Comically Close Call

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I am looking at a news article entitled, “Killer Asteroid Headed Towards Earth.” This is an opportunity to see what “science” reporting is like today.

The asteroid, “measuring a half-mile in diameter,” has in fact never been measured. It may be as small as a quarter-mile in diameter, or as large as a half-mile. On July 3, this “massive asteroid” passed about as close to the earth as the distance between the earth and the
moon.

OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN! WE ALMOST CRASHED.

Or, as the international news report – produced, apparently, by the oracle of Apollo at Delphi – described the forthcoming event, “Even though the chances of it hitting Earth are nil, by cosmic standards, the asteroid will pass alarmingly close to our beloved blue orb next week.”

The implication is that earth standards would produce a much more frightening assessment than would
be rendered by “cosmic standards.” So let’s put it in earth language. Suppose you were driving down the street, and you learned that two blocks away there was another object hurtling along, an object one-twelfth to one-sixth the size of one of the periods on this piece of paper. That, in earth proportions, is what happened on July 3.

OH MY GOD IN HEAVEN! WE ALMOST CRASHED.

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