Can Asteroids Destroy The World?

By: Arthur Zulu

That ‘s not a laughing matter. For that scenario some say, will soon be a possibility for the earth and its inhabitants. That means that soon we and our children would be having to duck, not hailstones, but on-coming comets from outer space. But when Asteroids -- the giants ones, come calling, then the play is over.

Dinosaurs know it is not a plaything when gigantic asteroids hit the earth. Of course they are not around now to tell us the story. Geologists are, however, on hand to point out huge craters dug by falling meteors. There is one in Arizona for sightseers.

Now, asteroids don’t just dig craters. The one that hit Tunguska, Siberia ignited the forests and decimated the wild life. But that’s just a tip of the iceberg.

Let’s get on a more serious note. A suicidal asteroid could turn the earth to cinders minutes after the blast. Or, knock the earth into several pieces leaving each part to orbit to oblivion.

And a benevolent one could wipe out whole cities, or nations, or continents.

The universe is a terrible place. Although there is order in the galactic formation, there are millions of periodic and non-periodic comets out there. You could tell when Halley’s comet would come, but you cannot be sure of comet Hale-Bopp.

Thank Heavens for the atmosphere. Thousands of earth-bound comets have perished there, leaving occasional flares and ashes to tell the story. But one day, one of the several wondering comets could catch us napping. Not even the best scientific wonder could stop it. One passed dangerously close the other day, and exited before anyone could say “Our Father!"

Planet earth may not be all-time lucky. It may have the fate of Jupiter. When comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit it, Jupiter as not knocked out of orbit, nor was it smitten to the finest particles. But two earths could comfortably fit into one of the mighty wounds of Jupiter resulting from the blow. And come to think of it. Only a few pieces of the comet hit Jupiter!

Now, suppose Shoe-maker had hit earth?

Do not shudder at that because it may be that one Kamikaze asteroid is racing toward earth at a million times the speed of light as you read this. So if we had been ducking smaller comets, we have to get set for the show down. Because even before we could get our telescopes to get a closer look, the killer comet would have done its worst. Time out!

Copyright ? 2002Science Articles, all rights reserved


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