A cosmic warning shot

Deep Impact 1998

Is the universe trying to tell us something?

Astronomers were shocked in recent days when an asteroid that some are calling a “city-killer” passed last week within 45,000 miles of Earth — spitting distance in astronomical terms.

Ground-side observers had been tracking a couple of celestial objects that were slated to cross near Earth’s orbit around the same time, but the hunk of space debris, estimated to be between 57 and 130 meters (187-426 feet) wide, was only detected hours before it streaked past Earth on Thursday.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Alan Duffy of the Royal Institution of Australia said that he “was stunned” and that the sudden appearance of the object, dubbed Asteroid 2019 OK, “was a true shock.” It passed “uncomfortably close,” he said. […]

According to Duffy, if it had hit “it would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon.”

Odds of the Apocalypse: 37%

Only somewhat more likely than your house getting flooded

A hydrologist walks us through the cold mathematics of revolution and chaos:

While we don’t have any good sources of data on how often zombies take over the world, we definitely have good sources of data on when the group of people on the piece of dirt we currently call the USA attempt to overthrow the ruling government. It’s happened twice since colonization. The first one, the American Revolution, succeeded. The second one, the Civil War, failed. But they are both qualifying events. Now we can do math. […]

Stepping through this, the average year for colony establishment is 1678, which is 340 years ago. Two qualifying events in 340 years is a 0.5882% annual chance of nationwide violent revolution against the ruling government. Do the same math as we did above with the floodplains, in precisely the same way, and we see a 37% chance that any American of average life expectancy will experience at least one nationwide violent revolution.

This is a bigger chance than your floodplain-bound home flooding during your mortgage. [I.e. 26%]

It’s noticeably bigger.

And here’s a factoid that should give you pause for thought:

Since the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there have been 465 sovereign nations which no longer exist, and that doesn’t even count colonies, secessionist states, or annexed countries. Even if we presume that half of these nation-state transitions were peaceful, which is probably a vast over-estimation, that’s still an average of one violent state transition every 2.43 years.

Maybe the Silicon Valley billionaires, Hollywood celebrities and politicians who are secretly building apocalypse bunkers have rational reasons for doing so and are not completely nuts.