Stories tagged meteorites

Jun
12
2009

Not to be trusted
Not to be trustedCourtesy superbomba
Hey, so a little German lad was hit on his little German paw by a meteorite traveling in the neighborhood of 30,000 miles per hour. No doubt he cried, and said something funny in German, but things are working out for him now.

Here are two problems I would like y’all to address:

Problem one: The article says that the bullet-sized meteorite “bounced off” the boy’s hand, before gouging a foot-long crater in the pavement beneath him. Mm-kay… awesome. But answer this, Augustus Gloop: a rifle bullet travels at about 1000 meters per second, or 2,237 miles per hour. A rifle bullet wouldn’t bounce off your hand. Your hand wouldn’t even bounce off the bullet. This bullet-sized space rock was traveling more than 13 times faster than a bullet, and it just “bounced off” your hand? I think you’re lying, Augustus! What really happened to your hand, Augustus?!

Also, the article says that the chances of being struck by a meteorite are about 1 in 100 million. Doesn’t that seem really high? Most meteorites totally burn up in the atmosphere, and the ones that do reach Earth almost always fall in the water. (The article says that about 6 out of 7 meteorites hit the water… but where does that come from? You’d think that would mean that about 86% of the Earth is covered by water, but the actual area is closer to 70%. Anyway…) So, still, the chances of getting hit by a meteorite are 1 in 100 million? But the odds of winning the jackpot in the lottery are about 1 in 200 million, and that seems to happen more often than human meteor strikes. If there are 6.7 billion people on the planet, 67 of those people should be hit by meteorites at some point in their lives, but I’m not ever hearing about it. Someone explain this to me. Why doesn’t the world share its hilarious and disgusting meteorite-strike stories? Is this a conspiracy? Augustus Gloop, are you behind this too? Are you?!

Jun
16
2008

Where are you going?: I'm going home.
Where are you going?: I'm going home.Courtesy Mila
New tests performed on a meteorite found in Australia suggest that life on earth could have had its start in space; it’s possible that the first components of self-replicating genetic material came from outer space.

This particular meteorite only struck Earth about 40 years ago, but new studies confirm that the molecules uracil and xanthine (which are found in our RNA) were present in the meteoritic fragments before human contamination.

Uracil and xanthine are “nucleobases,” and play an important role in the replication of DNA. Some have argued that these molecules could have originally formed on Earth, but these researchers claim that the atmospheric conditions on the planet at the time the first organic molecules are thought to have appeared would have prohibited a terrestrial origin. Going even further, they state that it’s possible—assuming that there are all these vital molecules floating out there on meteors—that life, or at least the key components for life (a big difference I suppose), could be widespread in the universe.

I prefer extraterrestrial life delivery by spaceship, but I guess I’ll take what I can get. Wild.

May
03
2007

A meteor streaking across the night sky: Photo by Jeff Smallwood at flickr.com.
A meteor streaking across the night sky: Photo by Jeff Smallwood at flickr.com.

The Aquarid meteor shower is due to reach its peak this weekend. Clear skies and warm spring temperatures in many parts of the country will make this the first good meteor viewing of the year. The shower is due to peak at 7 am Eastern time on the 5th with meteors falling at a rate of about one per minute. But you can go out any night this weekend after midnight and look low in the eastern sky – you may catch a few falling stars to put in your pocket and save for a rainy day.

You can learn more about meteor showers here.

This site has more kid-friendly information.

And this is a good site for heavy-duty meteor fans.

Caroline Smith and Gretchen Benedix from the Natural History Museum in London are trekking around the Nullabor Desert in western Australia looking meteorites. Follow along on their meteorite blog.