Monday, July 03, 2006

You're a Little Late to be Asking about the Asteroid

1:30 p.m. CDT
I answer the phone at work, "Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy Advising Center."

A voice a bit older than most of my students says, "Uh, I heard there was an asteroid heading toward earth today."

Me: "This is the undergraduate advising office, let me get you the Astronomy Department."

but then I thought: "Oh, I read about that at lunch -- the asteroid has already passed by."

Man: "I need to know whether I need to be packing things up, you know."

Me: "The asteroid already passed by -- it didn't even come as close as the moon. I read it online a while ago. (looking it up) . . . ah, here, 'Large Asteroid Zips Past Earth' -- 'A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early Monday, passing about 269,000 miles from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon.' "

Man: (still unsure that he is safe) "But this is Monday."

Me: "Yes, but it said it passed by EARLY Monday -- this is the afternoon."

Man: "O.K."

Me: "Bye now."

I would have put the BBC as the title link above, but they hadn't updated their article -- it just said it was due to pass near earth -- closest to the west coast of North America around 0444 GMT.

We get calls like this from time to time -- how to work math problems, grand unification theories, etc. Some of the stuff we'll try to help with, but I always send the grand unification theories upstairs!

1 comment:

gl. said...

i valiantly but vainly searched the ne skies for it last night, but i only have binoculars. meh.