So, What Would Happen If Richmond, Like, Got Hit by a Killer Asteroid?

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is expected to pass 17,200 miles from Planet Earth today. What would happen if a splinter, say the size of a school bus, broke off and plummeted to earth at 12 miles per second, striking downtown Richmond?

You can get a glimmer from these videos on the Atlantic Cities blog of a kitchen table-sized meteor streaking through the sky near Chelyabinsk, Russia. But a school bus is a lot bigger than a kitchen table. Thanks to the good folks at, we can simulate the impact, as seen above.

The entire downtown area would be incinerated, and the better part of the city would be subject to a zone where “steel buildings are knocked over.” Tragically, the Third Street Diner, a genuine Richmond landmark, would be consumed in the blast. On a positive note, the entire apparatus of state government — including the General Assembly, if the asteroid hit during the session — would be obliterated. Don’t worry: Yours truly resides safely outside the blast zone, so Bacon’s Rebellion would continue publishing.


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10 responses to “So, What Would Happen If Richmond, Like, Got Hit by a Killer Asteroid?

  1. The video from Russia is amazing. That was quite a sonic boom.

    The Third Street Diner will burn for 20 years — all that grease….If you can guarantee me that Morrissey and Marshall will both be on the floor of the House at the time (asking each other inane questions or offering doomed floor amendments), then there might a partically positive outcome…and being Richmond, the last thing we see will be TV coverage of a NAACP news conference blaming it on racism….

    Get real people — ’tis coming somewhere, sometime. DA14 and the piece of cosmic dust (really, a relatively tiny object) that just broke all those window in Russia are more warning than the universe usually gives. With all due respect to Einstein, this is a dice game. DA14 is about the mass of two aircraft carriers. If the trajectory were different and heading for us, what could we really do?

  2. Must be Global Warming.

  3. I saw an important news story the other day. It said that the dinosaurs went extinct relatively quickly after the asteroid hit…

    now get this… 33,000 years instead of a much longer period of time.

    33,000 years? really? I mean how long has mankind had some form of civilization on earth?

    33,000 years…??? that sounds like the longest time to go extinct in the history of extinctions….

    where have I gone wrong?

    • Think you’re missing a few digits as to dinosaurs. Apparently they bit the dust some 66,000,000 years ago, round the time of asteroid impact in Yucatan.

      Regarding human civilization, I suspect it depends on how civilization is defined- My memory may be faulty here, or out of date by reason of discover or PC, but last time I looked that Mesopotamian Tigris Euphrates Rivers Valley’s Fertile Crescent, including Sumerian city states that arose round 5,000 BC, is considered first human civilization by western terms. Things have exploded since then.

      Great Paleolithic wall painted art of Lacaux caves in S/W France, a purely artistic expression with other inflections, date back 17,300 years.

      Prehistoric art (artifacts showing imaginative human esthetics) found back to some 40,000 years ago.

      I recall that ritual human burial evidence found in Neanderthal caves goes back some 75,000 years, evidencing the sense of lost and mortality. But formal religious practice found first with the rise of civilization.

      If this be true, humankind is moving into the future at warp speed. Dogs breeds, viruses, bacteria, and likely much else is moving far faster yet.

      • wasn’t talking about how long ago. was talking about how long it took after the asteroid struck for extinction to take place.

        google it.

        • I’ve read 11,000 years. But the number is meaningless. So I tossed it out.

          We have not the tools to so precisely measure the exact date (or anything close) as to when the last dinosaur died some 66 million years ago. And we’ll never know. Its the usual scientific overreach, expects finding perfection and certainly where there is neither.
          Except of course in the head of the true believer, the modern day high priest, the scientist.

          If its is beyond scientific dispute, its almost surely wrong. And it has been that way at least since the Sumerians, and likely long before.

          • what I was talking about – was how long it took from the asteroid strike to the point of extinction.

            the original estimate was 300,000 years but now they think it was a short as 33,000 years.

            so I was sort of comparing that to the concept of a nuclear winter where if not mistaken, they are talking about a decade or less when there is not enough light for plants to grow…and with no plants no way to feed animals.. ergo no food for humans…

            I just thought 33,000 years was a hell of a long (elapsed) time for an extinction to occur when we’ve already seen hundreds of extinctions of other plants/animals over much shorter periods of time…

            how many succeeding generations of dinosaurs would happen in 33,000 years?

  4. well first.. you’d have to deal with the killer asteroid skeptics who would accuse the scientists of cooking up wrong computer models so they could benefit by selling disaster insurance or some such nefarious and underhanded schemes to enrich those nasty corrupt scientist types., eh?

  5. What would happen if you moved the inner ring to Countryside off Parham Road?

  6. “I just thought 33,000 years was a hell of a long (elapsed) time for an extinction to occur when we’ve already seen hundreds of extinctions of other plants/animals over much shorter periods of time…”

    Yes, I am agree with you.

    Common sense and a broad perspective of knowledge, ranging from earlier extinctions within far earlier prehistory (ices ages for example) up through the historical record to mass extinctions to within our generation, not to mention the incredible complexities, variations, and unknowns that factor into the date the last dinosaur died 66 million years ago, surely cast skepticism (to say it politely) on any scientist claim of 300,000 years, or 33,000 or 11,000 or whatever, after an asteroid hit 66 million years ago. Even the cause is under dispute, much its time to extinction.

    That’s the perennial problem with experts, scientist or otherwise. Far to often they live in own bubble, untroubled by anything outside it. Myopic vision makes them easy prey for the frailties of human nature. Hubris, extremely narrow focus, fixation, vested self interest, group think, time invested, grants, fame, you name it, leads to refusal to consider any obstacles or contrary evidence to their life’s work.

    People constantly convince themselves of all manner of things, it’s a trait common as air. At a certain point, nothing gets in their way, even common sense. Then tiny bits of questionable evidence get conflated into Absolute Conclusions on nearly impenetrable unknowns or mysteries even.

    In history of science this is the norm, not the exception. Indeed, being wrong continually is the only way science can work. Constant error is the lifeblood of science norm. It’s how one deals with it that important. Only rarely is likely truth found. Even then its based on current or partial knowledge as comprehended by our senses that can only register slivers of what’s really going on. Today, this rigor is far to often corrupted, or ignored. The reasons are many.

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