Cox on flying rocks: Asteroid could mean ‘end is nigh’ if not taken seriously, says Oldham Prof Brian Cox

The world could be wiped out by an asteroid at any point and we are not taking the threat seriously, according to Oldham Professor and former D-ream member Brian Cox.

An asteroid almost collided with the Earth in March this year when one the size of a bus named 2014 EC, came within 38,300 miles of the planet.

And the Manchester born scientist who engaged the nation with his BBC2 show Wonder of the Universe has slammed the drop in British funding for space programmes. 

The 46-year-old told the MailOnline: “We didn’t see it, we saw it on the way out, but if it had just been a bit further over it would have probably wiped us out. These things happen.

“There is an asteroid with our name on it and it will hit us.

“It could be tomorrow. The thing that bothers me about that is we do know how to do something about it.”

The UK now spends £300million on civil space programmes, while the US invests £23.3billion on its space budget.

Professor Cox believes this simply isn’t enough as NASA is currently tracking 1,400 ‘potentially hazardous asteroids’ and predicting their future approaches and impact probabilities.

He said: “I think its human stupidity we need to worry about.

“It’s the way we behave, but also just the way we don’t accumulate knowledge at the rate that we could.

“We just don’t. I mean, you can see it by the figures. We spend virtually as much on it as everyone else, which is sod all.”

March 16 2880 is the date when an asteroid is set to hurtle into Earth sparking destruction. 

The asteroid is travelling at about 9 miles (15km) a second relative to the Earth. It is due to swing so close to Earth it could slam into the Atlantic Ocean at 38,000 miles per hour, the force would be equivalent to 44,800 megatonnes of TNT.

Although the probability of an impact is only 0.3 per cent, this represents a risk 50 per cent greater than an impact from all other asteroids.

And although 2880 may be a way off, the physicist believes that time is ticking away for humanity and the end could come around even sooner. 

Cox cites the Drake equation, which is the probabilistic argument used to estimate the number of extra-terrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way. 

In Dr Frank Drake’s theory, he claimed that the time it would take for a technological civilisation to self-destruct would be around 200 years. 

Dr Cox said: “That might not be a bad estimate, actually.

“If you think about it, we almost did it with the Cuban missile crisis. We may almost be doing it again. It’s not clear, the way we’re dealing with the environment.

“But we’ve been close to wiping ourselves out, only a few hundred years after we became a technological civilization.”

Main image courtesy of Discovery Channel, via YouTube, with thanks

Inset image courtesy of Bob Lee, with thanks

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