Neil deGrasse Tyson: What do you mean how likely is an asteroid impact in U.S.? We just saw Russia! — CNN: When a scientist says ‘pray’ you know you’re in trouble (VIDEO)

Published: March 25th, 2013 at 4:42 pm ET


Title: Asteroid threats & budget realities
Source: CNN
Date: March 22nd, 2013
h/t MoxNews

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: So my answer to you is if it’s coming in 3 weeks, pray.

Christine Romans, CNN: Pray? You heard right. Pray. From a scientist, when a scientist says pray you know you’re in trouble […]

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Saying that when an asteroid comes pray, something’s wrong. I’m sorry, something’s wrong. We know how to deflect asteroids, the physics and the engineering of that are straight forward actually. […] There is no funded plan to deflect an asteroid.

Romans: How likely is it really?

Tyson: We just saw… what do you mean how likely? We just saw Russia! […] Go to the resident s of Chelyabinsk and ask them could it happen. Yeah. Yeah, it happened. […]

You’d think if the human species was at risk of being extinct you wouldn’t have debates about this, you would just say, “Let’s get on the case here.” […]

See also: [intlink id=”tv-russian-nuclear-facility-meteor-fragments-landed-really-fortunate-be-talking-about-nuclear-disaster-about-radiation-levels-video” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Watch the broadcast here

Published: March 25th, 2013 at 4:42 pm ET


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45 comments to Neil deGrasse Tyson: What do you mean how likely is an asteroid impact in U.S.? We just saw Russia! — CNN: When a scientist says ‘pray’ you know you’re in trouble (VIDEO)

  • corium pudding corium pudding

    "TYSON: You’d think if the human species was at risk of being extinct you wouldn’t have debates about this, you would just say, 'Let’s get on the case here.'”

    We thought that about Fukushima and nuclear power, too. Fail.


    while I'm not buying it, it's equally important to know what's being passed-off as a viable explanation as to why the Cherlyabinsk Asteroid resulted in nominal damage to the surrounding region…

    What Caused Russian Asteroid To Disintigrate Before Impact?

    IMHO, Tyson is an honest man. We'd do well to trust in his warning…

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Scientists know very little, as proven by history. Same with medical.

  • bonsairebellion bonsairebellion

    I'm still leaning towards the idea that our shrunken/shrinking atmosphere…

    … has diminished our natural defenses against meteors.


      @bonsairebellion: curious to the lack of any explanation how they're determining that there's been a thirty percent reduction in the thermosphere. How are they determining this value and against what record(s)?

      Regarding your concern: given the variables (mass/speed/angle), it matters not if the thermosphere's degrading, when discussing asteroid-induced ELEs. The good news is, the greater the threat, the more time afforded in its early detection. Of course, such warning is only as good as the means to interdict the incoming threat…

      • bwoodfield bwoodfield

        The upper atmosphere and it's size is directly influenced by solar activity.
        In addition we are currently going through a pathetic "solar maximum" that has been putting out as much activity as a solar minimum. As such satellites are able to live longer around the planet but it's reducing the amount of "breaking power" that is between space and the surface. If the thermosphere was better inflated the russian meteor may have not gotten in as close as it did. Granted, with large asteroids this argument would be moot, but from a physics stand point the idea of a reduced atmosphere causing an increased risk does have merit.


          @bwoodfield: again, given the unknown "…variables (mass/speed/angle)" of the incoming threat, arguing issues of thermosphere density become mute. This is not to say that atmospheric density would not effect a given asteroid that's on its way through the atmosphere, but that doing so, takes us away from Professor Tyson's original warning…

  • Madashell10 Madashell10

    From the information we have, we don't know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States," Bolden said. "But if it's coming in three weeks, pray."

    NASA chief Charles Bolden has advice on how to handle a large asteroid headed toward New York City: Pray.

  • PavewayIII PavewayIII

    NASA and the pentagon resurrect their nut-job 'anti-asteroid defense' tax dollar harvesting scheme every few years. I see Russia has also jumped on the bandwagon. What a surprise they both involve nuclear weapons.

    For years, people have witnessed meteor showers as momentary, thin streaks of light visible against a dark sky. No sparks, no pretty colors, no *smoke*.

    Today, everyone watches Russian dash-cams of a very bright object with a most peculiar smoke trail on an impossibly flat trajectory that explodes without a trace and figures it must be a meteor. NASA claims they didn't know about it because it came from the direction of the sun.

    What is wrong with everyone?

    • bwoodfield bwoodfield

      It's not just russia that it occurred over though. The same day larger meteors were spotted over Japan, San Francisco, and Cuba.


      @PavewayIII: [reposted comments] "if there were any reason for the development of nuclear bombs, this would be the most rational one. Technical issues aside (whether it can be done without further exacerbating the problem), my only reservation is in the weaponization of space and security."

      "Know that humanity has long passed the turning point. Just as there are those who (rightfully) concern themselves about a Carrington Event's effect on NPPs, a large enough asteroid could be equally devastating."

      "It's time for humans to crawl out of the crib. Regardless whether there's a nuclear time bomb ticking under that crib, we have to cease this attachment to what we know and accept the challenge of moving into space. If such Russian ventures give impetus for doing so, then I support them wholeheartedly! Perhaps 'our' leaders can be nudged into doing something-other than destroying the villages of those whose only crime is resisting the empty promises of consumerism. If we can't go back, then we must invest in that which takes us forward…"

      [additional comments]

      • PavewayIII PavewayIII

        I use to be a huge fan of exploring space when I was younger. I'm not against the *idea* of it today. I'm just against funneling billions of dollars through another psychopathic government entity and their defense-contractor cronies and expecting something to be DIFFERENT this time.

        "…Perhaps 'our' leaders can be nudged into doing something-other than destroying the villages of those whose only crime is resisting the empty promises of consumerism…"

        *Nudge* institutionalized psychopathy and it's supporting cast to care about humans? It's an illness, not a choice. You can't nudge someone out of schizophrenia, kidney failure or ebola. The leaders are not going to come to their senses, wise-up or suddenly realize they serve the people. They are incapable of that.

        "…It's time for humans to crawl out of the crib. Regardless whether there's a nuclear time bomb ticking under that crib, we have to cease this attachment to what we know and accept the challenge of moving into space…"

        Accept the challenge? Why would you knowingly want to export people with a communicable disease somewhere else? It's immoral. If we can't cure our own diseases, then we should at least try to survive long enough for some empathetic, intelligent life form to stop by with the cure.

        Our luck, we would be visited by psychopathic aliens that snack on our brains. Not CNN – I mean REAL aliens.


          @PavewayIII: great response. I agree with the risk of infecting others with human self-righteousness. But space is big and more than able to 'absorb' the arrogant behavior of bipedal cretins. Another thing to consider is how learning to survive in space also has the potential to temper arrogance.

          There's tremendous bounty that's floating about out there and there for the taking. Yet, humans would need to acquire great discipline before doing so. So, while they may embark with one set of goals, their eventual arrival (at a viable destination) would more than likely lead to the realization of others. A close example is how the early efforts at space exploration (Apollo Moon mission) initiated research into efficient signal processing technologies; aka integrated circuits. No one back then (including the likes of Robert Noyce) would've predicted what so many out here take for granted.

          Precisely because we've abandoned our personal and collective vision of human progress, our 'leaders' have succeeded in their long-term agenda of subjugation. Life does not have to ask for permission to exist; it simply need only continue the timeless battle to do so…

          • PavewayIII PavewayIII

            "…Life does not have to ask for permission to exist; it simply need only continue the timeless battle to do so…"

            Unless you're a U.S. citizen. In that case, you're existence is not a right. It's merely a privilege, apparently at the whim of the president and some teenage drone pilot in North Dakota. Who would have ever guessed?

          • DUDe DisasterInterpretationDissorder

            @ AFTERSHOCK ,

            So sorry dude ,

            but i'm with Paveway on this , and then there is this playing the "we" feeling .
            Its the only way out of here "we" have ….
            Is it "we" like "you and me" or "we" like "we , the elite , the one's who are systematically killing you here there and everywhere"
            It looks a distraction to make the public enthousiastic about building another wave of reactors for the elite , someone posted a link to make the connection already .
            Enthousiastic to be passively killed , be heroic collateral damage for the greater good of a percentage of the one percent.
            None of them believers is invited anyway…
            Then there is this contradiction. Without even an attempt to fix this planet that is still alive , its declared we are done .
            The future is out there , we just have to mimic 4 billion years of evolution , piece of cake only 200 years after the technical revolution.
            Never mind our record is to kill everything we declare a commodity , basically everything , and how convenient to not have to reverse the lie by witch we rule you in to the grave…
            The elite has to stay help clean this up or die with us.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What Caused Russian Asteroid To Disintigrate Before Impact?
    March 25 2013

    "If you are incredulous that a 10,000 ton asteroid could be rendered to dust before impact with the ground, you are not alone."

    Oh .geeze…

    • Jebus Jebus

      Good grief is right. One can write E=mc2, but understanding the law is another.
      The russian meteorite or asteroid, depending on where it was at the time, was one of the faster ones flying around out there. It was going roughly eight times the speed of a bullet from a high-powered rifle when it entered the atmosphere at a pretty good angle. People just can't wrap their heads around the energy released by bringing 40,000 TONS, from that fast, down to terminal velocity in 1000 miles of atmosphere. Basically, water vapor. They were lucky. If it would have come in at a straight down direction, that 500 kilotons of energy, would have been mostly released on the ground…

      • Jebus Jebus

        Numbers are most likely inaccurate, but the point is that when kinetic energy exponentiates up to these speeds and mass, things can vaporize…


        @jebus: recently (last year) saw a report that claimed the Gulf of Mexico was created from such impact as you're alluding to. They showed overlays that illustrated what was now an eroded impact crater. I doubt anything living creature that lived above ground, survived it. The shock wave alone would've pulverized the skeletons and internal organs of every animal, for a thousand miles in any direction. Then comes the 'eternal' night of ash those outside the shock zone. Intuition tells me this latest spate of meteor/asteroid impacts is a hint from 'on high', that it's time we got off our fat asses and move into space. But I suspect there's some post-teen anxiety keeping us in our parents basement…

        • Jebus Jebus

          Yep, We have all been here before. There is wisdom in those who spent eons watching and recording their world travel around the block a few times. Their writings are space/time travel and history. My take is that one of the areas travelled through, is less than clear sailing…


            @Jebus: evolution was never pretty. It's fraught with harrowing conflict and struggle. Only those who are capable of facing such with unflinching resolve will survive life's endless challenges. It now remains a matter if those in power are interested in surviving. It's becoming obvious the average human's succumbed to this struggle and incapable of any fight. It's just sad to think, it was the powerful that broke the commoner's desire to excel. Maybe they'll put some studded collars on a few of us and take us along as entertainment against the boredom of deep-space flight…

            • Jebus Jebus

              naw, there will be plenty of "commoners" along for the ride, after all, who's gonna rotate the tires on that new Cadillac OnStarShip…


                actually you're right Jebus. I just happen to be one of them. Because you're a fascinating human, I'll let you in (here) on one of our training programs. Because there's a very real threat of being marooned in space, they give all trainees a rigorous set of exercises. One (of my favorites) is where you're confined within a craft (for several 'earth days' if need be) that's purposely disabled by well skilled technicians. These guys don't just rip-out parts, either. All tests are carefully developed from both real world incidents and worse case scenarios. The disabled conditions are known by 'them' but not you or your fellow crew members. You have to scavenge about your immediate environment to find solutions. They not only give you tests on how best to bring up essential systems, more advanced courses will 'exercise' your ability to make life and death decisions. (Remember, even with the ability to make distress calls, it can takes 'time' to get a rescue team out to you.) You're obviously not required to off anyone, unless you've exhausted all other alternatives before arriving at such decision. What's really tough is knowing if you've really exhausted every possibility or simply overlooked one! It's more about testing your technical skills and system's level knowledge. There are several classes of this training before you're approved for deep space flight…

                Gotta jump…ciao!

        • Jebus Jebus

          If you mean, the chicxulub impact crater, it didn't make the GOM, but it did make an impact on life…

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      I'll believe it wasn't something man-made if it exploded seven miles up (it didn't) or someone finds a piece (unlikely).

      Russian and U.S. astronomers didn't see it coming? Nothing showed up on Russian early warning radar? Ah… that's just unlikely.

      Show me the chunkz

  • Madashell10 Madashell10

    As long as there are Rainbows we wont have Floods to worry about hehe Just Nukes in the hands of MADmen and now meteorites
    what a world

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    How bout a 325 ton tungsten sphere..??

    " Artificial meteoroids for use as kinetic-energy weapons would
    preferably consist of materials that would increase the destructive
    energy at impact for a given mass of weapon material, since the expense and even the feasibility of moving the weapon will depend on
    its mass. In the natural analog, iron appears to be more efficient
    than stone.Something like tungsten might be a good choice for our
    imaginary artificial meteoroids. Tungsten is one of the densest materials available (19.25 metric tons/m3
    ; iron is 7.87). It has a higher
    heat capacity and melting point than most materials, which would
    help it to survive the intense heat of entry. It is readily available and
    relatively inexpensive.3

    Space weapons-Earth Wars

    It even looks like one.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS..You NASA ..BOYS..ought take your marbles and go home..

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Asteroids, comets, and whatever are diversions. Our real problem is clear …scientists can't stop radiation from a leaking reactor. Or end the leaking from a storage tank, i.e. Hanford. Disgusting and weak is what it is. Scientists of the world, test yourself, and do something (( that is actually needed )).


      with all due respect BigPicture (and you are well respected by me), this article specifically addresses ELEs from asteroids. Commenting on such is neither off topic or irrelevant. True, it would appear science has not current answer to the Fukushima catastrophe. And in truth, I don't think they'll come up with any viable solutions. Still, I would point out that there are people of science who are revealing the extent of damage being done to our environment and equally significant, warned against such eventualities decades before! So, I can't find myself blaming scientist alone for what we're now experiencing. However, I could find more than a few cancerous bones to lay at the feet of big business. They were the ones who developed the scams (can you say Price-Waterhouse?)that brought about the economics of the 'gift that keeps on giving'…

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    If you ask me this is an elaborate plan to divert attention from the fukushima fiasko as word is slowly trickeling out to the rest of the world. 95 percent of americans have NO CLUE of what is happening in fukutown. Most say "I thought that was over a long time ago?" Clueless I tell you. How are we going to get the truth out to the masses? Sure as hell won't be the mainstream media with their pronuclear owners. It is TIME for some drastic measures. People HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW!!! DAMMIT I'm getting pissed. Hate to even mention the ideas I have from getting squashed by big brother first. HELP US! We are on a fast track to extinction if this is not corrected somehow. Many say it is too late, better to go down swinging than to fade away unheard. Damn theory of relativity anyway.

  • getoutwhileyoustillcan

    So they convince a bunch of naive impressionable science nerds they're developing technology to save the world from space rocks. Then once it's working (after we pay billions in tax dollars that we don't have), the military turns into yet another weapon that can wipe out entire cities. Where have I heard this before?

    • getoutwhileyoustillcan

      They could destroy an entire country, and claim it was a natural disaster. It would be even easier to hide, than something like triggering an earthquake with a nuclear bomb.

  • AB AB

    Space weapons being used?
    Research 'Dr. Carol Rosin and Wernher von Braun' You'll get the idea of what they do know and are plannning.

  • From what I've read, no-one's going anywhere. They've got the same problem in Space that they don't seem to have solved down here…Radiation, quite a bit of it above a Low Earth Orbit.. , etc..


      @53North: yes, solar winds shower the planetary system with differing degrees of radiation. Without them, there'd be no life (at least as you know of it), on this planet. As you get outside the sun's corona and move further away, there's an exponential drop-off of radiation. So distance becomes a factor in protecting against radiation. Another is shielding. You can position yourself behind another body or create a magnetic bubble to bend and deflect impinging radiation. Shields can be made from surrounding materials (recycled debris and/or 'mined' materials) or advantaged from existing ones (moons or planets). Magnetic bubbles are used more often for deep space – long-term – travel shielding. They're classified as 'subtle body' devices and act as 'guides' for passing low-energy particles around-and-past a defensive position. They will not protect against fast moving objects. This planet utilizes a natural defense against low-energy particles that can be 'mimicked' with resonant magnetic flux generators; HARRP is based on this concept). As you go outside this solar system, the levels of radiation become extremely low as to be considered negligible. There are still random bursts of high energy particles from far-off stellar explosions, but nothing more dramatic than what's already experienced on a daily basis from the sun. It's actually very beautiful and peaceful out there…