A spat over the search for killer asteroids

(NEW YORK TIMES) — More than 14,000 known asteroids zip through Earth’s neighborhood. They will all miss Earth in the coming decades.

But hundreds of thousands more have not yet been discovered, and whether any of those are on course to slam into our planet, no one knows. So finding and tracking all the asteroids that could cross Earth’s path would allow officials to issue warnings and potentially provide time to deflect dangerous ones.

The community of scientists contemplating such doomsday possibilities is small and usually cordial — at least until Nathan P. Myhrvold barged in. Once the chief technologist at Microsoft, Dr. Myhrvold moved on to other endeavors like a six-volume, 2,438-page compendium of cooking knowledge that has been celebrated by chefs. (A sequel, about baking, is in the works.)

He has also become a statistics scold of scientists.

His latest target is NASA, in a squabble over data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft.

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More than 14,000 asteroids that zip through Earth’s neighborhood have been ID’d, but hundreds of thousands remain to be discovered,

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