|The map shows the site of the massive 1908 meteor explosion. |
The 2013 meteor exploded over Chelyabinsk, to the west near Kazakhstan.
This week's incident also makes us wonder how the Soviet government would have reacted if a meteorite explosion had happened over Chelyabinsk during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. As it was this week in the post-Cold War context, some witnesses to the explosion said their first thought was that WW III had started.
The various national and international agencies that manage nuclear safety have thought of every possible hazard that could strike nuclear facilities. They build walls to protect from tsunamis, design reactors to withstand earthquakes, and containment structures to withstand aircraft crashes, but they have no defense against meteorite impact. They will admit there is no defense, but the risk is considered to be so small that it is worth taking. This week it doesn't seem so small.
All meteorite impacts since 2300 BC. Javier de la Torre created
this map using data from The Meteoritical Society.
Perhaps the human race has over-indulgent parents willing to give us
more than one "final warning." But patience has its limits.