I once worked in Winslow Arizona, where the main tourist attraction is a nearby meteor crater that they tout as the “best preserved meteor crater in the world”.

the photo is from their website, and if you ever get out there, consider a trip to the site.

It’s not as much fun as the Roswell museum, (they don’t have festivals like Roswell, where you can dress up like your favorite outer space hero) but it’s scarier…after all, we may have been visited by E.T. in 1948, but he hasn’t threatened the earth with destruction since then. On the other hand, a lot of us have seen small meteors or “shooting stars” and watched Armageddon…. and this threat is more like the tsunami: it will literally come out of the blue and kill people without warning.

Those who keep up with such things know about the Tunguska event. That was when something exploded over Siberia. What exactly exploded has kept scientists and conspiracy theorists busy for years, since no trace of a meteor crater was reported.

The latest theory had been that the object was indeed a meteor, but that it was a lot smaller than previously thought.

The Sandia researchers concluded:

Simulations show that the material of an incoming asteroid is compressed by the increasing resistance of Earth’s atmosphere. As it penetrates deeper, the more and more resistant atmospheric wall causes it to explode as an airburst that precipitates the downward flow of heated gas.

Because of the additional energy transported toward the surface by the fireball, what scientists had thought to be an explosion between 10 and 20 megatons was more likely only three to five megatons…

A five megaton asteroid is a lot smaller than one that is 20 megatons, and a lot more common, making the chances of such a destructive even go up and the chances of destroying the meteor go a lot lower. The Sandia website has lots of nice computer simulations of meteor strikes for you to watch.
The destructive impact of rocks with momentum from space was anticipated by Heinlein, and indeed “concrete JDAMS” are being used by the US Military for pinpoint destruction of certain targets.

So what is our defense, or is there one? How much should we worry about this new threat?

Well, Behala na…it’s God’s will… whatever…or in the words of the immortal sage Alfred E Newman: What, me worry?

Remember: it has been pointed out that the Tunguska event, had it occured 4 hours and 47 minutes later, would have wiped out St.Petersburg (AKA Leningrad).

Sometimes mankind gets lucky…


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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