April 16, 2008

OOPS:

A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA’s estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.

Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.

NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right.

What’s a few decimal places among friends?

UPDATE: According to this report, however, the boy’s math is wrong. Well, that’s not much of a story: NASA better at math than 13-year-old! But, you know, sometimes dogs really do bite men . . . .

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