[meteorite-list] re: Meteorite Fever

From: Robert Beauford <wendirob_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:44:35 2004
Message-ID: <000b01c0a351$38ba8440$6b4897cc_at_wendirob>

It was a reasonable initial assumption. The experience reported (names of
dogs aside) was that something substantial flew by her (dirt it seems)
simultaneously with a boom or cracking sound, and then a plopping sound and
the appearance of a smoking hole in the ground. Except for the fizzing and
crackling that came from within the hole following the incident, it would be
fairly convincing. I'm sure that with the disorientation that would
accompany such an experience, most on the list would draw a similar initial
conclusion, (ie: that something had impacted the ground rather than that
something had errupted from it). Knowledge would have shown those on the
list that the sounds issuing form the hole were inconsistent with a
meteorite impact, but the smoke bit (steam probably - a few wisps anyway -
could be easily interpreted (in the 'heat' of the moment) with this
perception. (Fire a gun into mud and you might see a little bit of steam or
vapor, whether from heat of impact, or violent displacement.) Similar
(slight) results might be seen from condensation vapor as a 200 below 0 F.
object interacted with the air (like when you open your freezer door.
Similarly, there is only a very tiny range of temperatures (50 below zero to
250 or so F) that an object might be when coming into contact with wet earth
and not be expected to make some small sounds resulting from the sudden
expansion of water as it freezes or evaporates or from the sudden expansion
of the object as a broken 200 sub zero interior is inundated with 50 degree
water from the mud. Calm minds sitting at computers think differently than
those who have just had something blow up next to them.

I'm afraid I might have reached my hand into the hole to settle the hot/cold
question and gotten a mighty jolt.
-Robert Beauford : )

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_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 02:44:12 PM PST

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