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Eep! As jainasia points out, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is actually a lot younger than many of us might think. (What a feeling that must be, to have created such a commonplace part of modern culture)

A hilarious, rather cool, and extremely not at all safe for work or maiden aunts, look at Saturnalia.

Apparently, asteroid MN4 is currently placed at a 1.6% chance of colliding with Earth on April 13 2029*, with an effective energy of 2,200 megatons. (So far, the largest yield detonated has been estimated to be 57 megatons, the Tsar Bomba)

* yes, it's a Friday. ^_^

Not the smartest move a university student's ever made.. $200 for a 17" PowerBook from a street hustler gets him - well, the photo should be seen. Apple's been putting on weight, apparently.

And in the spirit of the season, via momentrabbit, me, and rabitguy: the ten least successful holiday specials of all time. ^_^ These include: The Mercury Theater of the Air Presents
The Assassination of Saint Nicholas (1939) -

'Listeners of radio's Columbia Broadcasting System who tuned in to hear a Christmas Eve rendition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol were shocked when they heard what appeared to be a newscast from the north pole, reporting that Santa's Workshop had been overrun in a blitzkrieg by Finnish proxies of the Nazi German government.

The newscast, a hoax created by 20-something wunderkind Orson Wells as a seasonal allegory about the spread of Fascism in Europe, was so successful that few listeners stayed to listen until the end, when St. Nick emerged from the smoking ruins of his workshop to deliver a rousing call to action against the authoritarian tide and to urge peace on Earth, good will toward men and expound on the joys of a hot cup of Mercury Theater of Air's sponsor Campbell's soup.

Instead, tens of thousands of New York City children mobbed the Macy's Department Store on 34th, long presumed to be Santa's New York embassy, and sang Christmas carols in wee, sobbing tones. Only a midnight appearance of New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in full Santa getup quelled the agitated tykes. Welles, now a hunted man on the Eastern seaboard, decamped for Hollywood shortly thereafter.'

Quite neat - a prototype flexible scanner. It's a small flexible polymer sheet, which you press against the area to be scanned, and capture the image on your cellphone. They're hoping to have a 7sq.cm. version - ie, wallet sized - available in three years, for around $10.

Courtesy of NASA, an article describing the origins of the Jewish calendar.

And from Molly Ivins: 'I always liked what former Gov. Ann Richards said when informed there were demands that the large star on top of the state capitol come down. "Oh, I'd hate to see that happen," she drawled. "This could be the only chance we'll ever have to get three wise men in that building."'
Tsar Bomba was an interesting device. Proved, among other things, that after a certain point all you're doing is just lifting the atmosphere a bit.
One of the pages I read on the device claimed that there were concerns, during Tsar Bomba's development (not the original US project), that such a large device could set off a chain reaction in the oceans' water, but that it was realised that a much higher temperature would be required for such an eventuality. But is such indeed possible at all, I wonder?

(No, no.. when I go full-time into being a mad scientist, my specialty will be lasers. I'm not interested in fusion or fission development :)
Aiee, we're all gonna diiiiie.

Actually, if Impact Effects is correct, we'll get a nifty 3 mile wide crater that'll be about 1/2 mile deep when all's said and done.. a goodsized earthquake (about a 7 on the Richter scale) and if you're within about 50 miles of the hit, you'll probably feel the effect of it.

Not so worried now. Somehow I think they'd be able to pinpoint exactly where the asteroid will hit, if it does, and get us all out of the way. Sorta like real life Deep Impact.
I think that needs to be properly said in Arthur Dent's voice. ^_^

Come to that, any idea what the current state of asteroid deflection technology is? There've been quite a few scenarios proposed (also, of course, depending on the actual composition of the body in question), but some were working out to be potentially as bad or worse than the original effects, with scads of "smaller" meteorites landing instead. ISTR something about attempting to propel it off-course with an embedded rocket, so as to avoid the sudden impact of an explosion on its surface.

Oh, and the risk's apparently nudged upwards now, to 2.2%. Could be a good time to go for a very long term mortgage. ^_^

Come to that, any idea what the current state of asteroid deflection technology is?

There are some very professionally-made Powerpoint slide presentations showing how a bunch of huge rockets might someday be built to perhaps someday carry nuclear missiles which might someday be used to deflect asteroids along reasonably predictable lines. Maybe.

And now they're entirely ruled out an impact!
Well, that's not good. A few days ago the impact probability was listed at 1/300, and now after further calculation it's risen to 1/45. I've never seen one go up before - the probability has always dropped after calculation in the past.

If it hits squarely on ordinary land 1500 M isn't too bad. Most of the blast is going to right back up out of the atmosphere anyway, and not be coupled as a shock wave. You'd get a lot of secondary impacts downrange as the debris that was kicked up out of the atmosphere comes back down. It'd bite the big one, of course, if it hit a volcanic hotspot with a thin crust like Yellowstone or Iceland, but those're small targets.

A deep ocean strike, on the other hand, would be an unqualified disaster. There a great deal of the energy does transfer nicely into the water. Everyone around the sea rim loses all of their shoreline assets to the tidal wave (and when you get right down to it, the most valuable cities are the ones by the shore) plus there's a lot of water blown back up into orbit, probably causing some unfortunate weather effects for the next several years at least.

I'm disappointed not to see anything about this on the broadcast news. Some public panic (justified or not) would be an excellent springboard to a true spacefleet capable of operating outside of near earth orbit.
I'm disappointed not to see anything about this on the broadcast news.

Yeah.  A search for "meteor" finds a meteor impact near Jakarta on December 18th.  A search for "impact astronomers" finds a set of only 97 articles, including some by USA today and the TV station KESQ.  I have no idea whether it made the print paper or the nightly news.

Since the event is so far in the future, perhaps the newshounds thought it was an inappropriate item for Christmas.  Oh Rapture!  A shooting star is coming to herald the Apocalypse!
And for scale, Meteor Crater in Arizona was probably about 30 megatons. Chixulub, that killed the dinosaurs, was probably in the hundred million megaton range.
Certainly, Meteor Crater's quite a sight.. wish I still had the photos I took, on the drive over from Pennsylvania for ConFurence one time. Just a hand-held panorama, but it actually turned out surprisingly well, once carefully stuck together just so. ^_^

I think I should put Dinosaur on tonight. (Ah, Plio.. another character I wouldn't mind waking up as some morning afternoon. I should take some good frame captures sometime - there don't seem to be many up on the web)
I've been to the Barringer Crater too, on my way to see the July 11, 1991 total solar eclipse. I wish I had taken the time to walk around it. The only other meteor crater I have seen is the one in Sudbury, Ontario, which is so large and indistinct, it is hard to see it at all.
*pokes* Actually, Rabbitswift pointed that out. *grins*
D'oh! You two must be occupying the same corner of my mind.. ^_^;
Apple's been putting on weight, apparently.

Could you consider that logo to be a "fat Mac"? ;-)
I remember the original Macintoshes, plus a 75% memory upgrade to a whopping 512K, were called that.
512K? Way more than I needed with my old BBC Micro. ^_^ (32K, once I plopped the extra 8 x 4816 chips into the sockets)

Or there's the ULCC US-UK Fat Pipe, of which was said in Nov 1990, 'US Internet connectivity for the "Human Genome Project", a cooperative international research activity, was implemented this month via the 384 Kbps shared-bandwidth channel of the US-UK fat pipe.'

It's probably more now. ^_^
NASA's Near Earth Object Program website shows an animation of the cloud of possible positions of asteroid 2004 MN4 relative to Earth. The centre of the distribution is twice the distance from the Earth as the Moon, so the small chance they calculate right now that it may hit Earth has more to do with the size of the error range than the most likely path of the asteroid. However, the asteroid is now rated at 4 out of 10 on the Torino Scale - no previous asteroid was rated above 1, which should give you an indication of how much more serious this asteroid is compared to all the previous near misses. There have been 40 observations of the asteroid so far, over 187 days.