Astronomers around the world are shocked — shocked! — to once again witness a world busting impact on Jupiter. Regular readers of the Tusk know better. Notwithstanding patronizing dismissals urging us all to “move along, nothing to see here,” we know that the solar system is a far more dangerous place than acknowledged by the wise men and their calculations. We know they fail to account for a variety of phenomena, including dark objects and showers from disintegrating comets.
Yet, inexorably, the pompous pronouncements from on high assuring us of our safety are being laid bare as falsehoods — before our eyes. As far as we know, Jupiter has now been hit three times in less than twenty years. According to “official” calculations we should need to wait around 500 years to see such a multiple occurance. That doesn’t mean that, given their numbers, it cant happen. But at some point we are more likely seeing the rule rather than the exception.
Here is a link to Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy post on the Jupiter hit. Phil Plait and Bad Astronomy illustrate of the problem of communicating the true nature of the threat from space. To his credit, Phil covers interesting subjects for a wide audience, makes great use of new media, and is generally knowledgeable. But when it comes to his signature subject — dangerous objects from spoace — he is a fool, completely bound up and blinded by the conventional (and received) wisdom regarding impact frequency and the threat to modern man. For instance, he makes this conclusion for Earth in light of Tuesday’s mind boggling explosion on Jupiter:
… happily, on average an impact [on Earth] this large is extremely rare, like once every half million years or so — Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy
My, isn’t that a cheery bit of bullshit? Jupiter to Phil: If the conventional wisdom can be so wrong regarding the frequency of impact on Jupiter — it can be equally wrong about the frequency of earth impacts. Fool.