“But one can’t count on these fortuitous circumstances. We have to proceed on the assumption that Comet Dutta will collide with the Earth. Cometary collisions are expected to occur once in ten million years. But now we know that the next one will occur in a year...”
“Ten months, to be precise,” interjected James.
“Thank you for the correction! Do you realise that we have only ten months of survival left for the entire living species on the Earth? Don’t you think we have to do something to stop all this?”
A fleeting smile crossed James’ face. ‘Just like a civil servant! As if we are facing here a minor breakdown of law and order,’ he thought to himself. Aloud, he said, “How, may I ask, can we prevent this natural catastrophe?’
“I don’t know; but we have no option but to try. I think we need more than two brains to handle this situation. It is essential to call an urgent meeting of experts from all over the world to think of a counter-measure and of course in total secrecy. Think of the panic in the world if this dreadful news leaks out.” Sir John glanced at the manuscript in James’ hand.
“My suppressing this paper will not hide the truth, Sir John!” James said. “There are others who will arrive at the same conclusion, sooner or later.”
According to James, since there are fewer possibilities that a collision would not occur, one cannot take that into consideration as the possibility of collision between Earth and Comet Dutta are very high. If the collision occurs as anticipated, it would have disastrous consequences. So, to be safe, John demanded that they proceed with the premise that Comet Dutta would collide with the Earth.
Sir John told James that, while cometary collisions on earth happen once every ten million years, Comet Dutta's collision was predicted to happen in the next year, to which James replied that it would take hardly ten months, if at all, for Comet Dutta's collision to happen. Mr. John thanked him for the correction and stressed strongly that they had ten months in their hand to avert the inescapable catastrophe (collision) because if James's prediction came true, the living creatures on Earth would have just ten months to live.
When James heard John's remarks, he smiled to himself, thinking that the Comet Dutta problem couldn't be solved since it wasn't a law and order problem that a civil servant could solve. He then questioned Mr. John, in a sarcastic tone, how they might prevent a natural collision, to which John said that many other minds (professional counsel) were needed to solve the Comet Dutta issue since it was more difficult and there was a limited amount of time to deal with it. Though John was unsure whether the Comet Dutta problem could be solved, he wanted to give that a try. As a result, Sir John decided to arrange a global conference with expert scientists to seek their advice on how to prevent the impending disaster. It was determined that such a meeting should be kept confidential.
By glancing through the manuscript of James, John forewarned him (James) of the impact his news would have on people if it leaked out because it would certainly cause further turmoil. James was convinced. When he heard this, he responded strongly that halting his work without having it published would not assist him in any way, as there was a chance that many others might come up with the same results.
Meaning of difficult words:
A lucky chance which brings in good result
Exact and accurate, devoid of anything irrelevant
Interrupting while someone put forward their opinion
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). The Comet - I (pp. 73-80). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.