This is me according to the Daily Express. End of world: Scientist’s terrifying warning of apocalypse asteroid - ‘Would boil oceans!’ It is nonsense! I gave no warning, and as a science blogger I am not the person to issue a warning either. I wrote an article to HELP scared people who panic about such things. It was awful and many are panicking and it is not impossible someone has committed suicide over this.
This is an example to show how utterly unreliable the Daily Express is. Short summary:
- This is still scaring people and their story still shows up in asteroid searches in Google news over a week later (as of 6th September, story written 28th August),
- I was talking about an asteroid that boiled our oceans over 3 billion years in the past.
- The Daily Express said I was talking about a future asteroid.
- They lied about me.
What really happened:
- In an answer on the Quora question and answer site,which I added to the site in June 2016, I said Jupiter PROTECTS us from ocean boiling asteroids.
- The Daily Express have NEVER talked to me.
- You can learn from this example how the Daily Express just MAKE THINGS UP.
- Just Daily Express lying as usual but this time they lied about me.
- Turned something I wrote to help people into something to scare them!
This is clear from the many PM's and comments
- I have had many PM's from scared people.
- Others that I help knew not to believe it but thanked me for clarifying what happened. They would surely be very scared too if they hadn't learnt from our group not to trust the Daily Express asteroid stories.
- I am not an asteroid scientist and I am NOT the person who would to issue any kind of a warning.
- I am just a science blogger who does my best to research my stories as carefully and accurately as I can.
- For my background skip to About me
Unlike most of the people they misquote or quote out of context, I can write blog posts for Science 2.0 and most of my posts go to the top of Google News for a while. So I am writing this in the hope that some of you scared of this story will find this post and also our group.
This is another article I'm writing to support people we help in the Facebook Doomsday Debunked group, that find us because they get scared, sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal about it, by such stories. Do share this with your friends if you find it useful, as they may be panicking too.
This is just one of numerous false asteroid stories in the Daily Express and other sensationalist tabloids. I spend hours every day helping people who have read these stories, and are terrified by them. If you are scared, our Facebook Doomsday Debunked group can help you. For everyone, if you agree that this kind of fake news is a serious issue, please consider signing and sharing our petitions to Google News, Apple and Facebook trending, to Journalists and to YouTube.
All the sensationalist press are running this as a “news” story today and it fills the first page of relevant search results for phrases such as "asteroid extinct" on Google News:.
However it has helped to write this article - it has gone to the top of Google search results for at least some relevant phrases as they often do:
So hopefully that will help a few scared people.
Here are some of the numerous asteroid stories over the last few years that have scared people so much I've needed to write a debunk to help them. They go right to the top of Google News search results for asteroids every time the Daily Express or other sensationalist press run a story like this.
- Why you don’t need to be scared of the Apophis asteroid in 2029 or 2036
(This is a perennial, keeps coming up)
- Asteroid (4179) Toutatis to Pass Closely By Earth on Wednesday, September 29, 2004
... no chance that this object will collide with the Earth ... for at least 5 centuries
- Asteriod 2010 GD37 (1.26 km) is NOT EXPECTED TO HIT EARTH in December 2019 - and NO, NASA did not issue an impact warning!
- 2007 FT3 - yet another harmless No Hazard asteroid hyped up by the sensationalist press
- Asteroid strike on twitter for 2019 PDC on April 29, 2027 is a FICTIONAL EVENT - like Dungeons and Dragons
- 2006 QV89 asteroid - NO HAZARD - most likely next impact splosh in pacific - shorter version of article, in pictures
- Update on 2002 NT7 - flew past at a great distance, 16.50 UTC today 13th January - that's further away than Mars at its closest
- Asteriod 2017 RH16 removed from the impact risk monitoring list
- Debunked: Asteroid 2012 DA14 to hit Earth in 2020
- A Daily Express random harmless asteroid alert - 2019 CB2 - nothing to worry about at all
- New harmless asteroids scaring people, 2019 OD can’t hit ‘till 2088, expected to miss then too - 2015 HM10 removed - 2010 PK9 and 2019 OE were never in risk list
- Why you don’t need to worry about the ‘spooky skull’ asteroid 2015 TB145** **- flies past millions of miles away
- Scary story debunked - Asteroid Phaethon flew past Earth safely on December 16, 2017
- Debunked: 2016 WF9 to hit Earth and trigger mega-tsunamis February 16th or 25th 2017 - says Dr Dyomin Damir Zakharovich
- Debunked: Mountain sized asteroid 2014 UR116 headed towards Earth
- Debunked: 2012 TC4 is Nibiru and will hit Earth
- Latest on 2012 TC4 - passing at 72% of the distance to the Moon
- Why Asteroid 2002 AJ129 is no risk at all to Earth when it flies past on 4th Feb 2018 at a distance of 2.6 million miles exactly
- 1990 MU and 1998 OR2 - Two more harmless asteroids in the sensationalist press
- Debunked: Asteroid called 3BC2017 will kill millions in June
- Debunked: NASA can’t deflect asteroid Bennu
- Robert Walker's answer to: Can a 2006 QQ23 asteroid destroy a large country of Earth if it hit the Earth?
- Debunked: Asteroid 1950 DA will end civilization in 2880
- No, Vesta is not going to buzz or hit Earth. It is not going to be a brght yellow star in the sky. You will need a telescope to see it
(Goodness me, even Vesta the second largest main belt asteroid features in a Daily Express asteroid scare story!)
- Robert Walker's answer to: What will happen if Comet Swift-Tuttle strikes the Earth in 2126?
- Robert Walker's answer to: Can Halley's comet strike a planet in the solar system?
- Short summary of why Nibiru is impossible - indeed, absurd - or any other planet flying past or hitting Earth
- Could the interstellar asteroid Oumuamua be an alien probe?
- Debunking: All going to die as a result of impact of Asteroid 2009ES or 2000 ET70 or [insert name of asteroid here] or a 'Level 3 Planet Cracker'
There are many more. Most weeks there is at least one new fake "NASA asteroid warning" in the sensationalist press. I only debunk the ones that scare a significant number of people who PM me or post to the group.
skip to My article - Jupiter protects us
I think part of this is a cultural thing. I doubt if Gogle News or Apple or Facebook Trending would run the "Yellow papers" in Google News and if it was a UK tech company I can't imagine them running Daily Express stories as News.
Nobody takes those papers seriously in the UK. We are talking abot the sort of paper that writes stories like this:
If you open such a paper and read “NASA Asteroid warning” you would regard it as similar to “Mistic Meg’s Magic Ball which worked for a £15 million couple” and take it with a large pinch of salt.
What they do is legal in the UK. If the sensationalist press says that a comedian ate a hamster, nobody bats an eye. That is an actual story one of them ran:
If Google News had been around on 13 March 1986 then judging by the way it works today - its top story for Freddie Starr - and related searches, maybe even for hamster, would have been this story that he had just eaten a pet hamster in a sandwich. Google News does not indicate to the reader in any way that they are reading a “Mystic Meg” type paper.
But now you see it in Google News where there is no indication of what kind of a paper it is. It is just mixed in with all the ordinary mainstream news and for that matter, for some searches, all you see is sensationalist fake news stories.
It is not clear at all to the reader that these are all “Mystic Meg £15 million couple” type stories.
If those stories have ever scared you please see my
- Did you know, NASA have NEVER issued any ASTEROID ALERT - most likely future warning: Tiny Asteroid to Splosh Harmlessly in Pacific Ocean
I've found the article they quote. My answer is here: Robert Walker's answer to How big would an asteroid or comet have to be to end life on Earth?
It starts by setting the scene, that Jupiter protects us.
"Well there hasn’t been an impact large enough in the last over three billion years to do that, so it’s not something we need to worry about at present. We seem to be protected by Jupiter, from the very largest asteroids, though not from small ones of order ten kilometers or so and smaller."
Then come the passages they quote.
So - I know some say humans would go extinct after a 10 kilometer asteroid impact. I don’t see that. I don’t think that could make us extinct. It would have to be much larger, large enough so there are no habitats for humans on Earth and nothing for us to eat for long enough for us all to starve or die. It would be large enough if it boiled the oceans and melted the continents.
Then repeats again that Jupiter protects us
Those are impacts we don’t need to worry about, because they are so improbable that you might as well call them impossible. Because Jupiter protects us from these very large asteroids."
They do not mention that of course!
We do have historical impacts larger enough to boil oceans, from over three billion years ago. Back then the inner solar system was filled with debris from its formation still in the "late heavy bombardment" as it is called. This is the very tail end of it.:
The Moon, Mercury, and Mars all have huge craters from the late heavy bombardment between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. The Hellas Basin on Mars, The Aitken basin at the lunar South pole. It's believed to be over 3.8 billion years but the exact date is hard to pin down. Impact of an asteroid perhaps 170 km in diameter., and The Caloris basin on Mercury. All those would be large enough to boil oceans.
For Earth, the largest I can find, see this Impact of 23-mile-wide asteroid boiled Earth's oceans 3.26 billion years ago (and another link, and scientific paper)., soon after the end of the so called "late heavy bombardment" - it is only late compared to the origins of the solar system, early of course from our perspective.
Even though the "late heavy bombardment" was over, there was a tail-end of not quite such huge impacts that continued, perhaps for another 700 million years. Ancient Asteroids Kept Pelting Earth in a "Late-Late" Heavy Bombardment, up to 2.5 billion years ago.
But that debris was cleared out, most of it likely hitting the Jupiter, the Sun or ejected from the solar system (with the help of Jupiter) and only a few hitting the terrestrial planets.
Jupiter protects us from comets like that because lots of comets hit Jupiter and the biggest comets either hit Jupiter or are broken up by its gravitational field.
We saw just this happen with Comet Shoemaker Levy. It got split into numerous smaller comets
Then it hit Jupiter, leaving these marks in its upper atmosphere, which gradually faded away.
At the time it was thought that this was a rare once in a century type impact. But then another impact was discovered in 2009
The impact scar here is approximately the size of the Pacific ocean, and the impact was perhaps 200 to 500 meters in diameter, but was not seen before the impact. It was discovered by an amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley, who then discovered a much smaller impact in 2010 probably caused by an object just 8 - 13 meters across. And then two amateur astronomers in 2012 observed another impact. This time, by chance, a third amateur astronomer was taking a video of Jupiter at the time, and checking back through his video frames, found that he had recorded the event.
This is another example of the role of amateur astronomers in Astronomy. They can watch targets like this continuously, which the professional astronomers, who have to justify their time on large telescopes, simply can't do. Though Hubble of course, for instance, could get better images of Jupiter, there is no way one could justify pointing it at Jupiter 24/7. And amateur astronomers now have equipment that lets them take photos and videos like this. For more on this, see Impact: Amateurs observe Jupiter taking another for the team.
Based on this, then the best estimate at present (in a paper from 2010) is that Jupiter gets hit by an object between 0.5 and 1 kilometer in diameter every decade. This is five or ten times the previous estimates.
That's about two thousand more than the number that hit Earth.
It also gets hit, they estimate, by objects of size 300 - 400 meters every two years, and for objects of size 10 meters, it gets about 30 - 150 impacts a year.
So, the answer seems to be that, by the time a giant comet from the outer solar system has a decent a chance of hitting Earth, it has probably impacted Jupiter already, or the sun, or escaped the solar system. If it has managed to escape those fates, then by then, with many flybys of Jupiter, or of the sun, it has already broken up into smaller comets of around 10-15 km scale or smaller.
One scenario suggested in a recent paper is this: From time to time, we probably do get large 200 km scale or larger comets come into the inner solar system, similar to Chiron in orbit and size. Chiron, is a "Centaur" - one of the minor planets with unstable orbits crossing the orbits of two or more of the large gas giants in the outer solar system. So if you did get a large comet come into the inner solar system, these seem like good candidates for it.
Orbit of Chiron, crossing the orbits of both Jupiter and Uranus, which makes it a "Centaur" asteroid - a term for an asteroid that crosses the orbits of two gas giants. This is an unstable orbit, and in the future centaurs like this may encounter Jupiter close up.
So then the idea is that they do a series of flybys of Jupiter over a period of a few thousand years. But rather than hit Earth, what happens is they get broken up by Jupiter. That is if they don't get caught by it, the sun, or ejected from the solar system of course.
Chiron in Celestia, with its ring
So then they may increase the number of 1 - 10 km diameter comets in the inner solar system. Those then hit Earth. See Giant Comets and Mass Extinctions of life.
This whole scenario is played out over a timescale of many thousands of years, not the Armageddon 18 days :). And the individual impactors are 1 - 10 km in size, but you get a fair number of them one after another.
There are four asteroids and four comets that count as NEO’s (Near Earth Objects). None of these of any danger to Earth for now or for thousands of years.
The comet Swift Tuttle (26 km) has one chance in a million of an impact in 4479.
The only other big one that seems to have a chance of hitting Earth is the asteroid 433 Eros (16.84 km). It could hit us some time after a million years from now, 5% chance, but is not likely to before 100,000 years from now.
I can't stop the Daily Express from misquoting me to say that asteroids boil oceans. At least if you know of anything I can do about this please say in comments.
So, this is by way of clarfication for those who do find this story and who want a more in depth reply. So, yes, a largish asteroid will boild a small patch of the oceans of course. It's a fireball in the atmosphere, hits the ocean. A fireball is vey hot. Of course some of it will boil and a fair bit of water vapour ends up in the atmosphere.
However, this is harmless to anyone except a few unfortunate fish and sea creatures in that patch of oean. Humans are safe so long as they know about it in advance, they can just avoid that area, and send out warnings to sailors. Though we can only spot perhaps half of the smallest ones in advance, within a decade or two we will be able to spot nearly all of them in advance, enough time for a warning to evacuate an impact zone - and we can do that sooner if we have special space telescopes such as System of observation of day-time asteroids (SODA) for an early warning system (up to two days notice of any asteroid approaching Earth from the direction of the sun). We are also planning many ground based telescopes that will mean we can spot more of the smaller ones in time for a warning. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope LSST has four times the search depth of Pan STARRS (meaning 64 times the search volume), and a much higher observing cadence of very few days, and will greatly increase the detection rate of small asteroids. So will NEOCam if it is ever launched.
One way or another by the 2040s it will be very hard for even a small asteroid to approach Earth without being detected at least a couple of days in advance, and there are things we could do, for a price tag of tens of millions, that could bring that date forward to some time in the 2020s (more ground based telescopes and space telescopes such as SODA).
As for larger asteroids, we can detect nearly all 1 km asteroids in advance and most likely a year in advance. We already know 95% of them. The largest undiscovered asteroid is most likely 3.5 km, most likely only one at that size and it is not at all likely that there is an asteroid that size able to hit Earth. There a one kilometer is large enough to have minor global effects on the weather but not much else, e.g. with enough dust in the atmosphere to cool down the weather enough to impact on crop yields for a few days to weeks (depending on details of compsition, angle of impact, speed, what it hits etc).
Even the 10 kilometer asteroid that helped to end the dinosaur era was not big enough to boil even suface layers of the oceans. Birds, river turtles, crocodiles, little mammals that grew up to us, many creatures survived from which it is obvious it wasn't an ocean boiling event.
Now as an asteroid gets bigger you have much more mass and energy. If you double the size you have eight times the mass (depending on the density, but if the density is the same).
Comet Swift Tuttle could be large enough to boil some of the surface of the ocean - but you are talking about a size of impact that hasn't happened for over three billion years and not likely to happen again for many billions or tens of bilions of years into the future.
It is true that there is a tiny chance of Swift Tuttle impacting over 2000 years into the future. But even then it is expected to miss, 99.9999% certain.
So, even for future descendants 2000 years from now, it doesn't seem they have anything to worry about. Also we can deflect even large comets given enough time. If they have technology like us or better, they can deflect it in that very remote possibility.
Then there are the long period comets like Hale Bopp - which could certainly boil the surface of the oceans if it hit. But they pass by at a great distance typically. Most fly by further away than the sun. The sun is much larger and much further away than most people think.
The closest any comet (larger than a few meters) has come in historical times is Lexell's comet in 1770. It was a long period comet deflected into a shorter period by Jupiter for just one orbit after which it was likely ejected from the solar system.
Lexell's comet passed by at a distance of six times the distance to the Moon.
You may not realize how far away the Moon is. It looks close and small in the sky. But a jet traveling at 1000 mph would take 40 days to reach the Moon. It would take 240 days or the best part of a year to reach the flyby distance for Lexel's comet. At that speed you can travel all the way around the Earth at the equator in about 25 hours.
You can see from this that close flybys by long period comets rare indeed at present.
Now, there may be times when our solar system is bombarded by more long period comets.
About 1.35 million years from now, the star Gleise 710 is predicted to fly past our solar system at a distance of around 10,000 au (one au is the same as the distance to the sun from Earth).
It may possibly pass as close as 4,000 au or as far away as 16,000 au (see red dots in figure 1 of An independent confirmation of the future flyby of Gliese 710 to the solar system using Gaia DR2). This is well inside even the inner Oort cloud (source of long period comets) at 20,000 au.
So - there is a significant chance there of an increase in the number of long period comets. However we already have technology that could deflect long period comets with only a year of warning. That is to say we don't have it in place, but there are methods to deflect incoming comets with only we could develop only existing technology involving either infrared lasers, or nuclear weapons.
This is a plan to build a gigantic array of infrared lasers that would be pulsed on for only a few minutes a day. Store vast amounts of power, release it all in one go, and repeat, and use this to launch those tiny solar sails to distant star systems as part of "Breakthrough Starshot".
The same approach of pulsing a few minutes of 200 gigawatts of infrared energy towards an incoming comet every day could also be enough to deflect it according to some research into using the Breakthrough Starshot infrared lasers to deflect comets.
Using a 100 G" infrared array, for a few minutes a day, most can be deflected by more than thirty times the diameter of Earth which is enough to deal with uncertainties in the path of the comet due to its own jets from the sun.
There are more details about using infrared lasers to deflect long period comets in the section on comet deflection in this paper: Orbital simulations on deflecting near-earth objects by directed energy
For some more of the various methods I’ve seen suggested in the literature:
If we continue to have technology developing for over a million years, then for sure our descendants 1.35 million years from now will be able to protect Earth during the flyby of Gliese 710.
You can check there for yourself that there are currently no asteroid warnings of any size from NASA.
I also have a "Did you know" section on that page which helps people. From that:
If the Egyptians had build an asteroid detection telescope back at the time of the Great Pyramid of Giza, over 4,500 years ago - it would still be waiting for its first "city killer" asteroid.
Combines photo of Kheops-Pyramid with one of the two Keck ten meter telescopes Linked Hawaiian Telescopes Catch a Nova Surprise (I know the top of a pyramid in Egypt is hardly the best place for a telescope, this is just for visual effect to show the idea). They were only a few key insights away from the industrial revolution in some ways. It's a not impossible alternative history :).
The Torino scale is a simple number from 0 to 10 which indicates if there is any hazard.
The highest alert level ever reached is 4 "Meriting attention by astronomers". Apophis briefly reached that level in December 2004 but soon dropped down to no hazard
It has never reached the "Threatening" orange zone or the possibility of a near future impact at level 4 where it would be necessary to draw the attention of the public to the asteroid.
There are many fake warnings every year, where the Daily Express shouts out “NASA Asteroid warning” and it gets shared widely and goes to the top of the Google search results. These are just lies, plain and simple.
PLEASE STOP THIS NONSENSE - IT IS MAKING SCARED PEOPLE SUICIDAL
skip to Our petitions.
Many of them are being treated by health professionals for their fears which are traumatic for them. I talk to people who are afraid to leave their home, scared that if they do so they will see a giant asteroid barrelling towards Earth. They feel safer at home and prefer to die there rather than out of doors and spend hours a day searching the internet for "Asteroid warning" etc and turn up pages after pages of UTTER NONSENSE!
Please please - surely Daily Express it is not your intention for your readers to kill themselves! Or to suffer from General Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and similar and require months of treatment by professionals for the effects of your stories. Or for children to be unable to concentrate, adults to leave their jobs, students to have to take a semester off from university to cope with asteroid impact anxiety.
Many are also scared that we will be hit by a planet due to the Daily Express's relentless promotion of Nibiru nonsense.
And - Google News, Apple, Facebook trending - you JUST SHOULD NOT FEATURE SUCH STORIES AS "NEWS".
It is like the yellow press in the US. In the UK we call thse the Red Top Tabloids and nobody here takes them seriously. If Facebook, Google or Apple were UK companies I am sure they would not run Daily Express asteroid stories as "News".
Please consider signing and sharing our petitions:
skip to See Also
- To Google, Apple and Facebook - please stop promoting fake red top tabloid news
- To Journalists: Debunk Rather than Dramatize "Doomsday" Stories - Vulnerable Get Suicidal
- To YouTube : Halt Ads on Doomsday Videos
skip to About me
- NASA's Near Earth Asteroids and Comets Sentry Table
- What it says right now, as words rather than the techy numbers so often misunderstood / misreported
And on that page:
skip to Doomsday Debunked
Daily Express inaccurately call me a scientist and with the implication that I am an asteroid research scientist. I am not, and I have no personal connection with asteroid research.
None of the many journalists that called me a scientist today ever even thought to email me to check if it was true. These journalists are therefore all thoroughly unreliable and clearly do not check the information they repost.
Business Insider for instance did a not quite so awful version of the story
"So long as we retain at least stone age technology, there isn't much that could make us extinct," Robert Walker, a scientist and mathematician, told Science 2
But I am not a scientist and I didn't "tell Science 2.0", I blogged that as a science blogger to Science 2.0. It may seem a subtle distinction to a journalist perhaps, but there is a big difference there. I do not want asteroid experts to think I am going around presenting myself as an expert on asteroids!
I am a mathematician by training, software developer and science blogger. I have a strong background in science and have been following astronomy and science generally keenly since the 1960s when I was a teenager.
I research my stories carefully and my aim is to provide more accurate information than you find in many science stories - even sometimes those in the mainstream press. I have the time to spend hours, or if needs be days on a story - and I write carefully and provide cites for everything. I also correct them if anyone alerts me to a mistake.
However I am definitely NOT the person who would issue any kind of asteroid warning.
If you live in Florida you don't go to blog sites to check if there is a hurricane approaching, you just turn on your TV and watch the news. It will be the same if we ever have a real asteroid warning. It will be on mainstream news and you will be told what to do.
But the most likely future warning is a harmless splosh in the oceans or a remote ice sheet, desert etc as smaller asteroids are far more common than large ones, and most of Earth is ocean, desert, ice sheet, forest, tundra etc. See my
- Did you know, NASA have NEVER issued any ASTEROID ALERT - most likely future warning: Tiny Asteroid to Splosh Harmlessly in Pacific Ocean
Any questions, please contact me at support (at) robertinventor (dot) com.
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Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears
If you are scared: Seven tips for dealing with doomsday fears which also talks about health professionals and how they can help.
If in the middle of a panic attack, see
- Breathe in and out slowly and deeply to calm a panic attack by Robert Walker on Debunking Doomsday
- Tips from CBT - might help some of you to deal with doomsday anxieties
- STOPP skill
Useful links to bookmark
- Search Doomsday Debunked (Facebook)
- Search Debunking Doomsday
- List of debunks
- Search Quora for articles by 'robert walker' (insert whoever you want to search for)
- Search Sites rated Very High for Factual
- Search Doomsday Debunked Wiki
Tip, bookmark those links to search for debunks more easily. Here is a screenshot of my bookmarks
Facebook support group
Facebook group Doomsday Debunked has been set up to help anyone who is scared by these fake doomsdays.
If you need help
Do message me on Quora or PM me on Facebook if you need help.
There are many others in the group who are available to support scared people via PM and who can also debunk fake Doomsday “news” for you if you get scared of a story and are not sure if it is true. See our debunkers list
If you are suicidal don’t forget there’s always help a phone call away with the List of suicide crisis lines - Wikipedia