Friday, March 1, 2013

Day Sixty - TEDTalks: Space Trek, Episode 2, or "65 Million Years Ago... the Dinosaurs had a Bad Day."

Wow... two months done already.

In many ways, it feels longer than that, but it also feels like the briefest time ever. In that conceptual haze of my memory of time, I remember watching Wild Target and Hardware just a few days ago as opposed to a few dozen days ago... or several dozen.

I wonder if March will go just as fast?

Anyway, on to today's entry.

Yesterday and today have been very busy days, so I needed small bites of Netflix to nosh on. Luckily, there are plenty of TEDTalks in my queue, so I decided to swing over to the Space Trek compilation (which holds 20 or so lectures on, you guessed it, SPACE) and watched Phil Plait's entry on the dangers of asteroids/meteors hitting the earth and wrecking our millenium.

If you didn't already know this about me, one of my major fears is that we'll never get off this Pale Blue Dot, instead becoming just an afterthought in the life cycle of the universe because either we will manage to kill ourselves off by war or pollution... or we'll face some natural catastrophe like a planet killer asteroid.

I'm glad I watched Phil's talk as it actually does mention the asteroid Apophis and, even though it was recorded a few years ago and most of the bleak reports I hear about Apophis nowadays don't go into much detail (like Michio Kaku's recent appearance on The Colbert Report), Phil Plait's quantifying of the odds that Apophis will fall through the keyhole that will guarantee an eventual hit gave me a bit more peace of mind.

I also like that he goes over several historical asteroid events, like Tunguska and the Meteor Crater in Arizona in addition to the Yucatan event that killed the dinosaurs.

No one ever really gives any scale or context to those impacts and explosions beyond the barest of facts and impressive CGI recreations meant to frighten us, but Phil does. He even goes so far as to tell what scientists think the composition of the meteors were and how that affected their impacts, craters, and overall damage to the surrounding areas.

My favorite part, though, had to be his solutions section. I really love the idea that, with a enough time and the tiniest of tugs, a two-ton satellite that we could send out to these asteroids could nudge them just far enough so that they'd miss us. He even mentions the possibility of using the gravity tether method to put asteroids that might have been on course to destroy us into a parking orbit so that we could mine them hollow and get so rich doing so!

Dangerous, but funny.

It's a short lecture, only clocking in at fifteen minutes, but, like most TEDTalks, it was both entertaining and informative. Always good to watch and enjoy!

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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