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We humans are notoriously bad at preparing for the worst. But what if "the worst" comes in the form of a billion-ton-speeding-bullet from outer space? Yeah right, that'll never happen...
Sure, it's unlikely to happen any time soon, but as my colleague Mark Thompson pondered in a recent article, would you want to know if an asteroid was about to hit Earth? In fact, do you really want to know how many asteroids there are out there buzzing past the Earth on a regular basis?
No? In that case, don't pay any attention to the following graphic:
Yikes! Scary, right?
But don't be too alarmed, this graphic was intended to shock. Those dots are thousands of times bigger than the asteroids/comets themselves and the space rocks' 3D orbits have been projected onto a 2D plane, making it look awfully more crowded than it really is. That said, there sure are a lot of near-Earth objects out there, and the problem needs to be taken seriously.
Probably the most alarming thing to remember is that NASA has only tracked an estimated 1 percent of all the space rocks out there and they need way more funding to find the rest.
21: Road signs touting stimulus funds at work in Ohio ($1 million)
20: Researching how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks in Connecticut ($850,000)