Sunday, June 04, 2006

Meteors and Other Menaces: HaShem's Daily Protection of the World

HaShem always protects all that which is living, whether we recognize it or not. So many things can "go wrong" all the time. Therefore, we should place our trust in HaShem - "The Guardian of Israel does not slumber and does not sleep" (Psalms: 121; 3) and "Cursed is the man who trusts in people...and turns his heart away from HaShem... Blessed in the man who trusts in HaShem..." (Jeremiah: 17; 5, 7) For one to trust in HaShem and accept that everything follows His Will, one does not have to look farther than all the asteroids, meteors and comets flying around the Solar System. Many of these objects pass pretty close to the Earth. Some of these flying hazards can "inflict" extreme disasters on Earth. Sometimes, scientists miss these "flying dangers" or are surprised by their "quick appearance". People can make educated speculations, only HaShem Knows what will truly happen.

The following illustrates the above point:

In 2004, scientists were highly concerned that asteroid 2004 AS1 might impact the Earth, inflicting local devastation. The scientists at first believed the asteroid to have a 1 in 4 chance of impacting the Earth within 36 hours. These experts believed the asteroid to be 30 meters in diameter at the time. Well, it turns out that the asteroid was 500 meters in diameter. It also turns out that the asteroid missed the Earth by 32 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This all goes to show that the scientists could put in their hishtadlus (effort). However, we should not rely on the scientists to determine the size of the object, their knowledge of the existence of objects that potentially may or may not impact the Earth, and their statements regarding whether or not the Earth will cross paths with one of these rocks.

Asteroid 2004 XP14 - July 3, 2006:

The earth orbits around the sun at an estimated 67,000 miles per hour. Pretty fast. Many other objects travel through our Solar System in orbits, also at comparable speeds to that of the earth, some of whom have an orbit that intersects earth's orbit. In fact, at times, the earth and these objects - meteors and asteroids - come in close proximity. In fact, an asteroid is set to miss the earth by about 262,000 miles on July 3, 2006 - to give you perspective, if the earth would be 3.917 hours ahead in its orbit, the earth and the asteroid would almost certainly collide. According to NASA, the diameter of asteroid 2004 XP14 ranges between 370 and 820 meters in diameter. The simulation provided by NASA shows the projected trajectories of the earth and the meteor and their projected near-miss on July 3, 2006. The meteor is projected to miss colliding with the earth by a mere 262,480 miles. The meteor is traveling at 17.41 km/s - approximately 38,945 miles per hour, while the earth is traveling in orbit at approximately 67,000 miles per hour.

Aftermath of asteroid impact on earth - This crater was caused by an asteroid that was a "measly" 20 meters in diameter. However, the asteroid below was high-density.

An asteroid between 370 and 820 meters would cause significant damage. To get an idea of how much damage may be caused by such an asteroid, Heaven Forbid, enter the following information when prompted: diameter, speed (17.41 km/s), density - probably 2000 kg/m-squared. The damage would be extensive. Though this particular asteroid is potentially destructive, it will almost definitely miss the Earth. The Earth has experienced other closer encounters in the recent past, and, Baruch HaShem, has come out unscathed as the object missed the Earth. Some asteroids have come very closed to the Earth and, at the same time, caught scientists by surprise.

It is for us to conclude that all is in HaShem's Hands - He Protects the world and all individuals at all times from all dangers. At times, dangerous things do happen - that is part of the Master Plan. It is for us to recognize that everything that happens is "gam zoo l'tovah" - "this is too for the good".

The best thing that we can do to be Protected is to trust in HaShem and follow the advice of King Solomon - "The end of the matter, all heard, fear G-d and observe His commandments, for this is the entire person". (Ecclesiastes (Koheles): 11; 13)


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