How to survive the killer asteroid
When Galileo trained his telescope on the moon and discovered circular craters that dominated the topography, astronomers began to wonder how they formed. Some astronomers, Franz von Gruithuisen, in the nineteenth century. The Germans of the early twentieth century proposed the effects of asteroids as a cause. Most, however, rejected this theory in a simple fact that is completely confusing: the craters of the Moon are almost perfect circles. And, as anyone who has thrown dirt on the rock can tell you, it shouldn’t look like an impact scar. Instead, the mark will be elongated, oval and confused. (Surely Gruithuisen did not help his cause by saying that he had seen cows grazing on the moon’s grass in those craters.) In addition to any misleading theorist, astronomers can spot small mountains in the middle of each depression. Thus, for 300 years most astronomers and physicists believed that (1) cows did not graze on the moon’s meadows, and (2) the moon’s volcanoes, rather than meteors, tightened their faces.
Then, in the early 1900s, astronomers like the Russian Nikolai Morozov* he began to observe newly developed explosives and made a rather astonishing discovery: large explosions differ from rocks thrown in many ways, but very boldly — at least for the duration of our species — they leave circular craters regardless of the angle of impact. As Morozov wrote after several experiments in 1909, the impacts of asteroids “would repel dust from all directions in all directions regardless of the translational motion, as artillery grenades do when they fall to the ground.”
Prior to Morozov’s discovery, astronomers knew that asteroids could be destructive. “Dropping a ten-kilometer-diameter fireball would be enough to destroy the earth’s organic life,” wrote Nathan Shaler, dean of Harvard’s Lawrence Scientific School and proponent of volcanic theory, in 1903. But most believed that this was a purely theoretical exercise, in part because Shaler stated in his defense of the theory of the moon’s volcanism that it proved the very existence of humanity that no such effect could occur.
Morozov’s calculations changed that. Knowing the true origin of the moon’s scars, you don’t have to be an astronomer — or even a telescope — to conclude that asteroids have apocalyptic potential and that their effects are inevitable.
Shaler, so to speak, was wrong. He described an asteroid of almost the size of an asteroid did impact Earth and did eliminate the main species on the planet. Rather than exterminating humans, it cleared the path of evolution for sub-sized placental mammals to eventually crawl, walk, and make a camping trip to the apocalypse.
You can think the survival of your evil ancestor proves that a larger mammalian brain like you would have a fair chance. Unfortunately, the kiss had several adaptations that were respectful of the apocalypse that humans have since lost. Musaraia could survive on insects, keep away from heat, and have skin to warm in the freezing next decade. You can replicate some of the kissing survival strategies. You can burrow and spread the diet. But evolution has robbed you of others, and your opposing thumbs may not be enough to save you when that shining star enters the Earth’s atmosphere at 12.5 kilometers per second.
As a result of this speed, the Earth’s atmosphere behaves like water. Smaller rocks — called meteors — go into the atmosphere like pebbles; they accelerate at high altitudes, either by friction with the air or by accelerating at speeds of 164 mph at low altitudes. But the mountain-sized asteroid Chicxulub turns our atmosphere into a puddle like a rock. It maintains speed until impact, immersing the atmosphere for 60 miles in less than three seconds. The asteroid screams in Central America, emitting a sonic boom that reverberates across continents.
It falls so fast that the air itself cannot escape. Under intense compression, the air heats up thousands of degrees almost immediately. Even before the asteroid arrives, the compressed and heated air evaporates into the shallow Cretaceous sea that covers the Yucatan at a shallow depth. A millisecond later, the rock sinks through what is left and descends to the base for more than 10 seconds. At that instant, some almost simultaneous processes occur.
First, the affected meteorite puts so much pressure on the soil and rock that they do not break or break, but flow like fluids. This radical effect makes it easier to see the formation of the crater, as the undulations of the ground almost exactly reproduce the yard of a cannonball player in the backyard pool. The initial splash in all directions follows a delayed vertical sploosh when the cavity created by the impactor returns to the surface.