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Typical impact speeds are about 20km per second (70,000km/h). Asteroids smaller than about 50m do not reach the ground -- but blow up in the atmosphere, although the blast can still be very dangerous. An example occurred in 1908 over Siberia. Larger asteroids reach the ground at very high speed and produce large craters. We know of more than 20 craters in Australia alone. However, this is not a case of the earth being blown up. The earth has been hit many times in the past, with many extinction events such as the dinosaurs, and the thing we are worried about is not saving the world, but saving people.

Dr. Ducan Steele, Australian Sixty Minutes

"Current detection and deflection strategies involve the assumption
that decades or centuries of warning will be available following
the discovery of a threat asteroid. However if the major impact
hazard indeed comes from this essentially undetectable population,
the warning time of an impact is likely to be at most a few days. A
typical Halley-type dormant comet spends 99 per cent of its time
beyond the orbit of Mars and so a full mapping of this population is beyond current technology."

2004 "Extreme albedo comets and the impact hazard"
W. M. Napier,1,2 J. T. Wickramasinghe2 and N. C. Wickramasinghe2
1Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, Northern Ireland BT61 9DG
2Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, Cardiff University, 2 North Road, Cardiff CF10 3DY

While I believe that the British neo-catastrophists are wrong about the threat to Earth, their work is science, not pseudoscience. They are making their case to other scientists, and time will sort out who is right and who is wrong. Regardless of whether the specific theories referred to in this article turn out to be correct, observing comet debris hitting Earth's atmosphere now seems to take on a whole new perspective in our "enlightened ages.

-- David Morrison, Director of Space, NASA-Ames Research Center, 1997

To Peiser's assertion that, "Some 100 surface impacts, including more than a dozen oceanic impacts, have repeatedly devastated whole regions, small countries and early civilizations around the globe" during the past 10,000 years, Clark Chapman, an asteroid expert at the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, wrote that this reflects "historical anecdotes and the ancient versions of 'urban legends.' I regard these as having little probative [substantiating] value, unless accompanied by sound physical and geological evidence. But there are some neo-catastrophists, located mainly in Britain, who have an almost Velikovskian pseudo-scientific take on this matter and have argued that such impacts are more frequent..." Velikovsky, of course, is the guy who gave asteroid impacts such a bad name back in 1950. Benny Peiser and Clark Chapman on impact frequency, pg. 3 here



A simple summary from Michael Brown



North Carolina Antique Map Gallery


Its Spring and

that means



John Lawson's Trek Through the Carolinas 

In 1709 



The News & Observer


An Op-Ed I recently wrote



Archibald D. Murphy

And the improvement of North Carolina in 1815


Penguins and Parrots in North Carolina?


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