Stephen Hawking urges leaders to take threat of asteroids to humanity seriously

By @vitthernandez on
Meteorite
A 1.3 kilogram meteorite which is more than 4.5 billion years old is displayed at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris February 9, 2010. Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Although NASA has been alerting nations over large asteroids that recently flew close to Earth, for physicist Stephen Hawking, leaders are apparently not heeding the warning. He says the asteroids are major threats not only to human but also alien civilisation.

Hawking issued the warning through a video produced by Asteroid Day, a global movement that aims to protect human species. “One of the major threats to intelligent life in our universe is high probability of an asteroid colliding with inhabited planets,” the professor warns, The Sun reports.

Patrick Michel, an astronomer, says in the video that their movement is tracking 90 percent of the asteroids that litter the solar system which could wipe out humanity if the giant space rocks collide with Earth. Some of these asteroids measure 1 kilometre or larger.

He says only 15 to 20 percent of the asteroids are larger than a few hundred metres in size. “If these bodies impact Earth, they can cause regional damage across a whole country or even a continent,” Michel points out.

Experts are trying ways to address the asteroid problem such as using a gravity tractor to pull the large rock to a new path using its gravitational pull. There is also a proposal to blast the asteroids, but it risks causing a radioactive rock rainshower on Earth.

Meanwhile, a new study published in Science journal says an asteroid was likely the cause why Earth’s surface turned into a liquid when it hit the planet about 66 million years ago. The asteroid was also linked with the death of dinosaurs on Earth.

The massive asteroid is believed to have bored a 60-mile-wide gap by shooting rock about two times the height of Mount Everest before it collapsed into smaller peaks. It happened in just minutes, Joanna Morgan, researcher at Imperial College London, says.