#MindOfMarlar is written by Darren Marlar, host of Weird Darkness

Back in 2004 scientists looking through a telescope in Arizona found something scary. They found ink rings around their eyes from their prankster co-worker coating the eyepiece with black ink. Once they cleaned themselves up and locked that office clown in a giant beaker, they looked through the telescope again and found something even more scary… in space.

“If it walks like a Death Star, and talks like a Death Star…”

You might call it the Death Star, but I won’t because I don’t want to be sued by Disney lawyers. Perhaps that’s why scientists named this giant rock Apophis – because that’s the old Egyptian god of chaos and the copyright expired hundreds of years ago. Or the scientists were just huge fans of the TV show “Stargate SG-1”. Or both!

This giant rock was about 340 meters wide… and hurtling directly towards Earth. “The apocalypse is nigh!” many were heard to scream. There was a chance Apophis would hit our planet in the year 2029! People immediately began scrambling to find a way to live through a species-ending event so as to not end up like the dinosaurs. They even called up Bruce Willis for his expert opinion.

“None of them wanna pay taxes again. Ever.”

Not that it would matter, because in 1960 Heinz Von Foester (no relation to the ketchup) predicted the date for the end of humanity would be November 13, 2026… blaming it on overpopulation. How you get the END of humans by creating MORE humans is beyond me, but that’s what he wrote in the Science magazine article… and as we all know, scientists are infallible, right? Aaaanyway…

The Messiah Foundation International also predicts that the world will end sometime in 2026, when an asteroid collides with Earth. And we all know that religious zealots are infallible, right? Odd though, that we haven’t found this 2026 asteroid yet, but we know about 2029’s Apophis. Shouldn’t the one hitting us in 2026 be more worrisome than the one coming our way three years after that?

Then there is Christian fundamentalist Kent Hovin who speculated that 2028 was the “most likely” year for the rapture. Which is hard to contemplate if the world was destroyed two years previous by a meteor. Who then would be left to rapture? But then, we know all prophets claiming to be Christian are infallible. You’d think they, of all people, would’ve memorized Matthew 24:36 in the bible that says, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Oh well…

“Go ahead and eat the fruit… the world is going to explode tomorrow anyway…”

“End of the World” predictions have been a thing since, well… the “BEGINNING of the World.” But back to Apophis… since 2004 scientists have been studying it a lot more (for obvious reasons – kinda hard to ignore a giant rock hurtling towards your doom) and now they have realized it will be coming our way on April 13, 2029. And for those of you who are superstitious – that happens to be a Friday the 13th. Maybe we should’ve named this death-dealing meteor Jason?

Now, don’t go selling your stock portfolios and blowing all your money on one big “end of the world” party, because now they think Apophis will pass us by… about 20,000 miles away. That’s a long way to drive for a family vacation, but galactically that’s pretty danged close… that’s actually closer than the geosynchronous satellites we have circling the earth talking to our GPS systems. During that 2029 close approach, Apophis will be so close that it will be visible to observers on the ground in the Eastern Hemisphere without the aid of a telescope or binoculars. Like I said… close. You thought that solar eclipse in 2024 was awe-inspiring, just imagine looking up at the sky and seeing a giant rock whizzing by, knowing you came “this close” to your dreaded demise!

So, maybe we SHOULD worry? In fact, despite saying it will miss us, scientists are asking, “What if Apophis bumps into another smaller rock while it’s on its way to us? (Hey, maybe it’s that rock that is supposed to hit us in 2029 that religious cult is predicting!) Could that make Apophis change course and head directly towards Earth’s destruction?” Maybe we do plan that giant going-away party after all?

Super-Duper Fancy Computer

Scientists Paul Wiegert and Benjamin Hyatt wanted to find the answer to that rock-bumping question by writing the big hit, “I Like Big Bumps And I Cannot Lie” followed immediately by studying over a million asteroids to see if this actually could happen. They used a super-duper-fancy computer to simulate how things move in space. There was a slight hiccup when the computer spit out, “Greetings Professor Falken; would you like to play a game?” But then they turned the computer off and back on again.

Luckily, the computer concluded that it’s extremely unlikely that another rock would strike Apophis and make it come our way. They predicted the chances at basically zero. Basically. Or, in the words of the great philosopher and teacher Lloyd Christmas, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…”

So I guess we’re back to breathing a sigh of relief? Packing away those party supplies? At least for now. If Apophis does allow us to live, we can still drag out the streamers, noisemakers, and confetti on August 23, 2044 with the next full solar eclipse we’ll be able to see. Because you know the apocalypse predictors will once again be out in full force.


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