It’s Raining WHAT? (Part Two)
[Originally published July 29, 2010.]
Some would say it’s raining meteorites. There are literally tons upon tons upon tons of space rock floating around in space and it’s only a matter of time before a chunk of it lands on your car, your home or your noodle. In fact, it’s been happening since the beginning of time and will continue to happen long after we humans move on to someplace else.
According to astronomer Alan Harris, a person has a one in 700,000 chance of being killed by a meteorite, or experiencing a fatal “asteroid impact,” as he puts it, in the course of his or her lifetime. Fairly small odds, no doubt, yet those odds are better than winning the lottery and folks win the lottery every day (just not you). According to the book “Death from the Skies,” the Earth is pummeled by 20-40 tons of meteors each day — enough, according to the book, to fill a 6-story office building each year. On the other hand, humans don’t actually occupy that much of the Earth’s surface: three quarters of the Earth’s surface is water, while quite a bit of land is either lightly populated or not populated at all. You’d think most of the space rock would rarely have an impact on humans. For the most part you’d be right.
However, after having his home on the business end of falling meteorites six times in almost four years, Radivoje Lajic would disagree. In fact, he would argue that his house has become a target for meteorite-pitching aliens and he’d like to know what he’s done to annoy them (the aliens). Even a non-statistician knows that once you’ve been targeted by aliens hurtling meteorites in your direction, you have to remove yourself from the 1/700,000 statistically random ratio. Ain’t nothing random once you’re a target.
Why is YourWeatherBlog, a blog devoted chiefly to blogging about the weather, writing about meteorites? Because Mr. Lajic states that the meteorites only strike his house when it’s raining. He says he can’t sleep during a rainy night for fear of the next meteorite strike. Whether a rain event would lessen or increase the odds of a strike for Mr. Lajic is still being discussed by the statisticians. As a meteorologist, I’m left to ponder WHY the rain would lead to a meteorite strike. In last week’s blog about “raining marijuana” I thought it was unlikely but possible that small bits of marijuana might act as condensation nuclei at the center of a raindrop. If so, then technically it could “rain” marijuana. However due to their size, the cosmic stones raining down upon the Lajic household cannot be considered condensation nuclei. There must be some other meteorological connection between the rain and the meteorites. Or maybe not (most likely). Let’s not forget that Mr. Lajic is already a target; the aliens already know where he lives. Perhaps the aliens are simply using the cover of the stormy skies to conceal their presence and the windup — two fingers on the top seam for a curve; fingernails of the first three fingers dug into the seams, thumb at the bottom, pinkie to the side for a knuckle; or index on the trailing seam and the other fingers on the laces for a nice, tight spiral.
Finally, meteor vs. meteorite vs. meteoroid. What’s the difference? A meteor is the visible trace of a meteoroid in space while a meteorite is a former meteoroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere and survived the impact with the Earth’s surface.