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Asteroid Threatens Earth (Seriously)

Why is it that every time we hear news of an impending asteroid collision everyone always references <em>Armageddon</em> and not <em>Deep Impact</em>? The latter was arguably a superior flick, even if it is like comparing concussions to see which one did the least amount of brain damage. As inexplicable as <em>Armageddon’s</em> success may be, Bruce Willis’s band of asteroid-blasting bad boys have been dredged from the pop-culture dustbin once again as scientists ponder the arrival of an actual “global killer” on August 26, 2032. <strong>Interstellar Nightmare</strong> The Ukrainians who spotted it first – on October 12, 2013 – are calling the asteriod 2013 TV135, apparently because a name like “Daisy” doesn’t really capture the stark terror associated with Earth’s obliteration by a random space rock.  <strong>  </strong> This particular rock, which was seen cruising through the Giraffe constellation and confirmed by astronomists in at least four other countries, is 1,300 feet in diameter and would have a blast yield of 2,500 <em>megatons</em>. To put that into perspective, the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated – Russia’s “Tsar Bomba” in 1961 – yielded a max of 58 megatons and destroyed ALL OF THE THINGS within a 22-mile radius. By comparison, 2013 TV135 would wipe out everything within a 100,000-mile radius. The great news is that a lot of people would escape the initial blast. The bad news is that they would perish soon after in a protracted nuclear winter caused by a hurricane of flames, smoke and debris that would blot out the sun for years. This is decidedly <em>not awesome</em>. <strong>How Close Will It Get?</strong> Believe it or not, there is actually a measurement tool for this called the Torino Scale. The scale gauges the impact hazard of near-Earth objects (yep, also a thing) by weighing the probability of impact against the estimated kinetic energy the impact would create. More simply put, the bigger it is and the closer it gets, the higher up on the scale it climbs. The scale ranges from 0 to 10, with Level 10 being “Kiss the Earth Goodbye.” The highest we’ve ever reached is Level 4, which occurred in 2004 with an asteroid called 99942 Apophis. Not too many people heard about it, but there were a lot of folks in white coats holding their breath for about a year as they crammed around their telescopes trying to decide if this was gonna be <em>the one</em>. 2013 TV135, on the other hand, remains at a Level 1. Incredibly, NASA’s Near Earth Object Program still gives it a 1 in 63,000 chance of hitting the planet. That feels at least like a Level 5 to us, but hey, we’re not scientists. <strong>What Can We Do?</strong> Crank up the Aerosmith and call Bruce Willis! Or … the United Nations? Apparently, the U.N. is forming an International Asteroid Warning Group so, you know – NOBODY PANIC. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes you have a great Friday, and is keeping fingers crossed that neither Bruce Willis nor the U.N. will be needed to save the planet from destruction.
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