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Asteroids and Comets: Deadly Dangers from Above
CBN News ^ | June 15th, 2004 | Gailon Totheroh

Posted on 06/15/2004 8:13:21 AM PDT by missyme

Scientists are concerned about terrorism like many of us are today, but not from people -- from outer space.

Asteroids and comets constantly spin near us, threatening death and destruction. A dead-on hit by the largest of these cosmic cannonballs could mean the end of life as we know it.

Now is the time for a new age of exploration and discovery, to go seek out the universe -- but maybe it's the reverse -- the universe may be coming after us, in the form of comets or asteroids. Physics and astronomy professors like Gary Copeland at Old Dominion University are predicting 'an event' could be right around the corner. "We'll get one to two events per century that will be equal to all the destructive power of all the weapons in World War II."

That would mean that the event would be equivalent to the total destructive power of every bullet, every shell, every mortar, every bomb of WW II hitting at once -- including the atomic ones.

The last space projectile of this magnitude was a mere 200 feet across. The asteroid struck central Russia in 1908, and the resulting fireball torched miles and miles of forest. But fortunately, the area was nearly uninhabited.

Copeland remarked, "If it [the central Russian asteroid] had happened over New York City, it would have been a different ball game."

CBN News asked him, "Meaning millions killed?" Copeland replied, "Yes, yes."

Hollywood envisioned this scenario with the movie, "Deep Impact." In the movie, it is discovered that two comets are on a collision course with Earth.

But while Hollywood may sensationalize the risk, members of Congress are seriously concerned. Representative Dana Rohrbacher, who leads the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, said, "There is a threat to us and to our lives, of objects coming from space that could hit our planet and kill millions of people. It's happened in the past and it will happen in the future. The question is when, and how many people will be affected. "

Not so long ago, science assumed the risk was even smaller for these extremely rare events. But better technology means we're discovering more, and finding a higher risk than was first believed.

Any actual strike brings some devastation, and with the planet's surface two-thirds water, well, that's a big target.

Copeland said, "There's probably evidence that several things like this happened in previous centuries, but they didn't land on Earth. On water is where they hit, and of course, they produced the Tsunamis, the tidal waves."

Copeland says the impact of a space object can generate 900-foot waves, similar to the impact envisioned in Hollywood films. And if there is little advance warning, low-lying areas near the strike are more than vulnerable. "It's not survivable, nor is it escapable," says Copeland. "You get in your car and try to drive away, meanwhile a wave moving at 600 miles an hour comes in. There's no way."

And how about a sizable mass that hit in the Atlantic? Copeland said that places like Florida, which is pretty flat, "would be inundated, it would disappear for a while."

And a medium-sized strike off the California coast? Also deadly.

But even that much devastation doesn't compare with the mother of all asteroid strikes in the past.

"There's a place in Africa that's a crater over a hundred miles across," Copeland explains. "It wasn't recognized as a crater until they had satellite photographs to see it." The Vredefort crater has a diameter of 185 miles, and was created by an asteroid estimated to be six miles wide.

The damage today from even a much smaller rock could mean long-term global devastation.

An asteroid or comet impact on land would shoot debris high into the atmosphere, and could create year-round winter conditions by blocking sunlight for a year or more. That would lead to unstable weather patterns with a nearly non-existent growing season. And that could mean mass starvation and economic ruin for years.

Part of the reason asteroids and comets can pack so much damage is their velocity. Comets generally travel faster than asteroids, as fast as 150,000 miles an hour, meaning they could pack a bigger punch. Don't get too comfortable, though, the slowest asteroids travel at a deadly 25,000 miles an hour.

And don't forget that the pull of the planets can alter the course of asteroids, and especially comets, when Jupiter drags them closer to Earth.

So are we all just doomed if one of these astral assailants strikes right off our shores? Is there anything we can do to stop an asteroid from smashing into our neighborhoods? The truth of the matter is, right now, not much.

But astronomers are getting better at tracking them. Still, with most observatories in the Northern Hemisphere, objects flying in the Southern skies could more easily go undetected. So far, astronomers have discovered 700 or so, out of an estimated 1100 of the largest, most dangerous asteroids.

And each sighting does boost our potential to protect ourselves. There is even a global effort to look for asteroids. That is the Spaceguard Survey, and Congressman Rohrbacher wants to go further, with the Pete Conrad bill.

"The purpose of the Pete Conrad bill," says Rohrbacher, "is to get people looking up, and not just looking down. Certainly we have to worry that we might stumble over things in our path, but we also have to worry about what might be coming at us from up above."

And already on the drawing boards are plans to launch a rocket with a bomb, to divert an asteroid headed our way. That could make the rock speed harmlessly past us. Better science will give us more lead-time on a threat, enabling the kind of evacuations already used for flooding and storms, perhaps even with months or years of advance notice.

University scientists are already working on the problem of an asteroid or comet collision, but they really need more research to accurately assess the danger. With funding, that could take about 10 years, and by then government officials could come up with a plan to at least minimize the potential global impact.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: asteroids; cbn; theskyisfalling

1 posted on 06/15/2004 8:13:23 AM PDT by missyme
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To: missyme

Why do we feel the need to scare ourselves constantly? I know, I know, the media loves to inflate risks to inflate ratings...

Remember when BIC lighters were killing people by the dozen by exploding in people's pocketS?


2 posted on 06/15/2004 8:16:17 AM PDT by Captain Rabbit (Kuck Ferry.)
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To: missyme

They were there long before us, and they'll be there long after we're dust. Why worry?


3 posted on 06/15/2004 8:17:44 AM PDT by theDentist (I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell !)
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To: Captain Rabbit

I guess cause "Little Comets" are entering the earth and of course like the thought process f little eartquakes mean impending "Big One" I guess it is the same thought process for Asteroids..


4 posted on 06/15/2004 8:19:15 AM PDT by missyme
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To: missyme
Physics and astronomy professor Gary Copeland at Old Dominion University is predicting 'an event' could be right around the corner. "We'll get one to two events per century that will be equal to all the destructive power of all the weapons in World War II."

Ok..Mac..you've had you 15 minutes of fame. Now pull on your elbow patched tweed jacket and smoke your pipe! Jeeeeez!

5 posted on 06/15/2004 8:20:14 AM PDT by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: missyme

Back in the summer of 2001 it was the "Shark Attack" stories that were all the rage that entire summer. This year it seems that asteroids are the new media scare story.

What's next "Sharks from outerspace"....???


6 posted on 06/15/2004 8:23:21 AM PDT by all4one (Psalm 27:1-6)
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To: all4one

I have wondered what the reaction would actually be if a large natural disaster were to strike. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 - 100 million deaths. Just exactly how would that change man?


7 posted on 06/15/2004 8:27:11 AM PDT by SLB ("We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us." C. S. Lewis)
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To: all4one

"What's next "Sharks from outerspace"....???"

I'm leaning more toward, "Asteroids from the Deep."


8 posted on 06/15/2004 8:29:39 AM PDT by Socratic (Yes, there is method in the madness.)
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To: missyme
Bah! We've already uncovered the 411 on the following conspiracy right here..

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1146228/posts

9 posted on 06/15/2004 8:29:55 AM PDT by Paradox (Occam was probably right.)
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To: all4one
"What's next "Sharks from outerspace"....???

With frickin' laser beams on their heads...

10 posted on 06/15/2004 8:30:44 AM PDT by Trampled by Lambs ("Making Al Gore regret inventing the internet, one post at a time")
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To: missyme
[18]: The disciples say to Jesus: "Tell us what our end will be." Jesus says: "Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end? For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death!"
11 posted on 06/15/2004 8:33:48 AM PDT by onedoug
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To: missyme

There was a meteor/comet/asteroid impact in 2002 that flattened about 40 miles of forest in siberia. there's a discussion of that plus discussion of half a dozen other meteor strikes in the last couple years at fr here.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1152933/posts

It looks like there's a pretty steady rain of space debris.


12 posted on 06/15/2004 8:36:39 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: SLB

Although I jest in my post, I have been closely following the info. on recent "Near Earth Objects" on the NASA site. One that is coming near soon is "Ikotawa #25143", scheduled to be near Earth next week around June 24th. Another is "Toutauis" (sp?), scheduled to be close in September.

I can't even wrap my mind around the scope of such an events; and the effects afterwards.


13 posted on 06/15/2004 8:41:00 AM PDT by all4one (Psalm 27:1-6)
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To: theDentist

Interestingly, the chance of the average American dying in in a meteor or asteroid impact is about the same as the chance of an average American dying in an airliner crash. (Sounds ridiculous, but think about it carefully.)

The problem with "us" is that "us" hasn't been around for very long. And a lot of life forms before "us" weren't around after large impacts.


14 posted on 06/15/2004 8:44:59 AM PDT by Strategerist
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To: Strategerist

Yup. And there's really nothing we can do about it. So, again, why worry?


15 posted on 06/15/2004 8:47:05 AM PDT by theDentist (I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell !)
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To: missyme; All
Should any out here feel the need to worry about this, to a point of distraction, I will be glad to send you (for a small fee) plans which are guaranteed to keep you from being injured in any way by a meteorite, or asteroid.

For an additional fee, I will include my booklet titled "How To Make Money From Foreign Bodies".


Johnny Dork, Mortician

16 posted on 06/15/2004 8:48:32 AM PDT by G.Mason (A President is best judged by the enemies he makes when he has really hit his stride…Max Lerner)
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To: theDentist

Eh, there are possible ways we could do something about it. It's a bit more complex than simply nuking something incoming, but it may not be an insurmountable problem.

I'd hate to have civilization end and not have explored every possible way to avoid it.


17 posted on 06/15/2004 8:50:03 AM PDT by Strategerist
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To: theDentist; Poohbah; section9; Dog; Pukin Dog; Long Cut; Howlin; veronica; PhiKapMom; ...

If we get enough fo a lead time, we CAN do something about it.

The NEAR-Shoemaker probe landed on Eros and transmitted scientific data for 16 days after landing. If an unmanned spacecraft carrying scientific insturments can land on an asteroid - an unmanned spacecraft with a "physics package" can land on an asteroid.

Get enough lead time, land the craft on the asteroid, and then activating the "physics package" should make the problem asteroid go away.


18 posted on 06/15/2004 8:53:12 AM PDT by hchutch ("Go ahead. Leave early and beat the traffic. The Milwaukee Brewers dare you." - MLB.com 5/11/04)
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To: missyme
Comets and Asteroids are "terroists"? No wonder the libs don't have a clue about Iraq and terrorism...they don't knonw what it is.

Do they think terrorism is the accidental fallout of the muslim religion that just happens...and at the same time think, say...clouds are malicious because they pelt us with raindrops?

eek...eeek...run, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.
19 posted on 06/15/2004 8:56:29 AM PDT by FrankR (You are only enslaved to the extent of charity that you receive.)
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To: missyme

Sky is falling bump.


20 posted on 06/15/2004 9:04:19 AM PDT by wbill
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To: all4one
What's next "Sharks from outerspace"....???

So long as they don't have frickin' "lasers" attached to their heads. Then we'd all be in trouble.

21 posted on 06/15/2004 9:06:12 AM PDT by wbill
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To: Trampled by Lambs

Bah! You beat me to it...... :-)


22 posted on 06/15/2004 9:06:41 AM PDT by wbill
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To: missyme
Did Asteroids And Comets Change The Tides Of Civilization?

Yes.

23 posted on 06/15/2004 9:15:40 AM PDT by blam
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To: all4one
I can't even wrap my mind around the scope of such an events; and the effects afterwards.

Then read Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle.

This is something we need to be serious about. Planning and hardware must be in place when (not if) the event occurs. You can't throw something together at the last minute and expect it to save our butts.

24 posted on 06/15/2004 9:17:02 AM PDT by 6ppc
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To: missyme
The Dark Ages: Were They Darker Than We Imagined?

Yes.

25 posted on 06/15/2004 9:18:41 AM PDT by blam
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To: missyme
Disaster That Struck The Ancients

Iraqi Crater

26 posted on 06/15/2004 9:31:34 AM PDT by blam
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To: missyme

"We'll get one to two events per century that will be equal to all the destructive power of all the weapons in World War II."

Name the last one, pal. Wasn't WWII the most destructive power we've seen in the 20th century? If there was a natural disaster of that magnitude, I missed it.
How do these clowns who guesstimate EVERYTHING now KNOW that these calamities WILL happen any time now?


"With funding, that could take about 10 years, and by then government officials could come up with a plan to at least minimize the potential global impact."

- Now THERE'S the solution - ANOTHER government research program! They'll fix it-they can fix ANYTHING!

I thought from the old thread last week that we only have until this Friday, June 18 before the asteroids start falling and wiping out life on this planet.


27 posted on 06/15/2004 9:40:33 AM PDT by JustPlainJoe
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To: Strategerist

I've never heard of a single American ever dying from a meteor impact but I do remember several airline crashes. Obviously a large enough meteor strike would kill all Americans but for the average person at any single point in time, the odds aren't equivelant. This is one of those ridiculous stats that has no empirical basis.


28 posted on 06/15/2004 11:05:38 AM PDT by pragmatic_asian
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To: hchutch
Boy, just saying we're testing a physics package in space will drive the environmentalists into such a frenzy it might be worth it for entertainment value alone. Us surviving would just be frosting on the cake!
29 posted on 06/15/2004 1:07:30 PM PDT by theDentist (I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell !)
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To: missyme
Little "Comets"

http://sask.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View filename=meteors040517

30 posted on 06/15/2004 1:20:11 PM PDT by steve86
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To: missyme

Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena has been tracking asteroids, both past and future. They know all the dates, locations, distances in their Near Earth Object Program clear out to the year 2100.

http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/


31 posted on 06/15/2004 1:24:39 PM PDT by King David (Kerry can't take a punch... and Dubya's got the gloves on)
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To: missyme

For the record, I do not support asteroids and comets.


32 posted on 06/15/2004 5:53:24 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: Captain Rabbit

Remember when BIC lighters were killing people by the dozen by exploding in people's pocketS?


Well, that WAS before the safety locks,
and before the three day waiting period,
and before the no bic zones around schools,
and before bic proof vests,
and before the assault bic.

Everyone has a right to fire, we all know this, but the
founding fathers really only had in mind flint and steel or
perhaps matches BUT NOTHING MORE than that.

/rant.


33 posted on 06/15/2004 6:02:49 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: SLB
No need to wonder what the reaction would be if a large natural disaster were to strike. You would see some of the greatest acts of bravery and kindness, but also much of the worst of humanity.

Written accounts from disasters like the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, and the 1989 Loma Pieta earthquake give a good record of expectations. While great acts of heroism and kindness were widely reported, much darker events were also unfolding.

In the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake, looters roved the streets stealing jewelry from victims. In the moments after the 1989 earthquake, some people climbed onto the collapsed freeway, and unlike those people trying to rescue victims, these people began searching for jewelry and other valuables to steal. In that same earthquake, telecommunications were down. Emergency personnel could neither receive calls, nor dispatch personnel to many necessary areas. Roving gangs, well armed, took control of downtown intersection and would not allow vehicles to proceed until the occupants had emptied their pockets of valuables.

The immediate events following natural and man made disasters are quite similar. Similar events unfolded during the Rodney King riots. They absolutely polarize the population in ways no one might imagine. Many innocent people are caused great suffering at the hands of others.

If another earthquake strikes the Hayward fault, such as that of the 1906 earthquake, you'll get a full view of what such a high magnitude disaster will bring. That fault, which geologists suggest in 60 years overdue for another big quake, is considered the deadliest in the world. A similar earthquake today could kill 100,000 in the earliest moments. Some would die in collapsing buildings, an equal number would die in flash floods crested by the collapse of outdated dams. The worst part will come immediately after and the days following. It will bring deaths at the hands of roving gangs trying to seize upon a moment of weakness. It's not a pretty sight to imagine. Such criminal activities during dire emergencies have the effect of making law abiding citizens suspect everyone, even other law abiding citizens as potential threats. Vigilante groups will form to protect neighborhoods.

BTW, don't know if it's been posted already, but the New Madrid fault also had a small trembler today. This is the fault that gave the largest earthquake in the recorded history of the USA. And for all those that think such a quake could never hit their area. The most devastating earthquake in the US prior to the Great San Francisco earthquake was in Boston.

Don't worry about asteroids and comets. Worry about man's inhumanity to man.
34 posted on 06/15/2004 6:26:34 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: King David
They know all the dates, locations, distances in their Near Earth Object Program clear out to the year 2100. 

Ummm, not quite all.  Think of the earth as being in the center of a large dinner plate.  The Jet Propulsion Lab is watching everything toward the outer edge of the plate, and about an inch above and below the surface of the plain.  They do not have the resources or capabilities to watch what is directly above or below the plate.  This is where the "close encounters" are reported after the asteroid or meteor passes.  Until there are satellites with the capability of watching above and below, the Jet Propulsion Lab is working on a two dimensional view in three dimensional space.  That's were the vast majority of asteroids and meteors are present, but it's one from the small fraction that'll probably get us.

Best advice... don't worry about it.

35 posted on 06/15/2004 6:40:15 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: backtothestreets
New Madrid fault also had a small trembler today.

I live about 100 miles Northeast of Reelfoot lake.

36 posted on 06/15/2004 6:48:06 PM PDT by SLB ("We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us." C. S. Lewis)
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To: SLB

Well, if India were struck, we'd get quite a few jobs back here on our shores <\outsourcewhine>.


37 posted on 06/15/2004 6:49:49 PM PDT by txhurl
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To: hchutch

Did you just reffer toa multi-megaton H-Bomb as a "physics package"?


38 posted on 06/16/2004 12:21:13 AM PDT by rmlew (Peaceniks and isolationists are objectively pro-Terrorist)
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To: missyme

I wonder if the government would tell us, if they knew some asteroid or whatever a mile across was PROBABLY going to hit earth and they knew the day and time. Opinions?


39 posted on 06/16/2004 12:54:07 AM PDT by wolfman
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To: wolfman

IMHO,no, never happen. For one , even the best scientist don't know till the last minute if it will bounce off or not and two, it would cause mass violence just on speculation.


40 posted on 06/16/2004 1:03:23 AM PDT by eastforker (All those in favor of abortion have already been born. Ronald Reagan)
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To: SLB
Just exactly how would that change man?

We'd have permanent colonies across the solar system in 20 years.

There would be a HUGE push to 'spread the seed of man'

41 posted on 06/16/2004 3:21:55 AM PDT by Centurion2000 (Resolve to perform what you must; perform without fail that what you resolve.)
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To: missyme
members of Congress are seriously concerned.

Members of Kongress exist for one purpose and one purpose only to spend everyone else's money, so if there is any concern it is that someone else may find a spending opportunity first.

Representative Dana Rohrbacher, who leads the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, said, "There is a threat to us and to our lives, of objects coming from space that could hit our planet and kill millions of people.

Oh a crisis One only to be alleviated by slipping some hard earned taxpayer dollars into some liberal university somwhere or hiring some more government workers parasites

It's happened in the past

Possibly 65,000,000 and 200,000,000 years ago

and it will happen in the future. The question is when, and how many people will be affected.

Maybe in another 70,000,000 years; however, you can be affected today as yet another kongressional spending boondoggle gets under way.

Not so long ago, science assumed the risk was even smaller for these extremely rare events. But better technology means we're discovering more, and finding a higher risk than was first believed.

Yep instead of 100,000,000 to 1, it might be only 50,000,000 to one. Sounds like a good reason to start a self perpetuating government program to me.

42 posted on 06/16/2004 3:42:10 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy, and Bush is no conservative)
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To: missyme

Didn't Pittsburgh experience a near-miss with a meteor in 1938 ?


43 posted on 06/16/2004 5:57:07 AM PDT by Atlantic Friend (Cursum Perficio)
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To: Atlantic Friend
Didn't Pittsburgh experience a near-miss with a meteor in 1938 ?

No it was a direct hit - just no one noticed. There was a near miss in Canada in 1973 - photographed going through the atmosphere in Banff or Calgary - I forget which

44 posted on 06/16/2004 6:14:41 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your government is your most dangerous enemy, and Bush is no conservative)
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To: backtothestreets
John Kerrrry actually voted for comets and asteroids before he voted against them.
45 posted on 06/16/2004 6:41:23 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: Centurion2000
We will not be able to colonize space until we develop an entirely self-contained environment (one which starts with a limited amount of air, food and water and recycles them over and over and over again - automatically.)
46 posted on 06/16/2004 6:44:19 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin
We will not be able to colonize space until we develop an entirely self-contained environment (one which starts with a limited amount of air, food and water and recycles them over and over and over again - automatically.)

The common name for such a system is "The Earth"!

47 posted on 06/16/2004 7:07:01 AM PDT by Don Corleone (Leave the gun..take the cannoli)
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To: BenLurkin
Large meteor threatens Earth. Women and minorities will be hardest hit!

I'm suprised they're not saying its Bush's fault.

48 posted on 06/16/2004 7:46:46 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Freedom Needs A Soldier!)
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