Thursday, May 19, 2005

Stupid Lawsuit

Yahoo! News

A Russian court ruled that an astrologer could proceed with a lawsuit against the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration for plans to bombard a comet whose destruction would "disrupt the natural balance of the universe," ITAR-TASS said.


Bai seeks a ruling that would restrict NASA in its plans to annihilate a section of the Tempel 1 comet in a project that has been dubbed "Deep Impact," as well as punitive damages of 8.7 billion rubles (300 million dollars, 240 million euros).

"My client believes that the NASA project infringes upon her spiritual and life values as well as the natural life of the cosmos and would disrupt the natural balance of forces in the universe," Molokhova was quoted as saying.

The lawyer said Tempel 1 had sentimental value to Bai because her grandparents met when her grandfather pointed the comet out to his future wife.


From this NASA article, comet Tempel 1's brightness ranged from 9th magnitude (April, 1867) to 11th magnitude (May, 1972). I think the unaided human eye can only see objects brighter than 6th magnitude (lower the magnitude, brighter the object). In addition, Tempel 1 was "lost" for most of the early 1900's, i.e., astronomers could not locate the comet. So unless her grandfather had a telescope or a big pair of binoculars and knew exactly where to look, I doubt he actually pointed out the comet to anyone.

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