@CNN fails basic meteor math – makes more “fake news”

You may have heard that NASA announced over the weekend at a conference that a large meteor exploded in the upper atmosphere over the Bering Sea on December 18th, 2018, which had gone unnoticed due to the location of entry. Quick to capitalize on that story, CNN rushed to report it, and like the meteor, bombed in the process.

Here’s the headline:

And here is the text of the report, note the highlight:

Umm, riiight. I didn’t even have to look it up to know that the Hiroshima bomb (Little Boy) had a 15 kiloton yield, but it’s right there in Wikipedia had the author bothered to check facts first.

Let’s see, a 4.2 kiloton meteor explosion in the atmosphere, vs. the 15 kiloton Hiroshima bomb.

For the math challenged, like CNN writer AJ Willingham here’s how that works out:

15 kilotons/4.2kilotons = 3.57 times SMALLER than the Hiroshima Bomb.

Yet somehow, CNN thinks the meteor was 10 times stronger, or with a yield of 15 kilotons x 10=150 kilotons. Nope, not no way, not no how.


UPDATED: Meanwhile, here’s a GIF photo sequence of the event, captured by Simon Proud:


h/t to Dave Heider

UPDATE: CNN finally got around to updating the story and noting a correction at 1:58 AM ET, Tue March 19, 2019 :

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the fireball had an impact energy of 173 kilotons.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 18, 2019 3:29 pm

Looks like you don’t need to take any math or science classes to be a journalist.

R Shearer
Reply to  John
March 18, 2019 4:07 pm

Yes, and as far as news outlets are concerned, CNN is the mother faker.

Reply to  R Shearer
March 18, 2019 4:17 pm


Philip of Taos
Reply to  KaliforniaKook
March 19, 2019 8:57 am

And accurate.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  R Shearer
March 18, 2019 10:21 pm

New information:

“On March 8, Peter Brown, a professor of astronomy at Western University in London, Ont., was looking through low-frequency sound data gathered automatically by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization when he noticed that an explosive event of unusual force had occurred on Dec. 18, centred on a point about 300 kilometres off the coast of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Soon after he posted word of his find on Twitter, more information about the event appeared on a NASA website that lists exceptionally bright meteors based on data gleaned from the U.S. Air Force.

“The data suggest that an incoming object about 10 to 14 metres across – roughly the size of a two-car garage – and weighing about 1,440 metric tonnes, plowed into Earth’s atmosphere at a steep angle and came within 25 kilometres of the ocean surface before it burst apart. The resulting explosion, estimated at 173 kilotons, was more than 10 times larger than the one produced by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.”

Reply to  R Shearer
March 19, 2019 12:39 pm

Love that line !

Reply to  John
March 18, 2019 5:16 pm

its actually a prerequisite that you haven’t taken math

Reply to  MatrixTransform
March 18, 2019 5:29 pm

Or use critical thinking. Just eat the pablum and follow your editors direction.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  John
March 18, 2019 5:51 pm

Yeah. They should learn to code.

Reply to  Jeff Mitchell
March 18, 2019 11:21 pm

Never mind “learn to code” ( careful that’s “hate speech” ), they need to learn to read first; then learn to add up. Once they have got to big school they will learn the fancy stuff, like multiplication !!

What a bunch of mother fakers ( h/t R Shearer )

Tom Schaefer
Reply to  Greg
March 19, 2019 6:10 am

I don’t understand why “Learn to Code” is hate speech. From the early days passing a shoe-box full of punch cards to the white lab coat priests of an IBM 360/370, to having awesome development environments with rich APIs behind almost every software I use, thoughtful coding makes one a god among men ( who tediously perform repetitious activities manually ). “Learn to Code” are words of power.

Reply to  Tom Schaefer
March 19, 2019 8:52 am

Twitter was banning people who used the comment with respect to all the “reporters” that were let go from Buzzfeed. They considered its use as “hate speech”.

Reply to  Tom Schaefer
March 19, 2019 3:01 pm

Man, I guess 30 years of my resume needs to be banned

Reply to  John
March 18, 2019 9:09 pm

No you don’t but it’s unlikely CNN made up the numbers.
Probably came from NASA’s own press release.
Maybe there’s a typo?
Fox News also ran the same story almost verbatim.

Reply to  John
March 19, 2019 10:37 am

Looks like they fed their figures into a GCM and ran with the garbage that emerged.

Reply to  John
March 26, 2019 8:30 pm

Every time I hear or see somebody describe something as so many times smaller – I cringe. You could phrase it as, “about 1/4 as large” or even “72% smaller.”

But, once you say 3.57 times a small, you mark yourself as someone who has suffered under the new math educational system. To be clear, multiplying a positive value by a positive number greater than one MUST make the number large, not smaller.

David Dibbell
March 18, 2019 3:37 pm

I saw this report on the Fox News website this morning, which itself names the BBC as the source. There was a 173 kiloton value mentioned, thus the “ten times” headline.


So probably not just a CNN problem.

Curious George
Reply to  David Dibbell
March 18, 2019 5:23 pm

It seems to be a NASA’s problem – https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/fireballs/ says 173 kt
Strange that at a location where Russia and the US are very close to each other a huge explosion would not be noticed. Why didn’t it start a nuclear war?

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Curious George
March 18, 2019 5:46 pm

That website seems to be where CNN got their data from. There was a fireball that released 4.2 kilotons equivalent of energy about a month ago and I would suspect that
the CNN reporter read the wrong line for the energy release. The December fireball is listed as 173 kilotons which is more than 10 times the Hiroshima explosion. So while there is still an error it would appear to be a transcription error rather than a maths error.

David Dibbell
Reply to  Curious George
March 18, 2019 5:53 pm

CG – Thanks for finding that NASA page! Earlier I searched with no success.

March 18, 2019 3:38 pm

I saw the article on BBC. In the BBC article, they say the meteor exploded with a force of 173Ktons. Which would be about 10x more than Hiroshima. I wonder who is closer to being right, BBC or CNN


March 18, 2019 3:40 pm

So that’s why we didn’t get a modernity ending EMP.

Knew there was a reason.

Anna Keppa
Reply to  papertiger
March 18, 2019 4:45 pm

An exploding meteor doesn’t give off nuclear fission products, so there wouldn’t have been any EMP.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Anna Keppa
March 18, 2019 6:28 pm

Anna Keppa
It isn’t the “nuclear fission products” that are responsible for the EMP. But, the electrons, ions, and neutrons are a good start!

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 18, 2019 8:46 pm

IIRC, it’s the gamma ray burst that generates the EMP.

Martin A
Reply to  DaveK
March 19, 2019 1:16 am

My recollection is that it is the expanding superconducting fireball that excludes the Earth’s magnetic fiield from the space it occupies.

Reply to  DaveK
March 19, 2019 7:10 am

Martin A

We’re both right… The E1 and E2 components of the EMP are a result of gamma radiation (The E2 is partially a result of gamma rays generated by neutron radiation). The E3 component does result from the distortion of the earth’s magnetic field and is a longer-acting effect, and is primarily responsible for effects like current surges in power transmission lines.

Reply to  DaveK
March 19, 2019 10:57 am

It can’t be the gamma ray burst that generates the EMP. Or more accurately, the mythological Hollywood style shut down of all electrical equipment EMP effect doesn’t exist.

We know this because terrestrial gamma ray bursts between the stratosphere and ionosphere happen pretty regularly. Naturally.

They’re called Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes, or TGFs, and very little is known about them. They seem to have a connection with lightning, but TGFs themselves are something entirely different.
“In fact,” says Doug Rowland of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “before the 1990s nobody knew they even existed. And yet they’re the most potent natural particle accelerators on Earth.”

Individual particles in a TGF acquire a huge amount of energy, sometimes in excess of 20 mega-electron volts (MeV). In contrast, the colorful auroras that light up the skies at high latitudes are powered by particles with less than one thousandth as much energy.

These are lightning bolts that flash from the top of thunderclouds to the edge of space.

Tom Halla
March 18, 2019 3:41 pm

Not being willing to do either math or research is a requirement to work for CNN.

Flight Level
March 18, 2019 3:42 pm

That outlet announced one day that the “crew of a Boeing A320 …”
Other details are irrelevant.

Shoki Kaneda
March 18, 2019 3:50 pm

Calumny News Network (CNN) has long failed any credibility metric. I have expertise is a few areas. CNN and others, including Fox, routinely broadcast inaccurate and false statements regarding those areas. The only safe assumption is that they are equally wrong in areas where I have little or no expertise. So, it’s all down to personal responsibility. Educate yourself.

Reply to  Shoki Kaneda
March 18, 2019 4:59 pm



Reply to  Shoki Kaneda
March 18, 2019 5:19 pm

Falsus in uno falsus in omnibus

Reply to  RayG
March 18, 2019 6:25 pm

I’m sorry, but that Latin phrase is nonsense. Basically you’re saying that if any single statement someone makes is false, then every single statement they make is false. That would falsify everything any human being would say, because all of us have accidentally or on purpose said false things.

I would allow for human error–perfection is for the perfectionists–Gestapo-types IMO. However, journalists are probably saying more than one false thing–in every story. In events that I have personal knowledge, they mess it up. I can only assume they are messing up the things I don’t have personal knowledge.


D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Jim Masterson
March 19, 2019 12:26 pm

It is a tactic beloved by lawyers. If they can find a falsehood anywhere in your testimony, including sworn depositions, they hold it as sufficient grounds to impugn all of your testimony.

Rob Bacon
March 18, 2019 3:52 pm

What happened to the KABOOM?

There was supposed to be an earth-shattering KABOOM!

-Marvin the Martian for CNN

Reply to  Rob Bacon
March 18, 2019 4:48 pm

There’s always a boom:

Javert Chip
Reply to  Rob Bacon
March 18, 2019 6:07 pm

Somewhat depends on altitude of explosion…altitude is never mentioned.

Reply to  Javert Chip
March 19, 2019 12:09 am

Estimated at 25 km – 82,000 feet for those of us using an archaic system.

jon jewett
Reply to  Writing Observer
March 19, 2019 6:19 am

Of course, I use feet. Why would I want to be like the French? Although, I compliment them on developing garden slugs as a method of delivering butter and garlic. And the bidet.

March 18, 2019 4:11 pm

NASA data reports 4.2 k.

Somebody messed up (i.e., as stated by others, didn’t even bother to do the research on it).

When news media overwhelmingly manage to parade 4.2 k as 10-times Hiroshima, then it becomes even clearer how they can report 2 degrees as an existential crisis. Obviously, they are all going for the drama of big catastrophes, to feed news junkies’ addictions.

March 18, 2019 4:14 pm

Other news reports say the meteor exploded with a force of 173 kilotons of TNT. That would be slightly more than 11 times the Hiroshima blast. The “ten times” value would be in the ballpark in that case. One wonders where the “4.2” value came from. A kiloton of TNT is equivalent to 4.184 terajoules. Rounded, that would be 4.2 TJ. Maybe the author overdosed on too many numbers a just threw some random ones in.


Tom in Florida
Reply to  Jim Masterson
March 19, 2019 6:04 am

Or more likely they don’t know the difference between kilotons and terajoules.
But either way they are back to equating things to “atomic bombs”.

March 18, 2019 4:16 pm

Looks like all other news outlets are reporting 173 kilotons, which simply means CNN is simply guilty of the bad, inaccurate reporting that is their standard.

OTOH, offer the right person a research grant, and he or she will make corrective adjustments to the estimated yield to fit whatever your model requires.

March 18, 2019 4:18 pm

This particular report is far more accurate than most CNN (and BBC) reports.

March 18, 2019 4:20 pm

In college when we started Algebra II as freshman they wore a path across the quad heading to the Journalism College. The professor even commented on it.

Reply to  Andy Weatherford
March 18, 2019 4:53 pm

Well, zombies apparently move in herds. Herds form trails on the ground.

March 18, 2019 4:34 pm

Not to be outdone, Australia’s ABC news website has just posted that it was 10X Hiroshima!!!
You guys may think NYT and WaPo are left wing – Australia’s ABC leaves them for dead.

March 18, 2019 4:35 pm

Check out AJ’s Bio
“AJ Willingham is a writer for CNN Digital in Atlanta. She specializes in internet curiosities, humor, pedantry, sports and setting the record straight. Go Nats. “

March 18, 2019 4:49 pm

Air bursts involving objects at least 13 feet diameter happen every one and a quarter years or so. link Folks are paying attention to air bursts because they might be mistaken for nuclear tests.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and modern technology has improved multiple detection of airbursts with energy yield 1–2 kilotons every year within the last decade.[7] The table below contains a chronological list of events with yield at least 3 kilotons since 2005, with earlier or smaller events included if widely covered in the media.

I’m guessing we will have a credible estimate, from official sources, of the energy involved fairly soon.

Reply to  commieBob
March 18, 2019 4:59 pm

The meteor “display” is very dependent on the type of object. If it is a loose aggregate of icy and carbonaceous material (like a typical comet), it will explode apart in higher atmosphere with a large fireball. However, if solid rock or iron (a meteorite) it will make a fireball all the way to Earth, assuming is about a foot in diameter. If a 13 feet iron meteorite comes down, better hide. It would make a crater about 130-250 feet in diameter and a blast area miles across.

Reply to  donb
March 19, 2019 12:14 am

An aggregate is what this apparently was. Blew apart at an estimated 25 km, where the air pressure is (about) 0.03 bar.

I’d be interested to know what the “steep” angle was, though. An iron-nickel chunk coming almost straight down would be catastrophic, as you note. (Pretty much wherever it landed, except for extreme north or south – probably not an urban area, as those occupy a very small percentage of the Earth’s surface, but just about anywhere has someone living in it, or sea lanes across it.)

Javert Chip
Reply to  commieBob
March 18, 2019 6:11 pm

If you have NASA bureaucrats working on it, maybe not.

O Olson
March 18, 2019 4:54 pm

I wouldn’t have said there wasn’t any “impact” energy at all… as it exploded high in the atmosphere… without impacting anything.

O Olson
Reply to  O Olson
March 18, 2019 5:00 pm

wouldn’t have said there was

Reply to  O Olson
March 19, 2019 12:18 am

Something can impact the air – or air can impact something. Was bending over one day a couple years ago, and one of those massive downdrafts we get here in the summer hit the surface. Planted my face in the dirt just as effectively as someone kicking me in the rear end would have.

March 18, 2019 4:54 pm

Why would anybody trust journalists to tell the truth?


M__ S__
March 18, 2019 4:55 pm

CNN isn’t a news organization. It’s replaced Saturday Night Live

March 18, 2019 5:32 pm

The Chelyabinsk meteor, which was originally an asteroid before it broke up, “entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk at over eleven miles per second and blew apart 14 miles above the ground. The explosion released the energy equivalent of around 440,000 tons of TNT and generated a shock wave that blew out windows over 200 square miles and damaged some buildings. Over 1,600 people were injured in the blast, mostly due to broken glass.” – Source – NASA

Link: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/five-years-after-the-chelyabinsk-meteor-nasa-leads-efforts-in-planetary-defense

The Chelyabinsk rock caused quite a bit of damage in the form of windows that were shattered by the shock waves it generated as it passed, and damage to buildings that were under construction.

I don’t take the Space Rocks lightly, but going into hysterics to get attention for something that had little to no impact, other than as a noisemaker (in the case of this rock) seems a bit over the top to me. They keep crying “WOLF!!! WOLF!!!” and there IS no wolf just yet.


Richard of NZ
Reply to  Sara
March 19, 2019 2:19 am

The Stony Tunguska event is worth noting though.

Roy Martin
March 18, 2019 5:51 pm

Problem is with the dates:
CNN reported about last years fireball (2018-12-18), but reported the energy of a more recent one (2019-02-18)

2018-12-18 23:48:20 173kt
2019-02-18 10:00:43 4.2kt

h/t Curious George for providing the website

Reply to  Roy Martin
March 19, 2019 3:06 pm

It’s an excellent point Roy. It makes more sense that they can’t read a table correctly.


Louis Hooffstetter
March 18, 2019 5:53 pm

Rhetorical questions:
If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a meteorite falls into the Bering Sea but no one is around to see it, does it make a splash?
Did CNN make a huge mistake (again) or report fake news (again)?

Reply to  Louis Hooffstetter
March 19, 2019 8:18 am

“Did CNN make a huge mistake (again) or report fake news (again)?”

Embrace the healing power of “and,” Louis.

Bill in Oz
March 18, 2019 6:07 pm

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has just made the same mistaken report.

Can’t count either !


Hocus Locus
March 18, 2019 6:10 pm

Every time some news or science jerk compares something to the force of “x Hiroshima bombs” I experience an immediate visceral reaction. What ever point they had been trying to make disappears and my thought is derailed completely in a haze of disgust and resentment towards the speaker.

They are glibly dancing on the graves of the affected Japanese, who are our friends and allies, SUDDENLY introducing a city place-name into the stream like a bolt of lightning, making reference a city with a modern thriving identity. It is beyond rude. The defense that it is ‘merely for purposes of illustration’ is a crass dismissal, for even science writers should be aware that most people do not really know the precise extent of energy that was released, so as a unit of measure it is moot. It only has measure (in peoples’ minds) as a traumatic event.

Americans would become mystified and a bit uncomfortable if, say, Russian news commentators would begin to refer to explosions as “x Space Shuttle Challenger disasters” or “x 9/11s”, and annotating the reference with an estimate of energy released would not excuse the gaffe. All it would take is a moment’s thought to come up with something else. Before the Hiroshima smear we used “tons of TNT” to size explosions. Even “x Trinity blasts” would be fine — for that was a more of a scientific moment rather than a people-died-screaming moment.

Have you noticed… when the Trinity test is discussed, the “tons of TNT” is usually appended to illustrate its scale… but when “x Hiroshima bombs” are cited, the TNT equivalent is almost always omitted? Is this merely… sloppy?

I’m becoming less tolerant of people as I grow older, and one thing that sticks in my craw is when people behave rudely without thinking. Or as is the case here, it can stem from an irrational dislike of all things nuclear that is not the result of any conscious opinion but a cultural catcall, virtue signalling without even conscious awareness of doing so.

Dropping the ‘Hiroshima’ as a unit of energy is rude.
It can be a tactic of anti-nuclear zealots.
And people whose behavior is (in the end) indistinguishable from zealots.

In case you were wondering, I am a zealot in favor of nuclear energy.

Reply to  Hocus Locus
March 18, 2019 6:22 pm

… somewhere else… I participate in discussions that usually involve earthquakes. Just to illustrate how small some of them are when people get rabidly excited over a small quake, I calculate the equivalent energy in the food energy of twinkies.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  Tweak
March 18, 2019 6:44 pm

I love it. Though when you are exposed to people who get rabidly excited over anything it’s best to be sure. Take the shots, they’re less painful than they used to be. You can save yourself some trouble (and freight) by mailing their heads to a lab for testing.

Reply to  Tweak
March 18, 2019 7:02 pm

Near here, we’ve had 4 tiny quakes. My grandson has started throwing around suppositions about what’s going on. The largest quake, a mag 3.1, is about 5032 twinkies.

They are all manifestation’s of the Port St Joe transform fault and they occur from time to time.

Reply to  Hocus Locus
March 19, 2019 12:24 am

If you notice, there is also a pretty strong cyclonic weather system in the picture the Japanese satellite took. That system most likely has quite a bit more energy in it than the fireball.

m irwin
March 18, 2019 6:25 pm


If you are going to give some richly deserved crap to this report, it would be well to have your own mathematical house in order. 15 Kilotons/4.2K is not 3.57 times LESS than the Hiroshima bomb, the H bomb is 3.57 times MORE than the event. The event is 1/3.57 or about 28% of the H bomb. If it was 1 times less than the H bomb it would be ZERO!

One sees this XXX times less than Y so often in the MSM (the avg worker makes 100 times less than the CEO) but I don’t expect to see it here. I think part of it is the innumeracy of some reporters and of others knowing it is wrong but wanting exaggerate for effect.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  m irwin
March 19, 2019 3:41 am

You have a good point. I’m so used to deploying the 1/x key on my calculator and working from some intuitive sense of the direction a ratio is facing, I hardly ever notice this anymore. A real peeve of mine is when ratios are given opposite to the order the terms are presented, as in “Men without hats outnumber men with hats 1:250.”

It would be well to keep your nuclear house in order and avoid the term ‘H bomb’ when discussing Hiroshima, that was an early fission ‘A Bomb’ and the H is the later series hydrogen (fusion).

Worship the Dark Lord of INNUMERACY!

M Irwin
Reply to  Hocus Locus
March 19, 2019 11:19 am

“H” was in reference to Hiroshima as was noted earlier in the sentence.

March 18, 2019 6:26 pm

As Robert Kernodle posted, NASA gives the “calculated total impact energy” as 173 kt, see event at 2018-12-18 23:48:20 here (which is linked to from the CNN article): https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/fireballs/. So yes, the 10x (actually more) Hiroshima is correct; the 4.2kt is what’s wrong. The erroneous figure appears to come from (what is currently) the second row of that table, a 4.2k energy meteor. I’m guessing that the mistake was caused because the date on that second row is
which is easy enough to mistake for the correct date
Also, the explosion altitude of the Feb 18 meteor and that of the Dec 18 meteor are virtually identical, which could have caused confusion: 26km and 25.6 km (the article says 16 miles, which is properly rounded off from either of these figures). The Lat/Long of the two events is of course quite different.

Lewis Buckingham
Reply to  Mike Maxwell
March 18, 2019 6:38 pm

CNN must have sacked all the sub editors.

Brian Pratt
March 18, 2019 7:04 pm

In Canada, this wholesale innumeracy is compounded by the problems of converting Imperial units of measurement to metric. Journalists routinely miscalculate – despite the simplicity of doing so using the internet. Not only that, they often give the equivalent to silly degrees of precision, like, oh no! that drone was 91.44 metres from the cockpit as we were coming in for a landing! Not only that, they forget that in some subjects, like construction and aviation, imperial units are still used, globally in the latter. Moreover, reporting volumes in litres makes oil spills sound much more devastating than they really are, such as the 250,000 litre pipeline leak near North Battleford in Saskatchewan in 2016. This equates to two railroad tankers, just a bit more than 1500 barrels. Not the environmental disaster as was trumpeted by so many who tried to make hay with it. And then we have bizarre made-up metrics, like such-and-such green energy initiative will be the equivalent of taking X number of vehicles off the road – notwithstanding that different websites give differing figures. My friends, we have a long row to hoe.

Curious George
Reply to  Brian Pratt
March 18, 2019 7:14 pm

Is a “kiloton TNT equivalent” metric? It sounds more imperial. Or military.

Reply to  Curious George
March 19, 2019 12:37 am

It’s the metric ton – 1,000 kilograms. I wish they would use the proper term, “megagram.” I once had occasion to compare metals production figures between the US and various MKS countries, and didn’t realize I’d bollixed it up by forgetting to convert to common units until the professor called me on it. (I was close, but still wrong, as the metric ton is about 98% of the Imperial / long ton.)

March 18, 2019 7:49 pm

I’m sorry, but you have pushed my “scientific grammar nazi” button

“15 kilotons/4.2kilotons = 3.57 times SMALLER than the Hiroshima Bomb.”

There is no such thing as 3.57 times smaller. Something that is one times smaller, by definition, is zero size. technically, something that is 3.57 times smaller is -2.57 times the original size.

What you mean is that it is 0.28 of the original size, or 28% if you prefer, or you could even say “roughly a third”

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
Reply to  Keith Woollard
March 18, 2019 10:16 pm

Let’s just go totally bonkers and call it
the size of the Hiroshima Bomb’s TNT-equivalent yield.

Hocus Locus
Reply to  LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks
March 19, 2019 4:06 am

Let’s all just go totally bonkers! Without math altogether!
ha ha he he ho ho

Crispin in Waterloo
March 18, 2019 7:53 pm

“15 kilotons/4.2kilotons = 3.57 times SMALLER than the Hiroshima Bomb.”

Hey if you are going to be pedantic about these sorts of misrepresentations, stop saying something is “3.57 times smaller”. Be scientific, be mathematical, drop the hick edition.

A thing can be 3 times larger than another thing, but it cannot be 3 times smaller. That would be “one third the size”. “Three times” already implies it is larger. If I earn $1000 and you earn “three times…” it means what follows is going to be larger, not smaller. Times means multiplied by.

Maybe CNN meant it was 1/10th the size. That is also wrong of course – nearly everything they asserted as fact was incorrect except the part about it being a meteor.

Maybe they wished it was ten times larger so they could rave more. Maybe they used a climate model to generate the number. After all, in a climate model, the reality of 15 can be stretched to include 150 at two sigma. CNN gives new meaning to “standard” and “deviation”. The lower the standard, the more the deviation. After all, the only difference between 15 and 150 is a big fat zero, which is to say, nothing at all. That means they are the same.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 18, 2019 7:56 pm

🙂 beat you by 4 minutes!

John Caulfield
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 19, 2019 4:10 am

Was Napolean shorter than a pig is fat?

Robert Brewer
Reply to  John Caulfield
March 19, 2019 7:04 am

The idea that Napoleon was very short is a myth. Napoleon was approximately 5’6’’ or 5’7”. The average French man of his era (or British) was only 5’5”. The myth is a result of differences in French measurements (5’2” inches in France was approximately 5’6” or 5’7”. And iirc, also was use as a propaganda tool by the Brits to insult and inflame Napolean.

Reply to  Robert Brewer
March 20, 2019 3:21 pm

While you are correct about Napoleon’s measurements the fact is that everyone who met him described him as ‘short’ or ‘petit taille’ . The people around him, being military and/or aristocratic, were probably taller than the average.

John F. Hultquist
March 18, 2019 8:45 pm

Anyone care to guess how much energy is within the weather system (clouds) that are the companion to that little orange blip?

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
March 19, 2019 12:47 am

If I recall correctly, the “average” cyclonic system releases between ten and fifteen tons TNT energy equivalent – per second. So over a day, that’s something between 850 kilotons and a megaton?

Of course, a “good” hurricane has enough energy that it generates gamma ray bursts. Those critters are multi-megaton deals.

Donald Kasper
March 19, 2019 12:02 am

Tipping point meteorite strikes earth due to climate change : CNN.

March 19, 2019 12:11 am

Here is one from MSN that implies the “over 10X” claim comes from NASA.

It seems nobody actually checks the facts before they post “news” stories.

Reply to  rah
March 19, 2019 8:01 pm

Read back through some of the earlier posts here (including mine). The 10x figure is correct, it was the 4.2kt that was wrong. And NASA did not make the 4.2kt mistake, someone else did–likely CNN, with some other sources repeating that error.

March 19, 2019 12:24 am

I wonder what the energy comparison would be between Little Boy and the most deadly air raid in history which occurred March 9th, 1945 when 324 B-29s dropping incendiaries from low altitude in the darkness burned out 16 square miles of Tokyo and killing about 100,000 (The Japanese official claim was about 80,000) and leaving about 1 million homeless. Hurricane force winds and the water in canals boiled and many in bomb shelters died of Asphyxia.

March 19, 2019 1:49 am

Please remove the Himawari image, you are using it without credit.

Gerald the Mole
March 19, 2019 3:13 am

John McCarthy said ” He/she who does not do arithmetic is doomed to talk rubbish”. The truth of this statement is shown every day by the media.

March 19, 2019 7:01 am

Theres a difference between Kilotons weight and Kilotons TNT! But even a journalist should know.

jon jewett
March 19, 2019 7:43 am

Off the thread, somewhat, but you might find this of interest. It illustrates the failings of the media.

The lickspittle media often uses the bombing of Hiroshima as a measurement of energy. They do it deliberately to pin some horrible crime on the American people. The “American people” never voted on it. The media never mentions “the equivalent of the atomic bomb that Democrat President Harry Truman ordered dropped on Hiroshima.” Harry did it all by himself with his pen and his phone just like Obama. As did Democrat President FDR, who used this phone and his pen to order the Americans of Japanese ancestry put in concentration camps.

I think that Truman did the correct thing and, in the long run, saved Japanese and American lives. The lickspittle media cannot conceive of a culture that would rather have their children fight in combat with bamboo spears than surrender. (That is what they were training to do.) He gave the Japanese an excuse to surrender. FDR? Not so much.

It has been said that Truman did it just to scare the Soviets. If so, thank God it worked!

Nobody knows what Stalin was thinking for sure, but….. If you will recall, the Soviets (and their veto) were boycotting the United Nations when Communist NorK invaded South Korea. President Harry Truman got the United Nations to come to the defense of South Korea. Curious. Connecting the dots, it seems that Stalin authorized the invasion of South Korea to get the non-Communist world involved in a land war in Asia. In the meantime, he was preparing for WW3 with plans to invade and subjugate all of Europe including Spain and Italy. Stalin already had the army from WW2, while Harry Truman had pretty well gutted the American military.

But more, Stalin was in the midst of creating the “doctor’s plot”. He was doing the groundwork to recreate the Terror of the 30s. The plot was going to be an alleged conspiracy of Jewish doctors who were plotting to assassinate the Soviet leadership. Stalin had already expanded the death camps for every Jew in Europe. During the Terror of the 30s, Stalin murdered most anybody. For example, Kruschev was the secretary of the Ukraine Communist Party. He was given a quota of party members to kill. Thousands. Not a list of names, only a number. The Terror of the 30s also saw any number of high Communist leaders put on a ‘show trial” and shot as “Enemies of the State”. After they “confessed”, of course.

Also of interest during this period was the “Holodormor” in Ukraine. (Important-look it up if you don’t know about it.) Ordered by Stalin and implemented by Kruschev.

Stalin died before his plans could be realized. Both Kruschev and Beria (head of the NKVD, were there when Stalin died. Descriptions of his death indicate poisoning with waffrin, i.e. rat poison. It would have been a wise thing for someone in their place to do. Faced with the Terror which could very well sweep them up and nuclear war with these United States, it was about the only option left to “reasonable men”.

Since I am on the subject….. My father was the executive officer for the United Nations Command in South Korea in about 1956. One story he told me was that during the Armistice talks, the ChiComs demanded the return of Chinese POWs in South Korean POW camps. The South Korean President Syngman Rhee just let all of them go. I wondered about that. Why would you let an enemy army loose in your country well behind the lines? The ChiCom soldiers in Korea were the remnants of the Nationalists Chinese army that surrendered in 1949. Mao didn’t trust them and wanted to kill them all. Hence the “human wave” tactics. The only thing that waited for them at home was death.

March 19, 2019 10:20 am

So far there is no protection from these rocks hitting anywhere on earth. Maybe the presidents Space Command will work on that. As for me I have other things to think about until one hits near me.

March 19, 2019 11:26 am

Convert “kilotons TNT” to energy at about 4.2E12 Joules
Convert “twinkie” energy at about 600 kilojoules per twinkie of 40 grams, that’s point six MJ.
So, 1kT nuclear energy of 4.2E6 MJ equals the energy of 7 million twinkies.
That makes the Hiroshima bomb equal to 15×7 = 105 Megatwinkies
The energy of the December 2018 meteor comes to 1211 megatwinkies, or 1.2 gigatwinkies

Using the 2E19 Joules per day for a “typical” hurricane from the how stuff works site,
The conversion comes to 86E12 twinkies per day, or 86000 gigatwinkies per day, or 86 Teratwinkies/day

Tom Halla
Reply to  bwegher
March 19, 2019 11:33 am

The teratwinky is the best unit of measure since the wadham (I million sq.Km of ice), after the researcher who called that amount as almost vanished

March 19, 2019 1:41 pm

We seem to be conflating two meteors here:

December 18, 2018: The fireball tore across the sky off Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula on 18 December and released energy equivalent to 173 kilotons of TNT.

July 25th, 2019: “A fireball that streaked across the sky above the Thule Air Base in Greenland on July 25 was notable for not only the 2.1 kilotons of energy it released — the second-most-energetic “explosion” of its kind recorded this year …”

Reply to  Ellen
March 19, 2019 8:04 pm

Yes, as some have pointed out (myself included) in posts above, they were conflating two meteors. But I’m curious about this 25 July 2019 meteor. If you’re correct about this, you should go to work earning a living making predictions!

(2019 –> 2018)

Reply to  Mike Maxwell
March 20, 2019 8:52 am

I made a prediction once. Bluffing in poker, I said I had a full house. (Yes, you can say things like that. The other players may or may not believe you. We were young and foolish.) I then asked for two cards, which were duly given to me. There were quiet snickers, and people courageously bet against me. But when it came time to show the hand, behold, I laid down a full house and took the pot.

Now about that meteor — what’s the ante?

March 19, 2019 8:26 pm

CNN confused the months….

2018-12-18 174Kt
2019- 2- 18 4.2Kt
see https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/fireballs/

A mistake any semi-numerate, geographically challenged, undisciplined reporter could make…
The 4.2Kt job was over western Zambia not the Bering Sea.

Jim G
March 19, 2019 10:00 pm

Meanwhile, the 10x fireball was barely noticeable over the cyclone that is capable of releasing the energy of 10,000 Hiroshima bombs.

But I digress….

Jim G
March 19, 2019 10:00 pm

Meanwhile, the 10x fireball was barely noticeable over the cyclone that is capable of releasing the energy of 10,000 Hiroshima bombs.

But I digress….

March 20, 2019 3:34 am

By the way “impact energy” seems an odd term for a meteorite that explodes high in the atmosphere and never impacts.

Jeff Wilson
March 20, 2019 4:01 am

Journalism is a field you take when you have no skills to be a real scientist so you are left to report what scientists say and, really don’t understand what they are saying.

March 20, 2019 9:22 am

Actually the impact yield may well have been only 4.2kt… you have to remember that impact is NOT explosion force. So an object that produces a 140kt expansion/explosion force could easily only have a 4.2kt impact force if it were to strike the ground. Remember that a “1mt” fusion weapon detonated in space only produces about 60kt of “force” in a vacuum. The common parlance is “kt/mt *in atmosphere*” and even the Hiroshima weapon produced a significantly different final explosive force when dropped from a plane vs exploded on a tower.

4.2kt a pretty significant amount of impact force tbh but not super dangerous. Basically if the object had struck ground it would have struck with the force of 8.4 million pounds of TNT. If it struck a ginormous water tower and instantly vaporized the contents it would produce the ~140kt rating but as it is the poor thing mostly just burned up in atmo.

The ~140kt explosive force is from the superheating and in my experience is always overestimated because it is based off luminosity in the image – an unreliable measurement.

March 20, 2019 11:06 am

‘Hiroshima bombs’ is a standard unit of measure.

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights