December 26, 2004

Unlucky 61st Birthday

I've always proudly claimed the number 13 as my lucky number, as I was born on the 13th day of April in 1968.

But now I read from Alan Brain that my 61st birthday may be a profoundly unlucky day for me (and other Earth residents).

According to NASA's data, an asteroid (2004 MN4) will pass very close to Earth on April 13, 2029. The asteroid rates a 4 on the Torino Impact Hazard Scale and has a Palermo value of 1 (any value greater than zero on the Palermo scale is a cause for concern).

With this much advance notice, I expect we have enough time to determine what, if anything, needs to and can be done to minimize the risk of impact. As Heinlein said, the earth is simply to small and fragile a basket to keep all of our eggs in, so I hope we can move more quickly to expand and disperse to the moon, to Mars, and to orbital habitats.

Glenn Reynolds and Jay Manifold have each provided some commentary on this, too.

Update: It now appears that the risk has been significantly downgraded. Whew!

Posted by JohnL at December 26, 2004 09:25 PM
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