Kingsville Professor Discusses Russian Meteorite with Students

You may have heard by now about the meteor strike in Russia Friday morning. It caused major damage, and more than 1,000 people were injured.

An event like that gets plenty of folks talking and wondering what the odds are of something like that happening in this country.

Charles Allison, a physics and astronomy professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, said a meteor strike like the one that happened Friday morning might happen once every ten years.

The meteor plunged toward Earth over Russia's Ural Mountains, some 900 miles east of Moscow, exploding into flames in a powerful blast that damaged buildings in nearby areas, and injured around 1,000 people. Amateur videos broadcast on state television showed an object streaking across the sky, trailing smoke before bursting into a fireball. The strike caused a sonic boom, from which residents in the affected region described as a shockwave that blew in doors, smashed glass and set off car alarms.

On Friday, at the Physics and Geosciences Department at TAMUK, Allison showed telescopes and cameras that can see events in the cosmos; but some events like the impact in Russia take us by surprise without warning.

Allison said that he spoke with his students about doomsday scenarios because he said, as shown by the Russian event, there are many different things that can get us.

"We live in a universe that is forever changing and always tends to be violent at times, but you know, it could happen any day, give or take a million years," Allison said.

Allison said that, usually in astronomy, we tend to think of things lasting long periods of times, like stars lasting 10 billion years, so that one lifespan of a human is very small compared to that. Our frame of reference in thinking of these things is hard to work with.

He added that he tried to have a discussion with his students on the event, but that it was hard for him to gauge their reaction. Events like this and doomsday scenarios get some people excited, and others depressed.


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