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Guest: Gordon Dillow; Topics: Gordon's new asteroid book, "Fire In The Sky," asteroid impacts, asteroid defense, NASA, FEMA, asteroid pop culture, asteroid mining and much more.
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We welcomed author Gordon Dillow to the show for this one segment 66 minute program discussing his new book, "Fire in The Sky: Cosmic Collisions, Killer Asteroids, and the Race To Defend The Earth," plus planetary defense against an asteroid strike and much more. We started our conversation with Gordon telling us about his seeing a small asteroid breakup in the atmosphere early in the morning over his Arizona home. This was June 2, 2016. Make sure you listen to his graphic description of what he both saw and heard. Even better, read the introduction to his book where he describes the event in detail. After witnessing this more than impressive atmospheric event, Gordon was hooked so he began developing is interest in asteroids which eventually led him to writing this book. His story is compelling and impressive less you think a small asteroid five to six feet wide might not be a big deal.
Following Gordon describing his seeing the breakup of a small asteroid over his home area, Gordon talked about asteroids that have hit Earth in the past. We went over several of them pls their size and their explosive power. Make sure you hear what Gordon had to say. Also times lines as to when these happened. For example, Meteor Crater was about 50,000 years ago. The impact that did in the dinosaurs was around 65 million years ago. The famous event in Tunguska in Russia was 1908. The more recent Chelyabinsk Event was 2013, also in Russia. Gordon described the impact, damage, and likely damage had these events happened over a major city such as New York, London, etc.
Listener Terry asked Gordon about his knowledge of asteroids and impacts before his experience and then again after writing his book. Gordon also talked about the focus and target market of his book. Gordon considered himself of average knowledge regarding asteroids which was one of the reasons behind his book. He wanted to educate the general public about the danger given his assumption that the public is not that sophisticated about asteroid risks and dangers regarding impacts. We also talked about forming attitudes from block buster movies and why that might not be such a good idea.
Dr. Doug sent in an email asking about our present day capability to detect an extinction level situation from a NEO. Don't miss what Gordon said in reply to Doug's question. I followed it up by asking Gordon if he thought a government would actually disclose that an extinction level event was a real threat. Gordon answered by raising many questions about such a disclosure and what might be done about it. Don't miss all of what he had to say on this topic. Let us know what you think by posting your thoughts on our blog. One thing we talked about often during our discussion what how much warning time we had to do something about the threat. The more time, the better the options.
Gordon's book addresses commercial values for asteroids so I asked our guest about asteroid mining. He had some very interesting comments about this but thought that if there was a commercial value, it would be for use in space, not in bringing resources back to Earth. He also told us that Meteor Crater was the first attempt to mine an asteroid. Listen to his story which explains this statement.
Mitigation ideas and strategies were talked about including kinetic impactors and nuclear explosions to deflect or slow down the incoming asteroid. Gordon had much to say about both ideas and especially about using nuclear bombs for asteroid deflection. This brought up a short discussion about the planetary protection budget which he thought was insufficient. We mentioned that the budget was inside NASA, not DOD despite national security being clearly involved. Listen to what he said about the DOD budget as compared to the budget for NASA and Planetary Defense.
Before the program ended, I asked about asteroid wars because this was also a chapter in his book. He talked about how various government agencies and international folks plan asteroid defense war games just as they do actual battle war games. Don't miss this discussion. What do you think about this? Let us know by posting on our blog. As we were about to end the program, Gordon was asked about the role of FEMA in planetary protection. He said FEMA was definitely involved but not in what to do about the asteroid but rather what to do after there had been an impact. We also talked about FEMA-NASA simulations.
Please post your comments/questions on the blog for this show. Gordon Dillow can be reached through me or his email address which he gave out on air at the end of our discussion. He also provided his information on air as we were ending the program.