Monday, November 02, 2009

If I Were An Astronomer...

So here you are: A giant asteroid, the mother and father of all asteroids, is heading toward the only piece of real estate we have. It’s showtime and the curtain is about to go up. Or down, depending on your take. Jesus is getting ready to saddle up and gallop across the sky like a brilliant Santa Claus without Rudolf leading the way.

You and a very few other astronomers are vowed to secrecy because you don’t want to start a panic. Suppose you are wrong? Suppose you are right?

If you are wrong, you will have begun the worse panic on earth. Maybe there have been others, but the population was fewer and communication was slow and barely existed. It would have taken months, years, for the word to get around and even then, you would have been stoned to death for bringing such bad news.

If you are right, there would be instant panic worldwide in a matter of hours. People do strange things when they are about to die. Looting stores for stuff they can’t use; filling churches they never went to; killing themselves and their families. It is the greatest announcement in the history of the world.

Asteroids are notoriously hard to see when they are coming straight at us. You and your fellows are the only people who know it will hit in a matter of days and there is nowhere to hide. Do you let people go about their business? Or warn them? My choice: Let life go on because there is nothing anybody can do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I've thought about this before. If the asteroid was a few years away from impact, I think I'd share my discovery. Who knows, perhaps we could discover a good use for our stock-pile of major league weapons. If the thing was days away? I wouldn't tell a soul. I would buy a carton of cigarettes and max-out my credit cards, though. There's a few people I'd kiss and a few I'd not, but I'd like to think I'd just keep on keeping on.

November 04, 2009 1:10 PM  

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