At some point today a satellite is going to fall out of the sky. As much as I love the folks over at NASA, and scientists in general, I have to admit that occasionally they say some really stupid things.
This particular scenario represents one of those occasions.
The quote that is getting thrown around the most about this event is the one in which a scientist stated that there was a 1-in-3200 chance that a piece of debris from the satellite was going to hit “a person.”
This, of course, led to internet panic. Just this morning Simon Pegg mentioned it on his Twitter feed as well, which is likely to cause a slew of re-tweets and a heightened call to alarm about there being a 3% chance you’re going to be hit my satellite debris today.
Calm your sphincters, folks.
Pay attention to what NASA actually said – There is a 1-in-3200 chance of debris from the satellite harming a person. They did not say that debris from the satellite was going to hit one out of every thirty two hundred people. Out of all the people on the planet, there is a less than 3% chance that the debris from the satellite will strike one of them. The Washington Post ran the numbers, and the actual odds of you personally being struck by debris from the satellite are something more along the lines of one in twenty-two trillion.
Keep calm and carry on, folks. It’s not quite time to call up Bruce Willis to save the day just yet.