I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.


Such an innocent sounding name.

2007-TU24 is a comet that has been classified as a ‘potentially hazardous asteroid.’ It’s not gonna hit the earth, but it’s going to come close enough (1.4 lunar distances, actually – which means it’ll be just outside the orbit of the moon), that a cottage industry of doomsayers has sprung up around it since it was discovered 3 months ago.

The majority of doom-gloom comes from the fact that TU24 will be going through the earth’s magnetosphere. If the thing has a negative charge, then there is a possibility that we will experience electromagnetic interference effects. These can range from the harmless and heart-achingly beautiful aurora, to more spectacularly damaging events like firestorms. Most doomsayers point to to Tunguska, a hundred years ago, where a much smaller rock passed through the earth’s magnetosphere too and flattened a forest more than 800 miles square.

Oh well. Should I be kissing my genomes goodbye, just in case?

I really don’t know. Sitting at my computer at 7.22 am, looking out the window and hearing the birds singing, it doesn’t seem like a day to die. Not from an asteroid on a drive-by shooting anyway. And besides, the sci-fi geek in me can’t help but be giddy. The biggest regret I have at this point is that they didn’t discover this asteroid sooner. I figure with about a year’s lead time, NASA or ESA or the Japanese could have cobbled together a piggy-back rider so that we can find out where asteroids go on their days off.

So tonight, I’ma-gonna go up to Prayer Mountain – Antipolo for you uninitiated virgins – and set-up my trusty spy-scope and look for this bad boy. I’m prolly not gonna see anything, but what the hey? If you wanna kiss the sky, you better learn how to kneel.


Filed under: science, space, , , ,

7 Responses

  1. shiro says:

    wooohooo! near-earth object. 🙂

  2. cvj says:

    How can firestorms result from an asteroid passing the magnetic field?

  3. Jeg says:

    How can firestorms result from an asteroid passing the magnetic field?

    Probably because it would leave wide swaths of the planet exposed to more ultraviolet radiation, causing wind-driven brush fires like the one that recently happened in Greece, only more catastrophic (stronger winds and over a wider area).

    But what I want to know is if a small body that’s 1.4 lunar distances away disrupts the magnetosphere, how come the moon, which is 1.0 lunar distances away and way larger, doesnt?

  4. rom says:

    jeg: that’s because the moon does not carry a charge. the electromagnetic disturbance will supposedly happen only if TU24 carries a negative charge.

  5. cvj says:

    It might be handy to have a compass and see what happens.

  6. shiro says:

    hmmm…. methinks someone should build a rocket with a space probe. and fast. ESA, the Russians, Japan, anyone. 🙂

  7. […] all that we have left of good ole TU24. That, and the reminder that the intartubes truly has given uninformed opinion a new relevance it doesn’t […]

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