Fear of Asteroids

I’m beginning to think that, with enough headlines like this, fear of tobacco smoke and sugar and salt and carbon dioxide will one day be surpassed or replaced by fear of asteroids. People will watch the skies, and live in dread of fireballs in the night. Daily Express:

Shock as NASA confirms asteroid TWO MILES wide will pass close to Earth TOMORROW

A HUGE asteroid measuring almost two miles across will skim past Earth tomorrow, Nasa has confirmed.

PUBLISHED: 03:44, Fri, Oct 9, 2015 | UPDATED: 13:35, Fri, Oct 9, 2015

It should fly safely past earth, but astronomers are keeping a close eye on 86666 (2000 FL10) which, according to NASA, will be one of the biggest to pass close to our planet in recent times.

The giant lump of rock is currently hurtling through space at 40,000 miles an hour. The asteroid’s exact size is still unclear though it is estimated to be between 0.7miles metres and 1.6 miles wide – more than 15 times bigger than other asteroids currently on Nasa’s radar.

A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic with the rock fragment thought to be around a quarter of the size of Mount Everest.

I got hold of (2000 FL10)’s location and velocity from NASA Horizons, and plugged them into my orbital simulation model. Here’s what I found, looking down on the solar system:

(2000 FL10)

(2000 FL10) is indeed in our vicinity in the solar system, but the nearest it gets is tomorrow, over 25 million km away. The Sun is about 150 million km from the Earth.

But not everybody has an orbital simulation model. And there seem to be more and more stories of impending asteroid impacts floating around on the internet. There was one that predicted an Earth impact on about 24 September this year, in the Caribbean, that would create a tsunami. NASA issued denial after denial, but the story wouldn’t go away.

And why should it have, given stories like the above, with huge asteroids “skimming” the Earth on an almost weekly basis?

I can imagine a few people might wish to cash in on the growing fear (which didn’t exist 20 or 30 years ago, when people weren’t so gullible), and start rumours of an enormous asteroid impact at some specific place on some specific date and time in 5 or 10 years time. NASA will deny it vociferously, but the story won’t go away. And people will start selling houses and businesses, and move out of the area. Property prices will collapse. And then, just before the predicted impact date, a lot of property will be bought at knock-down prices by the instigators of the panic – who will already be working on their next scam.

Back when I first saw this movie, after the uneventful first six minutes, I was on the edge of my seat for all the rest of it.

Still find it darn scary even today.


About Frank Davis

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12 Responses to Fear of Asteroids

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    Enhancing fear facilitates ‘securitization’ and acceptance of social control measures. Fear encourages people to give up their liberties. One tangible consequence of fear generation is public acceptance of smoking bans. See the following:

    “Support rising for outdoor smoking bans in US” in the New York Post (October 9, 2015):

    A growing number of people in the US and Canada support smoke-free laws for outdoor venues, especially where children congregate or at building entrances, according to a new review of public surveys.
    Based on 89 surveys in both countries between 1993 and 2014, researchers say the growth of support for smoking restrictions, even among smokers, shows that outdoor smoking bans can achieve majority support.
    “This and other studies have found that it looks like people may become more favorable towards these regulations once they’re put in place and they get used to them,” said Deborah Ossip, president-elect of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, who was not involved in the study.
    In 1993, roughly three quarters of people surveyed supported smoke-free laws for school grounds, but the numbers jumped as high as 94 percent in some areas by 2014, according to the study in Tobacco Control.
    From 2001, all but one of 17 surveys found support above 54 percent for smoking bans outside building entrances, and favorable responses ranged as high as 89 percent in a 2012 Ontario survey.
    The lowest support was for laws covering smoke-free sidewalks and smoke-free outdoor workplaces like restaurant and patio bars. Even so, support seemed to grow over time for smoke-free outdoor restaurant and bar patios, ranging from 41 percent in Nevada in 2001 and 56 percent in California in 2008 to 82 percent in Ontario in 2011 and 70 percent in Saskatchewan in 2013.
    “Smoke-free outdoor laws help smokers quit … they increase hospitality business profits (by keeping customers healthy and earning and spending more money) and they improve population productivity,” said lead author of the study George Thomson, a public health researcher at University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand.
    Women were more supportive of the laws than men in all 23 surveys in the US and Ontario that included gender, with 20 percent more women than men supporting the laws in some cases.
    The strong support from women might indicate greater concern for children, Thomson told Reuters Health by email.
    Support for the laws tended also to be higher among African-Americans (and other ethnicities) than Caucasians, and among those 65 and older, those with at least a high-school education and those earning less than $20,000 yearly.
    Support was generally higher in Canada than in the US, except for California.
    Smokers tended to give much lower support to the laws than non-smokers, except where school grounds and outdoor events were concerned.
    Survey design appeared to make a difference, with more people supporting the laws when a range of options was offered than when the choice was yes or no.
    Ossip, who directs the smoking research program in the Public Health Sciences department at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, said indoor bans might have helped pave the way for wider support and also pushed more smokers outside into areas that non-smokers frequent.
    “People are maybe finding their voice in questioning whether it should still be allowed (outdoors),” Ossip said. “For non-smokers who want to sit outside in the nice weather, their exposure may have increased (leading to) heightened awareness for people who are concerned about their exposure.”
    Thomson believes more smoke-free outdoor laws should be enacted.
    “It helps if there is wide public support, as there is less likely to be wide negative public response during the passage of laws and politicians like to see high survey support,” he said.


    • harleyrider1978 says:


      Just as Mike pointed out they word their polls to get the outcome they want and here they openly admit as much:

      Reliable Opinion Pollsters Public opinion polls are an effective way to deliver the message to politicians that the public supports strong enforcement. The most effective messengers to deliver that news are professional pollsters. Of course, professional poll takers cost money, so if this is not possible, we can conduct our own surveys. We need to think carefully how to phrase our questions. “Do you think smokers should be heavily fined for smoking in public places?” may, for instance, get less support than the question “Do you think our law protecting children and other nonsmokers from smoke in public places should be properly enforced?” While the first question focuses on punishing the smoker, the second fixes on enforcing an existing law. Stronger still may be questions that also focus on the rights of children and other nonsmokers to be protected from smoke.


  2. Lepercolonist says:

    Is internalizing the fear of asteroids the same as fear of second hand smoke ? What can be done to prevent this asteroid fear ? People are so gullible. Maybe banning NASA from releasing this scientific information ? Yeah, that’s it. Total ban for NASA.

    • DWP says:

      No you got that wrong we need public asteroid health charities funded by the tax payer to lobby government to ban asteroids and prevent asteroid impacts before the 9pm watershed to protect the chiiildren from seeing asteroid impacts.

      Plus research needs to be conducted in to the effects of second hand asteroid impact fallout. :D

      Any person found to be interested in asteroids like Frank should be villified and made to conduct their interests outdoors preferably outside Earth’s atmosphere

  3. Margo says:

    …’thirty years ago, when people weren’t so gullible …’? Oh, I’m sure they were, but we didn’t know asteroids were a ‘danger’ back then. I don’t remember any mention made of them till quite recently.
    Strangely enough, I’m entirely unconcerned and un-scared of asteroids. I can think of much worse ways to go – it wouldn’t be as bad as having a nuclear bomb dropped on you, for instance. Either way, if it were definitely going to happen, I’d try to get right in the line of fire – wouldn’t want to be a survivor having to cope with the aftermath.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    The Coyote Principle
    The Governor of California is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the Governor’s dog, then bites the Governor.
    The Governor starts to intervene, but reflects upon the movie “Bambi” and then realizes he should stop because the coyote is only doing what is natural.
    He calls animal control. Animal Control captures the coyote and bills the state $200 testing it for diseases and $500 for relocating it.
    He calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and bills the State $200 testing it for diseases.
    The Governor goes to hospital and spends $3,500 getting checked for diseases from the coyote and on getting his bite wound bandaged.
    The running trail gets shut down for 6 months while Fish & Game conducts a $100,000 survey to make sure the area is now free of dangerous animals.
    The Governor spends $50,000 in state funds implementing a “coyote awareness program” for residents of the area.
    The State Legislature spends $2 million to study how to better treat rabies and how to permanently eradicate the disease throughout the world.
    The Governor’s security agent is fired for not stopping the attack. The state spends $150,000 to hire and train a new agent with additional special training for the nature of coyotes.
    PETA protests the coyote’s relocation and files a $5 million suit against the state.

    The Governor of Texas is jogging with his dog along a nature trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks his dog.
    The Governor shoots the coyote with his state-issued pistol and keeps jogging. The Governor has spent $.50 on a .45 ACP hollow point cartridge.
    The buzzards eat the dead coyote.
    And that, my friends, is why California is broke and Texas is not.

    • Barry Homan says:

      I AM WILEY

    • smokervoter says:

      So true, so true, so true. And they’ll festoon the ubiquitous eco-green bike lanes with little rainbow-hued coyote pawprint stickers.

      Californians coming back from vacations and whatnot in other parts of the country are noticing how much more gasoline costs here and there’s a backlash developing against Jerry Brown and Democrats in general and the California Air Resources Board in particular. It’s being led by popular radio presenters John & Ken (love those guys).

      I’m racking my brain trying to think of a rightwinger with uber name recognition to begin challenging the leftwing ecological narrative in this state. Clint Eastwood comes to mind but he’s too old and probably doesn’t want the job anyways. Jon Voight maybe?

      Best of all worlds would be Larry Elder, a black libertarian in the Ben Carson/Walter E. Williams mold. I’ve been a fan of his for years and years.

  5. garyk30 says:

    Asteroid will pass 25 million km away.

    Moon is about 500,000 km away.

    50 times further away than the Moon is hardly a serious threat.

    NASA must be worried about funding.

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