Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Comet breaks up - No need to worry

This is an image from the Hubble of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 breaking up. Icy fragments are tumbling apart and creating a fireworks show in deep space.

NASA says on their homepage that there is no danger of the comet or its fragments hitting the Earth. Look here for a more detailed photo.

The NASA story says...

There will be no tsunamis, firestorms or mass extinctions to spoil your Memorial Day weekend.

Although the Internet is rife with speculation that a fragment of Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 will strike the Earth on May 25, neither the main comet nor any of its more than 40 fragments pose a danger to Earth.

It would seem a bit silly that NASA has to make a statement that we are free on a May weekend to eat burgers and hot dogs, get too much sun, go see crappy early summer movies, and still feel safe that we are not going to get pulverized by falling space debris.

However, this is the age of the Internet, and anyone with a blog or free homepage can start spreading stories.

Comet-related news also stirs creepy, decade-old memories of a certain group of science fiction fans, who happened to share the name of a historic movie flop, that took the arrival of a comet a bit too seriously.

I guess in the post-Katrina era, those in authority have to try even harder to reach the public and calm fears.

Here is to a Memorial Day where the only falling ice will be dropping into tall drink glasses with funny umbrellas.

Don't panic.

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