Newsroom chatter, Sunday evening


(I took extensive notes on this so my confidence level is high in getting the exact quotes)

Me: (Name of Newspaper), can I help you?

Caller: Yeah, I was wondering if you were aware of something that I haven’t seen a word on in news articles or in a google news search.

Me: Probably not. But go ahead.

Caller: Tomorrow night, a binary asteroid is going to pass us at a distance of about six times the distance between the earth and the moon. Do you know how close that is?

Me: I’m guessing that’s pretty close, relatively speaking.

Caller: Exactly. Are you familiar with the Tunguska Blast?

Me: No.

Caller: It’s the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Blast. In Siberia.

Me (excited): Oh! I saw a filmstrip about that in third grade. It was a comet or an asteroid that hit Siberia and it was like a nuclear blast.

Caller: Yes. It was the size of 10 Hiroshima-sized bombs. It flattened 10 million acres. And that was just an asteroid of 100 meters in diameter. This is two asteroids, one is 600 meters in diameter and the other is 200 meters. It would wipe out half of life on earth and put us in an endless nuclear winter.

Me: Well that would be bad. Not sure I’m equipped to write a story about that at the moment.

Caller: Well I could write something.

Me: Are you sure this is happening tomorrow? Usually (the Associated Press) science desk has something on these near-misses.

Caller: Maybe you could just give them a heads-up. With a link to the Google search. I could write some news-ready thing for you. I could have it to you in an hour.

Me: OK, you do that. (I give him my email address). Maybe I can check to see if AP is writing about this.

Caller: You know if it did come too close, all it would need would be a little push to send it on its way.

Me: A little kiss and Newtonian physics saves us.

Caller: Yes! But if it’s too close it’s too late to do that.

Me: Right. All we would be able to do is watch that awful Bruce Willis movie, crack a beer and watch the skies.

Caller: I just watched that movie for the first time the other night.

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