it came from outer space

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Several of you quite rightly thought I was being a tad facetious in my last post when referring to the end of the world coming about not by exposure to coronavirus but by an asteroid collision, but not so fast Mr Bond, not so fast. As it transpires, the earth is truly under constant bombardment from outer space.

Over one hundred tonnes of dust and gravel particles enter the planet’s atmosphere daily, burning-up from friction as they crash through air molecules at speeds in excess of 45,000mph. In terms of larger bodies, Nasa has recently classified more than 21,000 asteroids and comets as ‘near-Earth objects’. Most are identified and their passage tracked but in July last year researchers were stunned when an undetected 400ft wide ‘city killer’ came within 45,000 miles of Earth – less than one-fifth the distance to the moon and in footie terms that’s a Beckham shot which grazes the post! If it had been in the top corner it would’ve gone off like a very large nuclear weapon.

In 2013, another undetected 66ft asteroid exploded fourteen miles above Chelyabinsk in Russia, releasing thirty times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The resulting shock wave shattered every window in the city and injured more than a thousand people. Furthermore, in 1908, a space rock estimated to be 200ft wide exploded above an uninhabited part of Siberia, levelling 80 million trees across an area some 1,000 square miles. The daddy of all asteroids thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago could have been as large as nine miles wide and subsequently triggered massive tsunamis and toxic sulphur fogs the size of continents. It’s guestimated that collisions of this nature could happen every hundred million years, give or take!

But don’t panic: your odds, calculated by Prof Nelson of Tulane University, of being killed by an asteroid are exceedingly slim, if practically non-existent, at 1 in 250,000. You’re far more likely to die in an earthquake, 1 in 130,000, or in an airplane crash, 1 in 30,000, so there’s an unexpected upside to all the flights being cancelled you didn’t anticipate!

Truth be told I no longer worry too much about the end of the world: instead I continue every day for those small, seemingly indifferent moments of uninhibited happiness that buffer the inevitable. Statistically, I remain most likely to peg-it aged 80+, stumbling on failing-squash-players-hips between contradictory doctor’s appointments whilst reading last month’s copy of Motorcycle Mechanics in their waiting room, listening to a piped loop of REM reminding me that it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.