The Amazing Meeting 2014

Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Bulletin! PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

The prediction of Dr. Richard Boylan, who’d been magically tipped off by some extragalactic Star People about an impending cataclysm, seems to have failed. On November 15th – as we’d expected – no asteroid hit the Earth, though Mogens Winther informs us that one named “2008 UL3” missed us by 7,452,000 miles, but that had been calculated many years ago by real astronomers. All the sweating and grunting expended by the team Boylan assembled to divert a monstrous rock that only existed in his fevered mind, was not needed. Whew!

In case you were worried, 2008 UL3 is only about a hundred feet across, but since it’s on its way elsewhere, we can all relax…

Trackback(0)
Comments (23)Add Comment
...
written by Alan3354, November 21, 2008
7 billion is a lot of miles. Was it perhaps 7 million? I doubt we can detect anything 100 ft across 7 billion miles away.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
...
written by Alan3354, November 21, 2008
I checked it on Tom's Asteroid Flybys, it's apx 7,500,000 miles.
I realize that the point is that it missed.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by BillyJoe, November 21, 2008
Alan,

Good pick! smilies/smiley.gif

Sorry about the pun, but it's a big miss. Walk forward 1 step. Then walk forward 1000 steps. That's the size of the difference.

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Latest Score: Dr Boylan 1, Rest of us 0
written by Chris Hobbs, November 22, 2008
It is certainly great news that the earth was not destroyed by an asteroid on 15th November (rather aptly given that it was Herschel's birthday). I think we must be very grateful to Dr Boylan and his team for their Joint Psychic Exercise that clearly worked in keeping us safe.

Certainly the balance of evidence is in Dr Boylan's favour: he can demonstrate that, following his Joint Psychic Exercise, the world was not destroyed while sceptics can never prove the negative that we wouldn't have been destroyed had the Joint Psychic Exercise not taken place.

Many thanks to Dr Boylan from those of us who understand Bayes' theorem.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
...
written by DrMatt, November 22, 2008
7.5 million miles is big. Let's be glad it isn't 7.5 thousand million, because then we'd have a problem of translation. The American trillion is sometimes the British billion, as we don't have milliards at all.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Reply:Chris Hobbs
written by AMFCook, November 22, 2008
What evidence? The Boylan received information about 2008 UL3 via the internet like anyone else could have and can? He's a charlatan, and a very bad one at that!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by JeffWagg, November 22, 2008
Fixed the billion/million typo.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by BillyJoe, November 22, 2008
Jeff,

I'm glad to see it was just a typo! smilies/wink.gif

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Chris Hobbs: "Please Explain"
written by BillyJoe, November 22, 2008
Some of us are not familiar with Bayes Theorem/Law.
Would you please explain the joke for us ignoramuses.

My simple understanding is that, to calculate the probability of an asterioid impact on 15th Nov 2008 given the Boylan exercise, you need to know the prior probability of an asteriod impact on 15th Nov 2008, and the prior probability of the Boylan exercise being successful at preventing asteriod impacts.
We clearly do not know any of these probabilities.

I know a joke loses it's impact if you have to explain it, but please indulge us.

BJ
(You have to be an Australian to understand "Please Explain")
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Alan3354, November 22, 2008
The Brits have inflicted enough damage on measurement systems (feet, inches, etc). If they persist with the "milliard", that's sufficient cause to nuke them, imo.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
Off by 5 Days?
written by Realitysage, November 22, 2008
Big Mutha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_2aX-784sw
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by BillyJoe, November 22, 2008
The Brits have inflicted enough damage on measurement systems


I agree.
This list seems emminently reasonable:

1,000: one thousand
1,000,000: one million
1,000,000,000: one billion
1,000,000,000,000: one trillion
1,000,000,000,000,000: one quadrillion

However, do not rest on your laurels.
You American's have completely #v
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by BillyJoe, November 22, 2008
...ed up the language.

(Don't know why that didn't print)
(Now it's telling me the comment is too short)
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Yes, but was it a near miss or a near hit?
written by feldesq, November 22, 2008
We Americans can come up with all sorts of confusing expressions (we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway). Is 7 million miles or even 7 billion miles a "near miss" or a "near hit?" When would it be "near" anyway? The point should be -- as Phil so aptly puts it in "Death from the Skies" -- there are enough real threats to our continued existence due to the millions of untracked and undiscovered asteroids and comets that pose all too real dangers to Earth. We have only a handful of astronomers searching for these objects and even less scientists working to come up with a means to stave off such a collision. We know what happened 65 million years ago, and what is essentially certain to happen any day now. So we must sound the alarm. Soon we WILL suffer a near miss (meaning we WILL GET HIT!)
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by BillyJoe, November 22, 2008
Soon we WILL suffer a near miss (meaning we WILL GET HIT!)
Well, it could be in a few years, or a few thousand years from now.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Off by many miles
written by AMFCook, November 23, 2008
Next Boylan will be claiming he sent the asteroid to Canada:

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?cl=10792362
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Blizno, November 23, 2008
"Yes, but was it a near miss or a near hit?"

It was a miss and it was near, therefore it was a near miss. That phrase in no way implies that it was "nearly a miss".

The term "near miss" is correct and valid.

"Near hit" is meaningless. "It" is either a hit or it is not a hit. If it is "near", it is not a hit, it is a miss. "Nearly a hit" means the same thing as "a near miss".
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +2
...
written by BillyJoe, November 24, 2008
Blizno,

By God, you are correct.
I've never thought of it that way.
Thanks for the insight.

smilies/smiley.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
What about the elephants?
written by Die Anyway, November 24, 2008
I for one am certainly glad we have Dr. Boylan and his mental crew keeping us safe from stray meteors. It reminds me of my own mission in life. When I was a young boy my father informed me that our male lineage was responsible for protecting America from wild elephants. He taught me how to whistle just right to keep the elephants away. Every day I whistle just like he taught me and so far it has worked perfectly... no elephants. But I'm getting old and I don't have any sons. I tried to teach my daughters but girls just can't whistle right. I'm not sure what will happen when I can no longer whistle but if there's a rash of wild elephants, I warned you.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +5
...
written by BillyJoe, November 24, 2008
Well, at least you will never live to see your delusion exposed.
smilies/cheesy.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
Millions?
written by huw, December 20, 2008
This list seems emminently reasonable:
1,000: one thousand
1,000,000: one million
1,000,000,000: one billion
1,000,000,000,000: one trillion
1,000,000,000,000,000: one quadrillion


Not to me. Surely the prefixes "bi", "tri" and "quad" imply two, three and four of something, respectively.

Surely the "long scale" makes more sense:

1,000,000: one million
1,000,000,000,000: one billion
1,000,000,000,000,000,000: one trillion
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000: one quadrillion

Where each increment implies six more digits?

I realise that common English use has almost killed the long scale, so it's probably futile to defend it, I'm just pointing out that it's more logical.

Huw
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Blizno, December 20, 2008
"Millions?
written by huw, December 20, 2008
Surely the "long scale" makes more sense:
1,000,000: one million
1,000,000,000,000: one billion
1,000,000,000,000,000,000: one trillion
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000: one quadrillion
Where each increment implies six more digits?
I realise that common English use has almost killed the long scale, so it's probably futile to defend it, I'm just pointing out that it's more logical.
Huw"

I have never heard of this "long scale". Can you tell me more?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Wikipedia
written by huw, December 21, 2008
The discussion on the "Long and Short Scales" page is worth reading.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy