I’m Just That Awesome

Okay, since I just got back to this blog thing, I figured I’d look at comments that have been filtered out by Akismet while I’ve been gone, just to see what’s there. I found this comment in my spam folder:

I feel like I’m always looking for interesting things to read about a variety of topics, but I manage to include your blog among my reads every day because you have compelling entries that I look forward to. Here’s hoping there’s a lot more great material coming!

This comment was submitted 2 days ago (Sep. 7th). At that point I hadn’t posted a new entry in almost 3 months. Apparently my last post up ’til then was so amazingly compelling that this person checked back every day to re-read it.

Akismet is awesome for finding such otherwise innocuous sounding spam.

In case you’re wondering why that can be considered spam even though there are no ads to be seen, it’s actually an attempt to game the Google search system. The username is a link to their business site, and if they get enough blogs to allow such an innocuous sounding comment it will trick Google into thinking a lot of people are linking to their site. The hope is that it will appear so popular that their site will appear in the first page or so of a search.

Finding Ass-roids

Okay, that title is unnecessarily crude, but fuck it. What follows is a video showing the number of asteroids that have been discovered since 1980.

Can you figure out which little dot is the earth? Here’s a hint: it’s the one going around the sun (err…which one is the sun, I wonder).

One thing you might notice is the sudden burst of discoveries at right angles to the earth right near the end of the video. I’m guessing those are discoveries made by the WISE satellite, which launched in December of 2009. The WISE satellite (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) is an infrared survey satellite that is always pointed 90 degress from the sun and earth…exactly where all those asteroids are being found.

One thing that might be making you a bit nervous is the sheer number of asteroids that we can see by the end. With so many of ’em, the chances of being hit by one must be really high, right? Well, not really. Here, I’ll let my very close and personal friend whom I’ve never met, Phil Plait, explain why that is (from this post at his blog Bad Astronomy):

The distance between Mars and Jupiter is a bit roomier than depicted in the video. Remember, Mars is about 220 million km (130 million miles) from the Sun, and Jupiter is about 800 million km (480 million miles). That’s a whole lot of real estate: almost 2 quintillion square kilometers (670 quadrillion square miles)! Written out, that’s 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 square kilometers.

Yeah, a whole lot of real estate.

And that assumes those asteroids all lie in the same plane. In fact, many of their orbits are tilted, so we’re really dealing with volume. Even allowing that they may move above or below the plane of the solar system the paltry amount of a million kilometers, that means there’s really 2 septillion cubic kilometers: 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic km! The volume of the Earth is only about a trillion cubic kilometers, so we’re talking a volume of space that could fit a trillion Earths in it!

Methinks we need not worry quite so much.