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Don't Panic!

I may have acted a bit…rashly in one of my earlier posts. Thanks to trends in popular journalism, I decided to go the sensationalist route and imply that we’d all be dead in a million and a half years because some giant sun would pass through a giant asteroid cloud and send a bunch of meteors hurtling towards our defenseless planet.

According to this article I was reporting on old news. And by old, I mean ten years old. Since last week is considered ancient history on the internets, ten years is the equivalent of slogging around in primordial goo. No doubt most of you had already done your Armageddon planning when the first article came out in the 90s. Turns out the new data (which should be more accurate) gives us a bit better odds on the timing. We get an extra .1 million years to plan.

Even better, if the sun does pass through the Oort cloud, it would take 1-2 million years for the asteroids to reach Earth. By that time we can expect a laser of Death Star sized proportions affixed to the roof of everyone’s star cruiser, which should take care of any asteroids trying to bust up our hood.

The other thing in our favor is that (if you’re not already aware) a light year is an awful long ways away. Even if you send out millions and millions of asteroids hurtling through the cosmos, the odds are in our favor that they would ALL breeze right by Earth leaving nary a scratch. The other silver lining to the Oort cloud/Gliese mashup is that both sets of data could be wrong. We’re constantly updating and tuning our instruments. Even in the ten years between the first findings and the recent findings, it was discovered that the first estimates were wrong on the both the time the collision would occur and how far away it would occur. Now .1 of a light year and of a million years might not sound like much but, again, we’re dealing with huuuge distances and lengths of time here. Who knows what we’ll find in the next ten or even hundred years.

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