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Earth in the crosshairs?

August 18, 2013 Comments off

vancouversun.com

Our little planet faces many poorly understood perils from beyond

Earth in the crosshairs?

Photograph by: Associated Press, NASA , London Daily Telegraph, The Associated Press

Considering the dangers lurking out there, it’s a wonder that our little planet is not in the firing line more often. We are just 150 million kilometres from a star that, while mostly well-behaved, occasionally has temper tantrums that could bring our civilization to its knees. Our solar system is home to a swarm of comets, rocks, boulders and flying mountains, tens of thousands of which are big enough to wipe out anything from a small city to the entire biosphere. And further out lurk delinquent stars whose death explosions are the largest since the Big Bang. If one of these went off nearby, it would be curtains for all of us.

In fact, Earth can be considered rather lucky to have not suffered a total cataclysm in at least 3.5 billion years – the period during which we have an unbroken record of life existing on the Earth’s surface. Before then, global sterilization events, caused by collisions with huge space rocks, almost Read more…