Pat Shingleton: "A Fireball and Exploding Root Beer"
We wrap up the month with an anniversary column. On June 30, 1908, riders on the Trans-Siberian railroad witnessed a fireball streaking across the sky. It exploded above the Tunguska River and flattened over a thousand square miles of forest. For 1,000 miles the fireball was seen and heard. A blast crater was never found. Scientists believe a chunk of an asteroid vaporized in the lower atmosphere. In 2002, an asteroid, the size of a football field, traveling at 66,000 miles an hour, came within 75,000 miles of Earth. Astronomers didn't notice it until it zipped by. Space is clogged with debris left over from the formation of the solar system and in the future, missiles will be deployed to intercept dangerous and devastating objects - heading our way. We've been spared of super, sticky weather over the last few days. We appreciated "sun-power" as kids, not only with occasional sunburns but when we made our own root beer. We would retrieve a mixing crock from the basement and Mom would mix a root beer extract with sugar and yeast. After cleaning pop bottles, we'd funnel-in the root beer, manually cap them and place the bottles in the sunlight> The process also included spinning the bottles to eliminate the sediment as it took four days to get the effervescence just-right. Before the fourth day, some of the bottles would explode. The power of sunlight and the power of the yeast gave us an extra pop in our soda-pop.