The twittersphere is abuzz over a school bus-sized asteroid that came within 7,500 miles of Earth yesterday, zooming even below some satellites. Noted science, technology, and news outlets on Twitter sensationalized the event with tweets about the asteroid being a "near miss" and "close shave" that "buzzed earth." But there was no need to watch the movies "Armageddon" or "Deep Impact" for survival tips. NASA says the asteroid--which scientists named 2011 MD--is so small by celestial standards that it would have burned up once it entered Earth's atmosphere. Instead the asteroid approached Earth, got swung around our planet by gravity, and then went on its way. Check out this NASA diagram of the asteroid's path. This isn't even the nearest an asteroid has come to Earth. In February, asteroid 2011 CQ1 whizzed twice as close.
Back on Earth, a politician, an actor, and a serial killer are spiking in Yahoo! Search for the same reason. Yesterday, Republican presidential hopeful and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann kicked off her campaign in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, where she told Fox News, "What I want them (voters) to know is just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the kind of spirit that I have, too." Except Wayne--the late actor known for Westerns like "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," and "True Grit," as well as for his conservative political views--was born in Winterset, Iowa, a three-hour drive southwest of Waterloo. Another John Wayne was born in Waterloo, but that was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer. Gacy was locked up for a year in Waterloo for an attempted sexual assault before committing 33 murders in Illinois, for which he was executed in 1994. The name mix-up has made "Michele Bachmann," "John Wayne," and "John Wayne Gacy" spike in Yahoo! Search. Wayne, who is already a popular search term, was looked up nearly twice as much as usual yesterday, whereas searches for Gacy jumped almost 1,200 percent. See a graphic comparison of the two search spikes on clues.yahoo.com.
Twitter seems to agree with the Supreme Court's ruling that banning the sale of violent video games to children is unconstitutional. Despite graphic violence, video games were given the same First Amendment protection as art, film, music, and other forms of expression. Tweets like, "Way to go Supreme Court!" and "That's right, parents have to do their job" have flooded Twitter. But there is still some disagreement on the microblogging site. One tweeter wrote, "Supreme Court says states can't ban sales of violent video games to kids. In other news, my son would like a bigger allowance now." Worried parents might be glad to know that violent video games aren't the most searched games for people under 20 on Yahoo!. Searches for "shooting games" finished sixth in game searches this month, after more popular searches like "car games," "cooking games," and "addicting games."