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View Diary: Scientific American Gives Details on the Russian Meteor (277 comments)

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  •  No relationship? (3+ / 0-)
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    Gooserock, Troubadour, SneakySnu

    I just find it so difficult to believe that this sudden swarm of asteroids are not connected.

    I understand the argument that the trajectories are different. But couldn't there be other mechanisms at work?

    Not a scientist, but could the gravity exerted by 2012 DA14 have affected the trajectory of other asteroids? Or, since the earth has an elliptical orbit around the sun, is there something about this place in the orbit that brings it closer to asteroids?

    Just wondering because for me these were two "once in a lifetime" asteroid events, and it seems awfully unlikely that they would happen on the same day!

    "Stare at the monster: remark/ How difficult it is to define just what/ Amounts to monstrosity in that/ Very ordinary appearance." - Ted Hughes

    by MarkC on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 03:23:34 PM PST

    •  Gravity of an Asteroid Smaller Than a Football (11+ / 0-)

      field which was the one that flew past yesterday afternoon couldn't hold you on the surface. If you simply stepped the reaction would shove you away at escape velocity. There's no way these things are influencing each other gravitationally unless they're well within sight and traveling the exact same orbit.

      The Russian and these other objects were tens of times smaller.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 03:33:03 PM PST

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      •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        I see the gravity idea doesn't hold water. How about the other idea:

        > is there something about this place in the orbit that brings it closer to asteroids?

        Again, my argument is a probability based -- it seems unlikely that the two uncommon asteroid events would happen on the same day. Someone notes below that the cosmos is a big place, and it certainly is. Still, a cluster of independent asteroid news stories like this hasn't happened in my memory. But even in a large universe if event X seldom happens for 48 units of time (my age in years), but then it happens multiple times in one unit of time, you wonder if there is a common causation, or if there is some factor that is making X more possible. It certainly could be coincidence, but being suspicious about coincidences often leads to new hypotheses about how things work.

        So what I'm noting is that this seems unlikely -- and wondering if there is something about the place in the orbit or the orbits of asteroids that makes it more likely that event X would occur in "clumps" -- not necessarily that they are part of the same asteroid but even something like "in mid-February there is a larger chance of encountering asteroids" would might explain this conjunction in my layperson's mind.

        Something else that occurs to me is that the presence of ubiquitous cameras might be magnifying what might otherwise be rather under-reported phenomena, and that these events are not that rare, but didn't get attention until now?

        "Stare at the monster: remark/ How difficult it is to define just what/ Amounts to monstrosity in that/ Very ordinary appearance." - Ted Hughes

        by MarkC on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:31:37 AM PST

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        •  As someone else noted below (0+ / 0-)

          "randomness is clumpy."  Clumps are not indicative of non-randomness.

          Pour yourself into the future.

          by Troubadour on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 10:11:53 AM PST

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          •  I see what you mean (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Troubadour

            but at the same time, isn't that one of those truisms like "the exception proves the rule" that makes sense on one level, but actually goes against how we reason on another?

            Say you have two neighbors who occasionally wear formal suits, one of whom leaves his house only on Sundays in a suit, and the other who wears it the same number of times on average each day of the week.

            The distribution "clumps" around Sundays for one neighbor, and isn't the way we draw inferences to take that clump as not random and assume he goes to church?

            So I'm assuming the asteroids are going to church ;)

            "Stare at the monster: remark/ How difficult it is to define just what/ Amounts to monstrosity in that/ Very ordinary appearance." - Ted Hughes

            by MarkC on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 12:36:29 PM PST

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    •  To understand the probability of celestial events (14+ / 0-)

      you have to accept a celestial timescale - billions of years - so coincidences like this are not at all unlikely, but actually mathematical certainties.

      And it's not a "sudden swarm" - it didn't just appear.  It's been there all along.  We just didn't see it, because the objects are too small.  They straddle the boundary between triviality and threat.  Current monitoring efforts only focus on things that might cause significant devastation.  Broken glass and frightened people don't really rise to that standard.

      The thing is, for asteroids to have a relationship, they have to have been broken off from the same object in the past, and it just takes too much energy to send them off on a radically different inclination.  First, there's the fact that the vast majority of asteroids orbit within ten degrees of the ecliptic because most of them formed from the same primordial material as the planets.  That means when they collide, the angles of attack aren't that big, so the angles at which the fragments fly off aren't that big either.

      So the chances of there being a relationship are literally astronomically small.

      Pour yourself into the future.

      by Troubadour on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 03:41:27 PM PST

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    •  no, there is not a mechanism (12+ / 0-)

      They came in at completely different angles.

      when an Asteroid gets pulled apart by gravitational forces as it goes about it orbit, they end up in a train. Perhaps you remember the Shoemaker-Levy 9 Jupiter impact from '94? When that happens and you have this elongated train of asteroids that follow the same orbit. There is no way that the Russian asteroid could have been related to 2012 DA14. If it had been, they would have had at least a similar trajectory. As it is, they came in from totally different directions.

      Coincidences do happen. The universe is a big place, and if a thing can happen then somewhere, at some time, it will.

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 03:44:33 PM PST

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      •  addendum (5+ / 0-)

        When I say they couldn't have been related, I mean that they couldn't have been related anymore than everything in the solar system is related. Gravity from the planets and mostly the sun effect everything and little things like asteroids get pulled all over the place. So I suppose its conceivable that at some point both asteroids were part of the same rock, but if they were it was long ago and they have since spent a lot of time in sharply different orbits.

        "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." -Henry Ford

        by sixeight120bpm on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 03:52:49 PM PST

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      •  Thanks for raising the level of knowledge (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, sixeight120bpm

        I'll take orbital mechanics for $500, Alex.  And Solar System history for $1000!

        I realize that a lot of folks feel a need to be suspicious of "experts" - especially with how science has been used and abused by industry.  And as humans, we feel a need to connect events and find patterns that will help us survive.  But the science of this is pretty straightforward for those that are willing to learn.

        Thanks for helping people learn.

        - "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"
        - REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX.

        by Hoya90 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 09:33:52 PM PST

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        •  Georgetown expertise might be different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Troubadour

          Is this really a "suspicion of experts"? As an "expert" in another field, all I can say is I enjoy a chance to explain where others' misunderstandings come from, which is in other contexts known as "teaching." But I suppose in some training contexts this might be seen as an "unwillingness to learn."

          "Stare at the monster: remark/ How difficult it is to define just what/ Amounts to monstrosity in that/ Very ordinary appearance." - Ted Hughes

          by MarkC on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:34:49 AM PST

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    •  Randomness is clumpy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 08:34:38 AM PST

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    •  There are always really bright meteors falling. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour

      During the Geminids this past Dec we at our observatory saw 2 that lit up the scenery. Keep in mind that most shower meteors are from small small say grape to rice sized pieces of cometary debris.

      In January our all sky camera captured a really really bright one on camera.  Could have been a bit of an asteroid.

      http://www.keystone.edu/...

      The Peekskill meteor that is seen in every Meteor show on TV left only some small chunks behind including one that hit a car.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      In 2009, I saw the ground lighting meteor and another astro club member saw the only the reflected flash of a meteor that left meteorites on the shore of Lake Ontario, which is darn far from Fleetville PA, where we were.

      http://www.cp24.com/...

      The gravity of that asteroid is not as strong as you might  think either.

      “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

      by astrogeology girl on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 11:39:11 PM PST

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      •  just to clarify, that Ontario meteor was detected (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        both by me (I saw the meteor and the flash), while the other guy saw just the flash since it was so low that a building hid the actual meteor from him.

        “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

        by astrogeology girl on Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 11:44:50 PM PST

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      •  Just an addition Here's a link to a report about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        that January fireball I never saw but our camera did.

        http://www.amsmeteors.org/...

        Our Club site has a link to the all sky camera as well.

        http://lackawannaastronomicalsociety.org/

        There are constantly reports on Fireballs and Bolides (exploding meteors).

        There was even a daylight meteor over Pennsylvania in 2001 that I never saw as well.

        “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

        by astrogeology girl on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 01:06:30 AM PST

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