01 April, 2013

A To Z Blogging Challenge: Astrophysics And Asteroids

Today is the kickoff of the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

My theme this year is science. Specifically, recent discoveries in science: Last year I explored various fields and gave overviews of what they were all about, but this time I've decided to track down some interesting discoveries/recent developments in scientific fields and post about those. I'm also winging the challenge--not exactly by choice, but I'm looking forward to seeing what I can come up with on a moment's notice. (Hopefully our internet connection will stop acting weird and let me blog normally soon. Pages are taking minutes to load for some reason.)

But before we finally get to the actual content of my post, I'd like to give a shout-out to the creator of the A to Z Challenge, Arlee Bird. He's an amazing blogger and built a challenge that has allowed people to explore the web and get to know people they'd normally never find.

Now, for my first A to Z Challenge entry: Astrophysics and Asteroids

Astrophysics is the study of space and the universe, such as stars, planets, matter, energy, and practically everything that involves the world beyond Earth. It's the examination of how celestial objects form or self-destruct; it raises questions about what occurred and is occurring in the universe.

The universe, of course, includes asteroids. On February 15th this year, as you've most probably heard, an asteroid (a "superbolide", bolide referring to the bright light it produced) hit the atmosphere and exploded over the Ural Mountains in Russia, above the town of Chelyabinsk. The asteroid was around 17-20 meters across and had a total impact energy of 440 kilotons of TNT, though around 90 kilotons was released as light.

Chebarkul meteorite sample on lake ice
Astrophysics has helped determine the size, velocity, and the likelihood of such an event occurring again. The chances of another asteroid exploding in the atmosphere is not, in fact, as low as you might think; since much of Earth's surface area is uninhabited by people, these types of explosions may occur from every few decades (which is the shortest estimate) to about 100 years and just go unnoticed. More are being found these days due to sensors put in place for the detection of nuclear blasts.

One thing astrophysics can't do, however, is predict such asteroids in advance. They're too minute for current methods and technology to find before they strike the planet, though there are plans to build a new satellite that would orbit the Sun and could be capable of pinpointing the smaller objects.




Do you think there should be more effort put into defending Earth from asteroids?

If you're participating in the A to Z Challenge, what did you choose for letter A?

-----The Golden Eagle


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

After the damage that Russian asteroid caused, I'm sure it would be helpful to predict the next strike. Of course, other than clearing the area of impact, what else could you do?

Cindy Dwyer said...

The weather forecast isn't even accurate for today, which was supposed to rain and has been partly sunny all day. I think we are a ways off from predicting meteor and asteroid impacts. :)

Sadly, one day a populated area will be hit. It's inevitable. But, in the meantime, I plan to enjoy your posts for the challenge!

Pearson Report said...

I knew I could count on you for upping my intelligence quota!

Great start to the A-Z - looking forward to filling the empty spaces in my cranium. :)


Susan Roebuck said...

Hooray! GE's back :-) That Russian asteroid was scary and to think something like that wiped out the dinosaurs. Looking forward to your science posts and hope you're feeling better.

Susan Kane said...

I am so excited to see your posts! Looking forward to the science info!

D.G. Hudson said...

Excellent, I look forward to reading all your science posts, but I'm just visiting. I have done some research on asteroids. I find them interesting. I hang around the NASA sight too, virtually, since I'm in Canada.

Love your choice of Theme!

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

I wish I could find a big one and sell it for some monies.

M.J. Fifield said...

The video of the Russian asteroid was crazy.

I'm winging the challenge, too, but I do that every year.

Tomara Armstrong said...

Astrophysics... one of my favorite things. I always enjoy your blog and definitely feel smarter after reading it ;-)

Elaine Smith said...

I'm looking forward to reading your posts. The Russian asteroid was amazing - the delay between the sighting and the sound waves - very scary too.

mooderino said...

I think we need to build more stuff in space, lasers, telescopes, space stations... 21st century and we're hardly out there. Very disappointing.

Moody Writing

Pat Hatt said...

Welcome back for the a to z and yeah be nice if they could predict them to prevent such damage, but it beats a big one.

Andrew Leon said...

One of the sources I read said that particular type of event probably happens about once a decade. It seemed a reliable source with hard data for its conclusion. I didn't save the link, though.

Carrie Butler said...

Very interesting, Eagle! :)

Old Kitty said...

Oh that meteor hit in Russia was too surreal! Just glad there were no fatalities!! take care

Jeff Hargett said...

Yeah, big science buff here so your theme should make for a month of interesting posts for me to read. Cool video too!

Mark Means said...

I think more effort should be put into protecting us from meteors, for sure.

Then again, I'm not sure I'd trust our government to do it....

loverofwords said...

Question: What causes the asteroids to fall in a certain location or it all random?

Rob-bear said...

You've started out as wonderfully as last year. Bear is just out of hibernation, and trying to make sense of things. I'm sure you'll provide lots of worthwhile information (if I can figure it out).

I've heard of using nuclear weapons to blast incoming asteroids. I don't know how well that would work.

Bear, being Bearly awake, did something easy; A is for Alphabet (which creates words). I'll bet you like scientific words!

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

I remember watching the asteroid that hit the Ural Mountains in Russia on YouTube. Incredible nobody was killed.

Good luck with the challenge. I'm not participating. Writing is my priority at the moment.

And no, I don't think more effort should be put into defending Earth from asteroids. Little point methinks.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I don't think it would make sense to spend money for asteroid defense. It is fascinating as we understand more and identify more. I think a big one will get us someday.

Christine Rains said...

Very cool theme. I think if an asteroid is going to hit us, there's not a thing we can do.

JeffO said...

I'm just glad that asteroid didn't hit during the height of the Cold War.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

I loved your A-Z last year and I shall love it again this year too. Amazing asteroid video by the way.
I've entered 3 blogs this year - my "A" posts are astronomy, Antarctica and A-Z!

Trisha F said...

Ooh, what a great theme. I am so not good at science, but I still love it. I daydreamed of being an astrophysicist, and if I had the brain for it I so would be! I got all the creative brain stuff instead of the science stuff ;)

Krista McLaughlin said...

I think asteroids are pretty cool, though I definitely wouldn't want to be hit by one walking down the street or otherwise.

klahanie said...

I absolutely love your theme. Of course, besides what happened in Russia recently, there was that other asteroid that was a near miss, but a spectacular site.

Happy alphabeting,

Gary :)

Lady's Knight said...

Great subject matter to inspire and teach.
Hope your computer cooperates
Thanks for the visit

Beth said...

Awesome theme, Eagle! Good luck with the challenge.

Banker Chick said...

It looks like we will be learning something from your posts, thanks for visiting my blog.

Suzanne Furness said...

Asteroids are scary things. Certainly it would be useful to predict if they are going to hit us but I suspect their unpredicatability will go on, at least for now.

Elise Fallson said...

Michael already said what I was thinking! I'd love to find a meteorite. Hope your computer is running a little faster today. (:

Mama J said...

I was fascinated by the asteroid in Russia - would have scared me had I been there though (but then most things do. I'm a big wimp).

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi GE .. I was amazed how quickly they worked out where the asteroid came from and what happened along its trajectory.

Glad you've added things here that I can come back to refer to ... I mentioned it in my last 4 posts on icehouseearth ... but didn't go into technicalities ..

I'm looking forward to your choices .. cheers Hilary

Paul Tobin said...

Welcome back. The video was rather breathtaking. Interesting that now we have more means of recording and tracking such events we get such wonderful footage.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana and I watched a special on the Russian asteroid. Pretty cool.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I love your theme! And yeah... asteroids are one of those universal wild cards, eh? Only vaguish predictions about when they're coming.

The Golden Eagle said...

Alex: Well, there are some methods on the table. Using other objects as gravitational tractor beams, destroying the asteroid before it hits the atmosphere, etc.

Cindy: Asteroids are predictable by physics, though. There aren't nearly as many forces acting on them as there are in the lower atmosphere that causes the daily weather!

Hope I'll see you around this April. :)

Jenny: Thank you. I hope you'll enjoy my upcoming posts as well!

Susan: Yup, I'm back!

I am feeling much better. The pain's mostly gone and I'm beginning to exercise a little.

Susan: I'll try to find the most interesting things. :)

D.G.: I do the same for international sites. Its so cool to find out what other people are doing in other countries.

Michael: They are worth a lot, it's true.

M.J.: There were a lot of them! Particularly thanks to all the dashcams on Russian vehicles . . .

Looks like I'm joining your ranks this year. :)

Tomara: It's my favorite scientific subject, too. Well, that and biology.

I aim to educate!

Elaine: I know. I'm not going to be going near windows the next time there's a bright unidentified light outside.

Mood: I find it's dismaying, too. We have the capability; it would be nice if it was utilized.

Pat: Thank yo!

True. It's better than something enormous that made the dinosaurs go extinct.

Andrew: Interesting. All the ones I've seen have projected several decades; I guess there's really no way to tell for absolute certain.

Carrie: Thanks! :)

Old Kitty: I'm glad of that, too. There were injuries, but no deaths.

Jeff: Glad you enjoyed the video!

Mark: I'd trust NASA, I suppose. They seem to meet with some measure of success on their big missions.

Loverofwords: It depends on how you look at it. Asteroids are controlled by physics--the gravitational pull of Earth, the Moon, the Sun--so they're essentially predictable, but unless you know the specific positions and pulls of those objects impacts appear to be random events.

Rob-bear: Good to see the Bear out of hibernation! :)

There would be a lot of debris from such an explosion; such fragments could do their own damage, though I suppose if the asteroid was large enough those effects would be preferable over one big impact.

I do, it's true.

Wendy: Definitely!

Thank you. Good for you on sticking to your writing.

Susan: The right technology could stop a big asteroid, though. There are solid proposals from some astrophysicists.

Christine: Glad you like my theme. :)

JeffO: Now that would have been a disaster . . .

Duncan: I hope I can live up to those expectations!

I will have to check out your Astronomy (and other A!) posts. :)

Trisha: Creative types are vital, too.

Krista: LOL. No, me neither!

Klahanie: It's interesting how they were so close together. Pure coincidence, but it was certainly attention-grabbing!

Lady's Knight: Thanks. The computer seems to be getting along with me now . . .

I enjoyed visiting!

Beth: Thank you. :)

Banker Chick: That's my goal. That and getting to explore the subjects myself, which I find to be great fun.

Suzanne: In the near term, yeah. Hopefully later on we'll be able to predict asteroids--and before another massive one hits Earth.

Elise: Me, too. Can you imagine getting to hold an actual meteorite?

It is, thankfully!

Mama J: I think most of us would have been scared. It was a pretty strange phenomenon.

Hilary: The astrophysicists worked pretty fast!

I hope you like the subjects I pick. :)

Paul: Thank you!

Charles: I saw a NOVA PBS program (linked in Sources in my post) about it. Fascinating stuff.

Hart: Yup. Though some of the more significant ones are being noticed and tracked.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

We are so small and so vulnerable. Excellent theme and excellent post!

The Golden Eagle said...

Lee: Thank you! :)

Arlee Bird said...

It's been far too long since I've been to your site, but I certainly haven't forgotten you. I've been sidetracked in the past couple months and not making rounds like I should.

I can see you'll be challenging our minds once again with a great topic scope.

Have fun with the A to Z!

Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog

mymy said...

interesting topic! i sure do hope it can be predicted..just to minimize and prevent casualties.
thanks for visiting my a-z post!

The Golden Eagle said...

Lee: Thanks for visiting my blog! You must be super-busy now that the Challenge is in full swing. I hope everything is going well!

Mymy: Thank you!

I enjoyed visiting your site. :)