[meteorite-list] "Wierd Science"

From: Robert Verish <bolidechaser_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:31:24 2004
Message-ID: <20040218202813.55361.qmail_at_web60305.mail.yahoo.com>

Thought this was already post to the List, and if it
has, accept my apologies, but I continue to get asked
questions about this. Questions like,
"Is this story for real?"

And, as is the case with most stories too strange not
to be true -- YES, this story is "for real".

-----Original Message-----

From: Ron Baalke

Subject: Look Out! It's Raining Bowling Balls


Look out! It's raining bowling balls
By Glen Warchol
The Salt Lake Tribune
February 17, 2004

It might not rank with the Mars Rover landings, but it
is science nonetheless. Amateur meteorite hunters
successfully lobbed a bowling ball out of the sky in
the first of a series of experiments they hope will
help them identify meteorite craters in the Utah

On Friday, two researchers heaved a 14-pound,
red-swirl bowling ball out the window of a rented
Cessna light plane from 820 feet above the desert near
Grantsville. Bombardier Ann House reported to pilot
Patrick Wiggins that the simulated meteor "made a nice
big ka-bersh" when it hit the desert at about noon.

Though it was a first try, Wiggins said the test
reaped important data:

* The bowling ball fit through the Cessna's window.
* "It went down."
* The ball did not bounce -- a surprise -- but sank
-- halfway into the frozen clay.
* No flat coyotes or roadrunners were found under the
bowling ball.
* The impact sprayed "ejecta" in a single direction,
indicating the ball had retained forward velocity.

Details are available online at


"Next time, we are going to go a bit higher. We are
trying to get where it will fall straight down, as a
meteorite would," Wiggins said, but most important,
"the test showed we could do this without hurting

When The Salt Lake Tribune reported last January on
the citizen scientists' plans to unleash bowling balls
over Utah's Salt Flats, it left professional
researchers skeptical and federal Bureau of Land
Management officials uneasy.

The scientists doubted the experiment would yield much
valuable data -- but agreed they, too, would like to
drop a bowling ball out of an airplane.
BLM officials, on the other hand, were alarmed that
the experiments could endanger the people, animals,
weather stations, land-speed record setters and
automobile commercial filmmakers indigenous to the
Salt Flats.

The Utah amateurs became briefly world famous through
interviews with the British Broadcasting Corp. and the
British magazine New Scientist.

To sidestep BLM red tape for the first test, Wiggins
got permission to drop the ball on private property
owned by Bonneville Seabase, a scuba diving facility
at spring-fed ponds in Tooele County. He also
consulted Federal Aviation Administration officials to
confirm the flight would not violate any rules.

"The FAA was happy with it and the land owners think
it's great," Wiggins said. "A good time was had by

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Received on Wed 18 Feb 2004 03:28:13 PM PST

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