[meteorite-list] Teenager Hit by 'Meteorite' Seeks Expert Opinion
Ron Baalke baalke at zagami.jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Aug 27 12:41:41 EDT 2002
http://www.news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=5119998 Teenager Hit by 'Meteorite' Seeks Expert Opinion By Lia Hervey, PA News August 27, 2002 A teenager today told how she was struck by a possible meteorite as she was waiting outside her family home. Siobhan Cowton from Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was about to get into her family car at 10.30am on Thursday last week when something fell out of the sky and hit her on her foot. At first the 14-year-old thought the odd looking stone had been thrown at her by a child, but then she looked closer and realised it was not your average garden gravel. "I looked at it again and it had a black and grey colour with a shiny bubble surface," she said. The stone also felt hot as the teenager picked it up. After closer inspection by her father Niel, and comparison with pictures on the Internet, Siobhan has decided to get the stone checked by scientists and plans to take it to Durham University. If it is a piece of rock from outer space, Siobhan says she will consider putting it up for auction. On the other hand, she might keep it. "If it isn't worth anything then I suppose I will keep it myself for sentimental value. It is not every day that you are hit by a meteorite," she said.
When meteorites aren't
By Marco Langbroek About A/CC's mention last Friday of an "apparently uncorroborated report" of an English teenager being hit by a small meteorite in August 2002, it is apparent from the BBC photo, and even more apparent from a more detailed Ananova photo, that this was not a meteorite. I am 100% certain this is a piece of iron smelting slag, which can be found all over the countryside. It is the refuse of former iron smelting activities, some even dating back to medieval times. Apart from the object's visual appearance, a number of items in the BBC story do not ring true. First was that it "looked rusty." A fresh meteorite would not be rusty. Second, that it was "quite hot." Meteorites, and certainly such small ones, are not hot when they reach Earth's surface. And third, if this was, as reported, a direct hit, a true meteorite would have broken foot bones. It would be similar to stopping a bullet with your foot. Note also that there was no media follow-up reporting authentication, and no classification has been published in the Meteoritical Bulletin. I personally investigated some similar stories where the fallen object certainly was not a meteorite. There are several possibilities as to how a terrestrial rock can apparently fall from the sky: 1. Some birds carry, and drop, stones and other objects. 2. Naughty little urchins throwing stones. 3. Naughty little urchins with catapults. 4. Stones dropping from the undercarriage of airplanes. This last can do damage. In a case I investigated some years ago, a little girl received a glancing blow from a piece of runway asphalt. Although it just grazed her forehead, she needed stitches. One more inch and it could have been fatal. Marco Langbroek is a professional archaeologist and an amateur meteor astronomer active with the Dutch Meteor Society. He is published on topics as diverse as Neanderthals and comet dust trails. See A/CC news last Thursday and the news Index for more of his writing.
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