On this day in 1989, an asteroid that could have left a crater the size of Washington, D.C., harmlessly passed by the earth at a distance of 500,000 miles. Whew.
We haven't always been that lucky and the smart money is on our getting unlucky again one of these days. After all (and this amazes me), if the earth didn't have soil, water, and vegetation, it would look very much like the moon, pock-marked by collisions over millions of years. The difference is that the earth has make-up, not that the moon is running interference for us.
It is theorized that every major extinction in Earth's history coincided with an asteroid collision that dramatically altered the existing weather patterns. The threat of a major collision is real to the point of being inevitable.
But don't you fret. Spain (along with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) is on top of this. Those countries make up the European Space Agency (ESA) whose goal is drawing up and executing the European space program. And one aspect of the European space program is figuring out how to deflect an asteroid.
With style, wit, and humility, the Europeans have named this mission "Don Quijote." If the USA were working on it, we would probably have called it "Terminator," a "literary" allusion more likely to be understood by us.
This is from the July 13, 2004, CNN story:
Just in case you need your memories refreshed (and that's all it would be--a refreshing--since Saint Report readers have grounding in the classics), Don Quijote (the Spanish spelling of Quixote) was Spanish author Cervantes' crazy nobleman who jousted with windmills thinking they were enemies. The windmills won. Sancho Panza was his squire and Hidalgo was his rank.
Back to humility and the classics, maybe by avoiding the tragic flaw of hubris, the ESA is going to enjoy more good fortune and acquire more international respect with Mission Don Quijote than we had with "Shock and Awe."
Barney Clark Death Anniversary
Barney Clark, Seattle dentist, was the first recipient of an artificial heart. The device extended his natural life by 112 days.
Moral: I don't have a clue. It just seemed like the kind of story that ought to have one.