Brian Cox: There's an Asteroid With Our Name on It

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 - 10:48AM
Astrophysics
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 - 10:48AM
Brian Cox: There's an Asteroid With Our Name on It

Physicist and University of Manchester professor Brian Cox believes that an asteroid will likely wipe out humanity very soon.

 

"There is an asteroid with our name on it and it will hit us," said Cox.

 

He also claimed that there was a "near-miss" with a killer asteroid several months ago: 'We didn't see it. We saw it on the way out, but if it had just been a bit further over it would have probably wiped us out. These things happen." He was referring to the asteroid dubbed 2014 EC, which was 33 feet wide, or approximately the size of a bus. It came within 38,300 miles of Earth in March but narrowly avoided impact.

 

Cox claimed that a massive asteroid impact "could be tomorrow," and he's not alone in his alarmist views. Former astronaut Ed Lu characterized Earth's perpetual dance with asteroids as "cosmic roulette," and called it "blind luck" that we haven't been wiped out by a killer asteroid already.

 

NASA has also mapped out 1,400 "potentially hazardous" asteroids that would cause significant damage if they were to come into contact with Earth.

 

"The thing that bothers me about that is we do know how to do something about it," said Cox. "I think its human stupidity we need to worry about. It's the way we behave, but also just the way we don't accumulate knowledge at the rate that we could. We just don't. I mean, you can see it by the figures. We spend virtually as much on it as everyone else, which is sod all."

 

A team of researchers presented a plan to NASA last year to explode killer asteroids with nuclear weapons, and NASA itself has a dedicated Asteroid Retrieval Team to study asteroids in order to prevent such an event. However, funding is not on their side; the global budget for spending on space programs decreased last year for the first time in two decades.

 

Cox also addressed the estimate extrapolated from the Drake Equation that technologically advanced civilizations tend to self-destruct within 200 years, which for humanity would be in the near future: "That might not be a bad estimate, actually. If you think about it, we almost did it with the Cuban missile crisis. We may almost be doing it again. It's not clear, the way we're dealing with the environment. But we've been close to wiping ourselves out, only a few hundred years after we became a technological civilisation."

 

Finally, he addressed the growing threat of the technological singularity: "'I mean, you are talking about the far future. And things you say about the far future often sound fantastical. But [the threat of artificial intelligence] is a legitimate question. If you think the brain is basically a computing device, but a very complicated one, then presumably it operates according to the known laws of physics and therefore you should be able to simulate them. What do you do? It's an ethical dilemma. I don't know. Conscious things are notoriously difficult to deal with – look at humans."

 

Via Daily Mail

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