Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sky Is Falling!!!

All day Friday the TV screen was plastered with news about the NASA satellite that had fallen out of orbit and was going to re-enter the earth's atmosphere, plunging to earth, sometime in the next 12 hours. This satellite (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) known as UARS fell out of orbit in 2005 and has been wandering aimlessly around the cosmos for the last six years. Scientific speculation proposed that most of the 6.5 ton piece of metal the size of your average bus would disintegrate in the atmosphere before reaching the earth. It would be possible that 26 pieces may be large or dense enough to survive the journey. With newfound respect for the story of Chicken Little, many earthlings are wanting to tell NASA, "UP UARS!!!"

NASA officials estimated that the debris could fall anywhere between the latitudes of northern Canada and southern South America. Since basically no one lives north of Canada (who would want to) and there are only a handful of populated places south of South America, this prediction was of little comfort to 85% of the world's population. When asked why they could not narrow the path down more specifically so that portion of the globe could better prepare, the NASA spokesperson shrugged his shoulders and said, "What more do you expect? We're not rocket scientists!"

Then to add insult to possible, catastrophic injury, NASA puts out a press release reminding the planet's citizens that if you happen to find a piece of the satellite in your backyard or even lodged in your skull, you may not keep it. It is the property of NASA. Despite this warning, I have already decided what I would do with a piece of UARS if I do happen to find one. Depending in the size I find, I will either make it into a keychain, hang it off a necklace, or mount it in the front of my minivan. I overheard one person excited about how much technology could be pulled out of one of the downed chunks. I reminded him not to get too worked up about it for two reasons:
  1. Any circuitry would be burned to a crisp upon re-entry
  2. Your average run-of-the-mill smartphone has more processing power than even top-of-the-line government computers of 1991 when this space junk was launched.
Today, we are told that the satellite has fallen to earth, but the location of the debris field is unknown. These scientists either do not know as much as they would like us to think or the government has already set up classified forced quarantine areas and is currently in the process of sterilizing the scene and neutralizing any witnesses. Either way, we will probably never know the fate of this hunk of melted metal.

Those masks won't save you from falling space junk
I, for one, am proud to have survived another week of impending doom. Despite the odds, I am still alive and kicking after having lived on the New Madrid fault line most of my life, despite the earthquake that we keep hearing is one day going to kill us all. I live in Tornado Alley, which has the highest concentration of tornadoes on the entire planet. I have survived the SARS epidemic, the AIDS Armageddon, the asian bird flu, the West Nile virus, monkey pox and countless other diseases that were supposed to wipe our species off the earth. I am still here despite Y2K, the end of the world prediction last April, the Snowpocolypse of last February, the aligning of the planets in the 80's and the unexplained fame of Paris Hilton.

For years we cowered in fear, waiting for the terrorists to poison our water supply, blow up school buses, infiltrate our nuclear power plants, or blow up the Super Bowl. Now after successfully fighting for survival all these years, the government warned we could get hit by metal falling out of the sky. Our world has reached the point that no perceived terror is ridiculous. Putting all fear of what freaky sci-fi event will cause our eventual doom aside, there is something we all need to come to terms with. Anything can kill us and, in fact, one day will. Chuck Palahniuk wrote in his book Fight Club, "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."

Since we are all going to die anyway, how about we start to live?

8 comments:

  1. The first time you wrote about the satellite was the first time I heard about it and by the time I understood what you were talking about the thing had already come down so I guess I prefer to just not know. I like to live in oblivion as you well know. Looking forward to reading the next one.

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  2. I enjoyed your observations in this post and am chuckling about the Paris Hilton comment. You're right. We do live in an age where no perceived threat to our survival is considered inane or out of the question. For people who aren't Christians, it makes no sense when they hear "Trust God with your life", but really, He is our greatest Protector. There is no time like the present to get to know Him. Great post, Brett!

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  3. ...or the impending doom of random axe-murderers!

    (I do carry jokes beyond the normal level, when most people would let the joke kick up its little feet and breathe its last. I hope you don't mind the axe-murderer cracks, because I'm still giggling over here!)

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    1. It is not a problem. I think I can handle it.

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    2. Clearly. Based on today's post and the vast influx of comments! (which I had not seen before I added my comment here.)

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    3. I expect they will keep coming in. People are being more serious about it than I expected. I thought I would get a bunch of jokes. It's actually been rather endearing.

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    4. I know, "axe-murderer" just screams "tongue-in-cheek", but I'm enjoying it, too.

      I have the giggles all day. Thanks.

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