(Ann Arbor, Michigan) A University of Michigan space scientist is worried
that global warming is increasing the risk that an asteroid could, one day,
collide with the Earth. The seemingly impossible connection is due to a basic
law of physics: when a gas is heated, it expands.
"Some large meteoroids have skimmed the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere,
skipping off back into outer space", said Professor Charles Boyle, chairman
of U. of M.'s Near-Earth Asteroid Team (NEAT). "As the atmosphere warms,
it expands outward, potentially capturing large asteroids that would have
otherwise been a near-miss. It seems that the dangers from global warming
just keep mounting up…like the national debt."
Now that all reputable scientists agree that global warming is the greatest
threat to face mankind since the secretly-thwarted alien invasion of 1955,
it seemed that just the warming alone was enough to strike terror in the
hearts of Earth's imperiled inhabitants. But this new connection between
global warming and the asteroid threat makes immediate action to avoid planetary
collision just as important as avoiding planetary meltdown.
"Our NEAT researchers have been feverishly calculating the risk enhancement
factors associated with the thermal expansion of the atmosphere", said Prof.
Boyle, as several scientists nearby made animated gestures as one of them
guided two billiard balls past each other. "We hope to have risk assessments
in place, ready to assist future defensive measures that might be taken to
divert potentially dangerous asteroids from colliding with the Earth."
Other researchers we contacted seemed unfazed by the findings, one
stating, "I'm sorry, but if the problem has not already been addressed
at OUR research institute, it can not be very important."
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