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back to article German lad hit by 30,000 mph meteorite

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 …

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Alien

more meteor strikes

There was a plane in flight destroyed by a meteor strike in one of Asimov's robot stories.

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Dubious

What's wrong with this tale? A meteoroid comes in with enough energy to blow a foot-wide hole in the ground, yet when it hits a guy's hand it merely cuts it?

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Boffin

A plausible explanation... well maybe

I'm not quite sure about how much the atmosphere would have slowed down this pellet but here are some thoughts.

1. In reference to people making guesses as to the speed of impact and judging the crater size to be implausible. It may be that the way the speed was estimated was to measure the mass of the meteorite and the size of the crater and use a relevant algorithm.

2. As our victim heard a loud bang after, but not before, it sounds like the meteorite was traveling at least the speed of sound.

3. I would tend to agree that if this object hit any part of him at such a high speed, then the body part would no longer be a part of him. Perhaps he is mistaken and the object went very close to him. If it was traveling at some hypersonic speed then the shock wave or heated air around the object could plausibly have caused his injury. Also craters throw up a huge amount of material when they are formed (1 foot wide hemisphere of dirt in this case). Some lower speed material ejected from the crater could plausibly have caused his injury while also chucking him a fair distance away. If the object was traveling at 30,000 mph, there's no way he could have resolved the time difference between the injury to his hand and the object hitting the ground.

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Joke

"teen-bashing space pea "

he's lucky it wasn't

teen-splashing space pee

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Unhappy

Foot wide crater in the road.

Or potholes as we call them round my way. After the weather last winter, the local council is only just getting round to filling them in.

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Linux

*snifff*

I smell something funny.

Why did it leave a 3inch "gash" as it boucned off his hand.

But still manage to make a foot wide hole in the road?

A human hand is weaker than tarmac.

It would have lost a hell of a lot of momentum on first impact.

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Boffin

Units

Terminal velocity @ AC

Wow, cgs units.

Truly dinosaurs still stalk the face of the earth.

Reception rang. Your new slip stick has been delivered.

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Gates Horns

Only one thing to say.

LOL!

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Silver badge

Quality reporting...

The size of the object had nothing to do with him being lucky! Have you seen the size of a bullet slug recently? They're not much bigger, travel a hell of a lot slower and they kill people.

I recommend reading up on a couple of things called kinetic energy and momentum (assuming basics physics is still taught in our science deprived society).

With that kind of velocity it would have carried so much energy it would have made Dirty Harry blush, and blown his head clean off had it hit him directly. Actually it would probably have just gone straight through it without so much as batting a rocky eyelid. The effect to the kid would have been the same though.

The fact that it exploded leaving a crater in the ground gives you an idea of the energy.

So it didn't "bounce" off his head, it skimmed his head and continued the same direction it had been going... In fact at that speed it could have been the shock wave that damaged his bonce and the object didn't actually touch him.

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re: quality reporting

thank you Steve ... for pointing out the most obvious answer ... it could have easily 'skimmed his hand' as steve said and continued into the ground. Hasn't anybody ever gotten grazed by a bullet?

even when getting hit by a bullet, not every shot causes a huge hole on the exit wound. you usually need hollow point bullets. it's possible the meteorite would have just gone straight through the and left a hole it's exact size. as someone said 'knife through butter'

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Black Helicopters

Pea sized

Shame he wasn't holding an iPhone at the time. Story could have been infinitely more amusing.

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Bronze badge
Alien

Beats the shi*t out of having an excuse letter from his Mom..

..he got one from amanfrommars!

(Course, the teachers won't understand it, but what's new...)

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Paris Hilton

Hot Meteorite

Looking at the photos at http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/staedte/essen/2009/6/9/news-122286237/detail.html I would say the injury to the lads hand is more like a burn. I think the meteorite, still hot due to its high velocity passed close enough to Mr Blank's hand to cause a burn.

The crater doesn't look much like a crater to me, though there appears to be evidence of heat damage to the tarmac. I am waiting for our local council to start blaming all the potholes in our disgraceful (and dangerous) roads on meteorite strikes, rather than ineffective maintenance programs !

If that thing had really hit Mr Blank, I think he would have a nice neat hole through him. Even if the meteorite had shattered the sheer velocity would have meant the fragments passed through in a closely grouped cluster. The shockwaves to internal organs would have been pretty bad though. Contrast this with a dum dum bullet : low velocity and soft. This means it easily spreads out on impact, and the low velocity guarantees plenty of time to do so. The result is a very nasty wound, a small hole at entry, and a large one at exit.

Mr Blank is a very lucky young man. I hope he can keep the meteorite to show the girls ...

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Silver badge

Oh, I know what actually happened...

Ok, I've got it.

It grazed his hand, then mid-flight, changed direction, twice, sped up, then hit the ground with suitable force to create a one-foot crater. From the barrel marks on the meteorite, it appears it is actually the very same magic bullet that hit Kennedy.

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Anonymous Coward

@Peter Bradley

Wow. If you think there's "nothing to see" in someone actually getting hit by a meteorite, you must lead a really interesting life. But then you're here, so I'll just put it down to either films or computer games desensitising you. Or are you just one of those sad 'Im so jaded, seen it all before ' poseurs who like that irritating catchphrase?

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Track, Positio, Shot

It's the ghost of Douglas Adams sending us a message, now if we could only build a computer to figure out what it is.

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Bronze badge

Sequence of events?

At 30,000 mph (or whatever speed it was traveling at once at ground level) I doubt one could tell what the sequence events were. It hits hand, then craters the ground? We're talking on the order of microseconds difference.

I'd say it hit the ground and his hand was probably struck by the ejecta from the crater produced.

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Silver badge

Could it have been...

Coincidence would have miniscule probability but could that "hole" have been caused by a dry lightning strike? I recall reading he was thrown off of his feet. Bright light etc. Bit of heat.

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Boffin

Re: Terminal velocity

Small correction. Terminal Velocity is not some sort of absolute "light speed" of matter. It is the final (hence 'terminal') equilibrium between drag and gravity that eventually arises. So when jumping out of a plane, you will go faster and faster until you reach this speed, but something dropping in at 30Kmph will on the other hand slow down until it reaches this speed. Unless it is going so fast that it hits the earth before being slowed down to it's terminal velocity of course, as is probably the case here.

Btw, an interesting rule of thumb: above 2 km/sec, an impact of x mass is equivalent of that mass in TNT. This equivalent amount is squared that of any additional increase. So 1 kilo of rock at 2 Km/sec = 1 kilo of TNT, but one kilo of rock at 16 km/sec = 64 kilos of TNT, and so on.

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Meteorite-strike survivors

Technically, you are correct on both points - that Ann Elizabeth Hodges was also struck by a meteorite and survived (until she died 18 years later), and that as a survivor of a meteor strike he is a member of an exclusive club with a membership of two - however the only other member (as Ms Hodges ceased surviving 37 years ago) is a Ugandan who was struck but not injured in 1992 and can reasonably br assumed to still be alive.

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Thumb Up

Rich kid

Collectors pay lots of money for rocks from space with a bit of a story.

The kid could sell this rock for well over £10,000

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Joke

Ze Meteorites are coming!

heh heh

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Thumb Up

All this doubt...

Many of you doubt the pea meteorite bouncing off the kid's hand.... what about the 3.9Kg monster blasting through the roof of a house and bouncing off the radio?

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