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Meteorite Hunters Find the West Texas Fireball

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the sweet-dreams-and-flying-machines-in-pieces-on-the-ground dept.

Space 64

An anonymous reader writes "A fireball streaked over Austin, Texas on February 15 producing sonic booms and startling people for hundreds of miles. The video of the event was shown on national television and viewed by thousands of people on the Net. The first news reports speculated that the fireball might have been debris from a February 13th collision between two satellites over Siberia but space experts said that the object was probably a meteor. Now this has been confirmed: experienced meteorite hunters located a strewnfield about 120 miles north of the filming site of the Austin cameraman and have recovered over 100 freshly fallen meteorites."

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64 comments

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (1)

Bordgious (1378477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061377)

Astronomy nerd style!

Re:Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (1)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062441)

as opposed to what? pole dancer style?

Debunked? (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062445)

Debunked? http://www.wkyt.com/news/headlines/39627192.html [wkyt.com]

As for the "flashes" that were reported, Dr. Ciocca says there are some types of satellites that have reflective surfaces. These are called iridium satellites and they emit flashes in the sky when the sun's rays strike them at the right angle. He says many astronomy hobbyists even track those sorts of satellites.

Re:Debunked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27072709)

Wow, you do a LOT of first post whoring!

Pure speculation... (4, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061499)

...but I wonder if it had anything to do with this [slashdot.org] . Perhaps the asteroid has passed this way before and was broken into smaller chunks by gravity. Would be interesting to see if someone could figure out the fireballs tragectory.

Re:Pure speculation... (0, Offtopic)

chromas (1085949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061697)

Posting to undo my accidental offtopic mod. Sorry.

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061703)

Thanks, was a WTF moment for me as you can see by my other reply.

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Interesting)

beav007 (746004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061845)

Posting to undo my accidental offtopic mod. Sorry.

People continue to deny that this is an issue, but it happens often enough that it clearly is. I have noticed that it especially becomes a problem when using trackpads.

CmdrTaco: Please can you fix this now? Please?

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Interesting)

chromas (1085949) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061923)

I am using a trackpad, but it was the arrow key this time, due to scrolling while the combobox was selected. There's a drawback to replacing the "Moderate!" button with javascript without having an Undo feature.

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063055)

"CmdrTaco: Please can you fix this now? Please?"

Looks like your subscription has expied, as had mine until just now...

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063127)

I wish to heck I knew how the mod point system worked. I used to get them on a weekly basis. Haven't had any in over a year now.

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Informative)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063261)

I get mod points all the time, to the point that they get really annoying. I don't know the formula but I think it is related to current karma (currently Excellent), recent posting activity and any resulting moderations, plus metamoderation activity.

Since the switch to the firehouse-like metamoderation I haven't done it lately. And yet I am still getting moderator points every week or so. Sometimes it is only 5 if I have been inactive or acting rather trollish, but most of the time it is 15. I have 9 unused points right now.

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064089)

My karma's excellent, I post regularly, and metamod. I was fair and didn't abuse the mod points when I had them. I haven't had mod points in over two years, and I'm not happy about it. What's the deal?

Re:Pure speculation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27065179)

You post regularly... If you want mod points, don't post so much.

Re:Pure speculation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27069853)

If someone has ever complained about your account, you might have been flagged for no mod points, although that sounds too long. It's not worth it for them to investigate, just flag the account and move on. I notice that I lost my points a while back, then I remembered someone saying they had written to the administrators. He was the nut-job, not me, so I was going to request reinstatement after many months. Things returned to normal before I got around to it.

I guess I felt strange asking to be given work by Slashdot. I could live without it - but you want to be asked.

Re:Pure speculation... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063287)

Slashdot moderation was designed by a hot, sultry, bodacious female programmer from Sweden. If you can unravel that oxymoronic delusional enigma, therein lies your answer.

Re:Pure speculation... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27061737)

Meteorites fall all the time. Just because a 30-meter asteroid makes the news, it doesn't suddenly make it the origin of every meteorite.

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061805)

Thank you captain obvious [google.com.au]

Re:Pure speculation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27074303)

The definition says you need "incomplete" or "little" evidence. You had no evidence. The term you are looking for is "random statement".

Re:Pure speculation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27065283)

Wouldn't it freak everybody out if it crashed in a cemetery, and among the sprinkling of space dust and meteors they found bone fragments the farther down they dig...

Re:Pure speculation... (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061943)

If it had broken up before it entered the atmosphere, it would have been much more widely scattered. Very small aerodynamic effects around the rocks way up in the upper atmosphere would cause their entry trajectories to be very different... the individual rocks would likely have landed hundreds of miles apart, not clustered around a single farmer's field.

In other words, in such circumstances the Butterfly Effect has vastly more influence on small, irregular objects than it is on, say, a large, smooth, symmetrical, engineered re-entry vehicle.

Qualification (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061955)

of course it does depend on the size of the fragments... if they were large, the effect would be smaller.

Re:Qualification (1)

eat here_get gas (907110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062657)

i thought i knew what the Butterfly Theory (or more properly the "Chaos Theory") involved, but invoking it the way you did in your post makes me wonder if I mis-understand the actual implications. care to elaborate as to how the size of an object influences said Effect?

Re:Qualification (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062907)

The Butterfly Effect refers to chaos theory, which states that, at a macroscopic level, large changes can be brought about in a system by factors that are relatively very small. This is often illustrated by relating the flapping of a butterfly's wings on one side of the Earth to the follow on effects leading to a hurricane on the other side of the planet.

I don't think it was the parent that referred to the effect wrongly, but the initial post where it was used to explain that smaller objects would be affected more than large objects. While this is true, it is not, in my view, really an appropriate use of the principle.

Re:Qualification (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27073213)

I was the one referring to it, and I know what it means. Another way of putting it is "a situation, the outcome of which can vary widely and is very sensitive to initial conditions".

I brought it up to point out the fact that an irregular bunch of small rocks, even if they entered the upper atmosphere together, would be scattered very widely by the time they struck... if they were ever strike at all.

Re:Qualification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27074313)

I understood your point, however the phrase "butterfly effect" I feel does not apply appropriately to this scenario, even though it refers to the principle that you are alluding to.

Usually the butterfly effect is used to refer to disparate systems that have influence over each other, small changes in one following on into large changes in the other or others. This is a single event, and, to me (and I concede that this is totally subjective) the invocation of the phrase "butterfly effect" seems contextually out of place.

- MrNaz

Re:Qualification (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062911)

Consider a 5 meter ball of steel hurtling toward the N pole. At the same altitude over the S pole is a single Iron atom hurtling toward Earth at the same speed. They will both hit the atmosphere at the same time without influencing each other.

The 5 meter ball will make a direct hit on Santa wiping out any Elves within a considerable radius.

The Iron atom on the other hand will start hiting single atoms/molecules. Suppose you could somehow freeze every atom in it's place before the Iron atom hit the atmosphere until it, hit the ground. (go away chemists).

If you have ever played pool you will understand how increadibly acurate that first contact the Iron atom makes would need to be to hit a five meter target on the ground.

Re:Qualification (1)

eat here_get gas (907110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063385)

well, not being a phyicist (but interested in physics), i still don't see how the size of an objects matters in relation to the effect rendered. just because an object is larger (more mass, right?), it's effect is larger as well?

Re:Qualification (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063665)

The chaos in my example relates to accuracy not the energy of the impact. WP is your friend search on - "chaos theory" and then look at "dynamic equilibrium" or alternativly take up pool playing. ;)

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062771)

Good points. Military Radar if (say) NASA asked politely?

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065565)

In a word: No
Objects in orbit don't really change direction in radically unpredictable ways.

Consider the asteroid 99942 Apophis [wikipedia.org] . There was some concern that it would hit Earth in 2029, but it has been determined that it will not. However, we also know that it will hit Earth in 2036 if (in 2029) it passes through a specific area a little under 2000 feet wide.

If we can calculate the probability of a specific asteroid hitting Earth 20-30 years from now, surely we can do it with one that is much closer?

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

meadowsoft (831583) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068165)

Unless the asteroid in question is small enough that it falls into the "OMFG HOW DID WE MISS THAT?!?! WE'RE DOOMED!!!" category. I can have a small asteroid knocking on our doorstep (a few hundred thousand kilometers, astronomically speaking) and still not be able to see it with the vast majority of instrumentation in our arsenal today.

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27074399)

"Objects in orbit don't really change direction in radically unpredictable ways."

I think you're missing where I'm coming from [wikipedia.org] . A solid rock will indeed act as you have stated (pool table mechanics), but what if some of it was not so solid and it started to crumble under the gravity of close planetary (solar?) fly-by's, say a hundred orbits ago.

Coincidently, the "n-body problem" is a classical example of the "butterfly effect" (mentioned by Jane Q Public above).

I have absolutely no evidence that this is what happened but the same is also true for your "In a word: No" assertion. ;)

Re:Pure speculation... (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068615)

...but I wonder if it had anything to do with this [slashdot.org] .

Are you suggesting an asteroid conspiracy?

OOOH, that West Texas Fireball... (0, Offtopic)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061525)

Sorry I was thinking this was a post about a small taco stand that kept me up 'till the early morning last Saturday.

Re:OOOH, that West Texas Fireball... (0, Offtopic)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061591)

Well, your user name is close to the verb "retch". This event must be pretty burned in your memory, so that's understandable.

Re:OOOH, that West Texas Fireball... (0, Offtopic)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061745)

I've updated my calender, I'll give this a laugh a week from next Monday. Until then...

Re:OOOH, that West Texas Fireball... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062141)

thanks for informing us

Re:OOOH, that West Texas Fireball... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063863)

What a coincidence - that's the same day I had scheduled to laugh at your original post!

According to the summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27061551)

... over 100 freshly fallen meteorites have been recovered on the spot. Just how many fell?

And no, I haven't RTFA.

Re:According to the summary... (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063213)

I think the theory is that either the meteorite shattered on impact,/ or broke up close to the surface due to external factors i.e entry into the Earth's atmosphere etc. Rather than multiple meteorites.

West, Texas, not West Texas (5, Informative)

Dahan (130247) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061553)

The town is named West, and it's not actually in West Texas [google.com] --it's more Central Texas.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (3, Informative)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 5 years ago | (#27061811)

Thanks for pointing that out. Having family in west Texas, I was wondering why I hadn't heard about this. Incidentally, if you're ever driving through West, the kolaches at the Czech Stop there are worth stopping for.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062637)

Off topic, but I boycotted West after a bakery denied service to a Muslim woman.

Just a small mention of this [go.com] and they use "west" like the area, but it was West.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (1, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062927)

They shouted at her, "Don't eat that sausage roll !" ?

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (0, Offtopic)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063555)

To all my fellow Cezhs in Texas also reared off Gerber kolaches and Shiner from a plastic nipple, you'll want to make these pilgramiges somtime in your lifetime; Schulenberg, Caldwell, Ennis, and West (downtown), in that order, all in Texas. And perchance you happen upon a store carrying "sausage kolaches"; that is an abomination to any pure blooded Czech. Flee for your life, and your heritage. "sausage kolaches" are a myth, much like "stimulus spending" or "Crisco light". True Czechs call "sausage kolaches" pigs in a blanket. Politely leave the store, come back, and watch the steam sizzle off the door as you sprinkle holy water upon it. Uz nic, dekuji.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27064323)

Wild stuff. My wife is from Texas, and on my first "pilgrimage" to the mother country she took me to a kolache place on the way from Dallas to Austin; probably the place to which you refer. The other requisite experience was eating glazed donuts at Shipley's. Fantastic, by the way. Krispy Kreme is krap in komparison.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27073587)

I came here to tell people to get kolaches at the Czech Stop. I stop there whenever I'm in central Texas and they're always even better than I remembered them being. It's in what looks like a convenience store right on the east side of I-35 access road in West.

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062909)

Texans can't get anything right. ;)

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067835)

The town is named West, and it's not actually in West Texas--it's more Central Texas.

But then, this is a kdawson story, after all!

Re:West, Texas, not West Texas (1)

rakslice (90330) | more than 5 years ago | (#27087213)

I think kdawson's Google is broken...

Over 100? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27061561)

Heh! It was OVER 9000!!!!!!!!!!!11!11oneoneoneeleven

greets from /b/ and good morning y'all

It's all a Lie! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27061637)

If you were using your eyes for a second and watch the video, you will realize it's not a meteor.
Like the article title said "fireball" but I saw some kind of light in it.

Then look at the 3rd picture(rock made a small impact pit). Somebody put that rock there, made a little hole just perfect for his old sample collected some years ago. I have seen dried up land like that before. So where did that big fireball go? they only found little stones.

Then get this "Professional Meteorite Hunters"(NASA and CIA!!!).
How often do we get hit by a meteor? Rarely.

Feed the Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063355)

How could one be hit by a meteor? Meteorites, OTOH...

Re:Feed the Trolls (4, Informative)

krystar (608153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064719)

well technically, you could get hit by a meteor. a meteor doesn't become a meteorite until it lands on the ground. if you got hit by the falling object, that'd be a meteor hit. if it impacted ground and fragmented into debris and hit you, then it'd be a meteorite hit.

one Springfield resident.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27061815)

...was overheard saying, "i like my beer cold, my music loud, and my texas fireballs fffflamin' !"

The real culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062191)

Fireballs and sonic booms? That means Ryu and Guile were at it on Texas.

The story is a lie. (2, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065225)

It was a UFO, not a meteor!
This story about finding "meteorites" is just a government coverup!

Aliens walk among us.
The Rapture is near.

-

Re:The story is a lie. (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065609)

Obviously the poor souls who found it got their brains eaten.

UFO != alien. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27066115)

Unidentified means exactly what it means: it's unidentified. If it was an alien, then it no longer is a UFO. I've seen plenty of UFOs. aliens? Not a single one.

Re:UFO != alien. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27073741)

Your sense of humor may have been removed via anal probe.

US government != TRUTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27076437)

Well, they've been identified already :
F16-dodging, EMP-producing "weather balloons"
Mach 10 velocity, right-angle turning "chinese lanterns"
Radioactive-producing "meteorites" that suddenly decide to go back up the air ..
Collective hallucinations, for those documented cases that go as early as the 5th millenia BC.

That is, if you believe the official US stories ... checked up official news sources of Chile, Iran, Norway ?

Re:The story is a lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27072109)

Could have been one of these eleven ufo's spotted above washington. Wed 4th Mar 09
ITN News, straight after the short advert.

http://itn.co.uk/news/a103e94be99113efcb3ca4c37cb942eb.html

midwest farms a productive source of meteorites (3, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065933)

I've heard of number of "hunters" who strap a magnetometer on their ATVs and criss-cross fallow fields looking for iron-stones within the top couple feet. This is the easiest terrain to routinely run ATVs over. Teh slashdot-types whould automate this with GPS and artificial intelligence.
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