Apparently a 15 year old whizzkid from Germany has corrected NASA scientists on the probability of an asteroid called Apophis hitting earth. While NASA estimated a 1 in 45,000 chance, Nico Marquardt suggested 1 in 45, which NASA ultimately concluded to be right.They both however agreed that if it did hit it would create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes, which would crash in to the Atlantic Ocean, creating a huge tsunami destroying coastlines and inland areas and creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken skies indefinitely. So what does this tell us about mortality assumptions?
- They don’t really deal well with what Donald Rumsfeld would describe as ‘unknown unknowns.’
- They don’t even deal particularly well with known unknowns.
- Even complex and sophisticated estimates are pretty certain to be wrong
- You’d probably get a more accurate answer by asking a 15 year old school kid rather than an expert!!