Science Friday: The White House has a Plan to Defend Against Killer Asteroids | Modeling Shows How Social Networks Help Animals Survive


January 5, 2017 // 01:43 PM EST

On December 30, the White House quietly released its Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, a 25-page document outlining the United States’ plans in the event that a giant asteroid is found to be on a collision course with Earth. Among the priorities outlined by the strategy are improving Near-Earth Object (NEO) detection, developing methods for deflecting asteroids, and developing interagency emergency procedures in the event of an NEO impact.

“If we were to be faced with a serious asteroid impact hazard, it’s going to take more than just NASA to try to do something about it in space,” Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, told Motherboard in a phone call. “If there’s not enough time to do something about the asteroid in space, it’s going to take efforts by a lot of agencies to prepare to take the hit. This is really the first time we’ve tried to pull together an all-government preparedness strategy for dealing with this very serious natural disaster.”


Modeling Shows How Social Networks Help Animals Survive

A new study, published in the scientific journal The American Naturalist Dec. 29, reveals that the information shared through animal social networks can provide profound fitness advantages to various animals across a range of environments. Using mathematical simulations, Mike Gil, of the University of California, Davis, and co-authors Zachary Emberts, Harrison Jones, and Colette St. Mary, of the University of Florida, show that these advantages arise because information, generated incidentally or intentionally, from the actions of an individual provides others with insights on how to survive in often unforgiving natural settings.

For example, an animal fleeing from a predator or chomping away at a patch of food can alert similar animals in the vicinity of a shared threat or opportunity.



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