This Week in Research: How to Save Earth from the Asteroid & Say “I Love You” in Latin

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Today’s asteroid flyby will not actually come all that close to our planet — it’ll stay a safe 17,000 miles away. Still, that’s the nearest pass by an object of its size (comparable to an airliner), and if it did hit, it would do some serious damage. So how do all those astrophysicists at Johns Hopkins plan to save us from the asteroid that is on a collision course with our planet — something that, statistically speaking, is bound to happen soon enough?

First things first:  don’t think that an asteroid collision wouldn’t be serious business. “Major impact events have the potential to create global catastrophes,” K.T. Ramesh, founding director of Hopkins’ Extreme Materials Institute, told the Hopkins Hub. “It is highly likely that the next destructive impact event on Earth will be a low-altitude airburst from an asteroid similar to 2012 DA14.”

Our favorite solution comes from Andy Cheng, chief scientist of the Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory’s Space Department. “What do you do? Well, let’s try to move it into a different orbit. One of the ways you could think of doing that is to crash a spaceship into it.” Which sounds fun!

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Yes, Valentine’s Day was yesterday — but don’t think you’re off the hook for saying loving words to those you care about until next year. If you’re trying to up the romance in your life, consider going Roman, suggests University of Maryland classics professor Judith Hallett.

Here’s how you might do it:  Mark off March 1 on your calendar; that’s the day the ancient Romans dedicated to Juno, goddess of marriage. “On that day husbands would pray for the health of their wives and give them presents, and wives would dress up,” Hallett says. Hallett also recommends the exchange of Roman love poetry (the example below was sent by the poet Catullus to his married lover; the translation is by Dorothea Wender):
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