Re: List of envisioned global catastrophic risks

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Tue Dec 13 2005 - 08:35:55 MST

Olie L wrote:
> The Wikipedia list is a useful primer...
> One thing tho- The wiki article calls the risk of impacts from space
> "meteorites". I had thought that the general term for large objects
> impacting the earth was "boloid"s. It would be inappropriate to call a
> small planet hitting another planet a "meteorite" - it would be a
> boloid. However, it seems that this term is neither in the dictionary,
> nor on particularly many webpages, so it's not a common use term. Any
> astro experts?

Having recently taught astronomy, I'll step in and hope I've remembered
them all correctly:

    the thing that flashes across the sky (meteor=light-show).
    the actual lump of rock or dust that causes the meteor.
    the part of the meteoroid (if any) that reaches the ground.
    a particular type of big, slow-moving, often noisy and spectacular


More generally, on the subject of risks that might threaten the
singularity, I found all the recent discussion quaint and spectacularly
irrelevant: when the H5N5 virus (or similar) finally decides to mutate
into a pandemic, the probable consequences (near complete destruction of
the world's economic system, panic, mob rule, starvation and of course,
for those who contract the actual virus, death) could easily reduce the
high-tech western world, with its just-in-time production system and
sensitivity to television-inspired overreaction, to about the same level
as the peak of European civilisation circa 800 A.D.

Can you say "kiss goodbye to the singularity"?

I am amazed that no one is doing anything about this. We, of all people
who can see the future more clearly than most. I am reminded of the
people in New York on September 12th: "we didn't plan for this because
it was just too terrible to imagine."

I had some ideas about what to do, and even floated them around to some
people, but was strongly discouraged, so I stopped trying. It would
require a lot of people to take it very seriously, and it became clear
that nobody could grasp the reality of it. Too terrible to imagine, you

Interesting, neh?

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