Newsweek Cover: Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’ — “Head of Russian space agency takes threat of collision seriously, stating we have to prepare for the worst” (VIDEO)

Published: February 23rd, 2013 at 12:17 pm ET


Title: Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’
Source: Newsweek
Author: Michio Kaku
Date: Feb 26, 2013

Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’

The recent crash-down in Russia was a fleabite. The one in 2036 could destroy entire nations… […]

The asteroid packed a huge punch, the power of 20 Hiroshima bombs. It was a “city buster,” capable of flattening a modern metropolis and reducing it to rubble. It was a miracle that the asteroid exploded roughly 10 to 15 miles above ground: had there been a ground burst, it would have caused tens of thousands of casualties. If that asteroid had hit just a few seconds later, it would have created a tragedy on Earth.

[…] Lurking in space are asteroids even bigger than the city busters—to wit, “nation busters” big enough to destroy Germany or England. The most dangerous one is called Apophis, which is 1,000 feet across and will come dangerously close to Earth in 2029 and again in 2036. The most recent calculations show that Apophis will barely miss Earth in 2029, but will actually graze our atmosphere. But because of the uncertainty of its path as it whizzes past, there is a small possibility that its orbit may be perturbed so it might actually hit Earth in 2036. NASA scientists are reasonably confident it will still miss Earth in 2036, but the head of the Russian space agency takes the threat of a collision seriously, stating that we have to prepare for the worst. If Apophis hits Earth, it would have the force of approximately 20,000 Hiroshima bombs.

See also: [intlink id=”nasa-russian-meteor-actually-tiny-asteroid-believed-be-asteroid-belt-between-mars-jupiter-extraordinary-coincidence” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: February 23rd, 2013 at 12:17 pm ET


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44 comments to Newsweek Cover: Asteroid Apocalypse? Why Scientists Worry About 2036 ‘Planet Buster’ — “Head of Russian space agency takes threat of collision seriously, stating we have to prepare for the worst” (VIDEO)


    two challenges here: interdiction and redundancy preparations. Interdiction is the obvious response to pending threats, yet, given the variables involved, may not be successful. Redundancy preparations requires the dispersion of the populace into space; as means of replenishing a destroyed populace. No one likes to think that they're sitting targets; problem is, we have been for thousands of years. It's only lately that we've developed the means to both interdict an approaching threat and move humans into safe regions of space. I would deem the later the greater priority…


      another relevant issue is using interdiction of 'planet killers' as cover for space weaponization programs. It's important that if such protective efforts are undertaken, international bodies must be given secure means to verify that this is indeed what is being undertaken by any nation. This is not a veiled accusation of the Russian government but more of a warning to all, that we needs checks-and-balances that it not become grounds for another arms race.

      see: Militarization and Weaponization of Outer Space

      We can move forward and fulfill our true destiny as an intelligent species. We will be welcomed by that which awaits us, for doing so…

    • SnorkY2K

      This is the only purpose that I can think of that we are stockpiling so many tons of plutonium and transuranics

    • Anthony Anthony

      Our energies live on after our bodies die. Earth is magnificent as are we. I am fascinated with the space habitat concept and think at best it will be a small endeavor. At death, perhaps if one can sidestep reincarnation (if you wanted to) our energies can live somewhere else in space?

  • This is my #1 reason that building Nuclear Facilities near any coast is sheer insanity.

    Not IF, but WHEN an asteroid large enough hits an ocean, it could take out a lot of Nuclear Plants simultaneously via the tsunami waves.

    There would be no radioactive 'decontamination' efforts just 'contamination avoidance' at that point. Which is pretty much where we are now anyway.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    And how does someone prepare….may I ask?


      well Heart, unless we're looking at an ELE, you can take measures to ensure your survival. First, food stocks are important. It's good to put aside a minimum of three months worth of food for those in you immediate sphere and if possible, enough for others. Good thing about this preventative measure is you can eat (what's going out of date) and replenish the difference as you go along. Gravity fed water filters is another must. Again, you have to estimate how many replacement filters you'll be using, for the minimum period you think you'll be needing. Things like shelter are (surprisingly) less of an immediate issue; reason being, if you need one, you're likely in the 'kill zone'. Finally, defense against marauding raiders is something to keep in mind. It does no good to have the means to survive being handed over to others who happen to discover you're still doing well…

    • CB CB

      I built a Popsicle stick tree house.

    • dharmasyd dharmasyd

      And then there's this:
      >"Russian meteor strike that injured 1,200 people was US weapons [test]… › News › World › Europe

      6 days ago – A meteor that rained down on central Russia last week, injuring up to 1200 people, was in fact a US weapons test a prominent Russian politician has claimed. … Russian health officials today raised the number of those injured …"<

      Everything you thought you wanted to know, but were glad you never asked!

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    2029? 2036? How many of us will even be here in 16 years, with our lungs full of uranium and plutonium? 16 years is about when the real mutations in human children start to show up (3rd generation), and considering the larger catastrophe that Fukushima is over Chernobyl, the sheer amount of mutated children will be enormous.

    29 years from now? Good luck.

    More circus news to keep the world from looking at today's reality.


      your insularity is impracticable, Time Is Short. It's not a matter of whether humanity will be here in 29 years. They will be. Humans must get past this perception that the universe ends with their personal demise. It doesn't. It would do humanity well to think outside their so-called personal lifespans; towards a timeline that spans eternity. I know this is a bit challenging for those who wake to the same face each morning. Yet, once you start seeing yourself in all other lifeforms and timelines, you gracefully shed the fear of death. (This is but one of the mysteries behind the fulfillment of 'eternal life'.) And while you're about the process of revamping 'your' view on life, understand that all of these ongoing nightmares are but forces for change. As we develop the means to survive these universal challenges, we also discover the means to overcome what compelled us to do so. Know that your spirit and measured judgement are welcomed by that which awaits your positive vision…

  • ftlt

    There is some thinking that every 1500 years or so that a recurring meteorite storm hits earth that disrupts civilization – much like the recurring volcanics that some feel hit the earth on a schedule…

    It seems funny to me that Science has refused to combine the 2… = Large meteorite strikes earth that produce major volcanoes… Too simple??? Too Far Fetched??? I don't think so..

    The collapse of the Bronze Age peoples followed by an extended Dark Age in the Med.and Middle East… 1200 BC …

    Global Crisis of 535 – 542 AD… Huge weather anomalies resulting plague periods!!! This certainly added to leading Europe into the Dark Ages and the created a power vacuum that allowed Mohammedanism to rise to dominance in the Eastern Med. and Middle East…

    A really big one 12,000 years ago??? Melted glass is found worldwide that seems to indicate many large meteorite blasts on a large scale around the world…

    The bottomline is; we know, we get hit…. And the resulting temporary change in climate is the people killer -as it is with volcanos… It is just a matter of time.. What we have learned in the last 50 years is that the strikes are probably more common than we could have ever dreamed..

    A huge space body strike or major volcano will kills billions this next time – as we have stressed the carrying capacity of the planet…

    Enjoy it while you can…

  • ftlt

    What I'm saying here is – It does not have to be the Mother or Father of all meteorite strikes or volcanoes… We are living on the beyond edge of our sustainability or rather carrying capacity

    All we need is an event that is just big enough to make a major impact on the weather for about 5 years like 535 to 542… That should do it… You get all the good stuff then – prolonged global crop failures, forced movements peoples, public health diseases/pandemics?? and of course, more, bigger and better wars…

    What would happen to the world today if we had just "the 1816 year without a summer" Tambora (1815 driven event???… or the Huaynaputina (1600), Laki (1783), Krakatau (1883) and Pinatubo (1991).. If one were only ever so much bigger – the world is in a big hurt way (not talking Yellow Stone here either – much smaller) Same happens with good sized meteorite storm or one bigger strike (not the mega dino killer strike)…

    We are living on the edge..

    Geological driven weather events have kill huge numbers of humans in the past at an alarmingly frequent rate of intervals…

    What makes this so much more scary… Is if civilization is threatened or disrupted… Now, who is there to care for the Nukes – another order of magnitude disaster thrown at us then – one that does not go away in 5 years, decade or even 1000 years????


      all good thoughts ftlt. This is why it's imperative that we develop the means to survive – long-term – in space…

      • ftlt

        Aftershock: Who gets to go??? Bush, Chaney, Obama and the rest world's viral serial mega mass murderer dictators for profit..

        That sounds like releasing a virus on outer space… Better the Vogons come and deconstruct the planet first before that is allowed to happen…

        Or do you choose who goes???

        You are dreaming Douglas Adam's or Asimov's fairy tale sci-fi stuff…

        All of the world's resources and carbon based life would need to be irreparably damaged to send even a small seedling group into space…

        We lack the time…

        We would destroy the planet in doing it..

        What we need to do is live on less and live good within the means of the planet – as Pres. Morales of Bolivia has said..

        The bigger and better industrial capitalistic growth model is a death sentence for all that lives on the earth.. It is glitzy celluloid "Pink Slime" toxic pizza model that does not nourish…

        Animals and plants count too.. Not just humans

  • weeman

    The laws of Murphy apply here and that is why we should not dabbiel in nuclear energy, because you can not design a reactor that will defeat Murphy and there are many, asteroid is only one, solar storm, earthquake, human error, tsunami, lava, flood, terrorism, nuclear weapons, deranged person, etc please add.
    Can you imagine multiple melt downs all over the world we may survive event, but the radiation will kill us.
    Be well smoke wacky and everything will be alright.

  • Jay

    The Natural Selection at Galactic scales : intelligent species rise , screw up and lose their time race against re-occuring Extinction events .

    Only the very focused will achieve the technology to leave their native planet and start living in deep space , between and far away from galaxies , the safer place that can be .

    'Focused' means either a Dark Vader pushing the progress by force ( see what Hitler was able to develope ) or a non-religious Mother Theresa leading the DNA trimming and achieving the same technology but by becoming a Morally better specie .

    We can see the danger there , a Dark Vader maybe already here or on his way … and he may anihilate Apophis but only to enslave us …

    You are not able to control your dreams ( or not for long ) , you close your eyes and surprising pictures appear from nowhere … then you may have nightmares . Is the Dark Vader already here ?

    The best way to enslave is to have the slaves not be aware of being slaves …

    • weeman

      Remember that nothing last forever not even the sun and moon and I expect that one day this universe will cease to exsist and I would expect all intelligent live forms to struggle with the same issues, wounder if any succeed, haven't heard anything yet have you.


    I can clearly recall the objections that a few had, during the early days of America's aerospace research programs. The objection was based on whether it made sense to allocate resources to such programs, before 'poverty' was eliminated. We know now, these objections were not being presented to any-other nation's efforts to develop their presence in space. You'd have been 'disappeared' had you attempted these objections within either Soviet Union or Communist China. They would've simple deemed you a 'counter-revolutionary' and found a heavy sledge hammer and rock to keep you preoccupied.

    We fast forward decades later and find these very countries leaping miles ahead of the United States! Yet, poverty twirls its ugly dance in every nation, including the former Soviet Union and today's China! Nothing changed. Well, that's not entirely true. Poverty has grown by leaps and bounds throughout the world. Such depravity can no longer be blamed on space programs; those programs have not existed for decades. On the contrary, the misery index has gone to all-time highs, because humanity's lost its vision. Worse yet, we're now discovering that for all our wasteful spending on war and welfare, the human species now finds itself between a rock and a hard place!

    Humans should've got the hint long ago: the universe expands to receive those who are capable of accepting its challenges…

  • irhologram

    From the above link: Lary's photograph was taken with a 1-minute exposure in Lancaster, Calif., facing southwest.

    One minute? What kind of meteor would take a one minute exposure to produce the kind of picture seen there. Either that's a typo, or … It's a very slow moving "meteor."

  • nedlifromvermont

    I find much to agree with in above posts … however, I'd like to think our perception of nuclear reality encompasses a vision of a new movement spring up to abolish nuclear power plants and contain waste issue real soon … space projects of the future be damned for now … pro or con …

    Let's put the truth to work: Millions of new jobs will be gained shuttering Big Nuke's patrimony … millions more building out the sustainable energy economy as Germany is learning (and, incidentally what GE is fast learning and pursuing) … millions more re-educating the public to the reality of nuke problems and relocating to higher ground all residents, nuclear fuel assemblies, etc. in places which will soon flood, or could soon flood, (basically all nuke sites on coasts and rivers) ((Palo Verde in Arizona is a freak of a plant and could eventually run dry))

    We don't have time to squabble …

    Maybe the world was big enough for Kyshtym, Santa Susannah, TMI and Chernobyl … but it doesn't seem like it's big enough for Fukushima and what's to come …

    peace 'newsers! We will mock them!

  • irhologram

    This is a very interesting site, detailing reports of meteors up to 2/24.
    It's very slow to,load, but its worth it.
    Rose, I have questions about the video, as you do…what is it you think was "lobbed" at Russia? Would you agree it looked like an irregular lump of materials, and not a man-made construct? Who "lobbed" it? I assume you're thinking it was "lobbed" because of the arc trajectory? Would that mean it was "lobbed" from within Russia …because of that particular trajectory? How could a satellite launched intercept weapon overtake the speed of a meteor from behind, appearing to move at least half again faster than the meteor…is that aerodynamically possible…maybe so because it had less surface resistance and propulsion? How could a normal "missile" appear to come out of the nose of the meteor, after busting it up, without distorting it's speed or trajectory?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Something about the billowing plume..indicates to me that the "object' was not moving as quickly as the object was reported to be traveling.
    Therefore air to air might have the capacity to catch up..the forward trajectory of the materials might have derived from..the same.
    They didn't seem to be of much effect…(missed?)
    Please see the document I posted above weaponry..
    Something about the arc.
    Perhaps..launched by satellite before entering Russian airspace.
    Odd shaped..still somewhat spherical..(not odd

    Also 10 tons was it they say?..seems their would be a lot more material to examine.
    Also 10 tons exploding in midspace would create a bigger fireball methinks.

    Rumor in the office..maybe it went up on the Atlas V launch on Feb. 11.
    I mean…if it was the US and all…

  • irhologram

    In some videos, the plume appears to have side "phalanges" at somewhat regular intervals…which reminded me in some ways of the trail left by the Aurora…and at the same time, in the video we're talking about, it pretty clearly pictures the bust up of a rock after being shot from behind by something that went right out the nose without changing course. So, you are saying, or your office water cooler talk says, some country, probably the US, launched a craft that leaves a trail and can arc in a crown (against gravity from 20 miles or so up, crown at 30 miles or so) disguised as a big rock in order to throw it at Russia? Also, I'm reminded of the eyewitness report of an American married to a Russian woman…who said there were two NUCLEAR type explosions. They were minutes apart. These were followed by multiple other small explosions. Questions: are we seeing two separate videos of two separate events? Also, with reference to Tsungusky…wasn't that generally linked with UFO investigation until fairly recently…when it became popular to think the explosion would be nuke-like instead of fire like, in addition to or created by shock wave. I'm sure I'm just ignorant to make such a statement, but it always seemed a stretch. I'm serious here…won't someone else look at the video and tell me what's going on? is this a vid of the same event? What comes up from behind, blows the "thing" up, and keeps on going?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Nuckelchen ..NUCK..I missed this.

    space wars 2013 opening

    You always know how to