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Meet a NASA Scientist Who Protects Earth From Asteroid Collisions

It’s fair to say that Hollywood blockbusters have overhyped the potential of an Earth-ending asteroid collision, but there is some truth to those natural disaster stories.

The Solar System Dynamics group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab employs physicists like Marina Brozović to keep an eye on the many near-Earth objects that could potentially come in contact with the planet. Brozović spoke with WIRED about her work, and she called her division “flight control for the solar system.”

Brozović believes the team—formed at the request of Congress—has identified about 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids with a diameter greater than one kilometer. She tells WIRED that there are likely billions of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. These objects become so-called near-Earth asteroids when they’re nudged to the inner solar system by gravitational forces.

Asteroids have played a huge role in the development of Earth—from delivering organic material to causing mass extinctions around 66 million years ago. More recently, in February of 2013, an unexpected 17-meter asteroid exploded about 100,000 feet above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The force of the explosion injured about 1200 people, and cost an estimated 1 billion rubles in damage.

Still, Brozović says that if an asteroid was going to collide with Earth, we’d likely spot it years ahead of time and be able to prepare a deflection mission. (See, we told you there was a nugget of truth in the silver screen.)

If you’re hungry for some up-close near-Earth asteroid action, the time is nigh: Asteroid 2013 TX68 will be making its closest approach on March 5. And in the meantime, head over to WIRED to hear Brozović talk about Carl Sagan and the death of the dinosaurs.

Images via NASA.

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Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, HighSpeedInternet.com took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit HighSpeedInternet.com.

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Afternoon Map
Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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