, , , ,

One of the hilarious things about Russia (there are so very many to choose from, but a lot of them also carry a tinge of great tragedy or suffering, which may be why the place produces so many excellent novelists) is that nearly everyone’s got a dash-cam. You see them every now and again in other countries, but they’re practically a requirement in Russia — their insurance agencies are somewhat unreliable when it comes to handing out compensation for accidents, so it’s best to get as much evidence as possible when submitting a claim. That leads to compilations like this one:

I’ve seen some bad drivers in Connecticut, but the TURN LEFT NOW NOW NOW synapse doesn’t fire nearly as often here as it seems to in Russia. Also, we don’t have surplus military aircraft buzzing the roads, but I regard that as something of a disappointment.

In addition to producing unintentional vehicular comedy, however, Russia’s dashcams managed to capture the freaking meteor that just slammed into the Ural Mountains.

Brighter than the noon sun!  Faster than a speeding bullet! Fortunately, it didn’t hit anyone (Russia is very big and vastly underpopulated, which in this case is quite a good thing), but about a thousand people were injured by shockwaves from the sonic boom or explosion blowing out windows, like you can see in this video:

Those are a few minutes after the meteorite passes by, which is why people are taken by surprise. Sound travels pretty quickly, but it still took a couple minutes to get to them. If it managed to hit a populated area, the damage would have been a lot worse.

This meteor isn’t related to the asteroid that’s currently buzzing earth — 2012 DA14, which will pass within about 17,000 miles of us sometime today. That’s very good news for us; the Russian meteor was probably the size of a fridge, while 2012 DA14 is more like a 15-story building. Were it to hit us, it would slam into the atmosphere at about 30,000 miles per hour and leave a crater the size of Monaco.

This is, of course, something of a less-than-ideal situation. We literally have all our eggs in one basket, at least until the Mars and Moon colonies get going (which might be a while), so it’s important to identify as many of these things as possible, as early as possible. We’re a bit behind on this, unfortunately — there could be as many as one million asteroids that could hit us one day that we simply haven’t mapped yet. I don’t know what it’ll take to really ramp up our orbital defense efforts, but it’d be nice if today’s cosmic assaults had an impact bigger than a crater in the tundra.