A 14-year-old German lad survived a close encounter with a meteorite when a pea-sized piece of rock which had entered Earth's atmosphere at 30,000 mph left him with nothing more than a "nasty" three-inch gash on his hand. According to the Telegraph, Gerrit Blank was on his way to school in Essen when a bright light in the sky …
Was it really travelling at 30,000 mph, when it hit him? Surely a pea-sized anything travelling at that speed would be carrying so much momentum that rather than "bounce" off a human hand and cause a gash, it's more likely to have a "hot knife through butter" sort of effect?
Some would say he was lucky. But, then again, getting hit by a 30,000mph projectile isn't that lucky!
Anyhoo - will he get to keep the meteorite? Finders keepers and all that...
Physics doesn't add up
A pea sized piece of lead, traveling at about the speed of sound, leaves people dead.
And this one, traveling at 30,000 mph, leaves only a nasty gash?
Or did I miss something?
"I call shenanigans!"
How can a pea sized meteorite cause a "foot-wide crater in the ground" First up, the terminal velocity by the time its come through the atmosphere will be significantly less than 30,000mph, secondly its mass is going to be so small as to not have enough force to create a massive dint, even if its an extremely dense rock. If it were true, the southern United States would be covered in massive holes where bits of the shuttle Columbia returned to Earth. I don't doubt that this young fella got a whack on the bonce, but I suspect that it fell into a pot hole, and thats where the trouble started.
"teen-bashing space pea"
"Web 2.0" gets to be a word and this doesn't?
There's no justice in the world I tell you! =)
"Blank joins an exclusive club of meteorite-strike survivors,"
Only 2 survivors hey, exactly how many meteorite-stike fatalities have been recorded.
Should I be worried? Am I under threat? Will a tin foil hat help? Is the world at risk? Are we all going to die? Should I get the tabloid media to start a worldwide panic?
Filling in the gaps?
Most meteorites, especially ones the size of a pea, hit the ground at terminal velocity. So why was this one going so fast? Hard to see how it can hit him, then make a one foot crater without taking an arm off in the process.
I don't understand how small, hot high speed rock, that can make a 1 foot crater in the ground, would 'bounce off' a boy's hand. I'd expect it to blast a hole in his hand and leave nasty burns. Similarly with the 3,86kg meteorite that 'bounced off' a radio. Can any meteorite experts help explain this?
Good news: You have the sort of luck that the one in umpty-something million chance comes up with your name on it.
Bad news: It involves being hit by a meteorite and 15 minutes of fame rather than being the sole winner of a quintuple rollover on the EuroMillions draw and a lifetime of sybaritic luxury.
deserves to keep this space rock. I guess the meteorite could have passed straight through his body if its angle of incidence was less obtuse. I resist the urge to say he's a lucky boy, he has a 3" gash on his hand.
"teen-bashing space pea "
I like it!
And of course anybody who's seen The Andromeda Strain is now waiting for Gerrit to fall over dead having been dessicated from the inside by a space-borne superbug...
Followed by the rest of Essen, Germany, Europe and eventually the World, unless we can get him to Wildfire a.s.a.p....
"It bounced off his hand before embedding itself in a foot-wide crater in the ground."
I doubt it. More likely his hand bounced off the meteorite. Momentum and all that...
Head apparently missed by a few degrees in the right direction.
That's one lucky boy!
Incidentally, surely it deflected (very obliquely, at that) off his hand - unless this boy is actually of Krypton origins and is impervious to something capable of creating a foot-wide crater in the ground.
Must be starting small- it's a warmup!
Looks like the aliens with big f'off catapaults are getting better at hitting us, 2 in 55 years. Not long before an intergalactic war of meteorite tennis kicks off then
I hope it wasn't just a warning shot.
This is what happens when you spam aliens. lol
May I be the first
to welcome our space-faring, pea-shooting overlords...
Sometimes I wonder if the Reg is entirely accurate
Small meteorites shed almost all their velocity in the upper atmosphere and hit the ground at only a few hundred kilometres an hour maximum - enough to give a nasty whack, but not enough to excite Michael Bay.
And as for the red hot bit - sorry, witness evidence suggests that meteorites are rarely more than warm when they arrive. They've been sitting in the cold of deep space for the last few billion years. The meteorite is protected from the frictional heat by the ablation of the outer layer, so relatively little heat gets to penetrate the rock itself. One scientist who picked up a fresh meteorite compared its temperature to a baked potato - too hot to hold, but not so hot that it would cause a serious burn.
Still, hit by a meteorite eh? That's a good excuse for skipping PE!
It bounced off his hand
On the back of a fagpack...Anything with any substantive mass travelling at this speed would go straight through a human hand. A hign speed bullet roughly equates to 3,500 mph at max velocity. Bullets don't bounce off human hands at peak velocity.
So mass andaerodynamics wise, how many stone peas equate to a bullet. Hmmmm I guess possibly more than 9 peas so I retract, this might be possible. Move along, nothing to see here!
Anyway, either very lucky or those german experimants in the 40's.....
Terminal Velocity of a pea sized meteor would be in the region of 130mph.
It may have entered the atmosphere at 30,000 mph but would be slowed by the viscousity of the surrounding air by the time it reached ground level.
Something doesn't quite add up here, 30,000mph, bounced of hand, crater in the road. All goes to prove the unreliability of eye witnesses.
But hell any way you look at it he's very, very lucky, not sure I'd remember it correctly either.
Bounced off his hand?
And then made a crater a foot wide? what the hell was his hand made out of?
Am I the only one slightly skeptical about this. An that is probably about the size of a shotgun pellet hits the lad at several times the speed of a bullet and he only gets cut?
Surely the damage would have been more serious?
You realise that it couldn't have been travelling 30,000 MPH when it hit his hand... right?
30,000 mph? Do me a favour
Maybe in the vacuum of space but not once it was at ground level. If it was doing 30,000 at sea level it would be an incandescent ball of plasma and there'd be nothing left of the boy or probably his school!
And can someone tell me what his hand is made of if it "bounced" off it yet still made a foot wide crater in the ground? Is the boys name name C. Kent by any chance?
Good old Torygraph, you can always guarantee their scientific reporting is about as accurate as a broken clock.
Oh come on...
He needs to confess - he staged all this to have day off school.
Dog has eaten my homework doesn't cut it anymore... Check that one out: http://failblog.org/2009/06/03/solution-fail/
30,000 mph, eh?
Let's see now. A pea sized meteorite would be around 6mm in diameter, and assuming it's a typical chondrite, will have a density of around ~3.4g/cm^3. Its mass would be around 0.4 grams.
At 30,000 mph, it would have a kinetic energy of 36kJ. Compare this with the kinetic energy of a round fired from a P90, around 520J.
Just a gash on his hand?!?
I suspect its velocity was somewhat less than quoted.
New school excuse
Sorry I cant come to school today as I got hit by a comet, but I should be fine for tomorrow
Paris ..... cause I cant see her leaving much of a crater if she hit you at 30K MPH
six out of every seven ?
Surely it should be more like 71%, or roughly 5 out of every 7 - given that this proportion of the earth's surface is water ? What is it about meteorites that make them preferentially target water ? Is it something to do with meteorites being more likely to hit in the mid-latitudes where the ratio of water may be higher ?
a 30cm crater in the ground?
So, this thing was fast enough to dig a rather decent hole into the ground but faild to obliterate Mr Blank?
Fortunately I live in Essen, so I´ll keep you posted...
ok, no hit, just a close miss.
I hope it leaves some sort of scar as that will allow him the ultimate in chatup lines...
Oh, that's where I had to deflect a meteor when I was younger.....
Is this lucky? or unlukcy? I can't decide!
""It's a real meteorite, therefore it is very valuable to collectors and scientists."
Obviously, you wouldn't want to let the guy who suffered keep it as a memoir.
Terminal velocity isn't a constant. In fact I'd imagine it's rather fast for a small piece of metal, especially if it fit the meteor stereotype and was covered in golf-ball style pits :)
@John H Woods
Well, as we all know from Final Destination and it's sequels, you can't escape death so it probably counts as unlucky - now he knows wherever he goes, whatever he does, the Grim Reaper will be stalking him.
Wasn't he Boba Fett's evil partner in the Star Wars film?
"bounced off his hand"
Really? Bounced? Somehow the connotation of bounce doesn't lend itself to be followed by "embedding itself in a foot-wide crater in the ground." Granted it's small, I assume your peas are the same as ours being about the size of #4 buckshot (6 mm), but an energy exchange great enough to make a crater was certainly not done after bouncing off anything. That isn't to say it didn't go through the lad's skin, it just means it didn't transfer much energy as it did. If he had a bit more luck it would have cauterized the wound on its way through.
Blame dumb reporting
The BBC website offers the fascinating information that "the chances of being hit by a meteorite are 1 in 100 million". By that reckoning, over 60 people are about to be hit by meteorites.
Chances in what time-frame, anyway? The chances of being hit in a year are obviously 365 times the chance of being hit in a day.
This is the quality of reporting that brought you "bounced off his hand". I wouldn't rely on it in court.
Thumb indicates direction of travel.
@ CAD MONKEY
Terminal velocity for a human in a typical arms and feet out pose is ~ 120 mph. In a nose dive a human can exceed 200 mph. Last I checked a pea was a brave bit smaller than a human...
The terminal velocity for a pea sized rock is -
where * stands for multiplication, / stands for division
g is the acceleration of gravity (~980 cm/s^2)
dm is the density of the meteorite (~2.7-3 g/cm^3 for rock)
da is the density of air (~ 0.0012923 g/cm^3)
r is the radius (half the diameter) of the metorite in cm
n is the dynamic viscosity of air near the Earth's surface (~ 0.00018 g/cm/s).
thus the terminal velocity for a 0.3 cm meteorite with a density similar to granite is ~ 1800 mph.
What speed it was actually doing is another matter, but it could have potentially been zipping along ;)
Seems eminently plausible. To say it "bounced off" his hand is clearly bad wording, but it could easily be a glancing strike which just takes out a gouge. And while it would have been doing less than 30,000 mph by the time it reached earth, it would still be going bloody fast and have enough energy to make a small crater. Photos at http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/staedte/essen/2009/6/9/news-122286237/detail.html
Lucky? Good question
I love how most people say he's lucky. As if it's lucky to be one of only a handful of people to get hit by a space rock. I would normally call that unlucky in the extreme. It's like when Uncle Ernie ties one on and wraps his pickup truck around a tree, loses a leg and his spleen but survives and people call him "lucky".
However, if he was actually hit by it, he is extremely lucky because apparently the demand for meteorites that hit man made objects (and surely he must qualify) is HUGE and the kid could earn quite a nice wad of cash for his pain.
But as with other writers, I am in severe doubt of the entire story given this 2 foot crater nonsense.
30,000 mph is almost 14.5 km/s
Depending on the angle it hit the atmosphere, it may only have been in the atmosphere for a handful of seconds before striking the ground. The upper atmosphere is significantly less dense than the lower atmosphere as pressure decrease is not linear with height increase.
It would have experienced aerobraking and shed some of it's momentum as heat and light due to friction, which would have made it pretty hot, and would most likely have struck the ground travelling significantly faster than terminal velocity. The real question is why only a single piece has been recovered when one would expect anything striking tarmac that hard to shatter.
@Colin 4 - Most matter in the solar system tends to orbit the sun on or near the ecliptic plane, which is at an angle of 23.5 degrees from our equator, so one would expect the majority of meteorites to hit the Earth in this region.
"... a pea-sized piece of rock which had entered Earth's atmosphere at 30,000 mph"
Hmm. So no info on what speed it was actually doing when it hit him.
"It bounced off his hand before embedding itself in a foot-wide crater in the ground."
But it doesn't say that the space-pea made the crater. Just that it landed in it and got stuck.
So the entire article is summed up with, "Boy hit by pea-sized meteor gets cut hand". Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
--- each of those trying to show how clever they are by commenting on the implausibility of the story, and on the 30,000mph figure. Clearly they didn't read the article which states that the meteorite "had entered Earth's atmosphere at 30,000 mph" not that it was traveling at 30,000mph when it hit the youth. As to the rest of it, yes it's a a rare event, clearly the odds of a human being having that experience are less than one in 100 billion since as far as we know it is unique.
In other news
Megaplanes Nork-missile-busting-big-frikkin-flying-lazor test fails; targeting system malfunctions. "We'll do better next time" - Megaplanes spokesman.
The "crater" in the newspaper photograph does not look like a crater to me - and I certainly feel that the "crater" was not caused by the meteorite.
Another rubbish newspaper story. However, the story has distracted enough of the readership of El Reg for a full Earth Invasion fleet to have arrived without anyone noticing.
@ Mike Richards
"Sometimes I wonder if the Reg is entirely accurate "
The Dominatrix will see you now.
Ooopsie: make that "Our Divine Moderatrix".
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