Friday, January 8, 2010

Comet Wars

One of my problems - and there are many - is that I'm just not smart enough.

There are times when, studying some topic, I come very close to getting a handle on it. I am just shy of having a powerful insight or possibly game-changing answer, and then things get all confused and convoluted in my head and whatever it was just slips away. It's like being stoned. Which... you know, I hardly ever do anymore.

Now, supposedly, I'm very smart. According to the IQ and the SAT and the GRE tests, I score in the 99.98 percentile, which means that I am in the top 2% of the top 2%. You've heard of MENSA? The organization for smart people with IQs in the top 2%? I met someone who was a MENSA member once. They wuz, lyke, reelly, reely stoopid.  

Of course, that IQ test of mine was nine concussions ago. I figure I've lost ten points with each concussion, which means the next inevitable one will turn me into some kind of baby seal - after the Eskimos have had their fun.

And it has me worried about the rest of humanity, because, compared to me, the average person has the IQ of a carrot. And not a particularly bright carrot either.

Honestly and truthfully, though, I just ain't all that smart. And even more scary, I know people who are so smart that they make me look like a carrot! And they ain't all that smart either. So, I'm worried about us.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

For those of you not In The Know, let's talk about the K-T Event. That's shorthand for the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction Event. The prevailing scientific thought is that some 65 million years ago, a big comet smacked into the Earth with the force of a 100 million megatons. (That's, um, about a couple hundred thousand times more powerful than the total world's nuclear arsenal going kablooey all at once in one place). The result of this big, huge smoking hole in the ground was that the dinosaurs went extinct. There's a lot of evidence for it, and since evidence is really all that matters, that's why scientists think that is what happened.

Yesterday, in the previous journal entry, I said that the Dinosaurs had a Comet War(!)

Meaning, I suppose, that some species of dinosaur got smart, and got so smart that they developed space travel. They got so smart and powerful that they could fling comets and asteroids around. Oh, well, and then they got all pissy with each other. War broke out. The weapons they used were comets and asteroids, and they wiped themselves out.

No, that really didn't happen.

At least, I don't think it did. The Earth is what? 4 and a half billion years old? And as far as we know, in all that time, only one species got smart, or should I say "smart"? Just us monkeys? No lizards? No frogs? Octopi? Clams? Mats of gelatinous slime? Seems kind of weird, doesn't it? That only one species managed the task? 

Well, anyway, I noticed in the news that Russia is scared of Aphophis. 

Apophis is an asteroid that was first sighted and calculated to hit the Earth in the year 2036. Its about 750 feet from end to end, or two and a half football fields for those of you who like sports. If it smacked into the Earth, it should produce an impact force of about 880 megatons, which is equivalent to several hundred thousand trillion Easy Bake Ovens for those of you who like cookies and brownies.

Well, now its calculated that Apophis won't hit the Earth. But ROSCOSMOS, the Russian space agency, wants to use it for practice anyway. They want to try out some deflection technology or strategy to nudge the orbit some, or some destruction plan like in that awful movie "Armageddon", which Hollywood should have just forked the budget over to ROSCOSMOS from the get-go, since it was such a fucking horrible smoking hole in the ground of a movie.

Anyway, the one problem which most people don't think about it is... if you develop the technology to nudge asteroids and comets away from the Earth to protect us from impacts, doesn't that mean you also have the technology to nudge things toward us?

Oh, crap! Didn't see that coming. 

Smart, huh? And funny. The whole Unintended Consequences thing cracks me up. How making ourselves safe from one thing puts us at risk from something else.


  1. Exactly what I was thinking. Nudge it away and then cause all kinds of havoc. We'll just change the balance a little. It won't affect anything.

    And don't you just love that the first thing us clever little monkeys do with any kind of new technology is to make it into a weapon?

  2. It is a well-documented scientific fact that monkeys are assholes.