Large meteor which skipped off atmosphere above US in 1972 actually hits

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by acgoldis, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. acgoldis Earthling

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
    Location:
    Brookline, MA
    Hi!

    Check out the following article:

    http://www.newwest.net/main/article...ories_of_the_great_daylight_fireball_of_1972/

    Now consider the following: instead of bouncing off the atmosphere, the meteor dips a little lower, slows down a little, and impacts near Salt Lake City. The article estimates that the object was "big enough to obliterate a Denver-sized city with a force equal to Little Boy and Fat Man, the uranium and plutonium bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

    How would the country have reacted and what would the consequences have been? Nuclear terrorist? Soviet first strike (NORAD picks it up too late) triggering WWIII? The destruction of Salt Lake City?

    ACG
     
  2. BrianWall Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    If NORAD did not pick up anything, then they would not think it was an inbound USSR missile exploding over SLC. If they picked it up late, there still would not be any launches detected prior to the explosion. At first there would be chaos surrounding the event, but I doubt it would start WW3. Too many people involved in the US, even back in 1972, for the missiles to just start flying.

    Now that said, if instead of Salt Lake City, say Karachi or New Delhi was hit by the rock, then one side thinks the other has just nuked them. How long until an Indian-Pakistani Nuclear War turns into WW3?
     
  3. Doctor What Charismatic Cult Leader

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2004
    Location:
    Land of the Odaawaa
  4. Bear Flag Oligarch Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Like above only moreso.
     
  5. Thande SWALLOWS·AND·AMAZONS·FOR·EVER!

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Doncaster/Sheffield
    Nooo! They can't destroy Calgary or Edmonton before I ever get to go there! :eek:

    One thing's for sure, it would heighten interest in asteroid deflection, which was already rising to prominence in the 1970s IIRC. I bet the space programme gets a lot more cash poured into it, and probably the Apollo Applications Programme is funded heavily along with some sort of space-shuttle analogue. (Or even a revival of that old AH favourite, Project Orion, if people are desperate enough to overlook the nuclear problems?) Perhaps there might be a detente agreement about putting weapons in space, as everyone would be clamouring to have nuclear-armed defence stations (regardless of whether that would actually work or not).
     
  6. rcduggan 大元帅

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2007
    Location:
    New England Democratic Republic
    Does this kind of thing (alternate asteroids and whatnot) go in ASB, or is this the right place to put it? I honestly don't know, and would like to be clear.
     
  7. Thande SWALLOWS·AND·AMAZONS·FOR·EVER!

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2005
    Location:
    Doncaster/Sheffield
    It's usually in ASB, but there are issues with that.
     
  8. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Michigan USA
    Generally I agree w/you. However, this particular WI is more likely/realistic and less ASB-ish than many what ifs that get posted here.
     
  9. Hobbesian Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Location:
    byzantion
    Somebody with physics knowledge correct me, but as far as i know, a meteor the size of britain can actually be the apocalypse. That is, huge ash cloud, massive greenhouse effect, plants dying, almost unbreathable air.. not to mention the tsunami.. so i guess if the aforementioned asteroid is big enough, we can have a desert world and live in cars with spikes and machine guns attached (duh).
     
  10. Mad Bad Rabbit Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Is there a rule of thumb, say, "impactor must have missed Earth by less than 1 lunar distance in OTL" ?
     
  11. ~The Doctor~ Guest

    If it's the size of Ireland, we're fucked. It'd probably wipe out all life altogether. Even single-celled organisms.
     
  12. Riain Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Straya
    This thing actually entered the Earth's atmosphere, it was that close. Was there any manned spacecraft up at the time? This have passed below it's orbit.

    Anyway, if it had hit there would be a flurry of research about hit's in the past, concluding that with this and Tunguska major meteor hits are quite common and we can expect at any time.