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Stats Now Put Us in the Crosshairs For an Impact Event
Right now, we're at the peak of a solar maximum. Statistically speaking, this is when a major Tunguska-class impact event such as the one that occurred in 1908 is most likely to happen.
The airburst caused by this event leveled an area the size of Connecticut, and statistically speaking, major impacts such as these occur every 50-100 years.
Here is the kicker, our current solar max peaked last February 15, and this means the solar max peaks will occur in 2012 and 2023.
On February 15, 2001, NASA reported the first solar max of this century had peaked at its highest level. This is because they have observed a flip flop in the Sun's magnetic poles. The Sun's North Pole is now its South Pole and visa versa. This flip-flop happens every 11 years, so the solar maximum peaks for the first 30 years of this century happen to be 2001, 2012 and 2023.
Given that the last Tunguska-class event occurred over 70 years ago, and that both Tunguska-class events happened during the first thirty years of the last century, it is not hard to see that the odds are stacking up against us, in the first thirty years of this century.
Tunguska-class Events of The Last Century
The peaks of the first two solar maximums of the last century occurred in 1908 and 1930. These solar max peaks were also accompanied by major impact events in the Tunguska area of Siberia (1908) and the Northern Amazon basin (1930).
While little is known of the 1930 Amazon impact event, a great deal has been learned about the 908 Tunguska event in Siberia and this impact has been so well documented researchers have coined the phrase Tunguska-class event, to describe the blast force generated by the airburst of this meteorite.
In 1995, the Vatican reported that another Tunguska-class event happened in 1930, in an upper tributary of the Amazon in Brazil close to the border with Peru. According to a Catholic Priest who witnessed the event, the impact leveled a huge expanse of jungle and set huge fires that raged unabated for months.
What these two Tunguska-class events have in common is that they both occurred during a period of extreme solar activity called a solar maximum. This is important, because major asteroid impact events typically follow a cyclical pattern, with long periods of light activity, followed by short bursts of high activity. Also, they occur more often during high levels of solar activity.
Given that our government has evidenced to interest in funding projects to identify Tunguska-class impactors, one wonders why? But an interesting twist in the case of the Tunguska event may offer a far-fetched explanation as to the government's real reason. Simply put, they cannot see them because according to noted Australian physicist, some Tunguska-class impactors may be invisible!
UPI, March 9, 2001
MELBOURNE, Australia, -- Invisible asteroids and other cosmic bodies made of a new form of matter may pose a threat to Earth, asserts a noted Australian physicist.
Robert Foot of the University of Melbourne claims a meteorite composed of mirror matter -- a form of the invisible dark matter that many say makes up over 95 percent of the universe -- could impact the Earth without leaving any fragments.
Indeed, he told United Press International, asteroids made of mirror matter may have been responsible for such cataclysmic events as the so-called Tunguska blast, which destroyed acres of Siberian forest in 1908.
Princeton physicist Howard Georgi is skeptical of Foot's claims, however.
"Robert Foot's ideas are interesting," Georgi told UPI. "They are also, of course, extremely speculative."
Georgi also believes that invisible asteroids are not a top priority of physics research.
Before we scoff at the notion of invisible asteroids, let's keep in mind our present level of knowledge about physics. Most reasonable physicists would agree that if a set of encyclopedias were used to represent the universal knowledge of physics that at present we've only mastered the first volume.
Regardless of whether the next Tunguska-class impactor is visible or not visible, it is already overdue from a statistical perspective, and this should worry us in light of their destructive force.
The Destructive Power of a Tunguska-class Impactor
We've never seen a major impact event, but we've often seen images of nuclear mushrooms. We know the nuclear bomb, so let's compare it with the destructive power of a Tunguska-class impactor.
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb called Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and it detonated with the equivalent force of 15,000 tons of TNT or more simply, 15 kilotons.
"A bright light filled the plane," wrote then Colonel. Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb. "We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud...boiling up, mushrooming." For a moment, no one spoke. Then everyone was talking. "Look at that! Look at that!
Look at that!" exclaimed the co-pilot, Robert Lewis, pounding on Tibbets's shoulder. Lewis said he could taste atomic fission; it tasted like lead. Then he turned away to write in his journal.
"My God," he asked himself, "what have we done?"
America's newest intercontinental ballistic missile is the Peacekeeper missile. It first became operational in 1988, and when armed with the latest generation of the W-87 nuclear warhead can deliver a 475 Kt burst. This is roughly equivalent to 31 Hiroshima a-bombs.
The Tunguska meteorite that hit Siberia in 1908 detonated about 7 miles above ground and airburst generated approximately 20 Megatons of energy. So then, how does the yield of a Tunguska-class impactor compare with Hiroshima A-bomb and the Peacekeeper W-87 warhead?
If for example, America wanted to bomb Russia with an equal amount of destructive power that was unleashed by the 1908 Tunguska impact, it would need to launch at least 42 of its current peacekeeper missiles at Russia, or use its manned bombers to deliver at least 1,300 Hiroshima A-bombs.
Now here is the kicker. The meteorite that hit Tunguska in 1908 was a very unsophisticated rock that was approximately 50 meters in diameter and unlike nuclear warheads, it did not have any saftey or self-destruct mechanisims. Rather, it was a simple piece of rock that leveled an area the size of the State of Connecticut, and nothing survived. Nothing!
We are a violent species, but the extent of our destructive abilities pales in comparison with that of our universe.
The collective nuclear arsenals of the world could level the face of the Earth dozens of times, but there are only so many nuclear weapons. In terms of numbers and yield, our nuclear weapons are far outweighed by the shear number of Earth-crossing Tunguska-class asteroids in our system. Yet, we fear the nukes and pay little attention to the real monsters.