We Live in a Cosmic Shooting Gallery

by Nancy Atkinson on March 13, 2013

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In this new video from Big Think, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says he’s almost embarrassed for our species that it takes a warning shot across our bow before legislators take seriously the advice they’ve been receiving from astronomers about getting serious about asteroid detection and deflection; that it’s a matter of when not if Earth will get smacked by an asteroid. “But it took an actual meteor over Russia exploding with 25 times the power of the atom bomb in Hiroshima to convince people that maybe we should start doing something about it.”

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

GregtheThird March 13, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Bravo. I am embarassed by our species all too frequently. For example one of the things I learned from working in a big corporation is that the geniuses who routinely get promoted to higher levels of administration routinely ignore the quality of their employees’ work and their documented achievements in favor of the quality of their social skills. What’s more is that they actually believe that people are stupid who spend their time working to put innovative thought into pactice instead of spending most of their time sending social messages with no actual business value in order to inflate their egos. Call it the battle of grey matter vs white matter if you will, but in this day and age the people with more white matter dominate this world, and we are all worse off for it. The white matter types are great at taking over corporate administration and installing exclusively more people like themselves, but are terrible tacticians and don’t have enough common sense to keep such people around. Politicians are white matter types now due to the pervasive influence of the mass media on elections, so it should be no surprise that none have a clue about this kind of threat and most likely think that people who do care are stupid.

Me March 14, 2013 at 3:06 AM

Wow, did you say a mouth full of truth in your first 2 sentences. In so many areas of business and science it goes deeper than many think it does. Much too deep in fact. Take care.

GregtheThird March 14, 2013 at 3:37 AM

Didn’t have a good day, so mostly venting. Nevertheless, I have been around long enough to say that my observations are a general rule from experience. I can expound, but I already have waxed philosophical and too far off topic.

Me March 14, 2013 at 5:09 AM

Oh, so you had “one of those irritating days”. I’ve had my share & I know there will be more to come. In my years of observing the top of the business/scientific/etc… world. The political appointments are the worst. They are usually “whom you know & not what”. Everyday I must face a man 20+ yrs my jr.. He cannot tell the difference between a bicycle from a car. I kid you not.
Before GWB? Been around long enough to know nothing has changed at all in the political department in my world that is. Most political appointments are as useless as teats on a bull.
Hope you have better days to come Greg :-)…

GregtheThird March 15, 2013 at 2:34 AM

There are some well run organizations out there. SpaceX for example is testimony to what can be achieved when an organization is run correctly. Inevitably however a company will fall under control of white matter types who weed out undesirable “noncomps” and with them their future success. The white matter “Socialite” and especially those in priviledged positions judge extremely harshly those who are not equally socially adept. Functional neurologic studies are finding that areas of the human brain can either perform one function or another. For example the part of the brain that is used for reading comprehension can also be used for remembering names, but it cannot excel at both, just one or the other. The result is that people who are adept at reading comprehension are terrible at remembering names. and vice versa. One trick I like to perform at social functions is I find out someone is an avid reader I will ask them if they have any trouble remembering names and they nearly always ask how I knew that. It is also likely then that people who specialize in visual-spatial skills, mathematics and strategic reasoning must also sacrifice brainpower that others devote to social skills. A person who thinks excessively will also react more slowly whereas a white matter dominant person will react quickly and leap decisively and admirably in the wrong direction with every like-minded individual who doesn’t think much. I asked my self not long ago where I was the happiest about how I was treated and assessed by those in charge and not surprisingly it was at the university by my professors who were of course like minded grey-matter types. The U.S. has always had an anti-intellectual bent, most dramatically embodied by Dwight D. Eisenhower and his administration who nearly lost the cold war to the Soviets as a result of acting on this philospohy before Kennedy embraced science and the space program out of pure necessity. Nixon then trashed that effort in favor of killing people in Vietnam at the first opportunity.

Peter Croft March 14, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Absolutely agree. Well said. I’m retired from an engineering technician job and I was fed up with the lack of respect we got.
I live in Western Australia. The state government has just removed funding for the state’s optical observatory, after more than one hundred years of operation, closing it down. The state’s science advisor resigned in desperation from her job – she wasn’t being listened to. Yet the premier said science will be a priority in his next term. Hah! How can he think we’ll believe him? Resignations from committees are common because the government won’t listen to advice. I despair.

Aqua4U March 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Good to see reminders from public figures! Yes, the sky s falling… any day now! Odds are you won’t see it. May the ‘odds’ be with us!

GregtheThird March 14, 2013 at 4:34 AM

The point is why take needless risks by doing too little to prepare when we allocate resources to a real threat, however small it may be? How sure are we that the threat is small? I would also argue that modern science has not been around long enough to constrain the odds of a comet strike. For example, what is the variability of comet influx from the oort cloud over long periods of time?

Me March 15, 2013 at 3:16 AM

Yes, ..I agree totally w/your last 5 sentences. V-Nam was mainly all on Robert MacNamara. He was truly the man at fault before Nixon ever was in the Kennedy Admin.. Your right, Tricky Dicky Nixon did continue it, but then had 2nd thoughts then shut it down in early 1974. Close friends of my family had some connections w/MacNamara as w/Kennedy. Anyways, President Kennedy’s outlook was space & that is how I really got started in Ole Man Sol scientifically at a young age in the early mid 1960′s.

As for my knowledge of brain analysis? I am still having a hard time explaining to people how to scramble eggs….lol. That should give you a large clue of my knowledge of our brains. You seem to have a good grasp on it. Take care Greg, been a pleasure. God Bless…

GregtheThird March 15, 2013 at 4:09 AM

Thanks for the insight and support. I added another paragraph after your post that may be of interest. My colleagues many of whom were from foreign countries at the time dubbed me “the CIA analyst” based on my ability to rapidly and correctly interpret the meaning and motivation behind major foreign events based on my knowledge of history, philosophy, culture and psychology. I made good use of my undergrad education in the arts even though my undergrad degree was in science.

Me March 15, 2013 at 4:59 AM

Yes, I see & read the last paragraph you added. Nixon did open relations w/China back in my youthful days. He did well w/that area. Also, in the news of the last week or two, I saw on the TV news, China’s attacks on the US gov’s cyber files. I feel Obama is too weak to really attack back. But then again, I hope he can & will.
The State Dept. must at least try. You have a God given gift. Use your insight & interpretations to do as much good as possible. It seems plausible & well warranted that you continue to seek others whom know the area well to enlighten your gift to higher levels.
Continue to open your mind even further to help others w/the God given talent you really have. God Speed Greg.. :-)…

GregtheThird March 15, 2013 at 5:53 AM

Thanks again. In return I will paraphrase Imanuel Kant: intelligence is invisible to those who do not have it in equal measure. Or more simply, it takes one to know one.

Me March 15, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Your so welcome ;-)…

……lol…well said & well taken by ‘me’ Greg. “It takes one to know one”. I’ll 2nd that one buddy. . Amen…

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