Astronomer Robert Jedicke will discuss what planetary astronomers are doing to reduce the risk of an asteroid striking Earth, how they are finding the dangerous asteroids and what people can do if one should hit.

The free public lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, September 25th, in room 100 of the Hilton Building on the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) campus, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester.

Parking information and a campus map can be found at www.lmu.edu/maps

Sigma XI National Research Society and the Sponsored Projects Office at the university are bringing the lecture to campus.

Jedicke says in his abstract for the lecture, titled “Killer Asteroids”:

“The Earth is constantly bombarded from space by chunks of rock called asteroids. Most of them are too small to produce any damage at the surface of the Earth, but they do increase the mass of the Earth by several tons of material every day.

“Some of the dust in your living room is actually the burnt and melted remnants of these impacts. While dust might be a nuisance, a collision with a larger asteroid could really wreck your day.

“An asteroid just a half-mile across could strike Earth any time at 45,000 miles per hour — that’s 20 times faster and a 100 million times more massive than a bullet.

“The combined effects of the impact energy, blast wave, earthquakes, tsunamis, crop failures and dust loading in the atmosphere would likely kill about one quarter of the world’s population.

“The odds are only about one in 1,000 that it will happen in your lifetime, so if you’re a gambler, you might choose not to heed this warning.

“But if you are like most of us who purchase life, home and health insurance who think that the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] does a good job of reducing the risk of plane crashes and building codes save lives in earthquake-prone regions, then you might like to think about the relatively small cost of insuring our planet against asteroid impact.”

Jedicke has had four professional careers — in football, particle physics, astronomy and software engineering.

He received his doctorate in experimental particle physics from the University of Toronto.

After a brief stint in the professional Canadian Football League with the B.C. Lions, he held postdoctoral positions at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois and at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, where he worked on the Spacewatch Near Earth asteroid survey.

He spent more than five years at Veeco Corporation in Tucson developing image analysis for interferometers before accepting a faculty position at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy in March 2003.

He is currently the manager of the Pan-Starrs moving object processing system that has the potential to discover more asteroids and comets each month than have been found in the past two centuries.

Jedicke has himself discovered two comets and an asteroid that is named after his family.

Information, John Bulman, LMU professor of physics, (310) 338-5144, or www.lmu.edu

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