This is being billed as “the closest near miss on record, beating the previous record holder, a rock that buzzed Earth in 2004 . . . .” That’s the pickup truck-sized asteroid called 2011 CQ1 that came within seven thousand miles of Earth February 4. I didn’t notice it, and neither did anybody else until about an hour before its approach. Had it hit, though, well, it wouldn’t have hit. It was a size that would have burned up in the atmosphere. So, a miss is a miss. But that doesn’t count the one that did hit, and I don’t mean the dino killer. I mean the  one that plowed into the Sudanese desert in 2009.  That one did not burn up in the atmosphere, but it did leave behind about nine pounds of black rock full of tiny diamonds. Having found none of the diamonds being offered on eBay, I gather the researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California are keeping them for the time being. In neither case, should you worry, was the Congress of the United States in danger.

Articles by Russell E. Saltzman

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