Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"It's the end of the world as we know it! It's not so bad!"

After a long hiatus I have finally managed to get around to posting something new! And it's a doosey!

So, before I start with the actual content of the entry I have to explain where this came from. So I've been taking an Astronomy class for the last ten weeks, being a fan of science fiction and space and stuff it seemed an obvious choice for my final science credit. However, the class has been more ass than tronomy. We've barely gotten through the solar system, which is sad because I was hoping we'd get to talk about the universe beyond our solar system, you know, the one with Vulcans, Wraith, and Reapers lingering in the dark corners of the universe. Alas, that must be the advanced course!
Anyhoo, I was just finishing up my homework for the week when I stumbled upon the most vexing question I have ever come across in my educational "career."

It comes from the chapter on space debris, asteroids, and comets and asks: "What do you think might happen if a near-Earth asteroid were found to be on a collision course with Earth?"*

The question doesn't belong in a college textbook. We're here to LEARN not express our opinions damn it! Alas, they asked me, and I am always willing to make some sort of effort on my homework. I answered this question honestly, truthfully, and to the best of my ability. And I'm here to share with you what that answer was:

"I'm actually interested in the fact that this question was even asked. I mean, wow, how did this one get into this textbook? However, I'll gladly answer the question. What do I think would happen in the event of discovering a Near-Earth asteroid is about to collide with Earth? First, it wouldn't be broadcast to the whole world for everyone to know, it's just not worth all the mass panics that would inevitably ensue (this is the species that panicked over a broadcast of War of The Worlds after all). Most likely the world's governments would try to keep the news as quiet as possible. With the threat of mass riots and “end of the world” raves out of the way for the moment, it's fairly obvious that measures would be taken to preserve some amount of humanity and our culture. I know it's cliché to say that the financial elite would be scrambling for their suite in the big bomb shelter they've purchased but come on, would you really put it past them? I can't help but think the process would be somewhat similar to the scene at the end of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove at best, at worst it's the entire plot of Roland Emmerich's 2012 (perish the thought!). After mankind's feeble preparations for surviving Armageddon are in order it's inevitable that the rest of us schmucks will realize what's going on, after all, that asteroid's getting mighty close! At that point, the aforementioned riots and raves take place.
However, it's not all bad! Given the fact that the world is about to go through a massive ecological disturbance the likes of which hasn't been experienced since the end of the dinosaurs the argument over global warming will seem entirely moot. Gas prices are probably going to be exponentially lower in a few million years since the amount of fossil fuels on the planet is about to receive a significant boost. Traffic jams and not being able to find a parking space in the campus parking lot will be a thing of the past. All in all the apocalypse isn't all about mass extinctions and the end of human existence as we know it, there are indeed some perks!"

I have yet to turn in the homework, I will return with the results in my next entry. In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving peeps!

* While I feel like I'm busting the authors' chops I feel obligated to add a citation: The question is Number 4 on page 228 and came from "Astronomy Today" Seventh Edition by Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan.

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