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Here's a collection of insane videos of the event, some with the enormous sonic boom:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIAm5hq8WWc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0cRHsApzt8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np_mpGYSBSA

Can anyone translate what they are saying in the first one?

You can get a good idea of the new videos being posted using YouTube's "last hour" filter:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%...




Here's a great dashcam video that captures the meteor arcing across its field of vision and lighting up the scene more brightly than the sun like a nuclear blast (first submitted to HN by dennisgorelik). I almost thought it was a hoax, and even tried to examine the video for signs that it was CGI.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJOJ6B2XOyA

The guy doesn't even say anything for a long while, just starts speeding up.

edit: Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy (Slate) think it's unrelated to the 2012DA14 asteroid, because of the timing gap and incorrect direction of travel. http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/15/breaking... This could have turned out very badly if the thing had hit the ground...could we have caught this one, and why didn't we?


...could we have caught this one ...

According to Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson (speaking on NBC's "Today Show") it was too small to detect.[1]

[1] http://todaynews.today.com/_news/2013/02/15/16973245-neil-de...


Can anyone explain why I see so many dashcam videos from Russia?


Corruption.

* Pedestrians are corrupt -- they throw themselves in front of your car then sue for damages.

* Other motorists are corrupt -- they lie about the accident facts

* Cops are corrupt -- easily bought off and bribed (or tapped through nepotism)


this was the exact explanation given by a driver with a dashcam to me. in russia, most police do not feel responsible to organize traffic, help solve deadlocks, and give service to citizens. they behave like a mob entitled to rob you in a various ways due to false,confusing interpretation of legal texts.


Terrible roads, terrible cars, terrible drivers, a lot of alcohol, and terrible insurance companies mean that people want dashcams to try to help present their side when there's an accident.

Youtube is full of really scary Russian dashcam videos.


As other people have stated, insurance fraud is a very real risk and dashcams help protect drivers from scammers. Here is an example of what they're dealing with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kjj-1L6qeOc


People stop right in front of you on the motorway so you would crash into them,and then sue for damages. If you manage to stop in time,they will reverse into your car, and then they will lie about you hitting them. Dashcams prevent all of that,and from what I heard at least half the drivers in Russia now have them.


I believe it is a defense against deliberate accident and injury extortion.


Yep. I've seen a few where pedestrians attempted to get hit.


If the crazy shit that is caught on dash cams was going on every day I'd have one too.



Insurance companies charge you less if you agree to install a dash cam.


Useful in the event of a meteorite crossing the street.


That is surreal. My jaw dropped as it came into perspective. Looks like it came straight out of Hollywood.


The part where the meteor gets brighter but isn't moving relative to the sky is pretty scary. When you look up and see a meteor and it just gets brighter instead of moving left or right that means it's headed directly toward you.


Any meteor big enough to make that kind of light that's visible from the ground is "headed directly toward you" at that scale, I'd say.


Absolutely sublime video. So many things about our world mixing in. I suggest complimenting it with the full tune, that plays in the background: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DN87dn1ZPhw


And we get to enjoy the pleasant tunes of Leona Lewis.


I'm glad I'm not the only one who identified that :)


My guess is HN rating system discriminates against submissions on YouTube.

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5224466


The RT article quote local (military) newspaper as saying "A missile salvo blew the meteorite to pieces at an altitude of 20 kilometers".

I wonder if it's true.


Not true. Other, more plausible, reports say the meteorite is now located in a crater west of Chelyabinsk.


If it is true, they've been lobbing nukes - their principal ABM for ICBMs/fast re-entry is the Gazelle - 10kt warhead.


And looking at the flash, and the effects (or not) that it had on the solid state imagers, I think we can rule out a nuclear intercept. My reasoning is that a 10kT nuclear detonation @ 20km would toast any unprotected CCD or CMOS image element looking at it.


I assume there would have also been a detectable gamma burst that Western satellites would've picked up if they're trained on the region.


There was an interesting (if short) conversation on another list about how the US was able to spot small scale nuclear events (even things like a criticality event in a poorly shielded reactor) The speculation revolved around some unidentified sensors that were on the GPS satellite at the San Diego Air & Space museum, since removed (the sensors not the model)) and the way in which GPS satellites could tell you where things were relative to them, just as easily as your car can figure out where it is relative to the satellite.

There are a number of monitoring systems spelled out in the various disarmament treaties, and the infrasound sensors were part of the test ban treaty, so I don't doubt that if there had been a nuclear component, someone would know about it :-)


So far the Arms Control Wonk blog hasn't said anything about it.


I wonder if it's possible that it was an automated response?

Some combination of mass and speed detected by radar (or satellite?) triggering an S2A response.


Not a chance. Taking into account:

   - the size of Russia

   - The range of surface to air missiles

   - the chance of missing an object that does not give off
     a heat signature until it is about to hit.
Any kind of suggestion that we have the tech or the means (financially) to do this for a large chunk of the planet is nonsense, and for a smaller area the odds of hitting something are probably so bad that it isn't worth it.


Yeah but this isn't a random location. Chelyabinsk being home to Russia's nuclear research, and relatively close to Baikonur.


Why does the timestamp on the video say December 31st 2012?


I have also seen videos of this event dated by January 1970. The explanation is silly: most of the drivers don't care to set the correct date on their dashcams.


Just like none of them have changed their car radios from the Russian factory default setting of 'generic trance music'.


Fro cheap cams, it's a slight PITA to set the date. For one I know of, it forgets the date if it loses all power, and the date is set by putting a special text file in the root directory of its storage.


Everything interesting seems to happen right after the UNIX epoch.


Or if you're in America, right before :)


It'd be funny in Back to the Future if something reset and Doc and Marty went back to December 31, 1969.


Can't resist:

In Russia, clock changes you!


The Lada is having a hard time catching up with the meteorite.


There probably is a nuclear blast in that mix. They stated that anti-missile systems intercepted it - the only thing with a hope in hell of reaching and destroying/breaking a meteor is the 53T6 Gazelle, which has a 10kt warhead.


Can someone please enlighten me, because I was under the impression that there is no ABM system on the planet capable of intercepting, let alone destroying, a large rock moving at 10km/second.

I'm not saying its impossible, but it just seems to me that there is a lot of misinformation as to what actually happened.


I'm with you here. The RIM-161 standard anti-ballistic missile used by the US is quoted by wikipedia as having a speed of 9600km/h or 2.7km/s. Speeds in low-Earth orbit are about 7-8 km/s, objects entering from a solar orbit likely several times that. There is absolutely no way you would have significant success probability of intercepting it with a missile unless you knew the incoming orbit very precisely.

Just look at that dashcam footage: from entering the atmosphere to breakup was just a couple of seconds. On a very tangential orbit, no less.


Gazelle does at least 5.5km/s.


But how long does it take to get to that speed?


By the time its left the silo. Russians are dead keen on their one-shot silos packed to the gills with various devices (pneumatic, hydraulic, explosive) to bring a missile up to ludicrous speed very, very quickly.

Spent a very enlightening afternoon down an old bunker near pervomaisk.

Found some stats in the tourist brochure from there. 9.4m high,1.1m dia, 4km/s in 4s, which gives an acceleration if about 102g. 80-100km range. Max speed 7km/s. "directional blast" also, which is interesting.


The US Nike-X Sprint had similar performance (Wikipedia says only 90 gravities, and there's some nonphysical-looking footage of test launches on youtube somewhere). Pretty crazy, and I gather that MIRVs made that whole category of ABM obsolete.


Yup. Aforementioned satan missile can carry hundreds of warheads, and an equal number of decoys. Two of them, they said, could wipe out all US cities.


I'm skeptical there exists a system to automatically fire nukes at something and it has never had a false positive. Especially (chauvinistically) under control of the Russians through the fall of the the USSR.

I'm not sure a terrestrial power could do this without being way visible ahead of time.


I agree with you. Even (not chauvinistacally) under control of the USA, EU, China, Japan, India or Australia.


In a few cases Russian military officers like Stanislav Petrov have ignored protocol, not fired their nukes, and prevented global nuclear war.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov


I predict the ABM interception will turn out not to have occurred. We don't have a surveillance system capable of detecting something that size until it hits atmosphere, which means there would only be seconds of warning. That's not enough time to make the decision to fire an ABM.


> I predict the ABM interception will turn out not to have occurred.

I agree.

> We don't have a surveillance system capable of detecting something that size until it hits atmosphere,

NASA tracks at least 21,000 items above 10 cm diameter.

Objects above 3 mm can be tracked by ground based radar. (http://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/faqs.html#3)

(http://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/)


Size isn't everything. Tracking objects in Earth orbit is much easier. You can combine multiple radar measurements to tease a signal out of the noise floor, and model the orbital mechanics to achieve better spatial resolution than your instrument can actually resolve.


Almost all the items NASA tracks have orbits inside the solar system. This thing came out of nowhere (if it's orbiting around the Sun, it's so excentric that the orbit period is very long so it's like we saw it for the first time - if it's not orbiting the Sun, we did see it for the first time).


The NASA program in question is actually limited to objects in orbit around the Earth. (Orbital Debris is typically out-of-commission satellites and parts of rockets that are still in orbit around the Earth.) We can track objects as small as 10cm that are in orbit around Earth. (schiffern explains in more detail how.)

To track potentially hazardous astroids (PHAs), scientists use different methods and are not capable of detecting rocks as small as this one. That doesn't mean that it came from outside the solar system or that it has an eccentric orbit. It just means that it was too small to detect with current methods.


What's your basis for asserting that it has (well, had) a particularly eccentric orbit?


> NASA tracks at least 21,000 items above 10 cm diameter.

How many items does NASA track which are 10 cm - 10m diameter and not orbiting the earth ?


As far as I know the only active ABM system in Russia is around Moscow. Chelyabinsk is not anywhere near the Moscow Oblast.


They've got them peppered through the Urals. Lots of Cold War silos in that neck of the woods, and definitely active ABMs - saw them being driven just outside of astrakhan in the dead of night last year.

Also, kaz is full of Russian military hardware. Baikonur for instance is definitely covered by ABMs, as to not do so would be an untenable risk as far as Russia is concerned.


Are you certain? This would be news to the world.

For reference, here's what an ABM transporter looks like: http://www.ausairpower.net/PVO-S/53T6-SH-08-Gazelle-ABM-TL-1...

Or this: http://www.ausairpower.net/PVO-S/Gorgon-ABM-Transporter-Load...

Here's what a portable ICBM looks like: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Moscow_Pa...

Or this: http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/images/rs24tel.jpg


That's not news :) The reason these things are extremely off-road capable is so they can move around in the woods and the enemy can't take them out in a first strike attack. The retaliation capability is what creates the (desired) balance between nuclear powers. Same with nuclear submarines. Hide and seek for "grown-ups"...


Don't forget "passenger trains". Neatly dressed up to look like the express service, but chock full o' nuclear goodness. The roof peels back, and you can launch straight from the rails.


Yup, those would be the ones. Nice long convoy of them with APCs and tanks at the head and tail, cruising down the highway.

Seeing this kind of stuff is par for the course out there though. Drove from Rostov na donu to Stalingrad and there were huge (and I mean HUGE) convoys of tanks cruising down to syria's neck of the woods.

This isn't news to the world, it's just known stuff that isn't talked about as it doesn't mesh very well with realpolitik.

Edit: think there was also a satan in the convoy we saw, two massive stages on separate carriers. Proper "oh holy shit what am I seeing pretend I'm not here" stuff.


A satan? Can you explain?


SS-18 'Satan' is a NATO designation for Soviet/Russian ICBM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS-18


You haven't lived until you've sat on top of one (on its side!) waving a cowboy hat. Fond memories... Although I now also remember my lunch of various animal tubes on the same day. Damnitall.


According to the article, "Servicemembers from the tank brigade that found the crater have confirmed that background radiation levels at the site are normal", and "Background radiation levels in Chelyabinsk remain unchanged, the Emergency Ministry reported".

I am no physicist. But assuming that we can take these reports at face value, doesn't that rule out the possibility that the meteorite was intercepted by a nuclear device?


Depends on how good their equipment was. The small boosted plutonium warheads used in that kind of missiles are extremely clean (they are meant to be used over their own territory, after all...), and I think that after the kind of wide dispersion you get when the surface of the object ablates away as it falls there might not be much more than a small blib over the background left.

However, based on my very limited knowledge, I think that the Russians are supposed to only have operational Gazelles in a ring protecting Moscow, and those shouldn't have the range to hit anywhere near Chelyabinsk.


Not really. A 10kt yield at altitude wouldn't leave much radioactivity above background at ground level.

Also, this is the Russian military we're talking about. I don't think they'll fess up to detonating a nuke, no matter how small, in a populated area.

We're talking about the same guys who absolutely definitely positively did not use nukes to build shipping canals.

Oh, and I am a Physicist. MSc from an Ivy-League equivalent in the UK, although these days I'm a web gimp instead.


We're talking about the same guys who absolutely definitely positively did not use nukes to build shipping canals

Ok, I'm genuinely not sure whether you're being sarcastic. So _did_ the Russians use nukes to build shipping canals?


They experimented with it, publicly declared it a success, but said they weren't going to do it, and proceeded to use the tech on the far side of the country. Pechora-Kama I think was the original project. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't, but the locals I've met (Kazakhstan) insist that they did.


Didn't the US experiment with it as well?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Plowshare

It wouldn't surprise me if the Russians were looking at the same thing, but it should leave some fairly telling clues behind. At the very least you can see plowshare craters littering Nevada on google maps (in a nice grid pattern in some areas, just search for "Sedan crater" and zoom out a little), I would expect similar to be somewhere in Russia if they were doing the same.

Edit: This is the Russian version of plowshare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Explosions_for_the_Nati... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chagan_(nuclear_test)


A 10kt yield at altitude wouldn't leave a crater, either...

Unless it was used to blow up a large chunk of rock which then proceeded to fall to the ground. In that case, you'd get a crater, but you'd also get the radioactive material.



You see the explosion. It's just about 150 km north from explosion (over Chelyabinsk, Russia). That video was made from Kamensk-Uralsky, Russia.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=from:+Russia,+Sverdlovsk+Obla...

Edit: Fixed city name, added map.


That's extraordinarily unlikely.

edit: http://www.nature.com/news/russian-meteor-largest-in-a-centu... "Explosion rivalled nuclear blast, but rock was still too small for advance-warning networks to spot."


[Edit] Some translation from the first video: A lot of dirty language. Just after thunder: "What the f..k?! What is going on? Bombing! Preliminary bombardment!" "Don't worry for now. Nothing is clear yet. It's a preliminary bombardment. Wow, what a film I shot! Go for our jackets! Run!" When running: "It's something serious, run!""Don't worry men! The most interesting is only beginning!" At the entrance of student dormitory: "We can't go inside for our jackets?" "You can't enter!" Then "Guys, warm up, I feel cold! I have filmed everything: explosion, falling, everything!" - "Show what you filmed." - "Later-later! No idea what to do now!" "Something flied by and there was flash" "Later, we don't know if something else will explode" "It was flash and then it flied to the forest, then we ran out I started to film and then thunder" "What an adventure! Cool!" "You see it entered the atmosphere and started to burn and then the pieces fell to the ground" "F..k I thought it's war!" "No worries" "I didn't understand what exploded. It's a small comet but what exploded?" "Mirrors broke"."I like it! The mirrors are broken in the building" "OK, bye, stop for now"


In English it would be more correct to say "preliminary bombardment" :) not "Аrtillery preparation"


Thanks, I fixed it.


This one is much better, it actually shows the incoming meteor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wUqmS35REY


You can see the blast wave as well


A bunch of videos around town and some photos of damage etc.

http://oleg-kozyrev.livejournal.com/4468083.html

Examples of other meteorite strikes in the past:

http://oleg-kozyrev.livejournal.com/4468452.html

Damaged zinc plant? https://twitter.com/Dokhrimovich/statuses/302269134685757442

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/15/us-russia-meteorit...

AP News Story: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_RUSSIA_METEORITE?S...

Video close to epicenter.. Loud boom then broken windows and alarms.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0cFOIoITW4

Hashtag #Челябинск on twitter for more info.


I'm not sure the meteor hit the zinc plant. Considering how loud the sonic booms were it's possible that they caused enough structural damage to an old brick building to result in a partial collapse.

I wish we had more information.

Edit: on second thought, it could easily be a fragment, we'll see.


There's a video of two guys driving by the zinc plant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptnGvd0dmLI


Is it just me, or is there always house/techno/trance playing in Russian dashboard videos?


Their is a continuum between dance music and mainstream pop music in Europe in the same way their is for hip hop in the states. So it's not unusual for it to be played on standard pop radio stations.


Russians love their house and trance music.


> damaged zinc plant?

Yes, that's what it says


I don't understand the language but I hear lots of "yeah boy" in these videos. They seem less concerned than I'd imagine myself to be.

Edit: haha, thanks for the explanations; that changes my interpretation of their reactions.


yebat (ебать), loosely translated and depending on form, it could mean either 'oh fuck' or an explicit description of a strong impact ;) we slavs have infinite possibilities of cursing.



haha, no it basically means fuck in Russian.


They are basically cursing.


Two more good videos (high quality, trail/train detail, booms, etc):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDqYclzto7k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ozSq3yEm3g


Sonic boom followed in 2 minutes, so the altitude was in 30-40km range. That's damn impressive, with all the sharp shadows from the buildings ... damn.


Why do you suppose there would be two contrails?


Quoting Phil Plait's very early speculation (http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/02/15/breaking...):

"It appears to split, so I’m guessing the main mass split there. That’s not surprising; it’s happened with previous falls (like Sikhote-Alin). That means they could have disintegrated at different times, so there may be multiple places where pieces could fall."


I wouldn't think they are contrails. One would expect them to mainly be smoke and dust from the disintegration/combustion/ablation during the descent.


By definition, they aren't "contrails". A "condensation trail" can only happen when something like an internal combustion engine injects water (or another compound that will condense) into the air.


A fast object compress the air in front of it reducing the amount of water that can be solved into it, so the excess of water condenses.

It's very visible in planes about to break the sound barrier. Look for Youtube videos. The cones are spectacular, but also notice how a trail is sometimes visible originating from the tips of the wings.

So you don't need to inject the water, but to extract it from the air compressing it. Anyway, I'd bet the meteor trails consist of vaporized matter from the meteor itself.

Edit: see this one at 0:20:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw9MjutMhLs


It's true you can get water condensation features from local pressure minima like in wingtip vortices. However, they are transient, because as soon as the air returns to ambient pressure the condensation goes away.


Well. If the meteorite was partially composed of water, which was then vaporised off during the atmospheric ablation, then it might indeed be partially contrail!

A pure water meteorite hitting the atmosphere would be contrails all the way; just not in the way we're used to.


Not much to translate: "WTF??? What happened? It is f*cking WAR!", "Did you see that? Did they launch a rocket? Looks like they did... WTF!", "Shiiii... was it bomb?"


In the first video, it's mostly "WTF" and "we are being bombed", or "military testing" - in the beginning

... followed by a more scientific discussion, about it being a meteorite breaking up etc


A huge crater somewhere in the desert with fire flames everywhere. It's jaw dropping...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cT8vZ-7vxQ

I just found this by using the "last hour" filter mmastrac suggested.

EDIT: It doesn't seem to be a crater caused by a meteorite. By looking at the youtube video "cfn" (comment below) looks like it's a gas explosion in 2007. Still, amazing.


Flaming Crater, Darvaza Turkmenistan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEjoga1yrn0


Looks you are right. Still amazing though. I'm going to edit the comment. Thank you.



Yeah, an impact crater wouldn't look like that. It would look like one of the craters on the moon with large amounts of ejecta thrown out radially around it.


Wow.

Hard to get a sense of scale, but it looks pretty big. Maybe a few hundre feet in diameter?

Also, how much heat is needed to set friggin _dirt_ on fire?


That's natural gas seeping out of the ground.


> Can anyone translate what they are saying in the first one?

You probably don't want to know. Lots of cussing :)

He actually has no idea what's going on. At one point he jokes about artillery strikes and then starts calming down his friends ("Don't be afraid, nothing's happened yet.")

Then he urges his friends to go grab their jackets (apparently they ran out to the street without them). While running, he exclaims "now, that's some serious shit!" and then urges his friends to be calm once more.

"The most interesting stuff is about to begin."

The guard at the entrance tells them they can't come in to take their jackets.

"That thing flew by, there was a flash and it crashed in the woods."

"What an adventure!"

"It entered the atmosphere and started burning. The remaining stuff then crashed."

"I thought a war's underway."

"Don't cower. But I didn't get what the explosions were about."

"The windows are all smashed."

"I love it!!!"

....

It must be some kind of college. The kids must be students.


This one uploaded shows the actual meteor, because it's from a dashcam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuKtVGdPESM


After the initial boom there seem to be a bunch of secondary smaller pops. Anyone know what those are?


Reflections of the shockwave/sonic boom off of other solid objects. Echos pretty much.


I was thinking it might be the actual sound of the disintegration. It doesn't sound like echoes to me. And, obviously, it is only just arriving, straight after the shockwave.


This one is rather impressive to watch as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c-0iwBEswE


I don't understand why some of the people are still listening to the radio and so uninterested.


The number 1 most important factor in dealing with emergencies is recognizing that an emergency is happening in the first place.

It's easy to get mislead by movies and tv and the way things happen and the way people react. In reality things don't work that way. It can sometimes be difficult to tell when an emergency is happening, and a lot of people won't pay enough attention. How often do people ignore fire alarms, for example?

Do you know what the symptoms of a stroke look like? Most people don't. I certainly didn't when the elderly lady sitting one table over from me at a fast food restaurant had a stroke. She dropped her food tray on the floor and I was sitting the other way and just wrote it off as random clumsiness. But other people were paying closer attention. Some of the staff helped her clean up her mess and other people came to help sensing that something was a bit off, after asking a few leading questions and making a few observations they decided she was having a stroke and called 911. Today I have a lot more training and am far better able to spot things like symptoms of a stroke or a heart attack and so forth, but that's not true for everyone. A lot of people don't know how to spot a heart attack, even in themselves, and they waste a lot of time before going to the hospital.

But this extends to everything. If you look at the 9/11 WTC attacks there were a lot of people who could have gotten out of those buildings who instead stayed in their offices because they were lulled into a false sense of security. The fact is that when things are burning down, smoke is everywhere, you can see the flames, etc. it's often too late, the time to take action was minutes or hours ago when you still had a chance. The time to evacuate a flood zone is when the water is at your ankles or knees, not when it's up to your armpits.

But most people are so conditioned by the norms of ordinary society they find it difficult to break out of them. It takes a surprising amount of effort to make a conscious choice to break those norms and switch to emergency mode, which is why most people are forced to rely on some even more dramatic event triggering a panic/fear/fight-or-flight response to jump into that mode.


This in spades. Emergencies aren't announced as they are in Hollywood movies with dramatic music and leading actors. The most striking thing about many disasters is how mundane they are, and how slow people, even those aware of the situation and its gravity, are to respond. Spend some time watching videos of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and what I'm most struck with is how long people act as if things are normal. Granted it took several tens of minutes for the tsunami waves to reach shore after the earthquake, and even then several minutes for the tsunami to reach full strength.

Technological, fiscal, and other crises are similar. Often your first real sign of trouble isn't a sense of impending doom as just a very strong sense that things are wrong -- your perception of the world isn't adding up. I've trained myself (or tried) to recognize such situations and respond more quickly to them, but it's still easy to miss things. Especially as it's not clear until later (and often much, much later) just what has gone wrong and what's the best way to address it. In military it's called "fog of war", but a similar condition pervades most complex situations.


What the hell are you guys talking about? The people on the ground thought a nuclear war was beginning. People in their cars probably thought a plane was crashing--no need for the driver to react.


People trust authority. IIRC, the WTC building occupants were told to stay put initially. Many folks listened to that.

For better or for worse, I assume that incident management folks are full of shit when they say things like that, so I boogey asap. I've been in office buildings where the fire alarms didn't sound properly and announcements came over the PA saying something like: "The roof is on fire, do not be alarmed and do not evacuate at this time."


There's also the cry-wolf effect. Occupants of any building rapidly become used to ignoring the constant announcements of emergency drills and false alarms and real but meaningless incidents like burnt smoking popcorn. It's very difficult for a real crisis to pierce that armor of complacency.

If you want people to respond and evacuate faster to a real disaster, improve your incident reporting so it doesn't train folks into the habit of ignoring it.


Good post

Getting back to this specific topic, there's also the issue that, when driving, your own safety is still paramount.

Even if this was recognised as an emergency, there's very little a driver can do to react while he's inside a moving vehicle on a busy road.


Indeed. Also, when driving, what are your options? Unless you think you need to stop the car and seek shelter immediately the best option might just be to head home as soon as possible.


This was painfully obvious in the fire at The Station nightclub. The band kept playing for 30 seconds after the fire started right behind them and many people didn't start to try and get out before it was too late.

Part of it is what's called "commitment." People payed good money for a show and they're going to see one. It takes a long time to accept that the show is over.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Station_nightclub_fire


This is so true. In fact, there's an excellent book by a journalist named Amanda Ripley that describes this phenomenon called The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes[0].

0. http://www.amandaripley.com/book


Totally agree, and also I think that we might be embarrassed to look too paranoid in case the event wasn't that alarming.


The bystander effect. My pet theory is that most people are followers rather than leaders, but I'd love to see some researched opinion on this.


It's more likely that it happened so suddenly that they didn't have time to turn the radio off and they're in such shock that they've totally blanked the background noise out.


Deer in headlights.


Wow, check out the pressure wave (I assume) that moves the camera dramatically forward just before the blast is heard. That was one big freakin bang.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np_mpGYSBSA&t=0m26s


Awesome youtube comment for those who get the reference:

"EMERGENCY AN ANGEL HAS BEEN ENCOUNTERED IN THE VICINITY"


He first said it is preperation. Something to prepare for. He is saying take your jackets and lets run. The best is yet to come. When he runs into the group he describes that it was flying overhead. Then he points to the smoke saying it was in the atmosphere. People said that could be war starting. They were not sure of the reason for the explosion. He almost got hit by the broken glass.


Those sounds are absolutely chilling.




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