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Lifeís a Gamble

Most of us are familiar with mild concern caused by the sensation of racing down a runway for takeoff. Even frequent fliers have at some point, if only fleetingly, thought about the consequences of something going wrong. Like millions of fellow travelers, however, we calculate the odds against a disaster as slim and sit back to enjoy the flight. We put our faith in the technology of modern airplane and, these days, airport security and know that there is insurance against disaster.

We stand more chance of being whacked by a meterorite than being eaten by a shark! Cartoon by Scott AlanThere are few among us who havenít thought about a shark attack when we have taken a dip in the ocean. We take to the surf in full confidence that we are not on todayís menu, and if someone is going to be lunch, itís going to be the other bloke. Most of us will, however, choose a beach with shark nets or other safety devices out of preference.

Lightening is known to zap people out of the blue, but we donít go underground every time there is a thunderstorm. We figure the mathematical probability against getting fried to be stacked in our favour. Yet, we erect conductors.

Countless sunseekers have migrated to high-risk earthquake zones, calculating the odds of living in fair weather versus experiencing a natural catastrophe in their lifetime as acceptable.

Which of us hasnít dreamed of what we would do if we won a million bucks in a lottery. Just about everybody has spent a few blissful minutes imagining what it would be like to be rolling in it. Millions of people do so each week when they "invest" in a ticket, knowing full well that the chances of winning are about as slim as being hit by a meteorite. So, why do we do it? Simply because we know that somebody somewhere is a winner and that there is a chance.

In life, we are all affected in some way by the odds, the chance of something happening or not.

Since films like Deep Impact and Armageddon, most folks are now aware that at some point in our planetís future, we are going to get walloped by an extraterrestrial missile. But we figure this is way beyond our ability to prevent, and we put our faith in the odds we have been given and dismiss the subject. In the asteroid lottery, however, there is no selection: everyone "wins."

But what if one were able to do something about it? Something that would take just a few short minutes, after which one would never have to think on the subject again in the knowledge of having done something constructive and spared a one-off thought for the future safety of Earth from space.

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