- To make the math simple, let's first assume CMEs can be fired in any direction.
- For a CME to hit the Earth, it has to occupy the same space as us at the same time.
- The Earth is approx 1 AU from the sun at any given time; so to hit the Earth, the CME has to hit a particular spot on a sphere of space 1 AU in radius.
- So the probability of a given CME hitting Earth is approximately equivalent to the ratio of half the Earth's surface area (since only half faces the Sun at a time) to the surface area of a sphere with a radius of 1 AU.
- 1 AU = 149,597,871 km
- Surface area of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2, so our orbital sphere has an area of approx 2.8 x 10^17 km^2.
- Surface area of the Earth = 510,072,000 km^2, or 5.1 x 10^8 km^2
Therefore the probability of being hit by a given CME is (2.8 x 10^17) / (5.1 x 10^8) = 5.5 x 10^-8, or a 0.0000055% chance.
Now the number of CMEs per year is actually higher than I expected, which I suppose explains why we do in fact get hit between 0 - 70 times per year. However the number of annual large CMEs is quite low, with none of the sites I visited actually agreeing on the number (most seemed to agree it's less than 5 per year in a solar maximum.) Let's say there are 5 per year. That only brings the chance of being hit by one of them up to 0.000028% per year. So if I live to be 100, the chances I'll see one in my lifetime are only 0.0028%.
caveat: These calculations ignore CME cross-section (essentially width and height) and duration (essentially length), since I couldn't find any accurate information on those. If you find those, you can factor them into these calculations by multiplying by the cross-section, multiplying by the % duration that the CME's strength is high, and multipyling by the Earth's average orbital velocity. That will modify the probility to take into account the volume of space the Earth occupies while the CME is traversing the edge of our 1 AU sphere, and how much of the surface of the sphere is touched by the CME.
"The bigger injustice," Edwards writes, "is that programming has become an elite: a vocation requiring rare talents, grueling training, and total dedication. The way things are today if you want to be a programmer you had best be someone like me on the autism spectrum who has spent their entire life mastering vast realms of arcane knowledge — and enjoys it. Normal humans are effectively excluded from developing software. The real injustice of developer inequality is that it doesn't have to be this way." Edwards concludes with a call to action, "The web triumphalists love to talk about changing the world. Well if you really want to change the world, empower regular people to build web apps. Disrupt web programming! Who's with me?" Ed Finkler, who worries about his own future as a developer in The Developer's Dystopian Future, seconds that emotion. "I think about how I used to fill my time with coding," Finkler writes. "So much coding. I was willing to dive so deep into a library or framework or technology to learn it. My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I'm less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity."
It isn't as if another version was already submitted earlier, perhaps with a better summary for the editors to use:
The accepted story was submitted by itwbennett, and links to a story on itworld.com. I think it's a fair assumption that it was submitted by Amy Bennett, ITworld's Managing Editor. According to her achievements, she's had 2^9 submissions accepted, from which we can conclude that Slashdot editors probably prioritize her submissions. I imagine her submissions are fairly well written, link to a somewhat reputable source, and have already been deemed interesting enough to the IT crowd for a story on ITworld. So they get fast-tracked, and other worthy submissions are reviewed later, deemed to be duplicates, and discarded.
Would be nice if her submissions lead off with the fact that she was the managing editor for ITworld though, just to make it clear that she's just trying to feed traffic to her own site. (Which is a valid action if the story is original and interesting, but should require a disclaimer.)