Camera Proliferation and The Meteor Seen ‘Round The World

Considering the hype that the asteroid 2012 DA 14 caused with its pass-by so close to Earth, we were all expecting that would be the biggest news taking place last Friday. However, when a horse-sized meteor weighing in at 7,000 – 10,000 tons slammed into Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over a sparsely populated part of the world — and more, when photos and video of the event hit the Internet — 2012 DA 14 faded into insignificance.

One question that has come up over and over is “how did so many people get to film it?” Smartphones and tablets have proliferated far and wide, putting video cameras in the hands of just about everyone. However, another reason this event was captured from so many different angles is down to something of a Russian quirk: Russian cars are commonly equipped with dashboard cameras. With a country that spans eleven time zones, monitoring traffic and dealing with accidents would be difficult. Factor in the corruption in the police and courts and the fact that first-hand accounts aren’t favored in trials and it becomes incumbent on everyone to provide video of the accident.

With footage from so many different cars and angles quickly uploaded to YouTube, it took no time at all for the news to spread. An event that once would have been remembered only by eye-witnesses and would have been discounted by the rest of the world has now been captured on video and sent around the world less than an hour after it happened. Cameras really are helping not only to spread the art of photography, but to capture historical events such as this one.

— da Bird