Women in Music 2016
Brian May Warns of Asteroid Strikes, Joins Danger Mouse and Others in Call to Action
Noted astrophysicist and rock guitarist Brian May has joined a group of astronomers, scientists and other artists to raise awareness about the threat of asteroids on our planet, warning at a news conference this week that Earth is headed for destruction if global action isn't taken.
The group, which also includes former astronaut Ed Lu, ethologist Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye (the science guy), released a declaration on Wednesday calling for the creation of a massive asteroid detection system to "solve humanity's greatest challenges to safeguard our families and quality of life on Earth in the future."
The "100X Asteroid Declaration" calls for governments and philanthropic orgs to fund asteroid-detecting systems and accelerate the discovery and tracking of near-Earth asteroids from the current rate of 10,000/year to 100,000/year in the next ten years.
The Queen rocker and others also want the adoption of an Asteroid Day to commence on June 30, 2015. The date is a reference to Earth's last major asteroid impact, which flattened 800 square miles near Tunguska, Siberia on June 30, 1908.
"The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time," Dr. May said during a news conference held via satellite in London and Los Angeles. "We are currently aware of less than one percent of objects comparable to the one that impacted at Tunguska, and nobody knows when the next big one will hit. It takes just one."
"If [Tunguska] had taken place 6 1/2 hours later, Berlin would have rotated into the object's path, and that would have utterly changed the course of human civilization," said Nye, according to The Telegraph.
The group said that tech systems are already in place to track large asteroids, but that there should also be a focus on smaller space rocks. "It's the ones that would destroy a city or hit the economy for a couple of hundred years that are the problem," said Lu, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions. He also explained that asteroids need to be detected decades in advance in order to have the time to send spacecraft to knock them off course. "If you find something weeks beforehand, there's not much you can do," he said in a nod to the film Armageddon.
Signatories to the declaration include British astronomer Martin Rees, Google exec Alan Eustace, singer Peter Gabriel, Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer of Broken Bells, plus a whole lot of scientists and astronauts, including Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell.