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.
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