I remember back in the early 70s when it was predicted that California was going to fall into the ocean as the result of a coming massive earthquake. Using that as a backdrop now comes word that Sunday April 13, 2036 is definitely not going to be a good day. That NASA scientists have pegged it down to the day has me a bit more concerned than the prospect of developing potential beachfront property in Reno Nevada.
What is all the fuss about? Oh nothing really; just a little tiny space rock named Apophis that’s only about 1,000 feet wide that NASA says appears to be on a collision course with Earth. You could say it’s predicted that we’re about to become the object of affection in a cosmic game of 8-ball.
Chicken Little’s prediction that “The sky is falling!” could actually come true! Especially since Arizona’s 4,000-foot-wide Barringer Asteroid Crater has apparently been waiting expectantly and/or impatiently for his big brother to arrive. The only trouble is the result of that predicted reunion is bound to be wider than the average state!
Right now we have only two factors that could alter this doomsday scenario. On the negative side, we have the nightmare that it’d break apart in Earth’s gravity and shower chunks over a larger area instead of concentrating the impact on one site, such as what happened when the Shoemaker-Levy comet broke up before it hit Jupiter. For the better, maybe our battered Moon will get in the way. Merely looking at our lunar buddy with a good pair of binoculars will tell you how many times it’s saved our butts before. Then again, the latest theory is that that very same moon was created when a Mars-sized planet hit us, sheering off enough material to create our lunar neighbor. Fortunately Apophis appears to be much, much smaller — thank goodness.
Astrobiologist David Morrison of NASAs Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA has declared the threat real and credible. The date is set for April 13th 2036 (which oddly enough isn’t a Friday), but what really gives me pause is they’ve started to quote odds—1 in 6,250 to be exact. Considering the odds are higher at being an a airline crash, being struck by lightning, or Boston winning the World Series three years in a row, that little ratio should give you pause!
Should the rock actually hit earth, it’d have the equivalent punch of 65,000 Hiroshima bombs or approximately 880 million tons of dynamite.
While the tendency is to laugh this off, (after all, I’ll be 86 by then-what do I care?) just ponder that the scientific community is so concerned about this, that in recent years Congress has authorized funds to identify asteroids more than about half a mile in diameter that might cross Earth’s path by 2008, and plans have been put into the works to develop strategies to deflect, ram or destroy those threats by 2015.
Now before you scoff at only 1,000 feet in diameter consider this; a rock only approximately 200 feet in diameter took out Siberia’s Tunguska forest in 1908 devastating an area the size of Rhode Island and destroying 60 million trees.
If you think about it, this might be a good thing! At least the resulting worldwide dust cloud will solve our “Global Warming” problem!
Just to be on the safe side, I think I’ll spend the day in church and see about altering my future homeowner’s insurance policy.