Neil de Grasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, discusses an asteroid named Apophis:
“It’s from the Egyptian god of death and destruction,” Dr. Tyson said. “It was named knowing that it crosses Earth’s orbit.” Otherwise, he said, “we would have named it something less threatening, like Tiffany or Bambi."
Scientists say it will fly uncomfortably close to us in 2029 and again in 2036 and yet again in 2068. Luck, Dr. Tyson is convinced, will not be forever on our side. “What is a certainty is that one day Apophis and Earth will collide,” he said. “So our goal should be, if the survival of our civilization is a concern and a priority, to find a way to deflect it.”
“We know how to do it,” he said, but he added this disheartened postscript: “There’s no funded plan to do so anywhere in the world.”