Meteor explodes over Russia, conspiracy theories arise

Photos courtesy of: http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com

A peice of the Russian meteorite. Photo courtesy of: http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com

Dani Pasco, Staff Writer

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On February 15, Russians in the southern Ural Mountain region felt the shockwave of a speeding meteor exploding overhead, which left more than 1,000 people mildly injured.

The Chelyabinsk Meteor, as it is being called, exploded at least two times above the city it was named after at around 9:20 A.M. local time, from 19-31 miles above ground.

According to many amateur videos on the internet, the flash that resulted when the meteor exploded in Earth’s atmosphere was blinding and drew many people to their windows in curiosity. Because of the shock wave that ensued, many windows from buildings surrounding the area shattered, causing most of the injuries stated earlier. There were fortunately no casualties, but more than 4,000 buildings were damaged, costing $33 million dollars to repair.

The meteor was estimated to be about 10 tons in weight and 49 feet wide. It entered Earth’s atmosphere going about 33,000 mph. The speed, along with the size and weight of the meteor, is what made the explosions so dangerous and costly. It exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb, and if it had waited to explode and gotten closer to the Earth, there would have been many casualties, along with an innumerable amount of injuries.

Of course, things like this do not happen often, especially to this magnitude, and with the social media we have today word gets around pretty quickly. Within only a few hours, videos on Youtube were viewed millions of times, showing the meteor streaking across the sky. With so many pictures and witnesses to this remarkable event, how can somebody take this the wrong way?

Some conspiracies surrounding the explosion were that it wasn’t actually an explosion, but the Russian military shooting the rock down with a missile. This theory is already disproved, because their missiles can only travel close to 3,000 mph, and the meteor was traveling at 33,000 mph.

A similar theory to the last one is that the meteor was just one of the United States’ new weapons, and wanted to try it out on our “enemy,” Soviet Russia. This is not a very convincing tale, because it makes no sense to try out new weapons right now. We do not have the money to be able to send off unimportant weapons, and why at Russia? That would be provoking an unnecessary war we, nor the world, can afford to have.

This theory is also disproved by the several small shards of the meteor’s remains scattered around where it exploded. These are confirmed findings of actual space rock, so we can definitely be sure that it was a meteor that lit up the sky, instead of some military metal.

There was another story that linked this meteor to last year’s Mayan calendar “End of the World” prophecy that never came true. According to Gary C. Daniels, author of the “Mayan Calendar Prophecies” series, states that just because the date of the apocalypse has passed, doesn’t mean that the calendars were any less prophetic.           

Daniels says that in his interpretation of the ancient Mayan writings and records, the Mayans were aware of catastrophic events in their calendars, and the December 21st date didn’t mark the end of the world, but the end of one of their 5,000-year cycles of large events. The date represents the start of a new age of disasters, such as this meteor.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no knowledge whatsoever of any Mayan calendars or writings, but this seems like another way to prove that their first Mayan apocalypse prediction wasn’t wrong, and that they’re still trying to back it up with small evidence. Except, without the evidence. This entire conspiracy revolves around only one man’s thesis, instead of hard facts. So this one is out.

Then there is the “It was aliens!” theory. We all know how this one stands up. But it seems like whenever something happens, somebody has to blame it on the aliens. Meteor flies above Russia? The aliens are invading! Strange crop circles in the fields? Extraterrestrials are trying to communicate with us! Economy going down? The aliens have taken our jobs. You misplaced your keys? Aliens are messing with us.

On the NBC News website, scientists say that the meteor was actually in orbit around the sun for thousands of years, regularly crossing Earth’s orbit twice in its path around Earth. What this means is that this collision was not a “miracle” event, nor was it some random out-of-the-blue sign from heaven. It was bound to happen at some point, and it just happened to be now. Considering what actually happened, it could have ended up much worse, and we should be thankful it did not actually crash into Earth, or it would have been a much sadder story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people are asking for some information. Isn’t there any way to prevent this from happening again? This time we got extremely lucky, but next time we can’t guarantee it will go the same way. Scientists are pondering this possible situation right now.

The decision to whether or not we put in the effort to stop future impacts from happening solely lies in the hands of single countries. It’s no doubt that in the near future, we could have the technology to predict future collisions and to use whatever weapons we have to stop them from getting too close to Earth.

But now the real question is, should we? Personally, the gain of this doesn’t match the cost, and right now we don’t have the time or money to waste on a project that may never actually help. The meteor that exploded overRussiawas the only one big enough to cause mass damage in centuries. Who knows whether or not another will come?

Although I don’t think spending large sums of money on a fruitless endeavor is pointless, I do think that we should be somewhat actively searching the cosmos for other possible catastrophes. If there ever is another meteor, we can predict it and warn whole populations if we have to, and protect Earth just as easily as spending money on expensive missiles.

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