Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Three things for a Monday

First, a bit of Doomsday Astro-Porn: On February 15 (just a few months from now), Asteroid 2012 DA14 will whoosh between the Earth and our geostationary communication satellites. You read that right. Not between the Earth and the Moon, but below high Earth orbit. Current estimates have is blasting past at just 22,500km above the surface of the Earth - the closest call in regards to asteroids of this size since 1908 (if you believe the Tunguska impactor was an asteroid, not a comet) or the Barringer impactor (which made Arizona's Meteor Crater) 50,000 years ago. That one blasted a hole 1,200 meters in diameter and 170 meters deep, exploding with the force of a nuclear bomb. This puppy is a little bigger than that one, about the size of a city block: approximately 45 meters in diameter and massing about 130,000 tons. Here's what it looks like, lurking in the dark:

Click the image to see the Cosmos Magazine article.

Next: It's Election Day tomorrow in the US! If you haven't already voted early (like me!), get out there. On a totally unrelated note, Frederik Pohl writes about how the failure of our social support network appears to be leading the elderly into a life of crime. I wonder how many incarcerated seniors end up in prison by choice, considering the 63% rise in their prison population and all. Now, if Fred were writing this (as fiction), we could see some very interesting outcomes....

Speaking of doomsday and politics, Doonesbury nails it on the head:

Click the image to see the Slate Doonesbury page.

And third: Check out this article about how some kids in totally undeveloped Africa not only learned how to use tablet computers - and hack them! - but figured out all this on their own, in another language. As I started reading this, I thought, "Whoah, that sounds like Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age." And then the article's author says the same thing. Very informative about human nature and about ways kids learn.

Oh, and despite Halloween socializing, I got another 1000 words written on The Galactic Adventures of Jack & Stella! (Okay, technically that's five things.)

Tags: astronomy, politics

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