An asteroid half the size of a football field buzzed Earth in a historic flyby today (Feb. 15), barely missing our planet just hours after a much smaller object exploded above Russia, injuring perhaps 1,000 people.
The 150-foot-wide (45 meters) near-Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 cruised within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Earth at 2:24 p.m. EST (1924 GMT) today, coming closer than many communications satellites circling our planet.
The flyby marked the closest approach by such a large asteroid that astronomers have ever known about in advance. But it wasn’t even the most dramatic space-rock event of the day.
That distinction goes to a brilliant fireball that exploded early this morning in the skies over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region, which is about 930 miles (1,500 km) east of Moscow. The blast damaged hundreds of buildings and wounded perhaps 1,000 people, according to media reports. [Fireball Explodes Over Russia (Video)]
Scientists think the Russian fireball was caused by a object that was about 50 feet wide (15 m) and weighed about 7,000 tons before it hit Earth’s atmosphere. For comparison, 2012 DA14 tips the scales at 140,000 tons or so. The two space rocks are completely unrelated, NASA researchers say, making the dual events a spooky cosmic coincidence.
Astronomers had been looking forward to 2012 DA14’s flyby for a while, since it gave them the rare chance to study a decent-size asteroid up close.
“We’re going to use our radars to bounce radio waves off this asteroid, watch it spin, look at the reflections and understand its size, its shape and perhaps even a little bit about what it’s made of,” Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said in a video released by the space agency Thursday (Feb. 14).
Indeed, researchers around the world trained instruments on 2012 DA14, tracking the space rock as it cruised toward Earth, gave our planet a historically close shave and then slipped silently off into the depths of space once again.
Cosmic shooting gallery
There are lessons to be taken from today’s asteroid flyby and fireball blast, researchers said.
“Today’s events, both with 2012 DA14 and the Russian meteorite, are a reminder that our solar system is a crowded place,” Chris Lewicki, president of asteroid-mining firm Planetary Resources, wrote in a blog post today.
Our planet has indeed been pummeled by asteroids many times over its history — perhaps most famously 65 million years ago, when a 6-mile-wide (10 km) behemoth wiped out the dinosaurs — and it will continue to be struck in the future.
The good news is that we probably don’t have to worry about a potential civilization-ending strike anytime soon. NASA researchers have mapped out the orbits of 90 percent of the biggest and most dangerous near-Earth asteroids, and none of them seem to be on a collision course with Earth in the foreseeable future.
But there are a lot of smaller space rocks out there waiting to be discovered and mapped. Researchers have identified just 9,600 near-Earth asteroids to date, but they think a million or more are likely to be out there. (2012 DA14 itself was just discovered in February 2012.)
Spotting the most threatening of these space rocks may require lofting dedicated asteroid-hunting space telescopes, researchers say. The nonprofit B612 foundation plans to do just that; in 2017 or 2018, it aims to launch an instrument called the Sentinel Space Telescope, which would scan Earth’s neighborhood from a Venus-like orbit, freeing it from having to contend with the glare of the sun.
Astronomers estimate that asteroids the size of 2012 DA14 buzz Earth this closely every 40 years and hit our planet once every 1,200 years or so. If 2012 DA14 did hit us, it would probably cause severe destruction on a local scale. In 1908, a space rock thought to be of similar size exploded over Siberia, flattening about 825 square miles (2,137 square km) of forest.
An ex-Los Angeles police officer who authorities say went on a deadly shooting rampage to punish those he blamed for his firing killed three people, setting off a manhunt that stirred fear across several states and Mexico.
The search for Christopher Dorner focused late Thursday on Big Bear Lake, about 80 miles east of Los Angeles, where police found a burned-out pickup truck that belonged to Christopher Dorner. San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said officers were going door to door looking for him.
Throughout the day, thousands of heavily armed officers patrolled highways in the state, while some stood guard outside the homes of people police say Dorner vowed to attack in an angry rant posted online. Electronic billboards that usually alert motorists about the commute urged them to call 911 if they saw him.
“I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” to Los Angeles Police Department officers, on or off duty, said the manifesto. It also asserted: “Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared. That’s what this is about, my name. A man is nothing without his name.”
Dorner, 33, had multiple weapons including an assault rifle, said Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck, who urged him to surrender at an unusual press conference in an underground room at police headquarters where there was more security than normal.
“Of course he knows what he’s doing, we trained him. He was also a member of the Armed Forces,” he said. “It is extremely worrisome and scary.”
The nearly 10,000-member LAPD dispatched some of its officers to protect more than 40 potential targets across the region on Thursday. The department also pulled officers from motorcycle duty, fearing they would make for easy targets.
“I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I’m terminating yours,” the manifesto said.
At one point, officers guarding one location mistakenly opened fire on a pickup truck believing it matched the description of Dorner’s dark colored 2005 Nissan Titan, injuring two innocent occupants.
The chief said there had been a “night of extreme tragedy in the Los Angeles area” and that the department was taking measures to ensure the safety of officers and their families.
The search for Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for making false statements, began after he was linked to a weekend killing in which one of the victims was the daughter of a former police captain who had represented him during the disciplinary hearing.
Monica Quan and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, were found shot in their car at a parking structure at their condominium on Sunday in Irvine. Quan, 28, was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence, 27, was a public safety officer at the University of Southern California.
Police said Dorner implicated himself in the couple’s killings in the manifesto posted on Facebook. They believe he wrote it because there were details in it only he would know.
In the post, Dorner wrote that he knew he would be vilified by the LAPD and the news media, but that “unfortunately, this is a necessary evil that I do not enjoy but must partake and complete for substantial change to occur within the LAPD and reclaim my name.”
Dorner was with the LAPD from 2005 until 2008, when he was fired for making false statements.
Quan’s father, a former LAPD captain who became a lawyer in retirement, represented Dorner in front of the Board of Rights, a tribunal that ruled against Dorner, police said. Randal Quan retired in 2002 and later served as chief of police at Cal Poly Pomona before he started practicing law. Quan did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
According to documents from a court of appeals hearing in October 2011, Dorner was fired from the LAPD after he made a complaint against his field training officer, Sgt. Teresa Evans. Dorner said that in the course of an arrest, Evans kicked suspect Christopher Gettler, a schizophrenic with severe dementia.
Richard Gettler, the schizophrenic man’s father, gave testimony that supported Dorner’s claim. After his son was returned on July 28, 2007, Richard Gettler asked “if he had been in a fight because his face was puffy” and his son responded that he was kicked twice in the chest by a police officer.
After his dismissal, Dorner said in his online rant that he lost everything, including his relationships with his mother, sister and close friends.
“Self-preservation is no longer important to me. I do not fear death as I died long ago,” the manifesto. “I was told by my mother that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I refuse to accept that.”
Dorner said he would use all of his training to avoid capture and track his targets.
In addition to police work, Dorner served in the Naval Reserves, earning a rifle marksman ribbon and pistol expert medal. He served in a naval undersea warfare unit and various aviation training units, according to military records, and took a leave from the LAPD and deployed to Bahrain in 2006 and 2007.
“I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordinance and survival training I’ve been given,” the manifesto read. “You have misjudged a sleeping giant.”
As officers searched for Dorner, there was a report of a shooting in Corona that involved two LAPD officers working a security detail, police said. A resident pointed out Dorner to the officers who followed until his pickup stopped and the driver got out and fired a rifle at them. A bullet grazed an officer’s head.
Later, two officers on routine patrol in neighboring Riverside were ambushed at a stop light by a motorist who drove up next to them and opened fire with a rifle. One died and the other was seriously wounded but was expected to survive, Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said.
Diaz said news organizations should withhold the officers’ names because the suspect had made clear that he considers police and their families “fair game.”
The hunt for Dorner led to two errant shootings in the pre-dawn darkness Thursday.
LAPD officers guarding a “target” named in the posting shot and wounded two women in suburban Torrance who were in a pickup but were not involved, authorities said. Beck said one woman was in stable condition with two gunshot wounds and the other was being released after treatment.
“Tragically we believe this was a case of mistaken identity by the officers,” Beck said.
Minutes later, Torrance officers responding to a report of gunshots encountered a dark pickup matching the description of Dorner’s, police said. A collision occurred and the officers fired on the pickup. The unidentified driver was not hit and it turned out not to be the suspect vehicle, they said.
In San Diego, where police say Dorner tied up an elderly man and unsuccessfully tried to steal his boat Wednesday night, Naval Base Point Loma was locked down Thursday after a Navy worker reported seeing someone who resembled Dorner.
Navy Cmdr. Brad Fagan said officials don’t believe he was on base Thursday but had checked into a base hotel on Tuesday and left the next day without checking out. Numerous agencies guarded the base. Fagan said Dorner was honorably discharged and that his last day in the Navy was last Friday.
Nevada authorities also looked for Dorner because he owns a house nine miles from the Las Vegas Strip, according to authorities and property records.
Gareth Bale inspired Wales to a 2-1 win over Austria in their friendly at the Liberty Stadium.
Bale set Wales on their way with the opener in the first half before creating the second for half-time substitute Sam Vokes early in the second half.
Marc Janko set up a tense finale by pulling a goal back for Austria 15 minutes from time, but Wales held on for a morale-boosting win ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifying double-header against Scotland and Croatia.
Austria almost got off to a flying start after just three minutes when Adam Matthews had to be alert to clear Marko Arnautovic’s effort from a corner off the line.
Craig Bellamy, who has missed Wales’ opening four World Cup qualifiers, had a chance to open the scoring on 16 minutes when he latched onto David Vaughan’s pass, but the Cardiff forward failed to hit the target.
Wales made the breakthrough on 21 minutes when man of the moment Bale netted his 10th international goal for his country.
Wales win brings confidence
Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen picked out Bale with a fine through ball and the Spurs ace took the pass under control before firing home past Robert Almer in the Austria goal.
Wales had a lucky escape just past the half hour mark when West Ham new boy Emanuel Pogatetz bundled the ball home from Janko’s header, but the goal was controversially ruled out for offside as replays showed it was the wrong decision.
The dangerous Arnautovic then forced Boaz Myhill into a fine save with a fierce swerving shot from distance on 36 minutes.
Austria were unlucky not to draw level on the stroke of half-time when David Alaba saw his stunning volley come back off the post with Myhill beaten.
Wales doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Bale turned creator to cross for substitute Vokes to powerfully head home.
Austria pulled a goal back 15 minutes from time when Alaba and Arnautovic combined and the latter crossed for Janko to head home at the far post.
It looks like the Hedgehog is out of the woods.
Adult film icon and character actor Ron Jeremy put a serious scare into his fans on January 29. Jeremy, suffering severe chest pains, drove himself to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was diagnosed with an aneurysm near his heart. While Jeremy has been through two rounds of surgery since then, he’s reached out to fans to let them know he’s on the mend.
In a statement to the press, Jeremy said, “Thank you ALL for the concern & well wishes, I’m doing very well thanks to modern technology!” The message was accompanied by a photo, with Jeremy and a nurse both giving the camera an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Jeremy’s manager, Mike Esterman, posted a message on Jeremy’s Twitter account Tuesday, saying, “Ron remains in intensive care at LA Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but is awake and on the road to recovery, in spite of this ordeal.” Esterman also told reporters that his client is “doing quite well and cracking jokes,” adding “he’s touched and delighted by the outpouring of support from fans and media alike.”
Nicknamed “the Hedgehog” for his stocky build and large amounts of body hair, Jeremy is an unlikely legend in the world of adult cinema, having appeared in over two thousand XXX titles, more than any other actor in porn history. Jeremy has also enjoyed a successful career in mainstream cinema, playing supporting roles in “The Boondock Saints,” “54,” “Crank: High Voltage,” and “Detroit Rock City,” and appeared on season two of the reality TV series “The Surreal Life.”
While manager Esterman has made clear that Jeremy’s isn’t expected to be released “for some time,”Jeremy statement suggests the everyman porn star is in much better shape than he was a week ago.
He’s young, talented and can melt hearts with his voice, and on Tuesday (February 5), Hunter Hayes showed us why he is such a wanted man.
During “Live from the MTV Newsroom: Hunter Hayes,” the country star kicked things off with his first of two songs, a stripped-down performance of his double-platinum single “Wanted,” in front of a small group of his biggest fans, aka Hayniacs.
Following the performance, Hayes sat down for an extended interview, opening up about his three Grammy nominations, his Valentine’s Day plans and of course, the overwhelming success of “Wanted,” which, he revealed, he never saw coming.
“I had no idea. Had I known I probably would have written it differently for one,” Hayes said. “And I probably wouldn’t have gone so deep into the subject because it was pretty personal at the time. Now I’m just like, ‘Whatever.’ But I had no idea.”
“Wanted” was a “quick song,” meaning he wrote it in less than an hour. Looking back, Hayes admits he could have done certain things differently on the song, especially some of the lyrics.
“It sort of just got written we didn’t think about it, it all just came out…” Hayes said. “We looked a line like, ‘Everything that’s green, girl I need you’ like whatever that means, but hey it’s in the song and I think I had an idea at that point what I wanted it to mean.”
However, with the song gaining Hayes his first Grammy nomination and #1 single, the country crossover star is sticking with the winning formula of writing these personal songs.
“If I wrote anything other than my personal experiences I feel like I’d be writing about something I don’t know,” Hayes explained. “I’d feel very unqualified for that.”
Three schools in Yuma, Ariz., were placed on lockdown on Tuesday morning after police were called to investigate a report of a student possibly carrying a gun.
A spokeswoman for the Yuma Police Department told Yahoo News that officers responded to Rancho Viejo Elementary School at approximately 9:55 a.m. local time. That school, along with nearby Salida Del Sol Elementary School and WACOG Preschool, were placed on lockdown, she said.
Students at Salida Del Sol could be seen filing into the cafeteria with hands on their heads in front of armed police officers observing the scene.
Students at Rancho Viejo Elementary were taken by buses to a different elementary school, H.L. Suverkrup, where parents could pick up their children while police continued their investigation. The lockdown at the other schools was lifted Tuesday afternoon.
No weapons were found.
The gun threat comes amid heightened security at schools around the country after the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people—including 20 children—were killed in one of the worst school massacres in U.S. history.
The lockdown also comes on the heels of a workplace shooting in Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 30.
- Carlos Boozer will return to the lineup tonight for the Bulls after missing the previous three games with a right hamstring injury. Joakim Noah (right foot) and Kirk Hinrich (right elbow) both will miss their third straight games. Nate Robinson will start at the point for Hinrich with Taj Gibson in Noah’s spot in the middle.
- Gibson has taken full advantage of the additional playing time created by the absences of Noah and Boozer, averaging 16.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.67 blocks in the last three, including a 19-point, 19-rebound outing Saturday in Atlanta. Jimmy Butler also has surged of late, averaging 14.9 points and .505 shooting in the last 10 games.
- Though this is the first of three games in three nights for the Pacers, Coach Frank Vogel isn’t taking a long view. “We haven’t even talked about (the schedule),” he said. “This is a very important game for us so we’re approaching it like it’s the only game of the week.” The game originally was scheduled for Dec. 26 but was postponed by a blizzard in Indianapolis. As a result, the Pacers now have the only three-game, three-night set in the NBA this season. It’s less of an inconvenience for the Bulls, who have two nights off before their next game Thursday in Denver. The Pacers host the Hawks Tuesday and travel to Philadelphia Wednesday.
- The Bulls bring the best road record in the NBA (14-7) into Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including a 13-3 mark against Eastern Conference teams. What makes them so good on the road? “I don’t know,” Vogel said, “but I’m interested in the formula.” Indiana is 10-16 on the road.
- Just in case the Pacers might view the shorthanded Bulls as something less than a formidable opponent, Vogel showed extensive film from Chicago’s 93-76 thrashing of the Hawks as evidence of just how hard, and well, the Bulls played. “We know whoever’s in uniform,” he said, “they’re going to bring it for the Chicago Bulls.”