
> asteroid into
> a slightly different orbit including:

> If the asteroid is slightly deflected ten years prior to an
> earth
> strike, it will miss the earth. A very small deflection
> would be
> enough. Let's do some trig...


<Disclaimer: I am not a rocket scentist, or anything approaching it>

Yes, I know these arguments, my point is that while all this is fine in principle, I don't think we'll have any chance of actually doing this for quite a while, mainly because we can't predict the path of an asteroid accurately enough to know for sure that it will hit the earth, until it's too close to feasibly do anything about it.  This element of doubt, combined with the huge cost of doing anything about it, will paralyse any impulse to do anything.

I strongly suspect that a practical defence against civilisation-destroying asteroid strikes is simply too difficult for us, at least at this point in history.  It's rather like the idea of establishing a global network of solar power stations.  Great in theory, we could do it if there was the will and universal agreement and all the financial, political and social aspects could be ironed out, but it's not gonna happen this side of the singularity.

I'm beginning to think that the Fermi Paradox has a very simple explanation:  The universe is remarkably hostile, and dumb luck always runs out eventually.  Killer asteroids are on the low end of lethal events, if you think about it.  Eventually, we'll have to deal with a nearby supernova or Gamma Ray Burst, and there's all sorts of other nasties out there, that we know about.

Depressed?  Yeah, the first million years are the worst.  And the second million, they're the worst too...

Ben Zaiboc


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