Meteor Blast Injures Hundreds

The sky is falling in Russia! (courtesy of USA Today)

At approximately 9 a.m. Friday morning, a meteor ripped through the sky above Russia’s Urals region, exploded with a loud boom and produced a shock wave that damaged buildings and injured more than 700 people.

Although injury reports continue to climb, the majority have been minor cuts and scrapes resulting from the glass shattered in buildings where people work or reside. Thankfully, though, no deaths have been reported, at least not yet.

Schools and hospitals were also affected, but again no one was seriously hurt.

According to Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, one large meteoroid entered Earth’s atmosphere and shattered into fragments, sending meteors of varying sizes across the Russian landscape. The governor of Chelyabinsk even reported finding a large chunk in a nearby lake.

This isn’t the first time Russia has been slammed by space debris. In 1908, a huge asteroid exploded over Siberia and levelled trees across an area of more than 800 square miles. Of course, the area was so sparsely populated that humans remained largely unaffected.

Heck, I’m not even sure Siberia is all that populated now. Isn’t that where Russia ships its worst inmates to serve out their sentences in cold, remote prisons? Granted, I’m American and may be completely misinformed, but that’s what I’ve always heard.

I have to admit that this story is exciting, but it’s also kind of troubling. Films like Armageddon and Deep Impact considered what might happen if a large asteroid came barreling towards Earth. And I’m not talking about some little space rock, either. I’m talking about a big boy capable of destroying us all.

Beauty and destruction come raining down (courtesy of CBS News)

In each film, humans reacted by sending a team of astronauts, miners, drillers and other “specialists” into space to plant bombs on the asteroid and blow it to smithereens before it even came close to our planet. In reality, though, something like this would never happen. Aside from the exorbitant cost of such a mission, which would have to be shouldered by many nations rather than a few, the odds of people actually working together and coming to some agreement quickly might be impossible. By the time all the politicians and military leaders finally do agree, it will likely be too late.

The fortunate thing is that most experts discount the possibility of this ever happening or consider the odds extremely remote. Then again, there is an asteroid known as 2012 DA14 that is supposed to pass by Earth soon and could destroy us if it decides to change course. The last report I heard estimated its size at roughly 45 meters (or 50 yards, for those of you not comfortable with the metric system). And even though it’s estimated to come no closer than 17,000 miles from our celestial home, I won’t breathe easy until it’s finally moving in the opposite direction.

Doomsday preppers and other would-be soothsayers will probably view this Russian meteor explosion and the impending asteroid fly by as signs that the end is near. And who knows? They could be right.

For me, though, this represents just one more thing that could spell disaster for humankind. It just has to get in line behind violence, economic meltdowns, climate change and everything else that plagues our society.

Posted on February 16, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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