In 1900, German astronomer thought 10,000 asteroids could wipe out all life

More than a century ago, German astronomer Ernst Pauling predicted in a physics journal that about 10,000 asteroids could collide with Earth in the next 20 years. “Even the discovery of five of these massive asteroids within ten years would destroy all evidence of our existence as we know it,” he wrote in 1893. Only now do scientists believe the actual number of asteroids that could crash into Earth is much higher. In fact, 10,000 is the estimated number of near-Earth objects that could wipe out most of humanity.

“What is truly astonishing is that there are hundreds of billions of Earth-sized asteroids out there,” said Andy Cheng, the executive director of the 501(c)3 Coalition, which tracks threats to the Earth from meteors and asteroids.

In October, another issue arrived on the Committee on Space Research’s (CSPR) radar. It seems that space might not be the only domain in which we will spend much of our time in the future. Cheng told our staff writer Alice Park that he is one of many who has been busy working to get CSPR’s telescope established in Hawaii as the station that’s best able to hunt for life elsewhere in the galaxy. The organization would be a landmark in our search for extraterrestrial life, with a new telescope in addition to its deep space exploration programs.

For now, astronomers continue to hope for signs of extraterrestrial life on other worlds. A NASA planet hunter was getting close to its final analysis last night. They’ll likely be a call to follow up with further observation and study when it’s all over.

Read the rest of the story by Alice Park at Time.


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