27 April 2017
Earth Nearly Flattened
Military response needed.
By Chin Chin
So they have had another go. Just over a week ago, Asteroid 2014 JO25, over a kilometre across and travelling at 75,000 mph, missed the Earth by just over 1,000,000 miles, a near miss for a projectile of that size. This lump of rock, known to the little green men as the Mother of All Asteroids or “MOAA”, will not be back for at least 500 years; so presumably the idiots who fired it wide have some explaining to do to their supreme leader. They have probably already been executed.
It isn’t the first time, of course (and by that I mean it isn’t the first time we have had a lump of rock fired at us – I’m not suggesting the same little green men have been executed twice) because they had a go at the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013. Then it was a meteor which exploded over the city injuring 1400 people. Look it up on the Internet if you want full details, but even at a glance they are pretty dramatic. The light from the explosion was brighter than the sun. The airburst penetrated to more than 16 miles. The energy released was about 30 times that resulting from the Hiroshima bomb. All that may be impressive, but it is also a little worrying. The Chelyabinsk meteor was only 20 metres across and flying at just under 43,000 mph. That is much smaller and slower than last week’s effort, so you can’t help feeling that we have had a narrow squeak and that MOAA will be reprogrammed and sent back for another go in 500 years’ time.
Now five hundred years seems a long time away. Go back 500 years in history and Henry VIII was still with his first wife. Still, when a deadline is coming up, time can move surprisingly fast. Those last few weeks before tax returns fall due, for example. One minute, there are three months to go. The next, it is 30 January and you are grabbing desperately for pieces of paper. 500 years may seem a long time now but I think we had best get going.
That is all very well, but what should we do? A pre-emptive strike seems the right thing. Let’s “take care of it” by whacking them before they have learnt how to deliver an asteroid on target. Obviously we cannot send a carrier group to another galaxy, so it has to be some sort of spaceship. Maybe that one called “Tardis” which looks like a telephone box from the outside… Oh, I think I hear the telephone ringing. Excuse me. I must just answer it.
“Who are you please? You have interrupted my writing.”
“You must know who I am. You rang me. Tell me who you are.”
“I am Who”
“Look, I really haven’t time to play some silly guessing game. Just tell me who you are.”
“I am Doctor Who and I have rung to tell you that the word “Tardis” is copyright protected as is the telephone box idea. If they are going to launch a spaceship to save the world they’ll just have to disguise it as something else.”
Ok. Well, in that case we’ll disguise the spaceship as a portaloo and call it “the Turdis”. That should foil the copyright lawyers. Hopefully it will foil the little green men as well since they will be expecting a telephone box. We might even manage to catch them with their trousers down.
However, it is not just a question of dispatching a spaceship and supporting flotilla. You have to decide where to send it all to. That might not matter too much initially; precedent favours sending a strikeforce off in the wrong direction to begin with. Still, in the end it has to arrive at the right planet and one of the difficulties is that we don’t yet know which one that is. Or to be more accurate, we didn’t. But this week, bang on cue, scientists have discovered a new planet, euphoniously named LHS 1140b, which has enough liquid to support life. Of course that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily the home of the little green men but I suspect that the scientists are telling us much less than they know. In fact Jason Dittmann of the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Massachusetts rather gave the game away by saying “we could hardly hope for a better target to perform one of the biggest quests in science, searching for evidence of life beyond Earth.”
That’s exactly it, a “target”. They have found the nest of the little green men and in his heart Mr Dittmann knows it. Now we know where to send the spaceship, although I don’t suppose that it will be entirely straightforward. That little “b” at the end of the planet name suggests a problem. Anyone who lives in North London will tell you that a suffix like that means a flat so we can expect the home of our trigger-happy asteroid launching friends to be sandwiched between LHS 1140a and LHS1140c, each a law-abiding planet of the greatest rectitude. How like modern terrorists to embed themselves between innocent civilians.
Still, technology is advancing and, as LHS1140b is 40 light years away, we have 460 years in which to develop it. By then we should be able to produce portaloos which can strike with surgical accuracy, destroying the guilty and sparing the innocent.
Although 460 years is probably enough, the risk is that the green men send agents provocateurs to disrupt the development of our response. Probably they are already among us. America and Russia are now each accusing the other of interfering in elections. More likely that work is being done by beings from another galaxy, disguised to look like us so that no one notices them. When you think about it, there are quite a few politicians who would look more natural with aerials coming out of their heads, and that suggests a test which could become a feature of election campaigns. Show the candidates on television with the addition of aerials and then speaking in a Dalek voice. The public would soon be able to sort the sheep from the goats; in any case it would be a great deal more amusing than televised debates.
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