Regarding NASA’s ‘Deep Impact’ washing machine missile strike at a comet: When I asked in my blog the day before yesterday, "Can [NASA] be certain that their actions might not trigger some kind of devastating chain reaction?" I was joking.
When I said: "Might a shallow atmosphere around the comet be somehow disturbed by the pyrotechnics as the washing machine struck? Might the little green men who quite possibly live inside the big cheese be cowering under their little green beds or behind their little green sofas? And what about that theory that a butterfly flaps its wings in London and a few days later there is a tornado in Milton Keynes? Surely NASA has heard of the butterfly effect?" I thought it was pretty clear I wasn’t being serious.
However someone took my comments at face value – a Russian astrologer is suing NASA for $300m for smashing the comet’s orbit. "It is obvious that elements of the comet’s orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope," Marina Bai told the Russian newspaper, Izvetia.
Quite how a missile the size of a washing machine could seriously mess with the orbit of a comet half the size of Manhattan is not entirely clear. But then it’s not entirely clear what the study of bits of rock hurtling through space several million miles away has to do with people’s state of mind or future, either.