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The sky is falling!

Pretty much everybody literate and paying attention knew about the D14 asteroid that made its almost too close for comfort fly-by of our planet yesterday afternoon. Nobody expected to wake up yesterday morning to news and videos of a meteor/small asteroid exploding over northern Russia, blowing out windows, collapsing a zinc factory and injuring more than a thousand people, but that's just what we saw.

We were immediately informed that the two events were in no way connected, that the Russian meteor could not be a broken-off piece of D14 and did not herald a rash of big incoming objects. No matter how our brains interpreted the event, which naturally went right to that connection we were told wasn't there.

Then last night (~8:00 pm Pacific), what was described as a "huge fireball" of a meteor exploded over the bay area, big enough to have shown up on Doppler radar. That event was also "unconnected" to the D14 pass, and also unconnected to the Russian meteor according to whatever 'experts' were asked to comment.

What most people probably missed was that two days before the D14 pass - on Tuesday the 13th of February - two other "huge fireball" type exploding meteors were logged. One reported seen over Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany, and one over central Cuba. Which, according to news reports, were also "unconnected" to the D14 asteroid.

The next day - Valentine's Day - yet another "huge fireball" of an "unconnected" exploding meteor streaked across the sky over Japan.

It occurs to me to ask how come we knew about the asteroid that wasn't going to hit us, but not a single one of the sky-watching 'experts' in this world noticed that there were large fragments of some asteroid/comet or other were also incoming, apparently from various directions, all to hit a lot closer to home than D14 managed to get. Hell, fragments of the Russian object survived to poke holes in a lake and carve furrows in the ground. Bear in mind that the NEO project tags and follows space rocks smaller than any of these on a regular basis.

It seems to me that so many incoming space rock events occurring within hours of each other over two earth days indicates one of two things - either the D14 asteroid is just the biggest hunk of a debris field accompanying the object in its orbit, or our planet just happened to be passing through a debris field from other asteroids/comets at the very time D14 was making its close approach fly-by. And I'm wondering how come we weren't notified of a regularly scheduled meteor shower (like the Leonids or Geminids, but with much bigger rocks). Or warned that there were other rocks inbound that could wreak havoc and possibly survive to impact.

I mean, this is hardly something we can consider 'normal', since I don't recall so many big exploding space rocks raining down and/or causing havoc in such a short amount of time in all my 61 years of life [so far]. We are told there are hundreds of professional and amateur sky-watchers scattered all over the globe keeping sharp, telescopically-enhanced eyes out for incoming cosmic debris. How did they ALL miss ALL of these 'extra' rocks? Here's some links to articles and videos:

February 13, 2013:

Belgium, Netherlands and Germany w/video

Cuba Reports Powerful Meteorite Explosion

February 14, 2013:

Huge Fireball Over Japan w/video from SonotaCo Network

February 15, 2013:

• Meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia

• Asteroid D14 passes earth beneath communications satellite distance

Meteor fireball over San Francisco Bay area, California. w/video

Doesn't exactly give me much confidence that we're in good hands, or that we'll necessarily get any advanced warning of imminent or future collision courses that could utterly destroy whole swaths of the planet (or at least make a big enough mess that financial catastrophe would be the least of our problems). Anybody else out there not feeling very reassured about our chances in God's skillful game of billiards lately?

Originally posted to Joieau on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just goes to show (4+ / 0-)

    how far we have yet to go, and how ill-equipped we are. As important as your point is, and it is important, it's also damn poignant how limited is our ability to respond to these threats.

    But we've got Viagra and Tivo!

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 11:31:08 AM PST

  •  Meh (13+ / 0-)

    We get bombarded on a pretty much constant basis from space. Most stuff burns up in the atmosphere. Some explodes like the ones in Russia. Reading up on D14, had it hit, it've been bad but only about 5X the explosive force of the one in Russia. Yes, had that hit over a city it would've been devestating but 70% of the Earth's surface is water, and only about a quarter of the land is populated. The odds of everything coming together to hit a population center are vanishingly small. While I think we should increase funding for NEO detection I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 11:32:47 AM PST

    •  Looks to me like (6+ / 0-)

      the chances are no longer so vanishingly small, given that Chelyabinsk has a population of over a million. Or they just "lucked out" on those vanishingly small chances. Since this is the site of the world's third worst nuclear disaster, I doubt they consider themselves all that lucky.

      It just seems to me that there's an odd debris field we just passed through (or are passing through, we shall see how big it may be) in our orbit that isn't Leonids, Geminids, Perseids or any other well known cosmic leftovers, that consists of rubble from several different asteroids and/or comets all in differing orbits, and I'm amazed we never knew it was there.

      Seems like we should have known it was there. If we'd ever encountered it before, that is. And if we've never encountered it before, is it new? Are there some really big asteroids and/or comets just recently hitting the inner solar system on orbits so long we never knew about them? All at once? Was there a recent disturbance in the oort cloud? And if so, how come we haven't noticed them before? Hmmm...

      •  Remember the Solar System itself is moving (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        through galactic regions. Suppose we are moving through a field heavy with objects. I don't think we'd have anyone to know, as my guess is the Near Earth Object people are focused on ... well, near earth objects. Which tend to cluster in a region of the solar system.

        So maybe we've moved into an area where there's lots of rocks, and nobody was thinking to look.

        Time only will tell, of course.


        We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

        by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 07:27:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  From my admittedly limited (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ybruti, IreGyre

          knowledge of solar system dynamics, not that much outer space debris gets all the way to the inner system. Usually only that which comes at us in a sharp angle, not just a slightly tilted elliptic. Hell, not that much of what IS in the inner system gets to Earth, given the size of our moon. That's a considerable gravity well all by itself, you know. Most don't make it past Saturn to Jupiter. And Jupiter's almost a brown dwarf's worth of gravity. Yes, there's a 'hole' between Mars and Jupiter. Chock full of rubble from something that likely used to be there but isn't anymore. That's as close-in as most in-system debris gets these days. Unless the external object rams the oorts, its influence isn't likely to get this far.

          A disturbance in the oorts would certainly be noticeable by the many self-appointed watchers. We'd know about it by now, most assuredly. So pretty much anything we encounter in our orbital plane is something left by in-system passers-by. Billions of years ago inner system bombardment was a regular Big Deal. It's not anymore, per as much as we've been able to map and track. And we are looking out for them.

          Meteors and even asteroids have historically wreaked havoc on the Earth. Within the documented history of our kind, and our kind hasn't been here for very long (evolutionarily speaking). Yet I honestly do not recall a 3-day period in my life when so many large enough objects to qualify as mini-tunguska events came all at once. And there's been regularly scheduled meteor showers all my life, at least 4 times a year. They're fun to watch. They don't inspire fear and dread.

          Just wondering what's up. Don't guess we'll be privy to it though. That makes me kind of sad, actually.

          •  And there's the "but" I'd say, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, wu ming
            Usually only that which comes at us in a sharp angle, not just a slightly tilted elliptic. [I assume you meant "ecliptic" here -- jp]
            Does the solar system move through the galaxy with the plane of the ecliptic the leading edge? Taken as a body, the solar system has six main directions to move (forward, backward, either side, up, down). So, if not through the ecliptic, which we watch, then from the bottom?

            Anyway, if this continues that would be a possible explanation for the current flurry. I've never heard of anything like this in my lifetime either (more or less the same as yours.)

            I agree that this is completely unusual, not like our usual, a regular, displays.

            btw, the trick with a shooting star is to have your wish burning in you so fierce that it spontaneously pops up in the instant you see one.


            We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

            by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:36:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Heh. That's probably why (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jim P

              I never got my wish... §;o)

              •  It has to burst out of you spontaneously, I (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau

                discovered to my surprise one wonderful August 11th. The illumination is visible so briefly that by time we think "oh I should make a..." the light's gone.


                We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

                by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 10:57:58 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Those Other Fireball Objects Were Too Small (10+ / 0-)

    to see and track. I believe I heard one expert say that the Russian one had come in from the direction of the Sun which if true rules out spotting of even much larger objects.

    The asteroid was small, around half a football field in length, but big enough to have tracked for a year or more. These others were basketball to auto sized and maybe smaller.

    Also we have to remember that they are the color of a charcoal briquette, really dark. People don't realize how dark the Moon is unless they see one of the spacecraft shots with the Earth in the picture as well.

    I had an image of earth plus moon but the server's freaking out right now and won't display it.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:00:38 PM PST

    •  It sure didn't look to be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, randallt, Jim P

      coming in from sunward, as the videos clearly show it to have crossed in front of the sun from stage right. But if, as 'they' all tell us, none of the six [6] objects witnessed so far are related to each other, they all must have been coming in from different directions, right?

      I realize such objects are hard to spot, though enough people are devoted to doing so that I figure it's not impossible. We know of the debris fields from past comets that we pass through in our orbit at entirely predictable times of year, and those consist mostly of mere pebbles rather than coherent bigger-than-basketball rocks or irregular chunks of metal. How come we haven't encountered this one before? Or perhaps the question is how come so many relatively large but 'unrelated in origin' rocks all ended up in our atmosphere at around the same time?

      BTW, the diary title is a take-off of Albert Einstein's famous "God does not play dice with the universe" quote. He may not play dice, but he sure looks to play a mean game of billiards!

      •  I Could Be Wrong, Maybe They Were Speculating (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, randallt

        about other objects, might've misheard part of the leadin.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:29:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well They Had Astronomers and Meteor Trackers (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, greengemini, randallt, grollen

        on air assuring that at least the asteroid and the Russian object were on very different tracks.

        While we know we'll be hitting comet pebbles annually we can't track any of them individually. As for why yesterday? Unless 2-3 of these other objects turn out to have been on the same track, just luck of the draw.

        BTW Science Channel has been airing "Meteorite Men" for some hours, H2 is airing a show on Tunguska this hour, and Science has announced a special on the Russian fireball for 8pm tonight.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:32:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That and the fact that few humans ... (4+ / 0-)

      have the intellectual ability to even remotely appreciate the breadth and depth of space, and foolishly assume that astronomers will be able to spot everything in the sky.  (sigh)

      "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

      by Neuroptimalian on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 01:25:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The awesome size of the universe (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        randallt

        isn't at issue here. Various orbiting comets, asteroids and debris fields in our orbit, crossing our orbit on a different plane, and/or expected to be closely encountered in the course of our orbit are the issues. Compared to "the breadth and depth of space," it's minute.

        •  Think about ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1, alain2112

          the Hubble Deep Field image, which was a photograph of a tiny area of our visual field and likened to taking an image of what lies behind a grain of rice held at arm's length, and then appreciate how many billions (if not trillions) of such images it would take to have total awareness of everything that can be seen from earth as it rotates, and add to that the tininess of individual asteroids out there too small to detect until they're upon us.

          "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

          by Neuroptimalian on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 02:35:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Galaxies at the edge of the universe (0+ / 0-)

            at the beginning of time are not affecting solar system dynamics here and now. Apart from the self-evident notion that everything began in one place at one time, and is thus connected to everything else that has happened since. IOW, every point in space-time is indeed the "Center of the Universe."

            What effects us here on planet Earth only has to do with what exists in our solar system. ALL considerable bodies that orbit our sun - and all bodies entering the inner system are drawn by our sun's gravity - are residents of our solar system. Even if they're just adopted redheaded stepchildren. Just another gravity related incident...

            •  (sigh) (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              alain2112

              Never mind.  Like I said, most people can't grasp it.

              "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

              by Neuroptimalian on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 02:50:41 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Further, as confirmed following the arrival ... (0+ / 0-)

              of the Russian meteorite, new facts concerning which are in today's news:

              That poor estimate underscores the daunting task scientists face today: While NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program currently tracks about 10,000 objects through the heavens, there are far, far more smaller objects that are simply too tiny to track.

              “If you think about objects the size of the one that came into Russia, you’re probably looking at 100 million up there. Of those likely to intersect Earth, there’s less, maybe 100,000,” said K.T. Ramesh, director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute and a professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins. “Space is pretty big.”

              And the size of those smaller objects -- whether they’re 10 tons or 10,000 tons -- makes them impossible to track with current technology, he said.

              "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the universe." -- Albert Einstein

              by Neuroptimalian on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:48:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  most of these fireball-causing meteors are (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, BlackSheep1, foresterbob

    still really small--they wouldn't be detected.  They're not uncommon...

    The one over Russia was larger (reports range from 10'-50' across, and likely very dense)... but it was still comparatively small and by the time it was close enough to possibly have been detected, it was morning in Russia so couldn't be seen.

    Anyway, all reports I've seen have it on a completely different trajectory as the main asteroid.....

    But I agree with you, this is definitely a shooting gallery.

  •  It's entirely possible that these events (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, jim in IA, randallt, Jim P

    were related to each other without being in any way related to 2012 DA14.  That way there's still only a single coincidence, not several.  At least, I haven't heard any experts say that they're not related to each other, so that remains a possibility as far as I know.

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:48:54 PM PST

    •  Hmmm. Perhaps you are right. (4+ / 0-)

      Which would make all the exploding meteors part of a debris field we should have had some warning about. I mean, it's not like we don't go through debris fields regularly or anything. Usually not ones containing debris this large.

    •  The smaller ones may be a cloud from a collision (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau

      of two small asteroids unrelated to the big near miss asteroid and that collision could have happened recently or a fairly long time ago and it just took a long while for the small but diffusing debris cloud to finally intersect the earth... but the close timing over just a handful of days and hours means that it could not have been a really long time since this presumed cloud was formed... since they would have spread out a lot more as time went on.

      So regardless it may be that if these were all part of a large-ish cloud of dispersed impact fragments of collision that happened far away and long ago and the earth only brushed part of it... and the bulk of the small objects missed by thousands of miles and continued in their collective orbits very spread out with variable changes to those orbits due to their flyby of the earth-moon system.

      We may meet them again. Could be parts of a previously undiscovered comet trail... there are many of those known and unknown.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 06:12:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, His game is definetely slop (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, randallt, Bisbonian, wu ming

    And here we sit. Almost blind and behind the 8ball

    "My God, it's full of stars"

    by Hammerhand on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 12:55:09 PM PST

  •  It's not unusual actually (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, IreGyre

    We get hit by meteorites all the time.

    People are just reporting them more now, and catching them on video more often.

    •  The videos are nice and indeed new. (0+ / 0-)

      But reports of these things have always been around. The Royal Society once came out and asserted with all proper 'scientific' authority that Stones Do Not Fall From The Sky. Then their headquarters building in London got smashed in a meteor shower.

      Reality has a way of making light of our pride and science is nothing if not pretentious. I'm just wondering why all of a sudden so many, coinciding with this stray asteroid which, if what we've been told is true, isn't orbiting on the same plane as any of these other meteors/asteroids. That's a puzzler to me. Is it not a puzzler to you?

  •  Hey, nobody said we wouldn't get our hair mussed. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    But I say no more than 10..........20 million dead..............TOPS!!!

  •  What if the marker for an Age ending/beginning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    is when the solar system and earth enters a portion of the galaxy rife with large rocks? And Dec 21, 2012 was just a "more or less around this time" kind of indicator?


    We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

    by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 07:23:03 PM PST

    •  Something the 'watchers' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      would surely know to factor for, don't you think? These people are generally not gravitationally ignorant, even if they're amateurs with big telescopes. The effects of the force are entirely predictable. D14's original course in or out of this system has been significantly altered by its close encounter with Earth. That's why we don't know yet when our next encounter will be, or its exact trajectory. If all the 'extra' exploding fireballs from rocks that DID get all the way inside our envelope had come from that asteroid, I think I'd feel better. That we are insistently told there is no connection is worrisome...

      There's lots of folklore and mythology about planets, suns, moons and comets. I'm not going to go all Velikovsky here. We've never known meteor showers or comets to be The Big Scary. We never obsessed about keeping track of Venus' crossings of the sun as if our civilization depended upon it. It's just the coincidences in this series of encounters seems a bit pat to me. And I'm wondering why we didn't know more, if more was there to be known per the rocks that exploded over several continents.

      Idle curiosity, nothing more. §;o)

      •  Understood. Give me whatever millions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        needed and a bevy of telescopes and sensors and I'm sure I'd spend a good deal of time checking up on things. Meanwhile, I'll start to worry if this kind of event keeps up over the next while.

        It's reasonable to think that, what with gravity and all, some parts of the recent flyby could be pulled off. But I guess it must have been under direct observation and people would have seen that. So that leaves Troubador's breakup of something else happening at the same time. Even before breakup would it have been too small to notice?

        When you wrote:

        We've never known meteor showers or comets to be The Big Scary. We never obsessed about keeping track of Venus' crossings of the sun as if our civilization depended upon it.
        I'm not sure if the "we" refers to us moderns or to humanity as a whole. Certainly historically, excepting the occasional military leader claiming displays as a sign from heaven, all humanity went into high-fear mode on the appearance of bright heavenly bodies.


        We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

        by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:53:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not going to let you (0+ / 0-)

          get me started on Harlow Shapely and the whole "Velikovsky Affair." Though the historic dread is duly noted in all contemporary civilizations on the planet at the time. And had a precisely 56-year cycle, predictable from the chartings of Venus' passages. We all know that the reason for the synchronicity of the moon's orbit around the Earth arises from the theory that the moon once was part of the Earth. Hence our dual-body gravitational interaction results in the same face presenting itself to us always. We also happen to share a synchronous situation with Venus - at our closest approaches we always 'see' the same face. Some try to explain that with the tidbit that both Earth and Venus have elliptical orbits and over eons in close approaches we've aligned, but Venus' orbit isn't very elliptical at all and we simply don't get that close on ours. In fact, Venus' orbit is very nearly perfectly circular, unlike any other planet in the system. Velikovsky considered that the synchronicity indicated a close encounter at least once in the past. Shapely ruined him for it.

          Catastrophism isn't part of our life experience, in these generations of contemporary life in time. We do not fear comets or meteor showers instinctually. But we also now know for a fact things are not nearly as peaceful and clockwork as Shapely wanted so desperately to believe. Heck, he insisted there was only one galaxy in the universe for most of his life, and maybe even died believing it despite evidence to the contrary. He owned astronomy. Sometimes they set themselves back for centuries for mere ego.

          Simply find it all most fascinating, and wonder what's known and what's platitudes.

          •  fwiw, i know of at least one tradition (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau

            which came from central asia which holds that the earth used to have two moons.

            It's all interesting to think about. What I do know for a fact is that all of our sciences, especially the ones dealing with vast time frames, simply haven't had enough observational data to make conclusions about almost anything. "Science" is these cases is actually a bit of a boast with no backing, though theories about and the methods of science might be used. But going to the root "science" we have "the state of knowing." We don't have that about cosmic and geological timeframes.

            btw, in another context but to the same point, you might have seen this latest news which stemmed from the great 9+ earthquakes in Chile, Tohoku, and Sumatra. That by current understanding and calculations none of these could even be possible at these magnitudes, the worst an 8.4.

            Potential for 'superquakes' underestimated
            When two tectonic plates collide, they build up strain where a fault sticks, or locks, together. Earthquakes release this strain, which is a form of energy.

            For decades, scientists assumed faults acted like rubber bands, steadily building up strain and then releasing it all at once, Goldfinger said. The longer the time since the last earthquake, the larger the next earthquake would be, the model predicted.

            The problem was researchers failed to recognize that faults can store energy like a battery,...

            Goldfinger and other researchers now think if a "small" quake hits, it may not release all of the accumulated energy in a fault. ...

            ...Thus, a fault can "borrow" stored energy from previous strain-building cycles, generating larger earthquakes than expected, ...

            So, all the assumptions of what any given nuke plant can take are based, if this new idea is true, on a completely faulty, and vastly underestimated, assumption.

            Damn, snake eyes!


            We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

            by Jim P on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 10:48:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  but all of the "Rocks" are orbiting as well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau

      they are not a stationary area that the rest of the galaxy rotates through it over millions of years... the Earth and solar system takes 225 million years to make the trip... and last time we were in this approx area the dinosaurs were just starting out... not ending... so if there were a big cloud of rocks not affected by the entire galaxy and just waiting like a bus stop we won't get to a dinosaur ending bunch for another 160 million years... and anyway we have plenty of asteroids and comets locally to keep us in potential impactors for the rest of the time the earth will exist.

      Now there are areas of relative density of gas and dust... and during the solar system's orbit with the galaxy it is slightly inclined compared to the main plane.. we end up above and below the main thickness on two places in our orbit and also intersect the thicker regions in two places as well... in addition we do have a slightly oval orbit and move inwards and outwards during our circumnavigation around the galactic center... and along with that the spiral arms and everything in them are moving so we may be migrating in and out of arms along with everything else so while most of the time star systems, gas clouds, dust, clusters, runaway planets etc stay in the arms there is a constant bleeding in and out along the leading and trailing edges of the arms...

      Close approaches with other stars whose Oort cloud shells may be perturbed in the process would lead to far more chances of things whizzing into the inner parts of the solar system with a greater chance of it or things it disturbs eventually hitting the earth compared to larger but more distant and weak influences... but even then Jupiter and other giant planets with deep gravity wells act as sweepers and clear out a lot of things heading inwards or in long duration extreme eccentric orbits before they get a chance at hitting something nearer to us....

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 07:44:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not convinced we have even a 1% grasp (0+ / 0-)

        of our galactic environment, though there are many who assert that everything is known. It was just a little over a century ago that we "just had to cross the T and dot the I" to be finished with physics and cosmology.

        We just don't have enough observational data, but if we keep watching for 21,000 years we can then start with science rather than using some of the tools of science; which things are different matters in relation to knowledge.

        One only has to look at the reports of literally almost every single bit of new data coming from whatever source to encounter the words "puzzled, surprised; not what we expected; goes counter to theory; stunned; confused; at a loss; perplexed; baffled; mystified."

        Seriously, I've not seen a single report of any new cosmological observation for the last 8 years (since someone brought it to my attention, so more than 8 years) which doesn't have the scientists saying those words or something near them. That's something I suggest you look for in reports, and see if I'm making that up or not. (I'm not.)

        All of which suggests that the current theories-asserted-as-fact about cosmology are severely lacking. Or else we'd be hearing more about "confirmed" and not so much "perplexed."

        In terms of observational data we are in the position of someone who has just today discovered how to do sums, and who assumes that therefore they have mastered calculus.


        We live in a nation where doctors destroy health; lawyers, justice; universities, knowledge; governments, freedom; the press, information; religion, morals; and our banks destroy the economy. -- Chris Hedges

        by Jim P on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 11:10:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed but we are making progress (0+ / 0-)

          each new observation or set of analysis does lead to adjustments if not radical rethinking... and yet it is not a case of throwing out everything that we knew before as each new thing comes in... much of what we know is correct or on the right track and would still be true even if a lot of the larger unknowns change fundamental understandings.

          Just as what we know about genetics contains things that will still be true as well as things that will be explained differently that we now think we do it means just getting a deeper and wider comprehension with some ideas or concepts needed heavy modification or even replacement and yet still leaving most of the facts intact... just working better together.

          I am fascinated by how the new data combines and improves what is already known... there are levels of explanation and we certainly understand the simpler levels and the behavior of many basic things AND importantly a lot of predictions are borne out by the observations... so it is also not a case of being totally surprised by every new addition. For instance physicists predicted Black holes... then later they predicted super massive ones at the center of every galaxy... of course the older scientists were resistant and rightly demanded proof for each seemingly wild theory or hypothesis or prediction.

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:28:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Connectivity and Observability (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Sandino, IreGyre, Joieau

    I think the real coincidence that you are seeing is found in global connectivity.  We are able to see more events and share them globally in a way that has never been true before.

    The solar system is still quite full of debris and we pass through it on a regular basis - Persieds, Geminids, Leonids are some of the names we give to regular meteor showers, though the fireworks aren't as spectacular as what we've seen this week.  As with storms and earthquakes, the bigger ones and really big ones happen less frequently than small ones, but that doesn't mean they can't cluster.  And really, even these events aren't all that big.  We've probably had weeks like this before in the past 30 or 40 years.  The difference now is that waaaay more people can film it and then post that video for the world to see.  The events are far more observable and shareable than ever before.

    As I understand it, here's what we've seen this week.  D14 moved really close to the Earth, but was on a trajectory that took it from south to north - it wasn't in our same plane of orbit.  The meteor that exploded over Russia appeared to travel from roughly east to west - placing it very much in our plane of orbit.  In your SF Bay video, the driver states he was going south on the highway and the fireball is moving away from him - indicating a north to south - opposite direction from D14 and orthogonal to the Russian meteor.  These are the indicators that tell you that the objects aren't related - they were moving in completely different planes of orbit.  For a demonstration of how that works, go back and look at the impacts of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter - the comet broke up and had chunks strung out along its orbital path which then hit Jupiter in sequence and all at roughly the same latitude.

    As another commenter notes, 70% of the earth's surface is water where there are many fewer people with cameras to capture the event on video and post for the world to see.  With D14 approaching so closely, everyone is primed to think about meteors and report them more.  The SF Bay event would hardly be newsworthy in the absence of D14 and the Russian event.  This really is a case of humans observing and reporting events more than there being an independent increase in occurrence.

     

    - "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"
    - REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX.

    by Hoya90 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 09:13:13 PM PST

  •  There is another simple explanation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau
                                The End is Near
    You'd have to be some elite scientist not to realize that shit like this is the stuff historical omens of doom. Ask King Harold.. oh yeah you can't, thanks comets.

    And yet another possibility, for those of us who will not accept omens of impending doom when we can just look at the clear scientific proof of impending doom, is that the close passage of D14 perturbed the orbits of smaller objects in nearby orbits that would otherwise have been far from earth. I doubt such interactions are modeled by people who watch for these things.

  •  Mayans. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    I'm just sayin'
     

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 01:22:05 AM PST

  •  There was something about this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    on the Science Channel, one of those shows about our solar system.  I remember the narrator saying that, while we can detect large objects (like D14), we can't (yet?) detect smaller objects that could still do significant damage until they're right on top of us (like Chelyabinsk).

    It's all about size.  One bird won't register on radar but a flock of birds might.  Similar concept.  And the solar system is chock-full of cosmic debris of the smaller sort, the craters on the moon being a good indication.

    Given the time scale of the solar system vs. the time scale of our lives, this doesn't seem like anything more than coincidence to me.

    The earth will inevitably be hit (again) by a D14-sized or larger object; it isn't a matter of "if" but a matter of "when."  But again, on the time scale of the solar system, it could be in our lifetimes or it could be a few hundred thousand or more years from now, the difference to the universe time-wise being but the blink of an eye to us.

    Arrrr, the laws of science be a harsh mistress. -Bender B. Rodriguez

    by democracy inaction on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 06:47:08 AM PST

  •  As far as not being warned about a meteor shower, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    Meteor showers are called that after there have been a few years of  reliable observations of bursts of meteor activity that show a radiant, ... which means the meteor streaks seem to come from roughly the same area of the sky (just a perspective effect). Meteor showers occur every year at predictable times.  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    There are numerous meteor showers during the year and some surprise us on rare occasions with unexpected storms (a rate of thousands of meteors per hour,sometimes lasting only a few minutes).  

    Here's the list for 2013 http://stardate.org/...

    There are numerous minor showers that it takes mapping of where the meteors traveled, to even suspect there was a radiant since they may have rates of only 5 or ten an hour.

    A SHOWER of meteors as used in the news is just an outburst of meteors even if from just a single unpredictable event. Not all will leave meteorite chunks around, but this beauty of an event seems to have done so.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/...

    “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by astrogeology girl on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:29:46 AM PST

  •  Predicting these events (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau
    Doesn't exactly give me much confidence that we're in good hands, or that we'll necessarily get any advanced warning of imminent or future collision courses that could utterly destroy whole swaths of the planet (or at least make a big enough mess that financial catastrophe would be the least of our problems). Anybody else out there not feeling very reassured about our chances in God's skillful game of billiards lately?
    There is actually no way there are enough telescopes or other detectors, even satellites, to keep track of or detect every thing in space.

    It would be like you trying to keep track of every individual atom of argon in the air while you walking around your house. And argon has the smallest significant % of dry air composition.  Trying to keep track of every nitrogen molecule would be even worse,since that makes up most of the air. "Gee was I just hit by nitrogen molecule Betty 27899###B or Betty 27899###C?"

    The whole sky doesn't get surveyed all the time either down to really fine degrees. The NEAR and other surveys are just checking for ones that would wipe out everything.

    Look on the bright side, sooner or later someone will guess right about the date of the end of the world. And of course since we are all eventually going to die, the world will end for each of us individually anyway.

    “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by astrogeology girl on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:44:02 AM PST

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