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Archive for September 6th, 2019

Good grief, reporters, please learn the difference between “size” and “length”.

Asteroid 2000 QW7 is set to pass Earth on September 14 according to research from Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).  Asteroid 2000 QW7 is rather large, estimated to be 290 and 650 meters…making it the size of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world…Luckily, Asteroid 2000 QW7 is keeping its distance, only coming within 0.03564 astronomical units of Earth, which is approximately 3.3 million miles…

Burj Khalifa is very narrow in comparison to its height; an asteroid is not.  And while Burj Khalifa is mostly empty space, an asteroid is solid rock and/or metal.  Burj Khalifa masses a mere half a million tons; the asteroid mentioned in this story has a (very approximate) mass of 340 million tons.  In other words, O deeply scientifically-illiterate reporter, 2000 QW7 is not “the size of Burj Khalifa”; it is in fact well over 600 times its size.  For those who need a more concrete visualization:  The statement “2000 QW7 is the size of Burj Khalifa” is not-dissimilar in accuracy to the statement “A 2019 Honda Accord is the size of the bag of sugar in my cupboard.”

And yet I wonder how these same people can believe in 100,000 “sex trafficked children” being raped dozens of times a day.

Addendum, for those who care about such things:  I approximated the asteroid as a chondrite spheroid 600 m in diameter, small enough to be solid (unlike some small chondrite moons, which appear to have sizeable internal cavities); I approximated its density as 3 grams/cc.  I asked my astronomer friend Mike Siegel to check my numbers, and he came up with very similar ones (though he felt the official estimate of Burj Khalifa’s mass to be a bit high).

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