smoke

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

TU24

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.

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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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