And in the "News I Don't Think I'll Be Around to See" category, here's a note of bad cheer: Deadly date with a dark god:
It’s only a speck, in comparative terms smaller than a dust mote in the vast expanse of sky all around us, but it’s got the scientists worried. The worries grow by the day, as the speck looms larger on their radar.
Astronomers call it 99942 Apophis (the Greek name of the ancient enemy of the Egyptian sun god Ra) or Asteroid 2004 MN4 and it’s hurtling towards planet Earth at some 20,000kph. It could result in the mother of all collisions in 2036.Seen through a powerful telescope, it’s just a white dot in the night sky, but Apophis is a 20-million-tonne asteroid. That’s a lot of real estate, and if it hits, it’ll make the most powerful nuclear explosion look like a child’s firecrackers.
Apophis’ date with Earth is tentatively estimated at April 13, 2036.The chances of a consummation have been rated at 1 in 45,000, somewhere in the Pacific, off the North American coast. If that happens, the disaster will be planet-wide, dwarfing anything in known history, whether it is the destruction of Krakatoa (1883), the Tunguska explosion (1908) that felled more than 80 million trees in an 830-square-mile region of Siberia, or the much milder 2004 tsunami.