Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chicken Little and the Notion of God

Well, Colorado is in for another storm. Earlier this week, I awoke to winds so strong my ears were hurting from the change in pressure. Today, the temperature has plummeted 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) since this morning and is going to keep dropping as an Arctic front moves through the region this weekend.

Don't get me wrong. I love weather phenomena. I used to chase tornadoes when I was a teenager. In fact, one of my favorite cable channels was The Weather Channel. I am a weather geek, but boy, I'm getting sick of being indoors! I guess I prefer my storms to be a little faster...

(From my film "Petrichor." Click image or link to play Quicktime.)

There have been some interesting things falling from (or through or beyond) the sky lately, and I wanted to comment on some of them.

First of all, the weather has put me in a pensive mood. I recently recalled going through bouts of insomnia as a kid. I was absolutely terrified of aliens (if you read my posts below about my early fears, you will understand this). One year my brother and I both got cable television in our bedrooms as a Christmas gift (woo hoo- a kid's dream come true). I found that watching the Weather Channel was the only thing that helped me sleep. While I will acknowledge that the lack of action-packed story lines at 2:00AM might have contributed to this, I must also add that I felt an odd sense of security knowing that I wasn't the only one awake in the world. I think it also comforted me somehow to know that satellites were monitoring the Earth's atmosphere. I thought that if there were UFOs, surely the National Weather Service would see them and alert us all (or at least the person standing in front of the weather map, appearing to hover above us all from his Star Trek Enterprise-like view in the television studio). In a sense, it was almost like verifying God's existence on a physical level: I was being watched from above by wiser forces...

Of course, that was before I learned that the National Weather Service would likely do everything in its power to keep UFO information from us (and that those watching me from above are neither gods nor wiser humans)! Additionally, I'm not so sure how safe I feel anymore knowing that there is a bunch of bus-sized space junk floating around over our heads. This sense of unease was confirmed early this week as a "Russian rocket body" fell through the Colorado skies at 6:15 in the morning. I'm sorry I don't have a photo. Most of the images were taken by local news traffic helicopters, so they have a monopoly on the images. I HIGHLY encourage you to click on the link and watch this clip, though- it is incredible.

It is also an incredible example of media stupidity. Thankfully, the video above is silent. When the clip was first released, the news media were calling it a "meteor shower," saying that it was the Quadrantid meteor shower. They then went on to say that the shower is named after an "extinct" constellation. Well, I wrote my first angry "letter to the editor" (I think this is a sign of aging- the older we get the more letters we end up writing).

First of all, I wish meteor showers looked like this! This is clearly something bizarre. From my first viewing of it, I knew it was not a natural object- it was too scattered. It would be highly unlikely that a solid, dense meteor that large would break up in that way. Additionally, it looks a lot like the footage of space shuttle Columbia when it exploded in the atmosphere.

Secondly, there is no such thing as an "extinct" constellation. Yes, the Quadrans Muralis constellation is obsolete, but it didn't go extinct! With the exception of a handful of supernovae, the stars have remained pretty much fixed throughout recorded history! I digress...

Well, I got a response and the web site, at least, was updated. Turns out a Russian rocket body fell from the sky, Chicken Little. Strange how it took NORAD five hours to identify the object, yet they were quick to say that they knew it was coming all along and that we really shouldn't find such a thing remarkable. Huh...

In was tickled to hear this NPR report on a UFO sighting at Chicago's O'Hare airport (here is the interviewee's report, as well). Their story pretty much sums it up. Strange!

Tonight I will be missing one of the brightest comets in 30 years: comet McNaught. I encourage anyone in the Northern Hemisphere with a clear view of the Western horizon to take a look right at sunset. I've heard it's spectacular! I've tried to see it several times now, but each attempt has been thwarted by either mountains, bad timing, or dense cloud cover. Damn! I even dreamt about it last night. I don't have a camera in my dreams (well, at least not one that will let me share images in this reality...yet), so I will close this lengthy post with another video clip from my storm chasing video "Petrichor." This one is silent:

Click the image to view the quicktime movie.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, i worked the Re-entry. We knew what it was, when & where it was comming in. We only let the people that NEED to know fast what it is. had this burned in during the day, it would have went unnoticed and wouldn't have attracted media attention, but since it was still kinda of dark out, and was seen across 3 states, The Media picked it up. After our belly's stopped hurting from the laughter of the Media's idea's of what it was(or answering the same question over and over again when called about it) NORAD released what it was.