Douwe Osinga's Blog: The end is neigh

Friday, December 17, 2004

The end is neigh

I read somewhere that the chances of being killed in an airplane are actually lower than than being killed by an asteroid that takes out the rest of humanity too. That sounds absurd, but it is not so strange really.

A quick Google search yields that the in 2002, slightly less than 1400 people died in air crash. The chances of an asteroid that takes out humanity are harder to guess; the one that took out the dinosaurs was probably rather overkill, considering that it took out 70% of all species at that time and that humans are rather fragile, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect one very million years or so (This tsunami analysis contains some estimates).

There are 6.4 billion people, so if they all get killed every million years, on average 6400 die per year from asteroid disasters, way more than the 1400 from air crashes. Statistics can sometimes be weird and I'm not sure if this should make me feel save when flying or scared for big rocks falling from the sky.