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The impact dramatized above shows a hypothetical object several hundred miles in diameter striking Earth about 4 billion years ago during a period known as late heavy bombardment. But long after the Hadean Eon, planet busters were still crashing in and now we have some evidence for how big and bad one of those might have been:

An asteroid that struck the Earth between 3.25 and 3.5 billion years ago created an earthquake that shook the entire planet for half an hour.
Stanford researchers have measured the size of the asteroid at about 30 miles across, roughly as wide as the state of Rhode Island. The massive asteroid impacted the planet at 42,000 miles per hour. The sky burned red-hot following the impact. Oceans boiled, much of it streaming into the atmosphere. Tidal waves hundreds of feet high formed in much of the water that remained.
If something like that hit now it would knock life back to pond scum. Maybe some biomes around marine hydrothermal vents or cold seeps, seeds sheltered by soil, or small animals with an underground refuge far from the epicenter could ride it out, but not much else.
  • That is one badass otter.
  • Mars is very near Earth right now and it looks great in the night sky; but that's not a UFO or alien campfire on its surface!
  • First discovered exo-moon?
  • You don't see this headline every day:
    Doctors have successfully implanted laboratory-grown vaginas into four teenage girls suffering from a rare birth defect, creating new organs with feel and function comparable to that of a "natural" vagina, a new study reports. Another research team is reporting the first successful nose reconstruction surgery using laboratory-grown cartilage.
    Obviously, since the article involves womens' health, the usual suspects would have to find a way to whine about it.
  • Speaking of catastrophes large and small, on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher last night a guest stated assertively, several times, that a tactical nuke is exclusively designed to penetrate underground installations like a conventional bunker-buster. While there is no precise definition, the term generally refers to a nuclear device  that 1) produces an explosive yield measured more in kilotons than megatons and 2) is designed for use on a fluid battlefield as opposed to a fixed target like a military base or a city.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Apr 12, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech and Astro Kos.

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