Most people will live a full life without witnessing a catastrophic event, and that fact has perhaps made us all too complacent. We tend to think of the cosmos as serene, yet it is full of danger. For instance, right now a near earth asteroid is stalking earth. By stalking, in fact, asteroid 2012 DA14 is traveling on an orbit that will draw it dangerously close to Earth in February, 2013.
While we appear to be safe for now, who is watching the skies and will we be ready to respond in time if an asteroid is discovered to be on collision course with us?
When the so-called Tunguska event occurred in Siberia in 1908, no one saw the comet coming until it plunged into the atmosphere. During the Cold War, scientists like Carl Sagan warned that if such an event were to happen it might easily be mistaken for a nuclear attack, triggering the destruction of the planet.
So how prepared are we today? The recently discovered threat of asteroid 2012 DA14 ought to scare us out of complacency. And at the very least we should review our response options. That is what Big Think has compiled in today's lesson.