x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Asteroids away

The reaction to an asteroid heading towards Earth has been unreasonably reasonable.

You worried for decades about an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, and when it finally does, what happens? Nothing.

As the 400-metre wide asteroid known as 2005 YU55 passed inside the moon's orbit yesterday, it was the closest that a celestial body of this magnitude has come to our planet in 35 years.

But where was the panic? The traffic jams? The running up the nearest hill? Not even the usual doomsayers could be bothered to turn the crisis-meter up to 11. Instead we got reasonable debates on its origins and what its effect on Earth's atmosphere has been in the past.

Of course, should it ever hit Earth, the devastation would be massive. But as Nasa estimates that the asteroid only has around a one-in-10,000,000 chance of hitting Earth in the next century, the human race can rest easy for now.

A bit of a panic might not have been a bad thing some might argue. After all, if Hollywood films - and when have they ever been wrong - have taught us anything, it's that nothing brings humanity closer together than a close encounter with total destruction. Wars are put aside, children from all nationalities hold hands and Bruce Willis eventually saves the world. All to the backdrop of an Aerosmith song.

On second thought, perhaps it's better this way after all.