A 9˝ Hour Reprieve …
A missile with the devastating power of more than 10,000 nuclear bombs detonating simultaneously missed us by mere hours on Monday, July 3, 2006—and yet it barely made the headlines.
In less time than it takes paint to dry, a catastrophe the likes of which mankind has never seen whisked passed our planet receiving comparatively little attention as to what would have happened had it not missed. If this sounds alarmist then consider the following facts.
A large asteroid with the innocuous dub of 2004 XP14 missed Earth by 430,000 kilometres, scientists reported. That may not sound close to most of us, but consider that this giant meteor is traveling at 12.6 kilometres a second (or to put that in more concrete terms, from New York to London in just 7.3 minutes), which translates into an impact time, were it on course, of only 9.5 hours.
If you consider, too, that a meteor just 60 meters wide would cause an explosion equivalent to 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, then the XP14, estimated to be up to 800 meters across, would cause exponentially greater damage—in short, it would devastate an entire continent and wreak global havoc.
Some will argue that because of the three-dimensional nature of space, opposing velocities, contradictory orbits, and such, it is overreacting to assert that we came within single-digit hours of colliding with an asteroid that would change they way we all live, possibly forever.
Sure, in three dimensions, the odds of a collision lessen, but this doesn’t change the simple fact that had we been on converging paths, Monday, July 3, would have been the blackest day in our history. It’s purely a matter of twiddling with mathematical equations, adjusting angles—splitting celestial hairs.
The point is simple, we have all had yet another cosmic brush with death—another very definite warning—and one day it won’t be hours or even minutes away!
An update of the 2004 XP14 in science speak ... still scary stuff:
Asteroid diameter = 900 m Volume (4/3 p r3) = 381,703,507.4 m3 Density (rock) = 3000 Kg / m3 Asteroid mass = 1.145 x 1012 kg Impact v = 17000 m/s KE (˝ m v2) = 1.65 x 1020 J (1.65 x 1020 J = 3.95 x 104 megatons TNT)