Chicken Big And The Asteroids

Chicken Big And The Asteroids

The story of Chicken Little running around yelling that “The sky is falling” has become the epitome of those who “cry wolf” about the world ending–falsely worrying about and predicting catastrophic events.

However, the reverse can be true as well–where people say, “The sky is not falling,” when it really is. This is a “Chicken Big” event–where people are afraid “big time” of admitting the truth and so they hide themselves and others from it. Sort of like saying “What I don’t know can’t hurt me!”

Yesterday was just such as Chicken Big–hide your head in the sand–moment.

Asteroid DA14 passed just 17,000 miles from the Earth–less than the distance from New York to Sydney! It was 140 foot long and 143,000 tons, and possessed the destructive power 700 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. According to the Wall Street Journal (13 Feb. 2013) it was able to devastate a region the size of the San Francisco Bay area.

While, thank G-d, this dangerous asteroid missed us, just a few hours earlier, a meteor about 55 feet long and 10,000 tons exploded over the Ural Mountains in Russia, with the destructive power of 33 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs injuring 1,000 people and damaging 4,000 buildings.

Of course, it is a frightening reminder of what could’ve happened had asteroid DA14 hit as well.

The Guardian reported that according to The European Space Agency “No link between the events is thought possible,” and the Wall Street Journal (15 Feb. 2013) declared that it “was just a coincidence”.

Interestingly, the Journal itself states that a meteor event such as that which exploded over Russia yesterday happens “every 100 years,” and even more, the chances of the asteroid that passed very close overhead actually hitting Earth occurs “once every 200 to 1,000 years,” with the next close pass over earth not expected again until 2046. Thus, these types of events don’t happen exactly every day, do they?

So what are the chances of these 2 events (one exploding overhead and the other a near miss) occurring simultaneously yesterday–just hours apart!

People need to know–deserve to know the truth about the dangers we face–not to cry wolf–but rather to help us as a society and civilization recognize the genuine dangers we face, so we can adequately take precautions and prepare ourselves.

Interestingly enough, the WSJ states, “We have the technology to deflect these asteroids” with spacecraft to impact into them and “gravity tractors” to change their trajectory–the one thing we need is “years of advance warning.”

Let’s acknowledge the meteor explosion yesterday in Russia and be grateful that it wasn’t over a heavily populated major urban area, where the effect could’ve been much worse, and of course the same with the near flyby of the asteroid–and resolve to invest in the monitoring, tracking, and defensive technologies to keep us safe from a future catastrophe where the sky really is falling.

Calling the two cosmic events yesterday a “coincidence” is a Chicken Big event–buck, buck, buck. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Sascha Grant)

>Doomsday and Enterprise Architecture

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Enterprise architecture is about planning and transitioning from the baseline to the target state.

However, as architects, there are times when we need to plan for the worst and hope for the best, as the saying goes.

As the price of oil has reached and exceeded $100 a barrel and significant new findings of oil are becoming a rarity, some people are starting to get nervous and are planning for a day when oil will be scarce, pricey, and society as we have come to know will cease to exist. Yikes, doomsday!

Are these people simply uninformed, pessimists, or non-believers that technological progress will outpace the demands we are placing on this planet’s resources?

The Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2008, reports about everyday people, like the Aaron Wissner in Middleville, Michigan, a school computer teacher with a wife and infant son, who became “peak-oil aware.” This term refers to his “embracing the theory that world’s oil production is about to peak.

These people fear the worst; “Oil supplies are dwindling just as world demand soars. The result: oil prices ‘will skyrocket, oil dependent economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.’” Mr. Wissner’s forebodings include, “banks faltering” and “food running out.”

And they believe that we cannot stop this from happening. “no techno-fix was going to save us. Electric cars, biodiesel, nuclear power, wind and solar—none of it will cushion the blow.”

So Mr. Wissner and his family are preparing and transitioning themselves for the worst, they “tripled the size of his garden…stacked bags of rice in his new pantry, stashed gold…and doubled the size of his propane tank.”

According to the article there are thousands of people that adhere to the peak-oil theory.

Of course, there are many doomsday scenarios out there that end in war, famine, disease, and so on. During the cold war, people built bomb shelters in their back yards, and school children had drills hiding under their desks. These days, many fear that globalization will drive this country to economic ruin. Al Gore and other environmentalists espouse the global warming theory. And since 9/11, fears are heightened about terrorists hitting us with nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological agents. Even Hollywood has entered the fray with movies such as Armageddon about meteors hitting the Earth or The Day After Tomorrow with the greenhouse effect sending us back to the ice-age.

Whether you adhere with any of these various doomsday scenarios or visions of the future (their believed target architecture, not necessarily their desired one) and how they are preparing (transitioning) to it or you think they are just a bunch of nut-balls, it seems important as an enterprise architect to recognize that targets are not always rosy pictures of growth and prosperity for an organization, and the transition plans are not always a welcome and forward movement. Sometimes as architects, we must plan for the worst–hoping, of course that it never comes–but never-the-less preparing, the best we can. As architects, we don’t have to put all the enterprise’s eggs in one basket. We can weigh the odds and invest accordingly in different scenarios. Our organization’s resources are limited, so we must allocate resources carefully and with forethought. Of course, no architecture can save us from every catastrophe.