CNHI News Service


February 11, 2013

History as a matter of chance

History is full of pivotal moments.

What if Socrates had decided against drinking that hemlock?

What if Gutenberg hadn’t developed his printing press?

What if Washington’s army failed to survive the winter at Valley Forge?

What if Edison gave up on inventing the light bulb?

Events of all sorts, big and small, shape the future. What we are today is a product of all that has happened in the past, good and bad, momentous and mundane.

But if Edison had failed to invent the light bulb, it’s likely someone else would have done so. In many instances, historic events aren’t all-or-nothing propositions. It’s just a matter of who gets the credit.

Than again, there are occurrences that absolutely send history in a completely different direction.

On Friday, an asteroid measuring about 147 feet in diameter will brush by the Earth. Its trajectory will take it inside the orbits of some satellites.

That’s a little too close for comfort.

An asteroid this size isn’t enough to destroy the planet, but depending on where it hit, the damage could be substantial.

Roughly 66 million years ago, a much larger object smacked into the planet. Researchers believe it hit near Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The impact left a crater 100 miles wide and spewed clouds of dirt into the atmosphere that darkened skies for years and substantially lowered temperatures.

One result of this impact was that it killed off the dinosaurs — at least the big ones. Many scientists will argue that today’s reptiles and birds are dinosaurs of sorts.

Yet within a relatively sort period of time, geologically at least, the massive reptiles of the past were gone. Life on Earth was about to change dramatically.

With large life forms wiped out, smaller creatures had more opportunities to survive. And lower temperatures gave an advantage to those that were warm blooded.

Text Only
  • taylor.armerding.jpg Debate filled with 'hate' gives Hamas a pass

    Political invective is dialed to the max, and everyone who disagrees is a "hater." But the hate police, who are so eager to cast labels, are ignoring the real wells of contempt in the Middle East.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Congress should be cheered, not blamed, for sitting on its hands

    President Obama, his minions and the media wag their fingers at Congress for being unproductive, but passing more laws isn't necessarily a good thing.

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Impeachment arms Democrats, doesn't end the Obama disaster

    Republicans may have grounds to impeach President Barack Obama but they would be daft to pursue a case they cannot win in a Senate controlled by Democrats. Impeachment would only drive the Democrats' fundraising and potentially squander the GOP's best opportunity in years to capture both houses of Congress then, in two years, the White House.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Zamperini, the Olympian and POW, was a hero because of his faith

    Louis Zamperini collected many accolades as an Olympic distance runner and brave bombardier who spent a month adrift at sea and two years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. But faith and forgiveness are what truly distinguished him.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hobby Lobby critics push specious privacy pitch

    The violation of privacy argument by liberal detractors of the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby-Obamacare case doesn't hold water when you consider the current collection and use of the personal details of your medical preferences.

    July 11, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Declare your independence from empty slogans

    'Independence Day' is now an ironic celebration in a country where the president promotes government dependence over actual freedom, and where bumper-sticker slogans have replaced actual, independent thought.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Taxi owners, government patrons try forcing Uber to go 'off-duty'

    Uber gives urban passengers an enticing alternative. Rides on-demand arrive faster than taxis, are cheaper and cleaner, and get rated by customers. Rather than hail innovation, government enablers are helping the heavily regulated taxicab industry freeze out the upstart.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg IRS spins email yarn as Obama slips past another scandal

    Forget everything you've heard about email. All digital trace of a former IRS official's email over the 25 months the agency harassed conservative groups has mysteriously, improbably vanished. Gone, too, is the White House's accountability as President Obama slips from another scandal.

    June 20, 2014 1 Photo