Reader poll on the benefits of a near-Earth asteroid collision / near miss

Friday, March 19, 2010

The most recent poll on whether a near miss or a full collision by an asteroid would be good for us as a whole has ended, so here are the results. Many space enthusiasts hope for at least a near miss by an asteroid, something that would wake us up into realizing that 1) we're on a tiny rock hurtling through endless space, and 2) any other rocks out there that hit us don't care what country we're from, our wealth, religion, political beliefs, etc. In other words, something that may impart a collective sense of humanity while at the same time spurring us to drastic action (deflection of the asteroid).

The votes were:

Space enthusiasts: would you like to see the Earth get hit by an asteroid in order to shock ourselves into awareness of our position in space?

Yes, and the bigger the better. Whatever gets people's attention. -- 11 (17%)
Yes, but only one capable of medium-sized damage -- 10 (15%)
Yes, but only one capable of very minor damage -- 3 (4%)
Yes, but only as long as it's still small enough to burn up in the atmosphere on the way down -- 5 (7%)
A close encounter would be enough. -- 11 (17%)
No, we don't need that / it wouldn't be helpful / people would freak out / etc. -- 22 (34%)
Other -- 2 (3%)

Votes: 64
I picked yes, but only one capable of very minor damage, but medium-sized damage might be acceptable since chances are an asteroid would land in an uninhabited area, and that we would be able to deflect it somehow if we had enough notice. Ideal notice for an asteroid of relatively small size (burns up in atmosphere / causes only minor damage) would probably be about a week, since that would stay right at the front of newspaper headlines without cessation until the actual impact or near miss, and make for a pretty interesting point in history where for one week the entire world looked up.

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