back to article Meteor swarm spawns new and dangerous branch

The regular and often-unspectacular Taurid meteor shower has a dangerous side, with Czech boffins warning it's a likely source of dangerous debris. Working at the Czech Academy of Sciences, the authors of this paper at Astronomy and Astrophysics (here at arXiv) analysed 144 fireballs observed in the 2015 Taurid shower, and say …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Oh dear.

    Better buy a hard hat then...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear.

      "Come friendly fireballs and fall on Slough!"

  2. thomas k

    Tunguska

    I thought they'd determined Tunguska was caused by a Tesla wireless power transmission experiment that went horribly awry.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me
      Alien

      Re: Tunguska

      Russian version of Roswell?

      1. sitta_europea

        Re: Tunguska

        "Your alien overlord" quoth "Russian version of Roswell?"

        Apart from the minor difference that the event at Tunguska actually happened?

        Oh - and Ed., isn't describing this 30,000 year old cometary breakup as 'new' a bit odd?

        1. Kane Silver badge

          Re: Tunguska

          "Oh - and Ed., isn't describing this 30,000 year old cometary breakup as 'new' a bit odd?"

          Cosmologically speaking, that's a wee babby. That's not to say that new things aren't happening all the time in the 'verse, but on comparative scales, it's quite recent.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting use of statistics...

    ... to infer the presence of 100m-sized chunks from a single observation of a 1m-sized chunk.

    (A 100m chunk is of course 100^3 = 1 meeeeellion times more massive)

    Makes for good headlines and continued funding though.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Interesting use of statistics...

      That's what I was thinking. That and the phrase "lies, damned lies and statistics" !!

      1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

        Yup, that's what the dinosaurs thought too.

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

          The Quaternary extinction event was quite recent and while there are meany theories (including a comet strike), nobody actually knows why, approximately 11,000 years ago every large animals went extinct across North America.

          We know that we have had very large meteor impacts in the past but for some reason we don't believe that it could ever happen again.

          1. Tom Paine Silver badge

            Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

            nobody actually knows why, approximately 11,000 years ago every large animals went extinct across North America

            Sure they do: the arrival; of homo sapiens. As in Australia and Europe, our arrival was quickly followed by population crash and extinction of megafauna.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

              "Sure they do: the arrival; of homo sapiens. As in Australia and Europe, our arrival was quickly followed by population crash and extinction of megafauna."
              It was also contemporaneous with the Younger Dryas climate event and a possible impact by an extra-terrestrial impact. It's hard to envisage these two latter as non-contributing factors. Likely it was a perfect storm as they say...

            2. cmonte

              Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

              I would suggest a little better approximation of the time frame as 12900- 11600 yrs ago. Whatever happened around 12900-12800 years ago depending on age dating marked then end of the North American megafauna as well as most of the humans of the time and brought on a period called the younger dryas Cooling. I highly recommend Graham Hancocks' 'Magicians of the Gods' chapters 3&4 as an eye opener on this subject. His and Randall Carlsons' Theory involves a or a series of comet fragment impacts that relate directly to the meteor steam discussed above.

            3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

              Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

              That's the conventional theory - homo sapiens arrived ate all the large animals and then decided to switch to a healthy vegetarian diet once they had eaten all the meat. The problem is that there's no evidence to support it - homo sapiens was around for tens of thousands of years prior to the extinction and then, in one year, ate everything?

              Fact is, nobody actually knows why, it's just a guess.

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

                "homo sapiens arrived ate all the large animals and then decided to switch to a healthy vegetarian diet once they had eaten all the meat. The problem is that there's no evidence to support it - homo sapiens was around for tens of thousands of years prior to the extinction and then, in one year, ate everything?"

                Here's what the evidence suggests:

                "The late Pleistocene witnessed the extinction of 35 genera of North American mammals. The last appearance dates of 16 of these genera securely fall between 12,000 and 10,000 radiocarbon years ago (≈13,800–11,400 calendar years B.P.), although whether the absence of fossil occurrences for the remaining 19 genera from this time interval is the result of sampling error or temporally staggered extinctions is unclear. Analysis of the chronology of extinctions suggests that sampling error can explain the absence of terminal Pleistocene last appearance dates for the remaining 19 genera. The extinction chronology of North American Pleistocene mammals therefore can be characterized as a synchronous event that took place 12,000–10,000 radiocarbon years B.P. Results favor an extinction mechanism that is capable of wiping out up to 35 genera across a continent in a geologic instant."
                Emphasis mine.

                Synchronous extinction of North America's Pleistocene mammals

                A lot more than "just a guess".

                1. JCitizen
                  Joke

                  Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

                  @Pompous Git - Noah forgot to put the 19 mega-fauna on board? Heh! Heh!

                  1. Pompous Git Silver badge
                    Devil

                    Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

                    "Noah forgot to put the 19 mega-fauna on board? Heh! Heh!"
                    It's hard to figure out how he got any fauna from North America, Australasia or Antarctica on board.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Interesting use of statistics... "lies, damned lies and statistics"

            Ummm, Eskimos ate the American megafauna...

      2. uncommon_sense
        Mushroom

        Re: Interesting use of statistics...

        <"lies, damned lies and statistics" !!>

        They are popular scientific tools.

        Climatologists use them every day.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Interesting use of statistics...

      That might be true, but as far as big rocks in space are concerned, all of humanity is playing peek-a-boo like a toddler : can't see it = not there. That is not good and it likely means that we will wake up to this threat only when half a continent has been erased from existence.

      That will be a very expensive wake-up call and I approve any measure that will keep the funding going on this subject.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting use of statistics...

        But where will we outsource to then?

        1. uncommon_sense
          Joke

          Re: Interesting use of statistics...

          >But where will we outsource to then?<

          India, of course!

          They can do just as good a job using only Asstrology

      2. CustardGannet
        Trollface

        "we will wake up to this threat only when half a continent has been erased from existence"

        As long as it's half the North American continent*, that's fine by me.

        (We all know which half I'm talking about - and it's not the ice-hockey-playing half.)

        1. PBXTech

          Re: "we will wake up to this threat only when half a continent has been erased from existence"

          CustardGannet said:

          "(We all know which half I'm talking about - and it's not the ice-hockey-playing half.)"

          Isn't just horrible when your children get mad at you, move out on their own, refuse to move back even when you try to kick down their door and force them to, then do BETTER than you ever thought of?

          Isn't even more horrible when your nasty neighbors come calling and you have to beg your children to come back and protect you...Twice?

          Greetings from the States! :)

      3. Rainer

        Re: Interesting use of statistics...

        When the impact is big enough, evolution will have to start over.

        If you believe in some sort of higher being keeping an eye on us down here, you can think of it as some sort of "Reset Button" in that being's "Game of Life".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Rainer - Re: Interesting use of statistics...

          Hoping this time evolution will restart without humans. Way much better for our Earth!

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Interesting use of statistics...

      1m sized chunks and one 150m sized one.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Interesting use of statistics...

        A meteor strike? No way, that'll never happen but we going to keep buying lottery tickets. We only believe statistic when it suits us.

  4. MT Field
    Alert

    We need to wipe out all the asteroids. Yeah wipe them all out. You know those asteroids are very bad, people. Very bad. We are gonna wipe them off the face of the galaxy! Yeah. And we'll make the greys pay for it.

    1. FuzzyTheBear

      Sounds just like Donald :) Now can someone in the USA tell him he's fired ? :D

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Trollface

        Dont be silly, we dont need to wipe them out, we're not racist after all. No, no, all we need is to build a wall to keep out those bad hombre Meteors and of course we will make them pay for it....

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          We shouldn't build a wall or try to destroy them. We should open our arms and welcome them, show them our ruling classes have scaly skin too and let them eat our children.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      "We need a meteor travel ban. Those meteors from the Taurids... the asteroid belt... you know who I mean. Ban them from coming here, ban those meteors. Only I can do it."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We need to wipe out all the asteroids

      I will build a triangular wire-frame ship out of unobtanium. It'll fire dashes and destroy asteroids. That'll do it. Schematic follows:

      ▷ - - - - - - - - - - ⎈

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      That sounds like GREAT plan. A really GREAT plan, the BEST ever! A YUUUGE, REALLY GREAT plane.

    5. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      You're clearly not treating this appropriately seriously. What we need to do is build a Dyson-sphere that is incidentally strong enough* to bounce any would-be illegal immigrants. Uh, sorry, space rock. It's ok, we'll still be able to launch outer space probes through it - we'll just build a hatch into it somewhere. No, of course it's NOT a back door! Spheres don't have a "back" side!

      * maybe we should build it with a moat. With sharks and lasers. What? Look, there are some tiny animals that don't die in space, I saw it on TV - if they can do it, so can the sharks, they'll just have make an effort and breathe harder!

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I welcome our new meteor overlords

    if they can flash cook a pizza for me!

    1. molletts

      Re: I welcome our new meteor overlords

      "... if they can flash cook a pizza for me!"

      I'll have heaps of pepperoni, spicy beef, ham, salami, chicken, basically all the ones for carnivores.

      The meteor the better.

      1. Chemist

        Re: I welcome our new meteor overlords

        ""... if they can flash cook a pizza for me!""

        Get lots of smart cookies on this site

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Devil

        Re: I welcome our new meteor overlords

        I'll have heaps of pepperoni, spicy beef, ham, salami, chicken, basically all the ones for carnivores.

        The meteor the better.

        This is true. The problem is it's also likely to be topped with a lot of long-pig.

  6. phuzz Silver badge
    Joke

    Request

    Come friendly bombsasteroids and fall on Slough!

    It isn't fit for humans now,

    There isn't grass to graze a cow.

    Swarm over, Death!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Request

      Damn, you beat me to it!

      I knew I shouldn't have taken the afternoon off work...

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Request

      Is that a reboot of "black hole sun / won't you come" or the other way around...? Or is it the prequel?

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Happy

    FAKE NEWS!

    The regular and often-unspectacular Taurid meteor shower

    I would like to object to The Register publishing fake news such as this.

    I live in England. There is no such thing as a spectacular meteor shower!

    Perhaps someone needs to publish some research on the power of astronomical events to cause cloud cover. It's almost as if they're hiding...

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: FAKE NEWS!

      Not true - We have lots of spectacular meteor showers.

      All that you're lacking is a decent (i.e. higher than the cloud-layer) vantage point.

      1. Martijn Otto

        This is true!

        Also, the UK gets plenty of sunshine, you just need a decent vantage point.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: This is true!

          Could I get something to pipe all this glorious sunshine to me here at ground-level? Say a 20,000 foot long tube with mirrors inside. We could call it a sunbrella. Hold it above your head, while walking down the street, and be bathed in sunshine, whatever-the-weather.

          Right, I'm off to email Dragon's Den. Offering them 0.001% of my company for ONE MEEELLION POUNDS!!!!!

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: FAKE NEWS!

      "I would like to object to The Register publishing fake news such as this."
      Of course it's fake. It's published on Arxiv and was endorsed by one of its authors.

  8. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

    Lets use Teresa May logic and just ban asteroids.

  9. Axman

    Taurids?

    Taurids? Are they the Brummie equivalent to Emmets and Grockles?

    (as in, "Taurids Information Centre? Yep, up there by the Bullring... ta-ra a bit")

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Taurids?

      There were two Brummie girls down at the Bullring and a Merkin tourist. The tourist asks the girls if he can photograph them and they tell him he can. The tourist fiddles with his camera and as he continues to fiddle with it, the girls grow impatient.

      Girl 1: "What's he doin' then?"

      Girl 2: "I think he's trying to focus."

      Girl 1: "Why doesn't he tek us to the pub then?"

  10. Pompous Git Silver badge

    And a further thought...

    Not all megafauna became extinct between 12,000 and 10,000 radiocarbon years BP. Elephants are still around and were arguably exposed to predation by humans there far longer than anywhere else on the planet. The Younger Dryas affected the tropics to a far lesser extent than the higher latitudes.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: And a further thought...

      Meant to type African elephants. Indian elephants were domesticated.

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