Being sick offers an opportunity of sorts, for having no energy to move gives one a chance to think. So, felled by a particularly unpleasant bug and subject to medicine that at times is as bad as the sickness, I am taking time to ponder asteroids.
No wonder there… the world is still reeling from the shock of a refrigerator-sized asteroid flaming across the skies of Chelyabinsk, Russia and releasing several kilotons of energy in the process of exploding. Nor has there been a lack of celestial fireworks lately. Because of or contrary to the Axtec’s much noted calendar, meteor unceremoniously called 2012DA14 very nearly missed the earth last year.
It’s not that I think very often of meteors or of the shooting stars on which we made a wish when we were children. They were pretty streaks of light in a dark sky studded with stars. They were simply bits and pieces of space. But the latest invasion from space—and the invading bug— has made me curious about 2012 DA14, and I have learned that this meteor had been moving at a sharp 17,450 miles per hour and that this speed packed it full of energy. Apparently it’s velocity that changes a falling rock into a weapon of destruction. Even more perilous, a few centimeters of speed less or more in 2012DA14’s approach could have shifted its trajectory and sent it smashing into earth. A small collision from another asteroid would have accomplished this, and the light of the sun could have given the impetus to do much the same thing.
Now so interested as to stop feeling sorry for myself, I continue to learn that solar energy turns to heat energy when it connects with an asteroid. And chiaroscuro helps, too, for a darker meteor feels the solar effect less than a light meteor! Add a solar flare, and the scenario shifts again.
Is nothing to be trusted? I wonder. The gentle, peaceful sky full of glistening stars, the silver moon—but, of course, the poor moon has endured several assaults by these objects from space. In fact, scientists feel it’s possible that the moon itself was formed when earth was clipped by a massive asteroid…
Tired of asteroids and disaster scenarios, I get up to take the vile medicine and in doing so totter by the window. Outside, I see a multitude of birds taking refuge from the cold at the bird feeders. And not just at the feeders but on the ground where they are joined by squirrels and a strange looking furry ball of fur which I cannot identify. Of course birds need to eat their own weight each day to stay warm, so I am heartened. My friend the chickadee and his mates will be survivors this winter.
And beyond the birds I see a flash of gold. There, in spite of the cold and in spite of dangerous detritus from space, a daffodil has burst into bloom. Never mind, it seems to say, stop fussing about things you can’t control and stop feeling miserable. The sun is shining and spring will surely come.
There is a lot of wisdom in that. Tomorrow, I am going to try to take a walk.
As golden as sun
Is the wisdom of the earth
And of its creatures.