Real Names: Eugene Shoemaker and Virgil Sharpton
Place Of Birth: Los Angeles, California (Shoemaker)
Date Of Birth: April 28, 1928 (Shoemaker)
Background: Eugene Shoemaker and Virgil Sharpton are scientists who have been researching the possibility that one of the hundreds of comets, asteroids, and meteors that are streaking across the solar system may collide into Earth, destroying the entire planet. In July of 1994, fragments of the Shoemaker-Levy comet slammed into the planet Jupiter, causing a series of large explosions, bursting tons of energy. One of the impacts created a cloud of debris as large as Earth.
Shoemaker and Sharpton have investigated several craters and impact events, including the Chicxulub Crater, the Meteor Crater near Phoenix, and the Tunguska Event. Sharpton has noted that if the asteroid from the Tunguska Event had struck a metropolitan area such as Houston, the entire area would be completely destroyed. Shoemaker believes that at least half of the human population would be killed as a result of a collision similar to Chicxulub.
Fortunately, asteroid collisions are extremely rare.
- Chicxulub Crater - a crater on the Yucatan Peninsula that was created 65 million years ago when an asteroid collided with Earth. A giant curtain of dust and rocks spread out from the impact site. Smaller meteorites caused fires across the Western Hemisphere. The smoke from the fires, along with dust and rocks, caused the Earth's atmosphere to be filled with a dark cloud. As a result of the collision and its effects, all of the dinosaurs were killed.
- Meteor Crater - a crater north of Phoenix, Arizona, that was formed by an asteroid moving at 40,000 mph. It was formed about 50,000 years ago.
- Tunguska Event - occurred in 1908 in Russia and was believed to have been caused by an asteroid colliding with Earth or disintegrating and exploding in Earth's atmosphere.
- Shoemaker-Levy Comet Collision - a collision that occurred in July of 1994 between the Shoemaker-Levy Comet and the planet Jupiter.
Notes: The case was featured as a part of the February 14, 1997 episode.
Sadly, Eugene Shoemaker passed away on July 18, 1997.