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Huge Meteor Blazes Across Sky Over Russia; Hundreds Injured

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the hope-your-meteor-insurance-is-paid-up dept.

News 409

New submitter dovf writes "The Bad Astronomer analyzes incoming reports about the apparent meteoric fireball over Russia: 'Apparently, at about 09:30 local time, a very big meteor burned up over Chelyabinsk, a city in Russia just east of the Ural mountains, and about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. The fireball was incredibly bright, rivaling the Sun! There was a pretty big sonic boom from the fireball, which set off car alarms and shattered windows. I'm seeing some reports of many people injured (by shattered glass blown out by the shock wave). I'm also seeing reports that some pieces have fallen to the ground, but again as I write this those are unconfirmed." This is the best summary I've found so far, and links to lots of videos and images. He also clarifies something I've been wondering about: 'This is almost certainly unrelated to the asteroid 2012 DA14 that will pass on Friday.'"

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Almost? (3, Interesting)

willcutaflip (2822571) | about 2 years ago | (#42908771)

Could that have just been a smaller chunk that broke off of the DA14? I mean that is tomorrow. Sounds possible to me.

Re:Almost? (5, Interesting)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#42908799)

Not likely. DA14 is a few hours away and moving very fast... which means that it's still very far away.

I think the most interesting part of this incident is that there are reports a missile was sent up to intercept it, and hit it. I'm still not convinced that it wasn't just the meteor breaking up like so many of them do, but it would be amusing if that somehow made the ground damage worse.

And in Soviet Russia, dashcam watch meteor hit YOU!

Re:Almost? (1, Flamebait)

SerpentMage (13390) | about 2 years ago | (#42908833)

If a missile did try to intercept, that makes me a WHOLE BUNCH more confident. I mean if a missile system can't tell the difference between a meteor and an actual missile we are essentially SOL. Forget about itchy fingers, watch out on Mother Nature.

Re:Almost? (4, Insightful)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42909191)

Well how's a interceptor missile supposed to know the difference and why should it even care? A fast moving, unidentified object enters your airspace, why shouldn't you try to shoot it down, even automatically?
A large scale response needs to be done through humans and should require several safety features. But a single automated air defense missile? Does it move faster than an airplane? Has it been announced? Then shoot it down.

Re:Almost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909205)

I wonder what would have happened if this meteor hit Israel from the east.

Re:Almost? (1, Informative)

Cali Thalen (627449) | about 2 years ago | (#42909127)

Too busy right now to research, but compared to the speed this meteor was supposedly moving (33K mph?), and what I remember as the speed of a typical intercept missile (up to 10K or so mph maybe?), doesn't it seem pretty unlikely that it could have actually have been a hit?

Going from very hazy pre-coffee memory here, so my numbers may be *just* a tad off...

Re:Almost? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909189)

That would, of course, depend on when it was detected, direction of travel, location at launch, lots of different things. Not impossible, off the top of my head.

Re:Almost? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909251)

An interceptor moving at 25 mph can hit a target moving at 250,000 mph.... IF the angle is right.

So, being in front of the target can make up for slower interceptor speed, and relative speed is not as important as early detection.

I could have intercepted this with a thrown rock... If I had known long enough in advance.

Re:Almost? (5, Interesting)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#42908801)

According to some sources, the directions of the Russian meteor and DA14 are different, making the two events unlikely to be related.

Re:Almost? (4, Informative)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | about 2 years ago | (#42908987)

According to TFA , DA14 is approaching from Earth's South while the videos so far make it look like this one is coming from the East, so they're on completely different orbits.

Re:Almost? (-1, Redundant)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#42909123)

>TFA

link?

Re:Almost? (4, Informative)

cffrost (885375) | about 2 years ago | (#42909153)

>TFA

link?

Yep, just click it.

Re:Almost? (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 2 years ago | (#42908993)

According to some sources, the directions of the Russian meteor and DA14 are different, making the two events unlikely to be related.

Maybe it changed its trajectory :)

Re:Almost? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909005)

The fact that we don't know about the huge Russian meteor ahead of the news report is scary.

Re:Almost? (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42909031)

The fact that we don't know about the huge Russian meteor ahead of the news report is scary.

well it wasn really _huge_ now though was it? the sonic boom did the damage to most people(shattering glasses etc).

Re:Almost? (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#42909215)

Not necessarily. Imagine a basketball in front of you. That is the Earth. Now draw an imaginary line from your nose to the left side of the basketball. Your line is going east to west. Now draw another line to the right of the basketball. Your line is now going west to east. Same point of origin. Same basic direction of movement. Different perceived trajectory for those living on the basketball.

Re:Almost? (2)

AchilleTalon (540925) | about 2 years ago | (#42909065)

Haven't you RTFA? It is pretty well explained why it is very unlikely to be related to DA14.

Re:Almost? (2)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#42909161)

Is it just me or does Siberia seem to attract large meteors? :)

Re:Almost? (5, Funny)

Cerberus7 (66071) | about 2 years ago | (#42909203)

Siberia is big. It has more gravity. *runs!*

Re:Almost? (5, Funny)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 2 years ago | (#42909169)

Its ok its just the real Iranian monkey coming home :)

Re:Almost? (2)

Barsteward (969998) | about 2 years ago | (#42909179)

Nah, its God retribution for those gays and people enjoying sex outside marriage although its not precision bombing so there is a lot of collateral victims (as usual - maybe God should invest in laser sights)

Re:Almost? (3, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#42909221)

It sounds possible only because you were too lazy to read the BadAstronomer's write-up, the first link in the summary. It's millions of miles away from the asteroid, on a different orbit, and apparently coming from a different direction.

Wow (3, Informative)

GregC63 (1564363) | about 2 years ago | (#42908775)

Awesome video, a lot of freaked out people over there! The flash of light and the shock wave had a bunch of folks crapping their pants. Also reports of about 500 being injured.

Re:Wow (1)

LucidBeast (601749) | about 2 years ago | (#42908797)

I've always wondered outloud why all Russians have dashcams. Now I look like a fool.

Re:Wow (5, Informative)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#42908849)

Dashcams are apparently because their courts are such that they need that kind of evidence if someone hits them.

The fact that they occasionally catch cool videos of other things going on is a bonus. For instance, the crew-only Aeroflot flight back in December that overshot the runway and ran over the fence into a highway. The guy with the camera had to swerve to dodge a passenger seat that bounced in front of him.

Re:Wow (1)

dovf (811000) | about 2 years ago | (#42909073)

I've always wondered outloud why all Russians have dashcams. Now I look like a fool.

There was a great piece on this at Krulwich Wonders [npr.org] a couple of months back...

Re:Wow (2)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42908809)

So in case it would have been bigger and we noticed it let's say a few weeks/a month/a year ahead of impact. Could we have done anything? Do we have any plans for such events?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909163)

Awesome video, a lot of freaked out people over there! The flash of light and the shock wave had a bunch of folks crapping their pants. Also reports of about 500 being injured.

With all the hype of DA14 in the news can you blame them for being freaked out? I'm sure many of them thought that the scientists were wrong about DA14 and that they were being hit by (some of) it.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about 2 years ago | (#42909241)

>> The flash of light and the shock wave had a bunch of folks crapping their pants

Pfff... the flash and shock wave is the least of their concerns...

Check out the CHEMTRAIL that mofo leaves behind!!!!

This MUST be the work of a 'three-letter-agency', no other explanation will explain that kind of chemtrail. It is even bigger that the ones made by regular flying objects. I would love to elaborate on that, but I have to answer the door... ...that's peculiar... two men in black suits ringing at my door...

On injuries and damage (5, Informative)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 2 years ago | (#42908781)

As of right now, English-language sources seem to be a bit behind on the injury/damage reports.

The current reports from the city government say that 725 people have received medical attention, with 31 being hospitalized. Infrastructural damage amounts to problems in the centralized building heating system, and blown out windows in about 3000 apartment buildings, 34 hospitals and clinics, and 361 schools/daycares. I should note that, this being Russia, blown out windows are a serious matter because they render the buildings cold, especially coupled with heating system problems. Gas supply has been turned off in parts of the city as a precaution.

Overall, though, there appears to be no serious damage - though emergency repairs and lots of new windows are needed.

Re:On injuries and damage (4, Interesting)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 2 years ago | (#42908919)

Overall, though, there appears to be no serious damage - though emergency repairs and lots of new windows are needed.

No serious damage? Yeah, what could possibly go wrong in a city with 1M people, that has no gas supply and frozen hospitals?
Minimum temperatures are -4F/-20C at night right now, and maximum aren't much higher.

Re:On injuries and damage (3, Insightful)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 2 years ago | (#42908979)

For all the problems of the Russian government, the emergency services are well-prepared, given the not uncommon occurence of various emergencies. The city has its own glass factory even, and they'd be able to replace most of the windows within a couple of days. Emergency repairs should restore much of the heating quickly, and very importantly, the hospitals are not being overwhelmed - the amount of people who need hospitalization is fairly low. The authorities apparently intend to fix windows today where it's most critical.

Just to be clear, it is of course a serious situation, but by no serious damage I mean there is nothing like a need to evacuate hundreds of people to other cities for medical treatment, there are no deaths fortunately, and there are no buildings that have fully collapsed.

Re:On injuries and damage (3, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#42909059)

Overall, though, there appears to be no serious damage - though emergency repairs and lots of new windows are needed.

No serious damage? Yeah, what could possibly go wrong in a city with 1M people, that has no gas supply and frozen hospitals?
Minimum temperatures are -4F/-20C at night right now, and maximum aren't much higher.

hate to be a dick about this, but they're russians, so they can handle the state failing for couple of days.

Re:On injuries and damage (3, Insightful)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42909243)

Until a few of years ago the collapse of central heating in winter was rather commonplace. All the broken windows are a new feature, but I'd say Russians are very good at improvising and will cope with the situation.

Re:On injuries and damage (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 years ago | (#42908955)

I've got RT on right now, that's why I checked/. to see what others were thinking. (everyone else sleeps 'til dawn around here.)
Full coverage.

Re:On injuries and damage (5, Interesting)

SMoynihan (1647997) | about 2 years ago | (#42909075)

I'd guess that most of the direct injuries happened when people ran to their windows to watch the flare and contrail. Looking at the videos, the sonic boom happened at least 27 seconds later: right when people would be clustered in front of the glass.

It is similar to Tsunamis, where a lot of the fatalities happen to people who chase the receding sea...

Meteors are the universes way to ask... (5, Insightful)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#42908793)

... hows your space program going.

Re:Meteors are the universes way to ask... (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about 2 years ago | (#42908885)

...and my big brother's coming soon.

Re:Meteors are the universes way to ask... (0, Flamebait)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#42909231)

And even if we multiplied out current space program's budget by ten times... it still wouldn't be enough. A thousand times? That might be enough for a half ass program with a slim-to-none chance of survival.

We could roll twenty Falcon 9's and fifteen Dragon's off the assembly lines and launch them every hour if we really wanted to. It's just a matter of writing a big enough check - but it wouldn't be enough. The space program isn't the problem. The problem is that building an off-Earth colony that can survive the loss of the Earth indefinitely is a Very Very Hard Problem - a problem whose shape and scope we have only the faintest ideas of the outline of and filled with known unknowns and even more unknown unknowns. And pretty much none of those are in any way related to the current space program.

Grow up and stop using cosmic impacts to fuel your fanboi masturbatory fantasies.

It begins, the horrible Asteroid B-movie. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908803)

And another one will smash in to another country somewhere, and another, and another, then Paris gets wiped off the face of the Earth.

Damn you Hollywoooooood!

Armageddon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908805)

What a coincidence that Bruce Willis is in Russia fighting the terrorists and their nuclear weapons. I love it when a plan comes together!

Space is WINNING! Run puny humans! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908813)

Hello, my baby
Hello, my honey
Hello, my ragtime gal

Send me a kiss by wire
Baby, my hearts on fire

If you refuse me
Honey, you'll lose me
Then you'll be left alone

Oh baby, telephone
And tell me I'm your own

Hello, my baby
Hello, my honey
Hello, my ragtime gal

Send me a kiss by wire
Baby, my hearts on fire

If you refuse me
Honey, you'll lose me
Then you'll be left alone

Oh baby, telephone
And tell me I'm your own

Intercepted by Russian air defence forces? (1, Funny)

ark1 (873448) | about 2 years ago | (#42908821)

Some not so credible newspapers report unconfirmed military sources stating that Russian air defence shot down this bad boy.

Re:Intercepted by Russian air defence forces? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 years ago | (#42909017)

I think you'd have a better chance of trying to swat down a fighter plane with a magazine.

Re:Intercepted by Russian air defence forces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909133)

It's doubtful, best russian interceptor rockets fly with speeds up to 5Km/s, said meteor was entering atmosphere approx 40km/s

Re:Intercepted by Russian air defence forces? (4, Funny)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#42909225)

Some not so credible newspapers report unconfirmed military sources stating that Russian air defence shot down this bad boy.

No, it was Putin who busted it into smithereens with one blow from his mighty fist.

Paging Hale and Capelli (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908839)

Let's hope there wasn't a mutagenic alien virus riding on that meteor...

Space Jump (5, Funny)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | about 2 years ago | (#42908843)

Pfffft.

That was Putin skydiving from space.

Shirtless, because he's Putin.

Re:Space Jump (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909041)

http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BDIeHeECEAELbIy.jpg

Alternative videos (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908851)

http://www.standartnews.com/videos/watch/meteorit_padna_i_rani_desetki_v_rusiya-276.html
Here's a link with video from more places. (Best i've found so far)

What about the crash site? (1)

danhaas (891773) | about 2 years ago | (#42908865)

Any pictures of the crash site? How far away was it from the city?

Re:What about the crash site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908945)

Lake.

Re:What about the crash site? (0)

Hardhead_7 (987030) | about 2 years ago | (#42909009)

The point when it gets very bright is most likely when it broke up in the atmosphere, and all the smaller pieces burned up. There will most likely be debris found over the next few days, but there was no major impact site.

Re:What about the crash site? (5, Informative)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 2 years ago | (#42909033)

The apparent crash site (or maybe one of several, not clear if there were several sizeable fragments) is in a nearby lake, creating a 6 meter hole in ice. Picture at a news site [lenta.ru] . The site is under control of Russian authorities and a scientific group is due to arrive tomorrow to study the meteorite.

In other news (5, Funny)

zrbyte (1666979) | about 2 years ago | (#42908867)

Zombies spotted in Chelyabinsk

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909091)

Not zombies, Chimera.

Unrelated to 2012 DA14? (1, Interesting)

Zorpheus (857617) | about 2 years ago | (#42908873)

As I understood this asteroid came from a different direction than 2012 DA14, so that is why it is said that it is probably unrelated.
Still, I can't believe this. There is an asteroid passing very close to Earth, and on the same day we have this impact with hundreds of injuries. These are both very rare events, so it seems unlikely that they are unrelated. Maybe the orbits of both asteroids were linked somehow?

Re:Unrelated to 2012 DA14? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#42908915)

> Maybe the orbits of both asteroids were linked somehow?

I imagine the sun was involved somewhere. Lousy hydrogen!

Re:Unrelated to 2012 DA14? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#42909061)

>As I understood this asteroid came from a different direction than 2012 DA14

Any references?

Re:Unrelated to 2012 DA14? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909113)

As I understood this asteroid came from a different direction than 2012 DA14, so that is why it is said that it is probably unrelated.

Still, I can't believe this. There is an asteroid passing very close to Earth, and on the same day we have this impact with hundreds of injuries. These are both very rare events, so it seems unlikely that they are unrelated. Maybe the orbits of both asteroids were linked somehow?

Maybe Ming the Emperor of the Universe is testing us poor earthlings.
If we see beyond the mere coincidence of these events then we're dooooooooooooomed.
Flaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh save us all.

Re:Unrelated to 2012 DA14? (4, Informative)

Eraesr (1629799) | about 2 years ago | (#42909255)

Actually, meteors hitting the earth's atmosphere is a very common event. It happens almost every night. The only difference is that this time the meteor was large enough to be visible and have this result. The big 45m piece of asteroid passing by isn't that uncommon either, it's just passing by relatively close compared to other asteroids.
In short: we're not talking about two uncommon events (certainly not "very rare"). You're falling for the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy here.

The result of funding cuts for observatories (4, Informative)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#42908883)

The meteorite was several times larger than the last (and first ever) predicted impact in 2008 [wikipedia.org] .

It is trivially possible these days, to do several complete surveys of the sky each day and ensure that such asteroids are discovered several days ahead of time. Computers allow us do evaluate the data more or less in real time. The problem is: You need funding for the telescopes around the world and staff to run them.

While all the observatories would do, is to give warning to people in the area to stay indoors and away from windows - or leave the area alltogether if the rock is a bit larger - that's still better than "oups" and a couple videos from dashboard cameras. It would also provide a viable basis for sending up a rocket with a few tons of mass to break up an asteroid into harmless chunks. Possibly a combination of high and low density materials, like concrete and lead, to achieve a good distribution of the momentum through the whole asteroid.

I'm not kidding. A single ton mass in a head-on collision with 10-15km/s has as much kinetic energy as 15-30 tons of high explosives. Which should be enough to break up a 30m asteroid into very small chunks (this one in russia was probably around 10m), although some preparation is certainly in order.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908971)

The only reason we need staff to run them is because each one is pretty much made to order. Make it an international program, with funding from a dozen countries to make thousands of them all over the world, and you won't need more than one person for each to maintain them, and a dozen individuals to collate the data.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908991)

What's more expensive? Staffing this warning system, or treating the injured? They'd be fixing the buildings either way.

It does nothing to those composed of ice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909053)

Explosives have been tried on icebergs... no effective result. Ice is one of the strongest structures ever.

You "solution" would only work with relatively low mass small meteors... but not large ones.

Re:It does nothing to those composed of ice. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 years ago | (#42909137)

Meteors are not predominantly made of ice.

Re:It does nothing to those composed of ice. (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#42909211)

No, they're made of iron that survives uncontrolled re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 2 years ago | (#42909083)

I'm not sure how it follows from discovering a solitary asteroid with a twenty hour lead time that we can "trivially" perform a sky sweep with enough comprehensiveness and detail to give a "several days" lead time. Yes, we could do it, but it's not at all obvious that it would be easy.

Turning a single impactor with a known trajectory into an unknown number of impactors of unknown size and unknown trajectory does not strike me as a great response to detecting such an object either.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (2)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#42909103)

The problem with this is that the world is so litigation happy right now, that when a meteorite 'slips through the net' and kills one person, the workers at the observatories might get sued into oblivion.

Likewise, if they call a city-wide evacuation and it plops into a nearby forest/lake instead, the businesses will be suing them for lost revenue.

These early warning systems (like the earthquake ones) can only be feasible if there is a litigation safety net over the institutions in question.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#42909229)

The problem with this is that the world is so litigation happy right now, that when a meteorite 'slips through the net' and kills one person, the workers at the observatories might get sued into oblivion.

Likewise, if they call a city-wide evacuation and it plops into a nearby forest/lake instead, the businesses will be suing them for lost revenue.

These early warning systems (like the earthquake ones) can only be feasible if there is a litigation safety net over the institutions in question.

This is why we'll end up buying the data from asteroid mining company's orbital survey telescopes. Some thing's capitalism solves ridiculously well (see also: black out military installations by just undercutting commercial mapping providers).

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (2)

Hans Lehmann (571625) | about 2 years ago | (#42909105)

It would also provide a viable basis for sending up a rocket with a few tons of mass to break up an asteroid into.... That would like firing a gun into the sky, hoping to hit a bullet that was also fired into the sky moments before someone else a mile away, except much harder. At the distance at which you would need to intercept these projectiles they give off no heat, so you can't even use heat seeking space rockets (which don't exist anyway). Real life isn't a Bruce Willis movie.

Re:The result of funding cuts for observatories (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#42909175)

Real live has radar.

And real live Americans and Chinese have shot down satellites using ballistic missles - delta v about 8km/s, accuracy had to be at least ~1-2m.

30 years ago? End of world. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908887)

Dude, imagine if something like that happened 30 years ago, at the height of COLD WAR... Russia would simply think they'd be under attack, and release the nuclear ogives around. World would be surely ended.

Re:30 years ago? End of world. (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#42908927)

No, the world surely would not have ended. We know for a fact that meteorite impacts have been observed by satellites designed to warn against nuclear weapons. The first few scared the shit out of operators, because the energy released by such meteorites is on the order of several kilotons. But neither Russians nor Americans were stupid.

Re:30 years ago? End of world. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#42909155)

No. Nuclear bombs don't produce a fireball streaking across the sky. The lack of radiation is also a big clue. Nuclear weapons are designed to kill, not frighten people and shatter windows. You'd have to be pretty insane to confuse this for a nuclear attack.

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908893)

Russian glaziers receive unexpected boon!

Re:In other news... (1)

jampola (1994582) | about 2 years ago | (#42908989)

Especially so when I am reading reports of people intentionally smashing in windows in hope of compensation. Ahhh, sneaky f*ckin' Russians!

Re:In other news... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 2 years ago | (#42909171)

I don't get it. Break a window so that you can get - a new window. Are they that desperate for visitors out there?

The Good Kind of Bunny (0, Offtopic)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 2 years ago | (#42908903)

As a boy I began to explore the possibility of a planetary asteroid defense.

What a relief.

My teenage years were marked by bouts of Acute Cold War Survival Anxiety. I was prepared to explore and debate such things as, What effect and scope of all-out nuclear exchange? What are nearest likely strategic targets? Wind and ocean factors? Social and political conditions? When fallout arrives, how can you be sure your family is getting enough? If there is somewhere left to go, where to go? What to bring? Who to eat first?

I would listen to the daily English commentaries of Radio Moscow on shortwave. Lots of gesticulation and predictable posturing. Then I would listen to President Reagan: lots of gesticulation and predictable posturing.

Minutes to midnight.

I worked survival scenarios; collected books, studied maps, stockpiled chocolate. I'd be tuned to the local radio station when they conducted the EBS test every week... as in, "This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. It is only a test." When it was preempted by a baseball game I was the only one who ever called to complain. Because no one else did.

Survival aside, what could one actually do to address the threat of nuclear war? Sneak around gathering warhead, missile and fission lump and muck... head for Mount Doom, toss them in and run like hell?

I tried to debate the issue with others but didn't get far. The objective, they would begin, is to prevent nuclear war. "Can be done, but not a good approach." Oh really, they'd muse, explain. "Considering the angles and who the players are... there is only one tool we know of that is capable of preventing nuclear war: nuclear war."

Smiling, I suppose you think that's funny. "No, I'm serious. It would work. For sure."

End of debate.

Or... continuing the debate later by myself, with myself... what if, instead of preparing for nuclear war... we just choose not to have one? All day. Every day. It was easy to see that this tactic might 'save the day' so to speak. But the real beauty of such a regimen is that the benefits actually accrue over time. A day? O.K. A week? Great. A whole year without nuclear war? Splendid!

As it turns out that's exactly what we did. It would be silly to claim credit for the ultimate success of this simple idea; but I did think it up first.

And I did my part... right to this day.

No matter how hectic the day or late the hour, I always set aside enough time to not start a nuclear war. As should you. I admit at times it may have been a little one -- say, a hypothetical series of tactical bursts along the border of two small imbecile countries. It never works. The dust settles and there is the border again, right where they left it. Wider, even.

On Friday I fail to start three successive wars, each one more horrifyingly pointless than the last; to clear my slate for the weekend. With nuclear survival addressed and prevention unnecessary -- had all this extra free time.

So I kissed plutonium goodbye and set my sights on iron, nickel and ice; humble ingredients to be sure but pretty effective when you stir in mass, velocity and plenty of aftermath.

If you see one mushroom cloud you've seen them all, if one could be so lucky. They only seem to come in one flavor, up up and away.

Planetary impacts though are serious fun.

Exposing the earth's mantle -- even a tiny bit -- is always a fiery crowd pleaser. Then a rain of molten pellets begins, right on schedule; everyone gets to take home a souvenir. There is angle of entry: like playing spin-the-bottle, with God. Bad news for those in the cheap seats.

I like best a night-side volley into the ocean. The shores of surrounding continents are ringside seats; you can start the show early, since most of the audience is already there. Toss a few little ones, now they're watching. Different metals make pretty colors as they tear through the atmosphere.

Clever surprises. Eyes with telescopes will see here... a Really Big One! In all the humanities! Move away, please! But shh...it's as hollow as a chocolate bunny. But not as disappointing. "That's the big one!" they say, and then () nothing happens. From space you can almost smell the relief. It will not be so easy to fool them again.

And there is no need, for here is another Big One, an even Bigger BIGGEST One. Hold it up for telescope eyes, no sleeve up my sleeve. They are winking in jest, you think you're so clever. Spin it around ever so slowly, until the message written on the other side comes into view. Telescope eyes blink. And there it goes, smack into the ocean.

The Good Kind of Bunny. Happy Easter. Tossing large dense objects at planets, you get a hole in one every time. This way to the egress.

If any who might find fault in such a stellar performance would remain in their seats... we will be sending along an apology and full refund, to be delivered by ocean.

What a mess. Glowing iridescent rings of exposed mantle like the hollow eye sockets of a ghost. Each one the eye of a hurricane of steam and worse things. Now if this was your planet, you would be feeling unpleasant tingles working up and down your spine right now, just to look at them. Or even to hear me describe them. If there are no tingles you haven't given it enough thought.

It is merciful when dark clouds roll over everything at the end. Final curtain.

I had finally discovered something besides nuclear war, that prevents nuclear war.

So, at 17, I decided to move on and do other things for awhile.

___
Planetary defense is one of the only two real challenges we face today (besides restraint) [slashdot.org]

Re:The Good Kind of Bunny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909135)

Back in your cage, Larry Niven!

Missle Strike (2)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about 2 years ago | (#42908907)

I wonder how many stared at that thing and were waiting for the giant mushroom cloud to appear. Like Sarah Connor at the playground.

Re:Missile Strike (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 years ago | (#42909099)

I wonder how many saw this coming and dove for cover. It doesn't take much to keep your skin from getting a flash burn. And for God's sake look away.

Russian capitalism (1)

gold928s (562144) | about 2 years ago | (#42908911)

Selling an apartment in Chelyabinsk! URGENT!!! Call to 23-25 ask for Sergey

The vapour trail was visible from Meteosat-10 (5, Informative)

dcowart (13321) | about 2 years ago | (#42908921)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eumetsat/8474853633/ [flickr.com]

"An image from the SEVIRI instrument aboard our Meteosat-10 geostationary satellite. The vapour trail left by the meteor that was seen near Chelyabinsk in Russia on 15th February 2013 is visible in the centre of the image."

Re:The vapour trail was visible from Meteosat-10 (1)

jampola (1994582) | about 2 years ago | (#42909001)

Thanks!

I love meteors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908933)

BOOM de yada.,..

Video of impact site (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42908943)

Here's the impact site
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1wP4HkeVTc&feature=player_embedded

Re:Video of impact site (2)

NeoTron (6020) | about 2 years ago | (#42909027)

Buuuuullshit, AC , that's a video of The Door To Hell, near a village in Turkmanistan called Derweze

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door_to_Hell

Re:Video of impact site (1)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about 2 years ago | (#42909093)

Hah. I saw that video and thought for sure it was the impact site of the meteor. Never heard of the Door to Hell. Had me fooled.

Rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909071)

They are also unconfirmed reports in some europead newspapers that russian army shot at the meteorite with rockets.

Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909177)

I guess, while scientists can see the larger ones now, and predict their orbit with a fair degree of accuracy,
they can't (yet) see the cloud of smaller rocks that may be following/ahead of the "primary" rock.

Scary.

CAPTCHA = together

Six meter impact crater (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 years ago | (#42909219)

Woot!
First Tunguska, now this. Some folks are just lucky.

mo3 down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42909233)

Calling Russian /.ers! (1)

tippe (1136385) | about 2 years ago | (#42909239)

What do our new overlords look like? Are they friendly or have they enslaved you and are using your liquefied remains as fuel for their machines of war? Should I panic now, or can I wait until after lunch?

Wait, how am I going to know that your response is really from you, and not from one of your new overlords impersonating you? I think it's safest if just start panicking now; just as soon as I'm done checking the other /. articles....

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