Friday, 15 February 2013

Russian Meteorite Fall Out Reminds Us How Violent Our Universe Really Is

Wild crazy news on the social networks was buzzing about a meteorite crash which injured over 900 in Russia.

As with most things on the social networks, the key is patience to see if they actually are true, or just some viral feed which is false.

Nope. This one was real.


As the cops are more corrupt in Russia than those they supposedly protect, everyone has a dashboard cam in their cars, and videos of the 11 metric tonne piece of space rock zooming past at about 54,000 kph (33,000 miles/hour) across the early morning sky were phenomenal.

At about 30-50 km (18-32 miles) above the ground, the pressure from our atmosphere caused the giant space rock to explode in what would have been the equivalent of a nuclear warhead going off above a populated area.
All electronic devices went dark as the radiation from the blast interfered with the Earth’s electro-magnetic field. Slowly electronic devices came back to life, but mobile communications are still being affected as there is still trace amounts of interference in the atmosphere keeping people’s smartphones, GPS, satellite signals, even AM and FM radio station frequencies sporadic at best – as of this writing.
There was one video where it was deathly quiet, as the world was just starting to wake up, only to have that silence literally shattered by a mega-big bang, which startled me as I watched the video. The big bang is followed by several micro bursts and the sounds of glass breaking as windows succumb to the supersonic waves travelling faster than the speed of sound. Car alarms, people in panic, and a rush of sirens can be heard after that.

Tweets at the time echoed people’s thoughts affected by the unexpected visitor from a distant galaxy – that the world was ending.

That’s probably what ran through the dinosaur’s minds as rocky rubble fell from above, as the sky light up ablaze in a fiery burst of light.

Luckily, the space rock wasn’t large enough to cause an Extinction Level Event (ELE) – like the one which killed off dino – but it was large enough to remind us that we’re living in dangerous times.

Although American President Barack Obama is trying to make peace with the yahoo rednecks of the National Rifle Association, as he battles gun control to make his country safe, there are things which are far more dangerous, and even further out of our control than guns.

The Earth – our only place of refuge in the vastness of space – is pummelled by space dust, and meteorites every day. Just the average size of these rocks making it through our atmosphere is no bigger than the tip of your thumb – so we hardly take any notice.

But when a rock the size of small car crashes into the Earth, the world wakes up to the fact that we’re living in a dangerous part of the universe.

We’ve been remarkable lucky over the past 100,000 to 200,000 years – the time frame for when humans first walked on the Earth.
Unlike our predecessors, the dinosaurs, we’ve been quite lucky, considering all the enormous space rocks the size of small planets hurtling through space in all directions.

These fragments left over from the big bang which spawned our universe and form the building blocks for everything within it – including us – continue like billiard balls, rolling through space, colliding with one another all the time.

It’s a mixed blessing of sorts that we haven’t witnessed anything worse than today’s meteorite shower disrupting our world more often. On the one hand, it’s scary as hell – especially when scientists, military experts and academics admit that we currently have no way to defend ourselves from these falling space rocks from the sky.

But from the point of view of an amateur astronomer, it’s so cool to see space science in action. Unlike the other sciences, where you can simply create a hypothesis and test it, theories about the big bang, the early formation of the universe, or even where did we all come from in the first place aren’t nearly so easy to prove.

Putting that thought aside, today’s close call with a meteorite in Russia is an eye opener for us all – because the “wow” and the scary factor win.

I think I’ll go now, and hide under the bed.

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