A new story from The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe


And he also helped develop century two. He said, the fact that century couldn't automatically handle the arcasi effect was a limitation. Every time we came across a special case, like asteroids, Apophis, bennu, and 1950 DA, we had to do complex and time consuming manual analyses with century two, we don't have to do that anymore. So that's a key advantage to century two over century one. Okay, now century one couldn't calculate the orbital changes due to their cost effect. It also could not deal with asteroid orbits that got really close to the earth. When you have an asteroid that happens to get really, really close to the earth and is gravitationally affected much more than normally when it does is it creates all sorts of uncertainties in the future orbit of the asteroid. So it makes it much, much harder to predict what's going to happen after the gravitational interaction with the earth at such close range. You guys have probably heard of keyholes. So those are specific areas in space that if an asteroid went through the keyhole, it could because it went through that keyhole in that specific position, then its next orbit or a subsequent orbit will hit the earth because it went through that keyhole. So you'll often hear about an asteroid going through a keyhole. If it goes through that keyhole, we're kind of screwed in 20 years or 30 years or a hundred years, whatever it is, when it comes back, because that keyhole made it changed its orbit just enough so that next time it comes around, it gives us a whack. So that's kind of related to that. Now century one could not could not calculate that. If an asteroid was going to come really close to the earth, century one could not calculate in the future if it could hit the earth with high confidence, century two can do that. So that's another huge plus for century two. And century two is so exquisitely sensitive that it could tell you the odds of an impact, even if it's as low as three chances in 10 million. So it's very, very sensitive. And so I do feel a little safer now, but I won't be happy until we have that deflective beam obelisk from that classic episode. Yes. What was he called Paradise syndrome? That would be nice, but I don't think we're going to create a deflective beam obelisk in the ever actually ever. In the ever. Right. And so obviously there's a two pronged approach here. We need to detect the asteroids and we need to work on the technology to deflect them. Right. And the key is not to just detect it, but to detect it so far in the future. So time to deal with it..

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