[meteorite-list] Meteorite Fever Comes Down To Earth With A Bang

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:44:35 2004
Message-ID: <200103021655.IAA17459_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


UFO Fever Comes Down To Earth With A Bang
By Robert Uhlig
Daily Telegraph
March 2, 2001
WITH a supersonic boom, a whoosh and a plop, meteorite hysteria fell to
Earth in a sleepy suburb yesterday morning, leaving a smouldering, fizzing
hole a few feet from a startled woman walking her dogs.
Sylvia Mercer had her close encounter with an unidentified heavenly object
in a quiet country lane in Hopgrove, York. "I was walking my dogs when I
heard two bangs," she said.

"Then there was a rush of wind whistling past my head and a plopping noise.
I froze in terror and thought my last moments had come. When I looked at the
ground I saw a smouldering hole.

"There was smoke and noise coming from it and it was making strange and
frightening sounds. You don't usually expect to get attacked from outer
space while you are out for a stroll. It is absolutely amazing." She ran
home to raise the alarm and then returned to cover the 12in-wide and
5ft-deep hole with a dustbin lid.

Within minutes, police, the Army Bomb Disposal Squad from Catterick,
university geologists and museum experts from York were rushing to the
scene. As police sealed off the crater and prepared to evacuate the area,
meteorite experts at the Natural History Museum in London were commandeering
cars, ready to race to York to examine what they were promised was a
brain-sized 12lb lump of primordial space rock.

Phil Manning, keeper of geology at the Yorkshire Museum, was one of the
first specialists on the scene. He said it was the biggest meteorite to hit
Britain for 100 years. "The bangs Sylvia heard were sonic booms. The
meteorite would be travelling at the speed of sound and the hissing and
popping were caused by the heat it discharged," he said.

A policewoman who was ordering locals to keep away told reporters that the
hole had certainly been caused by a meteor impact. "We just cannot attribute
it to anything else." While bomb disposal experts peered into the hole,
scientists developed theories to explain its strange blue colouration.

Only the meteor and planetary experts at the Natural History Museum in
London urged caution at the growing meteorite hysteria. A mechanical digger
brought in to excavate and retrieve the rock found nothing. And nine hours
after Mrs Mercer's narrow escape, experts told her that it was nothing more
than a low-flying clod of earth.

A high-powered electricity cable, buried 3ft deep, had split, shorted and
blown - causing the gurgling and popping noises. A spokesman for City of
York council said: "The hole was caused by the earth being blown out, not by
an object going in at high speed and burying itself. What flew past Mrs
Mercer's head was nothing more than a big clod of earth."

Last night Mrs Mercer said: "I'm quite disappointed to discover I've not
survived a meteorite falling from the skies at the speed of sound. But it
will give someone a laugh to discover we were all fooled."
Received on Fri 02 Mar 2001 11:55:05 AM PST

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