Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 21st year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2016 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Is the sky falling?

25 February 2013

A little over a week ago, a meteor streaked across the skies of Russia, before exploding in a multi-megaton blast that, when coupled with a sonic boom, shattered windows over a massive area.

Luckily for those below, this was a small meteorite that produced an outcome which was more spectacular than life-threatening. Next time however, we might not be quite so lucky.

To help mitigate the dangers posed by a larger piece of space rock or ice, NASA and a number of private-sector organisations are now focused on creating an "early warning" system that might alert us to the pending disaster that such a meteor might represent.

Surely one must ask -- why bother?

Even if we did develop the technology to reliably detect life-threatening space rocks before they entered our atmosphere, what could we do to change anything?

Well right now -- pretty much nothing.

All the space shuttles have been decommissioned and even if they were still operational, Bruce Willis is now far too old to lead a mission to plant nukes on a planet-killing asteroid anyway.

Shooting such a threat with a laser is still in the realm of science-fiction, we have no way to effectively "blow up" a piece of rock that's big enough to cause a major disaster and even evacuating a target area would likely be totally impractical - given the timeframes involved.

So, why would we even bother trying to detect these things?

Might we not be better off (like those before a firing squad), keeping the blindfold of ignorance firmly over our eyes?

I can only think that the real reason the US government might be prepared to pour large sums of money into such a project is so that they can ensure the "privileged elite" have adequate time to be ushered into their underground bunkers before the impact -- while leaving regular folk to perish on the surface above.

Am I too cynical?

We're told that a big blast like the one in Russia a week ago is a "once in 100 years" event and indeed, the blast at Tunguska occurred around a century ago. Does this mean we're now safe for another 100 years?

Unfortunately not. Another even larger meteorite could pummel the planet tomorrow and we've got no way of stopping it.

However, given the near perfect timing of this latest "arrival", the close proximity of the rock that shot within a few thousand KM of earth a just a few hours after and the apparent increase in meteor sightings in skies around the world over the past week or two -- one has to wonder if we're passing through a cloud of previously unmapped space-rock. Perhaps this is a cloud of space-rock that we pass through every 100 years?

A very wise man once said -- let us not worry about the things we can't change. I think those are wise words to live by, at least in respect to meteorites.

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say on this...

PERMALINK to this column

Oh, and don't forget today's sci/tech news headlines

Rank This Aardvark Page


Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines



Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam


The Missile Man The Missile Man book

Recent Columns

Too many pickled herrings!
Just when you thought the hysteria within the ranks of bureaucrats and regulators over the issue of drones couldn't get any more insane...

Samsung's abuse of copyright
Copyright is a subject I write about quite often in this column - mainly because it's one of the most abused aspects of IP law...

Not as easy as it looks
NASA has landed an awful lot of craft on different worlds and has had only a few failures...

Sorry, I got nothin
I've been doing this blog thing for over 20 years -- in fact I'm now in my 22nd year of writing something for this site almost every day...

ItoldYaSo - Free movies/TV
Some time ago I suggested that some smart Kiwi should go into business selling set-top boxes running Kodi and a range of "free TV" plug-ins such as 1Channel, Exodus or whatever...

Data is killing the planet
Just half a century ago there wasn't a whole lot of computer data storage on the planet...

Net to the US Government: Piss off!
I read multiple reports over the weekend which suggested that the USA was preparing to launch a cyber-assault on Russia...

TV is hurting
Statistics show that under-35s are watching less and less broadcast TV in favour of online viewing...

Kicking batteries to the kerb
Batteries... can't live with them, can't sleep at night because of the fires they might create...

A fantastic opportunity - the Note 7
Samsung is reeling from the incendiary effect that its Note 7 smartphone is having on its brand and the cost could be huge...

Are we our own worst enemy?
It seems that celebrity scientists and entrepreneurs are big news these days and the media seems to hang on their every word...