Presents a realistic, workable plan for defusing a potentially lethal threat from a rogue asteroid or comet. The explosion of a large meteor over Chelyabinsk, Siberia, in February 2013 is just the latest reminder that planet Earth is vulnerable to damaging and potentially catastrophic collisions with space debris of various kinds. In this informative and forward-looking book, veteran aerospace writer William E. Burrows explains what we can do in the future to avoid far more serious impacts from "Near-Earth Objects" (NEOs), as they are called in the planetary defense community. The good news is that humanity is now equipped with the advanced technology necessary to devise a long-term strategy to protect the planet. Burrows outlines the following key features of an effective planetary defense strategy: * A powerful space surveillance system capable of spotting a serious threat from space at least twenty-five years in advance * A space craft "nudge" that would throw a collision-course asteroid off target long before it poses the threat of imminent impact * A weapons system to be used as a last-ditch method to blast an NEO should all else fail. The author notes the many benefits for world stability and increasing international cooperation resulting from a united worldwide effort to protect the planet. Combining realism with an optimistic can-do attitude, Burrows shows that humanity is capable of overcoming a potentially calamitous situation.
When in 1981 Louis and Walter Alvarez, the father and son team, unearthed a tell-tale Iridium-rich sedimentary horizon at the 65 million years-old Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary at Gubbio, Italy, their find heralded a paradigm shift in the study of terrestrial evolution. Since the 1980s the discovery and study of asteroid impact ejecta in the oldest well-preserved terrains of Western Australia and South Africa, by Don Lowe, Gary Byerly, Bruce Simonson, Scott Hassler, the author and others, and the documentation of new exposed and buried impact structures in several continents, have led to a resurgence of the idea of the catastrophism theory of Cuvier, previously largely supplanted by the uniformitarian theory of Hutton and Lyell. Several mass extinction of species events are known to have occurred in temporal proximity to large asteroid impacts, global volcanic eruptions and continental splitting. Likely links are observed between asteroid clusters and the 580 Ma acritarch radiation, end-Devonian extinction, end-Triassic extinction and end-Jurassic extinction. New discoveries of ~3.5 – 3.2 Ga-old impact fallout units in South Africa have led Don Lowe and Gary Byerly to propose a protracted prolongation of the Late Heavy Bombardment (~3.95-3.85 Ga) in the Earth-Moon system. Given the difficulty in identifying asteroid impact ejecta units and buried impact structures, it is likely new discoveries of impact signatures are in store, which would further profoundly alter models of terrestrial evolution. .
This volume is a compilation of the research presented at the International Asteroid Day workshop which was celebrated at Barcelona on June 30th, 2015. The proceedings discuss the beginning of a new era in the study and exploration of the solar system’s minor bodies. International Asteroid Day commemorates the Tunguska event of June 30th, 1908. The workshop’s goal was to promote the importance of dealing proactively with impact hazards from space. Multidisciplinary experts contributed to this discussion by describing the nature of comets and asteroids along with their offspring, meteoroids. New missions to return material samples of asteroids back to Earth such as Osiris-REx and Hayabusa 2, as well as projects like AIM and DART which will test impact deflection techniques for Potentially Hazardous Asteroids encounters were also covered. The proceedings include both an outreach level to popularize impact hazards and a scientific character which covers the latest knowledge on these topics, as well as offering proposals of promising new techniques that will help gain new insights of the properties of these challenging bodies by studying meteoroids and meteorites. Asteroids, comets, meteoroids and meteorites are introduced with descriptions of their nature, origin, and solar system pathways.
Most scientists now agree that some sixty-five million years ago, an immense comet slammed into the Yucatan, detonating a blast twenty million times more powerful than the largest hydrogen bomb, punching a hole ten miles deep in the earth. Trillions of tons of rock were vaporized and launched into the atmosphere. For a thousand miles in all directions, vegetation burst into flames. There were tremendous blast waves, searing winds, showers of molten matter from the sky, earthquakes, and a terrible darkness that cut out sunlight for a year, enveloping the planet in freezing cold. Thousands of species of plants and animals were obliterated, including the dinosaurs, some of which may have become extinct in a matter of hours. In Impact, Gerrit L. Verschuur offers an eye-opening look at such catastrophic collisions with our planet. Perhaps more important, he paints an unsettling portrait of the possibility of new collisions with earth, exploring potential threats to our planet and describing what scientists are doing right now to prepare for this awful possibility. Every day something from space hits our planet, Verschuur reveals. In fact, about 10,000 tons of space debris fall to earth every year, mostly in meteoric form. The author recounts spectacular recent sightings, such as over Allende, Mexico, in 1969, when a fireball showered the region with four tons of fragments, and the twenty-six pound meteor that went through the trunk of a red Chevy Malibu in Peekskill, New York, in 1992 (the meteor was subsequently sold for $69,000 and the car itself fetched $10,000). But meteors are not the greatest threat to life on earth, the author points out. The major threats are asteroids and comets. The reader discovers that astronomers have located some 350 NEAs ("Near Earth Asteroids"), objects whose orbits cross the orbit of the earth, the largest of which are 1627 Ivar (6 kilometers wide) and 1580 Betula (8 kilometers). Indeed, we learn that in 1989, a bus-sized asteroid called Asclepius missed our planet by 650,000 kilometers (a mere six hours), and that in 1994 a sixty-foot object passed within 180,000 kilometers, half the distance to the moon. Comets, of course, are even more deadly. Verschuur provides a gripping description of the small comet that exploded in the atmosphere above the Tunguska River valley in Siberia, in 1908, in a blinding flash visible for several thousand miles (every tree within sixty miles of ground zero was flattened). He discusses Comet Swift-Tuttle--"the most dangerous object in the solar system"--a comet far larger than the one that killed off the dinosaurs, due to pass through earth's orbit in the year 2126. And he recounts the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994, as some twenty cometary fragments struck the giant planet over the course of several days, casting titanic plumes out into space (when Fragment G hit, it outshone the planet on the infrared band, and left a dark area at the impact site larger than the Great Red Spot). In addition, the author describes the efforts of Spacewatch and other groups to locate NEAs, and evaluates the idea that comet and asteroid impacts have been an underrated factor in the evolution of life on earth. Astronomer Herbert Howe observed in 1897: "While there are not definite data to reason from, it is believed that an encounter with the nucleus of one of the largest comets is not to be desired." As Verschuur shows in Impact, we now have substantial data with which to support Howe's tongue-in-cheek remark. Whether discussing monumental tsunamis or the innumerable comets in the Solar System, this book will enthrall anyone curious about outer space, remarkable natural phenomenon, or the future of the planet earth.
Technologies such as artificial intelligence have led to significant advances in science and medicine, but have also facilitated new forms of repression, policing and surveillance. AI policy has become without doubt a significant issue of global politics. The Global Politics of Artificial Intelligence tackles some of the issues linked to AI development and use, contributing to a better understanding of the global politics of AI. This is an area where enormous work still needs to be done, and the contributors to this volume provide significant input into this field of study, to policy makers, academics, and society at large. Each of the chapters in this volume works as freestanding contribution, and provides an accessible account of a particular issue linked to AI from a political perspective. Contributors to the volume come from many different areas of expertise, and of the world, and range from emergent to established authors.
Can you imagine what our lives would be like after a devastating asteroid strike? What effect would the resulting tsunami, storms, and dust cloud have? What would happen to the climate, wildlife, and our food supplies? This book traces the possible consequences of a global event on this scale, with ideas and evidence based on similar scenarios that are a part of fact and fiction.
As more asteroids enter our solar system, our chances of a collision increase by the day. This work examines the impact phenomenon describing the importance of Deathrock collisions in the Earth's history, the potential dangers and alleged cover-ups of near misses.