Too Bad It Only Happens Every Four Years

Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Sochi, source Kremblin, from Wikipedia
Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from courtesy of wilipedia
Fireworks at the opening o the 2014 winter Olympics, photo from courtesy of wilipedia

Skating Under the Palms

Actually, the competitors are not performing directly under the palms. Instead, the skating events take place underneath the roof of a multi-million dollar sports complex, specially built for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. It’s only when the athletes walk outside that they encounter the swaying palms, stately standing beside the shores of the Black Sea. This unusual situation is due to the fact that Sochi is a port city, situated at almost exactly the same latitude as Nice, France……..and much like its Mediterranean counterpart, Sochi is a coastal resort that quickly gives way to massive 5,000 foot peaks, which are snow-covered during the winter months. This is where all the alpine events take place….at a previous existing ski resort, called Roza Khutor located at Krasnaya, Polyana.   

The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.
The ski resort of Roza Khutor at Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Russia, photo from wikipedia.

Most Expensive Olympics Ever

The original sum allotted by the Russians for building and improving the Olympic site came in at 12 billion. However, that figure has been far surpassed with the total cost estimate now exceeding 50 billion. No host nation has ever spent this much on a sporting event that only lasts two weeks. Nonetheless, the facilities will undoubtedly remain in place for many years to come, so that many other sporting events can take place at these sites.

Promenade_and_beach_in_Sochi during the summertime
Promenade and beach in Sochi during the summertime
photo by RIA Novosti archive, from wikipedia

On Second Thought

Considering all the money that Russia has poured into building the appropriate sports venues, hotels and even upgrading the electric grid for Sochi and the surrounding area, it is probably a good thing that these world events only occur every four years. Not only does this save money, but also the extra time allows  athletes plenty of time to train and prepare for the various contests. Besides the four year wait adds to the drama, when finally the next set of games rolls around and viewers from all around the world can watch the action and rout for their favorite participants and nation (and or nations).

Go Team USA.

Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia
Sochi Russian ruble printed for Sochi Winter Olympics, from Wikipedia

Strange Happenings On Planet Earth Today

A meteor streaked through the skies above Russia’s Chelyabinsk region , photo from UniverseToday

Central Russia Hit With Meteorites

Thanks to the popularity of dashboard cams the internet is abuzz with images and video footage of the meteor(s) that exploded high in the atmosphere near the city of Chelyabinsk, which is located in the Ural Mountains of Russia. According to news reports about a 1,000 people were treated for injuries, mostly from flying glass. Fortunately, no one was killed and none of the injuries were life-threatening.  The meteor strike occurred just hours before asteroid da14 passed close to the earth’s surface.

The Official Version

meterite hole in ice
Hole in ice caused by meteorite, from CNN

NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of the agency’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, was quoted as saying that the event in Russia was not linked to the close flyby of the large asteroid that occurred later on in the same day. Yeoman’s scientific opinion was confirmed by many other scientists including Richard Binzel of MIT, Paul Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif, Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. as well as experts at the European Space Agency.

The Crackpots

Not everybody agreed with the scientific experts, including one Russian official named Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who said the explosion was the United States testing out a new nuclear device. Although the explosion had the force much greater than the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, it lacked the severe damage because the meteor blew up many miles above the surface of the earth.

The Minority Dissenters

Not everybody believed that the meteor (or meteors) that exploded in Russia were unrelated to the asteroid flyby. For there appeared to be a small cadre of scientists that believed the meteors exploding above Russia were in some way related to the large asteroid that passed by the earth much later in the same day. On CBS, Michio Kaku, a physics professor at the City University of New York, stated that asteroids often occur in swarms or “showers” and so the meteors that passed over Russia may have some connection to the larger asteroid.

Other scientists who share similar views include Tatiana Bordovitsina, an astronomy professor at Tomsk State University in western Siberia, Curtin University asteroid expert Phil Bland of Australia and Professor Ian Crawford of Birkbeck University, who said;  “if meteorites were traveling with the asteroid, they would be several hours ahead of it.”

LL Ori and the Orion Nebula
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team

Scientific Reality

I think that this difference in viewpoints among scientists is fascinating and that ultimately the minority view that the two events are related will prevail. History is just full of too many instances where the majority scientific opinion has been proven more, for me to think otherwise. No matter how this story turns stay in touch for the debate could be very interesting and entertaining.