The Lite Side

Risk of Meteorite Impact Assessment for Your Macintosh Computer

- 2005.03.31

In the wake of Symantec's and Gartner's warnings that the Macs are susceptible to possible future viruses and spyware, and that users should be prepared for such an eventuality in the future, we here at the Lite Side have decided that you should be aware of all the other ways in which your Mac is at risk and do whatever it takes to protect it. That's why we've prepared this Lite Side Group™ analysis entitled

Risk of Meteorite Impact Assessment for Your Macintosh Computer

According to his article, Is it possible that a meteorite could strike a commercial airliner and cause it to explode?, David Morrison, a famous astronomer says of the probability of a meteor striking an airplane while in flight:

"It is certainly possible for a meteorite to strike a commercial airliner, although the probability is low. We can make a very rough estimate by comparing the area of airliners with the area of cars in the U.S. A typical car has an area on the order of 10 square meters, and there are roughly 100 million cars in the U.S., for a total cross-sectional area of about 1,000 square kilometers. The typical airliner has a cross-sectional area of several hundred square meters, but the number of planes is much smaller than the number of cars, perhaps a few thousand. The total cross-sectional area of airliners is therefore no more than 10 square kilometers, or a factor of at least 100 less than that of cars. Three cars are known to have been struck by meteorites in the U.S. during the past century, so it would appear that the odds are against any airplanes having been hit, but it is not impossible that one might have been."

Now, there are perhaps 50 million functional Macs in the world (a number which I admittedly just pulled out of my . . . hat), and let's say that you could put 25 Macs on top of a single car in a single layer. (Readers are invited to Photoshop this and send in their entries for a prize.)

Using Morrison's logic, we can conclude that the odds of any Mac getting struck by as meteorite are roughly equivalent to the risk of 2 million cars getting struck by a meteor. The total surface area of the Macs (making the generous assumption that 1 Mac is 0.25 square meters in size) is on the order of 0.5 million square meters, or 0.5 square kilometers. Comparing this to the area Morrison estimated for cars, we see that it is roughly 2000 times more likely for a car to be struck than a Mac.

In the last century there are three documented cases of cars being struck by meteorites (read the rest of the linked article for more information), although it isn't stated in the articles if the cars were merely dented or destroyed by the meteorites.

Therefore, if Macs had existed for the entire last century, 3/(2000*100 million) of them might have been hit by a meteorite, a statistic which is further reduced by the fact Macs were only introduced in 1984; so call it 3/(8000*100 million). This makes the probability approximately 0.000000000015 that one of the Macs currently in existence has already been struck by a meteorite - and no one has reported it.

We are, of course, ignoring the fact that most Macs are not stored outdoors. Morrison's analysis does not address the use of garages either, and one of the documented cases of cars being struck by a meteorite occurred when it was sitting in a garage, so being indoors (at least in a single story home) does not necessarily induce any kind of risk reduction.

This probability, while low, is still not zero, so the Lite Side Group™ hereby suggests that you keep your Mac indoors at all time, preferably in tall multistory buildings.

You can also purchase one of our MacMeteorShields™ at the Low End Mac online store. (These are labeled "It ain't obsolete until I say it is" mouse-pads, in case you couldn't find them; you'll need about four of them depending on your Mac model.) A new version, labeled "Macintosh meteor impact shield: Because 0.00000000015 is still too big a risk to ignore" is in development.

We are also investigating rates for MacMeteorInsurance™ and should be able to announce the product Real Soon Now.

The Lite Side Group™ is an independent risk-assessment think-tank which has no vested interest in the purchases made through the Low End Mac online store. The capacity of the tank is about 13.5 gallons, and as soon as it drains we'll move the contents over to our dryer.

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