Monday, February 18, 2013

When an asteroid strikes

Any false sense of security should be gone.

A meteor came in fast and exploded over central Russia last Friday.  There were injuries of varying reported amounts, but each figure hovers around the 1,000 mark.  First came a flash, then a deafening bang that shattered glass from a burst that was the equivalent of 300 kilotons.  And by most standards, the meteor was on the small side, maybe half the length of a football field according to NASA. 

This incident is, of course, renewing calls from space science and space industry workers  to take the threat from asteroids and meteors seriously.  Yet because of the relatively small size of objects such as the one over Russia, it becomes rather difficult to track every incoming threat.  Nevertheless, this incident should indeed remind us that we are mere insects for the swatting in the cosmic scheme of things.  If we do not wish to be swatted, we need to be proactive.

Sadly, this event was also an occasion to showcase the scientific ignorance of the average American.  A CNN news anchor asked Bill "the science guy" Nye if the meteor hit was related to Global Warming.  Nye politely assured that the global rise in temperature had nothing to do with meteors, other than perhaps "meteor" being the root word of "meteorology." Then again, asteroids and Global Warming might have a connection and it is for the positive.

Last fall, a study suggested that asteroid dust might aid in curtailing climate change.  In this approach, we would blast the surface of an asteroid to send a cloud of dust between the Sun and the Earth, acting as a sort of dusty sunscreen.  Because an asteroid generates its own gravitational pull, the dust cloud will remain synched in place and disperse.  What could go wrong?

I kid, I kid.  I'm just glad someone is working on a solution, any kind of solution, to the threat of global climate change.  That is to say if it really isn't a myth or due to the Sun going through phases.  Yeah.  Right.

One thing I'm looking forward to: seeing if any unusual microbes or organisms are found in that area of Russia.  Extra data on what kinds of life meteors and asteroids may carry would be most welcome indeed.  Then again, in our hubris, we'll probably recant any issued discoveries, presuming that any found organisms would simply be ones we hadn't yet discovered and are purely terrestrial in nature.

Oh well.  Our time will come.

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1 comment:

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