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Is NASA smarter than a 13 year old?

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#1
German schoolboy, 13, corrects NASA's asteroid figures: paper
Tue Apr 15, 5:44 PM ET

A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA's estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.
Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.
NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.
The schoolboy took into consideration the risk of Apophis running into one or more of the 40,000 satellites orbiting Earth during its path close to the planet on April 13 2029.
Those satellites travel at 3.07 kilometres a second (1.9 miles), at up to 35,880 kilometres above earth -- and the Apophis asteroid will pass by earth at a distance of 32,500 kilometres.
If the asteroid strikes a satellite in 2029, that will change its trajectory making it hit earth on its next orbit in 2036.
Both NASA and Marquardt agree that if the asteroid does collide with earth, it will create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes, which will crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.
The 13-year old made his discovery as part of a regional science competition for which he submitted a project entitled: "Apophis -- The Killer Astroid."

Yahoo news story
 
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Tim Folkerts

Super Moderator
#4
I was about to be amazed - this would be a HUGE story if true! Imagine, a 1/450 chance that EVERY PORT ON THE ATLANTIC WOULD BE DESTROYED IN 30 YEARS! And there would be global cooling on a catastrophic scale.

That is no "sidebar" story - that is the story of the year (or even the decade)!

But it is (HOPEFULLY!) a hoax!


Update: It turns out this story is a fabrication and AFP didn't check the facts with NASA as I suspected. According to the blog Cosmos4u, they talked with Don Yeomans at NASA's NEO office and this is what Yeoman's said about the news story of a 13-year old boy correcting NASA's estimates of Apohpis impacting earth: "We have not corresponded with this young man and this story is absurd, a hoax or both. During its 2029 Earth close approach, Apophis will approach the Earth to about 38,900 km, well inside the geosynchronous distance at 42,240 km. However, the asteroid will cross the equatorial belt at a distance of 51,000 km - well outside the geosynchronous distance. Since the uncertainty on Apophis' position during the Earth close approach is about 1500 km, Apophis cannot approach an Earth satellite. Apophis will not cross the moon's orbital plane at the Moon's orbital distance so it cannot approach the moon either."

http://www.universetoday.com/2008/0...boy-corrects-nasas-estimates-of-earth-impact/
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#5
I was about to be amazed - this would be a HUGE story if true! Imagine, a 1/450 chance that EVERY PORT ON THE ATLANTIC WOULD BE DESTROYED IN 30 YEARS! And there would be global cooling on a catastrophic scale.

That is no "sidebar" story - that is the story of the year (or even the decade)!

But it is (HOPEFULLY!) a hoax!


Update: It turns out this story is a fabrication and AFP didn't check the facts with NASA as I suspected. According to the blog Cosmos4u, they talked with Don Yeomans at NASA's NEO office and this is what Yeoman's said about the news story of a 13-year old boy correcting NASA's estimates of Apohpis impacting earth: "We have not corresponded with this young man and this story is absurd, a hoax or both. During its 2029 Earth close approach, Apophis will approach the Earth to about 38,900 km, well inside the geosynchronous distance at 42,240 km. However, the asteroid will cross the equatorial belt at a distance of 51,000 km - well outside the geosynchronous distance. Since the uncertainty on Apophis' position during the Earth close approach is about 1500 km, Apophis cannot approach an Earth satellite. Apophis will not cross the moon's orbital plane at the Moon's orbital distance so it cannot approach the moon either."

http://www.universetoday.com/2008/0...boy-corrects-nasas-estimates-of-earth-impact/

One of my favorite science bloggers, Phil Plait, has been inundated with people asking about this--Bad Astronomy.

Added in edit: The Yahoo page that Brad linked to is gone, and I would imagine (and hope) that someone at Yahoo News is getting a talkin' to.
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#6
Added in edit: The Yahoo page that Brad linked to is gone, and I would imagine (and hope) that someone at Yahoo News is getting a talkin' to.
Uhh... Yea. That's my thought.

I don't mind being wrong on this one, and I greatly appreciated Tim's research on that. Sooo, now, who are you safe to cite on anything?:confused:
 
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