Watching the world fly by

You knew I would be giddy about the Russian meteorite. 

It just fueled the fire of my fascination with all the strange things floating around out there, largely beyond our reach and completely beyond our control. I love it when science fiction turns into science.

So let’s review the main thing we learned from all this. That’s right. We now know that an asteroid becomes a meteor when it enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up. If you’ve seen a shooting star, you’ve seen a meteor. But meteorites are meteors that make it all the way to Earth’s surface. Write it down. Remember it. This could be important at your next cocktail party or in-home trivia game. It will also be helpful when you write the obituary for your Uncle Boris who lives in meteorite-heavy Siberia.

I was glued to the Internet for hours, scrutinizing every different bit of footage on the Chelyabinsk sky show. What else did I learn? That Russians are either asleep at the wheel or have nerves of steel. Here comes an unexpected, enormous ball of fire screaming across the sky, in some cases in the direction of their windshield. Do they slam on the brakes? Nyet. Do they even slow down or alter their path in any way? Not that I saw. Tell me again — how did we win the Cold War? No wonder our former foes made such terrific villains in so many books and movies.

Based on the sound tracks from most of the meteorite footage, however, the Russians have atrocious taste in drive-time music. It made you almost grateful for the huge explosion that drowned it out.

And then there was the broken glass. It gave me the willies just to hear people crunching through it and watch doctors tweezing bits out of people’s faces. Which brings me to our final lesson for the day. If you see even a medium-sized fireball come flying out of nowhere and streak across the sky, duck and cover! You can catch the reruns later on everyone else’s cell phone or dashboard camera. You can borrow it while they are getting the glass removed from their nostrils.



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