Relax, There’s a Chance It
Will All End Up With a Blast
The danger of normalizing something so terminally outrageous is that it makes us all numb, complacent, vulnerable. Suddenly, yesterday’s inconceivable is today’s inevitable, and what we’ve been resisting against for millennia finally breaks through and flips us all into ashes.
Take meteorites, for instance – what? you thought we were talking about something else? One just zapped by Earth this week and didn’t even make to the front pages. NASA says there may be a couple more with our street address on them, heading our way. What then?
There’s an underfunded agency tracking so-called near Earth objects, sizable enough to cause harm. But size was relative in the dinosaur demise, 65 million years ago. Bigger rocks have hit the planet before and after, with little notice or damage. Luck us.
Still, if the risk is in the angle and substance, not scope or even speed, so be it. Few remember but in 2013, the world was expecting an asteroid to pass at large, when out of the blue, another, unknown, exploded over the skies of Russia. Luck was indeed in the angle.
Call us paranoid but when the eruption of the Vesuvius finally made it to the headlines of the day, it’s likely that the lava was already eating the town by its borders. And even if it caught some overly worried like us in its wake, most of the cautious had already made out of the joint.
THE HARMLESS FLEET & THE UNDETECTED KILLER
The unsettling thing about 2017 FU102, the near-Earth asteroid that zapped by us Sunday, was not that it passed at 0.6 times the mean distance of the Moon, but that it’d been discovered only four days before. Ok, so it was a 10-meter rock, that at the most, would’ve probably smashed a car, if it’d crashed.
But by the same measure of anticipation, had it been a thousand times bigger, even with over a year of advanced notice, there’d still be little for us to do. What, with our current state of affairs, many would’ve likely spent millions trying to prove that it was all NASA’s invention.
At the end of the day, it is the luck of the draw that we haven’t been hit yet. And, to some extent, spending millions trying to come up with a way to divert these civilization killers may not count on many supporters. But the alternative sucks: what to do in the waiting months till the inexorable?
METEOR SHOWERS & THE NEW FIREBALL SEASON
There are many who appreciate regularly scheduled meteor showers, multiple annual night presentations sponsored by nature, going on since before we came into the picture. On the 22nd this month, for example, we’ll have the Lyrid Showers, and who knows what does heaven have in store for us.
But the er big stars of every year is the Perseid, on August, the November Leonid, and the Geminid in December. There are more, some not big enough to have a name. By all accounts, showers are benign and entertaining, when it doesn’t rain, of course. Kids love them, perhaps because they happen late in the evening.
Another thing altogether is dealing with the term Fireball Season, possibly coined by H.R. MacMillan Space Centre astronomer Derek Kief. One can’t help it but to fear the implicit ominousness of such (more)
* Spacing Out
* Space Droppings
* It’s Fly By Us
coinage. It also makes it clear that they’re as beautiful as they’re lethal. And we’ll see plenty of them.
IS THE END NEAR, FAR OR NYET MY PROBLEM?
Hate to bring up Russia again, but one of the most powerful meteor explosions on record was the 1908 Tunguska blast, when a up to 600-meter object disintegrated on air and leveled miles of forest, without even touching the ground. Or human casualties, either. Maybe.
Earth’s thousands of ancient craters prove that they do touch down often, on land or water, and there’s usually no damn thing anyone can do about it. To sooth jittering souls, NASA comes out periodically to say that there’s no planet-killer approaching us. Not yet anyway.
Meteors, meteoroids, asteroids, comets or simply a big piece of rock from hell (or heaven?), each has its own definition and origin, and an orbit and trajectory not easily traced or predictable. But the ash-burned bottom line is: from the POV of the afflicted, does it really matter?
BLOWING PERSPECTIVE TO SMITHEREENS
So, don’t let any of that crimp your merry ways. After all, many believe that what happens here doesn’t matter either. Some, it does, but only if it’s immediately around or ‘in the moment.’ And still others don’t care either way, for nothing here is worth saving. So pick your poison.
Specially now that Trump cut funds for research and tracking of near-Earth objects. So, tra-la-la, we, worry? Not a chance. Just don’t dismiss the truly interested on science, space, nature, all that. Or the tormented by, well, pretty much everything. They’ll be awake when it happens.
Not everyone allows themselves the luxury to rest their concerns on the invisible hands of invisible super-beings. Or even have time for that sort of thing, while hungry, at war, or both. Consider yourself blessed and enjoy showers and fireballs alike, even they may not give a hoot about us.
Their beauty, and lethality, and randomness are truly mesmerizing, though. So, as a guest in the party don’t go around checking bathroom cabinets. Or opening the refrigerator. Specially, don’t talk about doomsday. Thank the hosts for the invitation and leave without breaking anything.