Sneaky meteors that blindside Earth (5×8 – 2/15/13)

The meteor above, wiping away history in White Bear Lake, the hardest words to say, winning women and Minnesota sports, and another love story.


1) THEY’RE HERE

See, this is the thing with spacestroids. We’re all consumed by this big asteroid that is flying by Earth today and — wham!! — while we’re all watching that one, a meteor we didn’t know was there comes sneaking into the planet.

Last night, the meteor struck Siberia, injuring some people and inflicting damage from the shock wave as it exploded in the atmosphere.

Here’s what’s a little creepy about this: Just yesterday, Science Guy Bill Nye was considering what would happen if an asteroid hit the U.S. And he told the story of the the time one did. In Siberia.


“This is what happened over Siberia. It blew down trees over 200 square kilometers. A Mount Saint Helens kind of explosion,” says Nye. “It was just the pressure, the shock wave from this thing.”

And that’s the damage from a 45-meter asteroid. If they get up over 50 to 100 meters, Nye says the damage can be even more severe.

“Then you’ve got continent destroying, tidal waves, wipe out the world’s economy sort of things.”

Russia Today says over 500 people were hurt.

It gets more intense.

Russia TV says a missile blew the meteor apart, indicating — if true (we have our doubts) — someone saw it coming and it raises questions, at least at the World Headquarters of NewsCut — about what else they might have thought it was.


According to unconfirmed reports, the meteorite was intercepted by an air defense unit at the Urzhumka settlement near Chelyabinsk. A missile salvo blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers, local newspaper Znak reports quoting a source in the military.

Regnum news agency quoted a military source who claimed that the vapor condensation trail of the meteorite speaks to the fact that the meteorite was intercepted by air defenses.

The good news is that it doesn’t appear any of the estimated one billion dashboard cameras in the area were damaged…

Now, about that other thing heading our way: We won’t be able to see the asteroid that is due to pass within a cosmic cough of earth today, at least with the naked eye. It’ll be daylight when asteroid 2012 DA14 flies by a little after lunch today.

But some various websites will make it available to you. NASA will stream lives views starting at 11 this morning (here). The Bareket Observatory in Israel is providing images updated a couple of times a minute starting a noon (here) And a telescope in Italy will provide a feed starting at 4 p.m. CT (here)

It’ll be 5 years before the planet launches a spacecraft to help protect us from asteroids. And there are a lot of them out there.

asteroids_space_program.jpg

(h/t: Neil deGrasse Tyson)

2) WIPING AWAY HISTORY

It didn’t take a meteorite to destroy an icon of White Bear Lake. The Pioneer Press reports the Johnson Boat Works has been wiped away for development of the Marina Triangle. Sometimes history passes quietly and with little notice.

Norwegian immigrant John O. Johnson built scow sailboats there starting in the early 1900s, and kept at it for generations.

Colleague Cathy Wurzer included it in her book, Tales of the Road-Highway 61.

It went down quickly.

3) THE HARDEST WORDS

It is somehow fitting that it took the U.S. Postal Service six years to deliver something — an apology. Joan Najbar had sent the letter to her son, Sam Eininger, in September 2006 while he was serving in Iraq. It came back with the words “deceased” written on it.

She hadn’t been told of his death, and with good reason; he wasn’t dead.

Her suit was tossed out in 2009

“That they didn’t have a way to prevent this is a slap to all veterans,” she tells the Duluth News Tribune. “We’re still at war. You’d hope they would have a system in place to prevent something like this. But apparently they still do not.”

4) WINNING WOMEN

If you crave a winning sports team in Minnesota, you should probably be following women’s sports more closely.

Our old colleague, Bob Ingrassia, has posted his chart showing “that in every year since 1999 (the year the Minnesota Lynx started playing), the major women’s teams in Minnesota have posted a higher average winning percentage than our top men’s teams.” Every year.

If you’re a Minnesota sports fan holding your high, he suggests, you can thank a woman.

5) A LOVE STORY? THAT’S SO YESTERDAY!

Shelley and Bill: A love story from Brad Horn on Vimeo.

Bonus I: Waiting out winter. What’s your method?

Bonus II: A guide to Saint Paul for the news media. Our friend, Teresa Boardman, also notes that there is no such place as Minneapolis – St. Paul.

TODAY’S QUESTION

Passengers on the disabled cruise ship Triumph had to endure days at sea with limited power, malfunctioning toilets and no ventilation. Today’s Question: What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on vacation?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: This week on the Friday Roundtable, our panelists will examine the meaning of Black History Month in 2013. Does relegating the history of black Americans to one month do justice to the contributions they’ve made to American society?

Second hour: Could you live in a home that is less than 1000 square feet?

Third hour: The Minnesota Orchestra lockout.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Live National Press Club broadcast, featuring Chris Dodd of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – An asteroid is headed our way. Half the size of a football field, it won’t hit us, but it will pass closer than most satellites, and through the field of orbiting space junk.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - Trading in a chalkboard for a camera, a young Syrian school teacher travels to the center of her country’s brutal and dangerous civil war to document what’s happening. While others evacuate to safer ground, one woman risks her life to be a witness. NPR will have the story.

  • Robert Moffitt

    Here it comes, boys and girls, the fireball that shook the Urals. One is gone, here comes another. The first was just the baby brother.