Slate Blogger Phil Plait's TEDx Talk About Asteroid Impacts Featured on Huffington Post

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Dec. 23 2012 8:00 AM

My TEDx Talk About Asteroid Impacts Featured on Huffington Post

Don Davis drawing of the Tunguska impact ion 1908.
Don Davis drawing of the Tunguska impact in 1908.

Image credit: Don Davis, used by permission.

Speaking of asteroid impacts

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

In September 2011, I gave a talk at TEDxBoulder about asteroid impacts, why they are such a big threat, and what we can do about them.


I’m pleased to note the talk became very popular, and the video of it eventually made it to the main TED site; as I write this it has over 800,000 views! It’s gratifying to know so many people have heard this message that I think is critically important.

In even better news, TED has partnered with the Huffington Post to highlight one talk every Friday in what they’re calling TEDWeekends, and they chose my presentation for this week! The video of the talk is available there, and they also posted a new article I wrote about the talk to update it with more current information about this threat from the skies.

The talk is also on Youtube, and why not, here it is just to make it easy on you:

I encourage you to go to the HuffPo site, though, so you can read my article as well. 

I must note that I made a couple of errors in the talk. Two are minor, and outlined in a blog post I wrote at the time. There is one other place I blew it, and it’s a bit embarrassing: I greatly overstated the explosion of the K/T impact, saying it was a million times the entire planet’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. It was actually more like 20,000 times as large (what I meant to say was that it's about a million times the largest bomb ever detonated), which is still a mind-numbing blast capable of global extinctions. As we know that one was.

The good news is that people are beginning to take action about asteroid impacts, and I think that if we continue to take this threat seriously we’ll have a formidable defense against impacts set up in the next couple of decades. Given the statistics of impact frequency, that’s likely to be soon enough to prevent one from turning us into the dinosaurs.

And as a note: If someone ever asks you what the value of space exploration is, just show them a picture of a dinosaur skeleton collecting dust in a museum somewhere. Then ask them how much they want to see our our own bones in such an exhibit.

Space exploration can save the human race. Literally.



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