One Versus Many

Update: We’ve been hoaxed! Go to bottom of post.

German schoolboy, 13, corrects NASA’s asteroid figures: paper

A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA’s estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.

Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.

NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.

The schoolboy took into consideration the risk of Apophis running into one or more of the 40,000 satellites orbiting Earth during its path close to the planet on April 13 2029.

Several items:

1) Good for the kid!

2) How the hell could NASA’s specialists ignore 40,000 factors?

3) All of this asteroid-hitting-earth stuff began with the ascendancy of the political Right, which its cargo cult faction believes is going to happen:

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

— Revelation 8:10-12 (KJV)

Well, cargo cultists, mark your calendars for 2029 then!

And for everyone else out there, see the lessons?

1) It doesn’t matter how many other people say something is right. Facts overrule popularity.

2) Just because someone else has done something, that doesn’t mean it was done correctly.

Those are just two. Come up with the others on your own. Leave a Comment if you want a pat on the head.


You know, I wasn’t going to post this except I liked the one-against-many theme. As it turns out, my own judgment was FAIL!

NASA Statement on Student Asteroid Calculations
Apophis risk not increased: science fair judges, world media screw up big time

Thanks much to a Comment from reader SKFK.

Explore posts in the same categories: Science

3 Comments on “One Versus Many”

  1. SKFK Says:

    Apparently the whole thing is a mistake or a hoax. The original article was published in a German tabloid, and the German scientist referred to in the story clarified what really happened.

  2. mikecane Says:

    Thanks much for letting me know!

  3. […] Mike Cane 2008 reports that NASA got it wrong and an asteroid that they reported to have a 1 in 45000 chance of hitting Earth actually has a 1 in 450 chance of hitting Earth. It took a 13 year old German schoolboy to validate the figures after NASA experts forgot to take into account the cloud of satellites which could cause the asteroid, called Apophis, to veer into Earth. […]

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