Chances You'll Be Killed by an Asteroid in 2009

A computer video circulating the internet has rekindled fears that an asteroid will hit Earth and send mankind the way of the brontosaurus. Based on NASA projections, there is indeed a chance that such an asteroid will impact Earth in the next year.

It is 1 in 2,518,072

This number is derived from NASA calculations of the likelihood of a strike by any one of the six substantial Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) whose current course could intersect our planet's in 2009. The most likely of the bunch, an NEO named 2008 AO112, alone has a 1 in 4,000,000 chance of impacting Earth. In other words, there's a 99.999975% chance the thing will miss us.

By comparison, in the new year, based on recent National Safety Council data, chances are less that you will be killed by an asteroid than by the following:

Motor vehicle accident: 1 in 6,539

Exposure to noxious substances: 1 in 12,554

Assault by firearm: 1 in 24,005

Accidental drowning: 1 in 82,777

Exposure to smoke, fire or flames: 1 in 92,745

Exposure to forces of nature (lightning, flood, storms, etc.): 1 in 136,075

Falling out of bed or off other furniture: 1 in 329,819

Choking on food: 1 in 343,179

Air and space transport accidents: 1 in 502,554

Exposure to electric current, radiation, temperature, and pressure: 1 in 705,969

Being bitten, stung or crushed by another person or animal: 1 in 1,841,659

Conclusion: It would be statistically unwise to sell your home (your chances of selling it aside) and use the proceeds for a pre-asteroid splurge in the tropics. Alternatively, if you are considering fleeing Earth, you are more likely to die by spacecraft accident than by asteroid. And if you do so anyway, given the chance of being bitten, stung or crushed by another person or animal, your chances are even worse if you bring company.