Thursday, September 27, 2007

Meteorite mystery deepens

It seemed that a rare natural fluke may have occurred, whereby a red-hot rock from the sky plowed into an underground water supply and let off a plume of noxious, mineral-tainted smoke.

But, scientists are still wary of the determination by Peruvian experts that the event that occurred near Lake Titicaca was really the crash of a meteorite.

Physicist David L. Griscom argues that not only does the smoke plume not fit the typical meteorite profile, but that the fireball was far out of line with what would be expected of a massive object hurtling into the stratosphere at a typical meteorite speed of 10 to 20 kilometers per second. The object should have "lit up brighter than day in the stratosphere" rather than becoming visible a mere 1000 meters from the surface, as was reported.

Also, the long-duration sound heard by locals is not typical of meteorite strikes, Griscom told me. Of course, we can't be sure how bright the fireball was, nor when it initially appeared, nor how long the sound lasted. As is well known, witness recollections are highly subjective, especially when it comes to sudden, freak events.

Possibly local scientists were mistaken about a meteorite strike and that a subsurface geothermal event somehow created a boiling crater, making noise and, along with rubble, throwing fiery, molten material that was mistaken for fireballs.
But local scientists and authorities have said nothing about molten matter.
Importantly, Peruvian seismic equipment registered an impact at the site, according to a local scientist.

Investigating scientists did say that the rock they had recovered was consistent with a meteorite, being high in iron content. But, the sample was much more rocky than usual, lacking the metallic "glue" that usually helps space rocks survive descent through the atmosphere, according to Jacob Silverman, who wrote two good synopses for How stuff works that appeared today on that site. The urls are

Silverman points out that scientists seem to think that meteorites don't arrive hot, but lukewarm or cold. For one thing, meteorites generally don't spark fires when they land in a forest or a house. But, there is a question as to whether the water really did boil for a while or whether villagers were too excited to give accurate details.

Please see my previous post "Pravda now a joke" and the item concerning a "war satellite" at the bottom of the post "Spooks clash..."

To recap, seismic equipment registered an impact, but details of the crash are wildly at variance with typical meteor crashes. So maybe it was a satellite. But if so, the locals who suffered from noxious inhalations seem to be fine now. So then, perhaps they weren't suffering from radiation sickness. But then, what made the water boil?

I'm sure the UFO researchers are champing at the bit. A case for The X-Files, I'm sure.

So do these oddities validate Pravda's decision to run Sorcha Faal's piece? Not in my mind. Why not run something by a journalist who doesn't also specialize in weird stuff, such as wrapping up the Israeli attack on Syria in some mythological stuff about an ancient burial ground of giants being visited by extraterrestrial vehicles?

Sept. 28 update
New Scientist has a story today that covers much of the same material as the post above.

Another weird conspiracy theory
that I don't vouch for came across my desk. Here it is:

China was incensed at Israel's bombing run that hit North Koreans at a Syrian military installation Sept 6. So Beijing paid back by using one or more of its new satellite-killer missiles to knock out either an Israeli or American spy satellite -- and then played dumb! Just like the Israelis and Bush after the Israeli strike.
The Israelis and Bush knew that if they complained openly, they'd be put in an impossible diplomatic situation, so they grimaced and played dumb too.

Somewhere along the line a wrong energy figure for the seismic recording crept in, it seems. However, the figure of 4.9 tons of TNT quoted by AP may very well be inaccurate. I'll take a further look soon.

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