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by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

A Daily Gazette life blog
Features reporter Jeff Wilkin on pop culture
 

Asteroids Above

By Jeff Wilkin
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Watched a thoughtful piece about asteroids on Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes,” the long-running CBS news magazine.

Reporter Anderson Cooper got into the story by talking about the asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on Feb. 15. This traveler from space was moving at about 41,000 mph and became a meteor — later called the Chelyabinski meteor, named for the region over which it exploded.

Russians must have thought they were in a science fiction movie, like “Deep Impact” or “Armageddon.” The fireball lit up the sky as it streaked by and when it blew up — 14 miles above ground — shock waves pounded buildings. About 1,500 people were injured.

There are plenty of other facts about the meteor, such as comparing its detonation to the explosion of 440 kilotons of TNT, like it weighing more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But I thought the most interesting point was how the asteroid-meteor just showed up in Earth space. Nobody saw it coming.

That’s what I think people considered at the conclusion of the “60 Minutes” piece. The report contained the usual low probability rates that any meteor is going to cause trouble for our planet, that astronomers have charted orbits and know when wandering celestials are going to pass within 25,000 miles of the earth.

I keep thinking about the one that isn’t seen, one that doesn’t explode high in the sky, one that doesn’t land in the ocean 50 miles offshore. I’m wondering about the one that hits Albany, N.Y., Albany, Ky., or Albany, Calif., and the chaos that would follow.

Maybe these nutty survivalists have a point — maybe we should all stock up on canned foods, just in case.

 

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