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Joe Rogan, Elon Musk and the God of Chaos Asteroid

A giant asteroid nicknamed the God of Chaos will be passing dangerously close to Earth very soon and may actually collide with the planet on one of its future trips. Fortunately, we have Elon Musk, Joe Rogan, the Daily Express and NASA on the case … not necessarily in that order (also fortunate). Should we be worried? About the asteroid, I mean.

@joerogan
Asteroid shock: NASA preparing for ‘colossal God of Chaos’ rock to arrive in next 10 years
https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1166919/NASA-asteroid-warning-Apophis-God-of-chaos-2029-earth-hit-news-Apep-99942-Apophis/amp …

Let’s start with Joe Rogan, since he gets more publicity that the rest of the parties combined. He tweeted that “asteroid shock” message on August 18 after reading an article in the Daily Express about asteroid 99942 Apophis – which measures 370 meters (.23 miles) in diameter and will make a well-publicized trip very close to Earth (within 19,000 miles away) in 2029. That’s a massive asteroid that would put the dinosaur-killing one to shame, which is why it caused a minor panic when it was discovered in 2004 and a miscalculation gave it a high probability (2.7%) of hitting Earth in 2029 and a higher probability in 2036. The error was found and new calculations reduced the odds on an impact substantially, although it will still be close enough for the best observations ever of an asteroid of that size, both by scientists and Earthlings. However, the nickname God of Chaos is still there, so publications like the Daily Express use it whenever they can, along with simulations showing what kind of damage an impact could do … it’s business, baby.

An illustration of the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are man-made satellites that orbit our planet, and the pink represents the International Space Station.

Elon Musk
@elonmusk
Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense. https://twitter.com/joerogan/status/1163198089328390145 …

Joe Rogan was probably betting that his doobie-smoking buddy Elon Musk would see his tweet, and he was right. As CEO of SpaceX, Musk should know his space stuff and he’s right that Apophis won’t live up to its nickname but another asteroid surely will sometime in the future … perhaps near, perhaps far. However, his assessment that we have “no defense” may not be quite right. While it’s probably true that a completely unexpected asteroid (and we see plenty of them) would leave us defenseless, one as well-known as Apophis with a similar lead time could conceivably be deflected by a current nuclear-tipped rocket or one developed specifically for it. That’s what Elon Musk may have his eye on with his SpaceX rockets. Some people could also be evacuated to Mars or the Moon on his rockets, assuming the upcoming impact was revealed to the public by NASA and world governments – or hidden to avoid panic and financial problems … which is conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan’s area of expertise.

The truth is, NASA is actually looking forward to studying Apophis on its flyby – both to learn more about it and asteroids in general and to get an even better handle on the probability of it hitting Earth in the future, not to mention what signs to look for with other potentially collision-possible near-Earth asteroids.

Apophis (he’s the serpent)

While it’s entertaining to poke fun at Elon Musk, Joe Rogan and the Daily Express, in this case they brought Apophis, asteroids, NASA and the reality of an asteroid impact and asteroid avoidance much brooder attention than they normally get. The only party who might be disappointed in all of this would be Apophis himself – the actual ancient Egyptian god of chaos whose namesake is refusing to live up to his reputation.

Too bad.

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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