Friday, June 12, 2009

Teenager hit by 30k mph meteorite!


I mean, what are the chances?! Well according to this article in the UK Telegraph a million to one.

Gerrit Blank was on his way to school when he saw "ball of light" heading straight towards him from the sky. He felt a searing pain in his hand, was thrown several feet and almost deafened by the blast as a pea sized rock blasted out a hole in the pavement. Estimates have the speed of the small meteorite at apx. 30 thousand miles per hour. It made a 1 foot crater and a nasty three-inch long scar on his hand.

According to the article, what makes this strike unusual is:
  • The only other known example of a human being surviving a meteor strike happened in Alabama, USA, in November 1954 when a grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of a house, bounced off furniture and landed on a sleeping woman.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really, do think it was going 30k when it hit him? Get real.

Beam Me Up said...

Oh and just exactly how much energy IS needed to scoop out a 1 foot crater by something that masses as much as a pea? And mind you it had that amount of energy AFTER it scraped his hand. Think about it for a second. It left a shock wave powerful enough to pick a teenage boy up and throw him several feet and blast out a sizable hole. Plus he said it was VERY bright. That tells me that there was a very high incidental velocity and massive air resistance was still taking place. Now there is negligible mass so exactly where DID that energy come from. Orbital is 25k so what is so surprising about 30k? Remember he saw it coming not heard it. So we can assume that it was well past the speed of sound. Finally it scraped down his hand and made a crater for all intents at his feet. That means the angle of attack was 90 meaning that the atmosphere had almost no time to slow it appreciably. Nope, I am not at all at odds with the speed.

Chrystal K. said...

That’s crazy. How did it bury itself so deep into the ground and not severely hurt the boy’s hand?

Beam Me Up said...

It didn't if you notice the article says that it left a 3 inch long burn down his hand. It may in fact never have hit him at all. anything that hot would have a fairly intense ionization field around it that could like a welder burn simply by proximity

Zed said...

what about terminal velocity?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_velocity

Beam Me Up said...

Zed, that is a excellent question. As we know...Terminal Velocity is the maximum unpowered speed that an object can reach while falling through through an atmosphere. Factors at work are air density, gravity, aerodynamics and to some extent forward velocity. Since we are talking about Earth we consider the air and gravity as normal, so what plays here is aerodynamics and the forward speed. Since the item was small and I suspect round, aero-breaking was not an issue. However the very high speed of the object at the top of the atmosphere means that it made the transition in .0026 seconds. Even terminal velocity of 33.3 feet per second /second doesnt come into play at these speeds because all of the terminal velocities start with a 0 velocity.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm now more impressed on how lucky this kid is that he didn't take a real hit. It would have tunneled him and still never actually touched him on the way to the concrete.

Beam Me Up said...

my thinking is that it is a lot like getting hit with lightening... afterward you are lucky just to be alive and grateful that this was ALL that happened....

ThinkMTB said...

The energy of this pea sized meteorite is feasible, the 1 foot hole in the ground would give the pea a energy of more than a .44cal magnum bullet. He was lucky that it was a glancing blow and not a full body hit. At 30k mph to something like 1500 to 3300 feet per second, (over the speed of sound) would most likely be described in this manner as to what he saw. The meteorite was most likely twice to three times the size when it encountered our atmosphere, it had about 100 miles to slow down. The earth gets hit thousands of times each day by stuff from the size of a grain of sand to football sized objects. Don't forget humans have put a lot of junk into orbit also, loose stuff like washers to satellites the size of school buses, it all will come down sometime. The orbital stuff is moving at 17,500 or more depends on the altitude. Chicken little was right.

Beam Me Up said...

Don't get me started on space junk ThinkMTB!!! Never thought about that, but you are correct this could very well have been space garbage. I am going to show my lack of knowledge here, but I wonder at 100 miles, just how much areobreaking is taking place? My first reaction is to put the top of the significant atmosphere column at about 75 -80 miles...so realistically we are only taking about a small percentage. More of curiosity really.

Paul