In the month that I've been off work, I've had lots of time to indulge in my favorite activity. This would be goofing off while reading hundreds of news stories every day. I guess I could pick worse things to do. Of course, I read all of the headlines, but I tend to gravitate to the smaller, quirky stories. Most times, these little news items are "one and dones", but occasionally, they form a trend.
In the last several weeks, there have been a lot of stories about ... asteroids. In particular, how close these little iron clad boogers are getting to the mother planet as they zoom by. Close is a relative term, but most astronomers define close as less than the distance from earth to the moon, or about 239,000 miles.
This morning, there seems to be a big hullabaloo in the scientific community about one asteroid about the size of two football fields. Officially, the asteroid is named Near Earth Asteroid 99942, but is more affectionately known as Apophis.
Cute moniker, because Apophis is the Greek name for the ancient Egyptian enemy of Ra the sun god. It is the Uncreator, a snake that dwells in the eternal darkness of the middle earth and tries to swallow Ra during his nightly passage.
Brrr ... pretty scary kids.
Anyway, a bunch of Russian scientists are in the process of chilling their own shit because they believe that Apophis is on track to hit the earth on April 13, 2036. They say that the normally harmless asteroid will whip by the earth in 2029 and will pass through something called a gravitational keyhole, which will suck it in just enough so on its next pass, it will smash right into old Terra Firma.
Of course, other scientists, including those at NASA, say that the Russians are full of shit. However they do admit that if this gravitational keyhole thing does happen, there's about a 1 in 250,000 chance that the mash-up could occur. I have to take this seriously as these odds are better than those of the Chicago Cubs ever making it to the World Series.
So, let's see ... if I live past my next birthday, I'd be about 84 years old when the Uncreator takes a bead on Earth. I ask you, what better way to go out than to be vaporized by a Killer Asteroid named after an Egyptian snake?
After a bit of shallow web surfing, I found an excellent animation that was put together depicting what the Apophis/Earth smackdown would look like. The fact that I'm a Floyd-head from way back and this animation is scored to PF's "The Great Gig In The Sky" makes it doubly awesome ... and a bit frightening.
If you don't do anything else today, check this out.