First offered by insurance providers over a hundred years ago in anticipation of the Halley’s Comet return back in May 13, 1910, can insurance companies today be able to “peddle” comet insurance?
By: Ringo Bones
Unlike meteorite strike insurance, which offers to compensate the policyholder against the damage a meteorite impact’s kinetic energy may inflict on his or her property or person, comet insurance – when first offered to the public over a hundred years ago by insurance providers in anticipation of the May 13, 1910 return of Halley’s Comet – was, believe it or not, not for compensating policyholders against a kinetic energy type devastation to one’s person and/or property, but to protect one from what astronomers had previously found out before about comets thru spectroscopic means. As Halley’s Comet came near enough to Earth for spectroscopic analysis months before the May 13, 1910 return, astronomers found out that the comet contains vast amounts of cyanogen – a colorless, flammable and poisonous gas that is also present in simple and complex cyanide compounds.
Experts at the time believed that “comet insurance” might be handy to compensate the typical policyholder in case the large amounts of cyanogen drifts into the Earth’s atmosphere and cause widespread damage to crops and livestock. Strangely enough, as opposed to what Walter and Luis Alvarez previously hypothesized about a sizable meteorite or comet impacting the Earth releasing huge amounts of kinetic energy that wiped out the dinosaurs a little over 65-million years ago, comet insurance was created to compensate the widespread damage that the large amounts of spectroscopically detected toxic cyanogen gas might cause widespread cyanogen gas poisoning. And yet, when May 13, 1910 arrived, Earth passed through Halley’s Comet’s tail without any ill-effects. So is “comet insurance” just something born out of our ignorance of comets?
Back around 1986, during the scheduled return of Halley’s Comet – given its 76-year orbital period, Hollywood capitalized everyone’s fear and ignorance about comets by releasing a movie titled Maximum Overdrive. A science fiction movie where every mechanical contrivance started autonomously to kill humans after planet Earth passed through a rogue comet’s tail. So, does anyone still think paying premiums for comet insurance still make fiscal sense?