Wednesday, September 8, 2010

8 September 2010 5770 becomes 5771 Olivia emerges

When the upper limb of the sun slips below the horizon the calendar year changes. We are entering the year 5771 on the Hebrew calendar. Today has been rainy, 0.33 inches of rainfall so far. Mystics and others might see this as a metaphoric washing away of the old year. There’s a line of rain that pretty much covers the eastern border of Tennessee. It’s been drifting our way all morning. The dog needs to go outside but I have no desire to stand around while she investigates all the smells released or amplified by the rain. I’m looking for a gap in the entrained storms.

Also arriving today, Olivia Frances Rutstein, daughter of Gloria’s nephew, David, and his wife, Daisy. After spending the night in labor, Daisy delivered Olivia about 1000. Welcome, Olivia! Long life and health to you!

The last of my texts for the semester arrived this morning. I’ve about 150 pages of reading to complete before tomorrow’s classes. Then, there are the two suggested texts for my history course. The brief history of European war has been easy reading, so far. I’m enjoying this book and like the manner in which warfare is tied to cultural and social matters.

The close approach of two near-earth asteroids should be noted today. Both will pass the earth inside the lunar orbit. That’s close, as these things go! If the calculations that predict the path of these NEA’s are off, we stand to wake up with a huge, new, smoking crater tomorrow.

“The objects will visible from Earth as tiny specks of light with the help of moderate-sized amateur telescopes, he said.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30, which is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet in size, will pass within 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET Wednesday. The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in size, will pass within 49,088 miles of Earth at 5:12 pm ET.

In case you were wondering, that means the two asteroids will pass within 0.6 and 0.2 lunar distances from the Earth, respectively. The first will be closest to Earth over the north Pacific, and the second, over Antarctica.”

The objects were just discovered Sunday morning by a. They were confirmed by the Catalina Sky Survey during a routine scan and confirmed by the Minor Planet Center. According to NASA’s Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth, there can be as many as 50 million near earth objects per day. NASA funding does not provide enough money and telescopes to adequately search and track all the regions of space that might provide longer-range warning of such asteroids and other potentially threatening objects.

The probability that earth will be struck by more rocks from space is 100%. The questions when, where, and how large are unanswered. The scope of possible damage ranges from pretty lights in the sky with no harm on the ground to planet shattering events that end humanity’s existence on this rock. There is next to nothing we can do to alter the course of any asteroid of significant size in order to prevent it striking earth.

I mentioned above that NASA lacks adequate funding to discover and track NEA’s. It also lacks funding to develop and maintain systems to target and redirect or destroy asteroids bound for impact on Earth. The choice to downgrade NASA’s funding has affected much more than just the man in space programs. Long range effects could literally limit the lifespan of the human race. Granted, that is an extreme statement that centers on the worst case scenario. But we frequently reach the best case scenario only by acting as if the worst case scenario is the only possible way to proceed.

This time it is only a two-rock fly-by. Humanity gets a pass and can continue in its efforts to bring about the worst case. Next week, who knows what will suddenly appear in our telescope arrays, discovered accidentally and luckily by volunteer amateurs because the various world governments won’t realize the necessity of joint effort and funding for the programs that will someday be necessary. A fire extinguisher is of no benefit until flames appear. An asteroid tracker/killer serves no purpose until the rock is inbound and too big to survive.

Shanah Tova! I hope 5770 was kind to you and that 5771 brings you an even better year.

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