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Record Meteorite Hits Norway 281

Posted by Zonk
from the duck dept.
equex256 writes "Early Wednesday morning, a meteorite streaked across the sky in northern Norway, near Finland and Russia. A witness (Article in Norwegian) went up the mountain to where it hit and reported seeing large boulders that had fallen out of the mountainside, along with many broken trees. Norwegian astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard told Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, that he would compare the explosive force of the impact with the Hiroshima bomb. This meteorite is suspected to be much larger than the 90-kilo (198-pound) meteorite which hit Alta in 1904, previously recognized as the largest to hit Norway. From the article: 'Røed Ødegaard said the meteorite was visible to an area of several hundred kilometers despite the brightness of the midnight sunlit summer sky. The meteorite hit a mountainside in Reisadalen in North Troms.'"
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Record Meteorite Hits Norway

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  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:48PM (#15506914) Journal
    (See Niven and Pournelle for consequences of a larger one.)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:15PM (#15507005)
      Whenever the topic of meteors comes up, someone has to post a link to the University of Arizona impact effects calculator [arizona.edu]. Play with the numbers, see if you can destroy the earth.

      Also worth checking out along the Lucifer's hammer line of thought is How to Destroy the Earth [qntm.org]

      I tried a quick reverse engineering of the meteor with the calculator. An iron meteor 4.5 meters in diameter moving 20 km/s hitting crystalline rock at 45 degrees will have a yield of 18 kilotons...slightly higher than the atomic bomb detonated over Hiroshima. The average interval of an impact of this size on earth is about once every 5 years. Most go largely unnoticed. The earth is a big place.
      • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:27PM (#15507588) Homepage Journal
        I reversed the calculation to guess at how big the rock was that created the crater in Antarctica that was recently discovered, which is 300 miles across. I assumed that the asteroid had a fairly low density (porus rock). Assuming the object is travelling "slowly" (11 km/s), it would need to be 60 miles across to create a final crater of the necessary size. Even at 300 miles away (the edge of the crater), wind speeds would hit 8200 mph and the earth tremors would still be 11.3 on the Richter scale. A "typical" asteroid strike would be 17 km/s. To create the necessary crater, you'd be looking at a lump of rock 45 miles across. Most of the effects would be the same, except there would be a gigantic fireball. Again, at the crater's rim, you'd be looking at 8.53 x 10^10 joules/m^2 of energy for about 9110 seconds - enough to vaporize anything remotely close to the impact.


        Assuming typical velocity, an iron asteroid would be a mere 22 miles across. The radiation would only be two-thirds that of the porus asteroid at the same speed.


        If this was indeed the impact crater that triggered the initial phase of the Great Extinction, then the low density/high energy strike would produce vastly more heat and therefore affect the climate that much more.

    • Smilla Jasperson was not available for comment.
  • Giant Røck (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:49PM (#15506917)
    Do meteørites sound different with a slash through the middle?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:52PM (#15506925)
    Yeah its probably fake, but cool nonetheless:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4653448813 733199771&q=meteor [google.com]

    And for all you language nazis out there, meteorite is a silly word and should be abolished.
  • Hiroshima? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks&gmail,com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:52PM (#15506926) Homepage Journal
    I guess but if I recall correctly hiroshima did a little bit more then just "blow in some curtains". Even if accurate this is a pretty bad metaphor, the Hiroshima bomb brings on ideas of destruction and chaos. Even if you took the radiation aspect away from the Hiroshima bomb it still would have done far more damage. Guess the whole line of "location, location, location" really is true.
    • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by iamlucky13 (795185) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:01PM (#15506959)
      Of course the meteor would not have had any noteworthy radioactivity and was not in a populated area. I don't remember exactly how often it's estimated to happen and I can't find any sources, but meteors of this size hit the earth a lot more often than most people realize...something like between once a year and once a decade. The comparison to Hiroshima really is about the energy of the impact, not the destructiveness. Little boy had a yield equivalent to approximately 15,000 tons of TNT.
      • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Silverlancer (786390) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:05PM (#15506972)
        The curtains were something like 150km away from the meteor impact... I expect Hiroshima would have done similar at that range.
      • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dwater (72834)
        > Of course the meteor would not have had any noteworthy radioactivity and was not in a populated area

        How can you be so sure?

        I mean, if some people on Earth (it'd be the USA, of course), fire off a nuclear missile at Mars, I can just hear those Martians say, "It won't be radioactive".
      • Even if you took the radiation aspect away from the Hiroshima bomb it still would have done far more damage. Guess the whole line of "location, location, location" really is true.

        Of course the meteor would not have had any noteworthy radioactivity and was not in a populated area.

        Ah, a very insightfull retort.

        But you forgot to mention that the radioactive fallout would be much smaller, AND that the coordinates of the impact place it far from any city or industry.

    • I guess but if I recall correctly hiroshima did a little bit more then just "blow in some curtains". Even if accurate this is a pretty bad metaphor, the Hiroshima bomb brings on ideas of destruction and chaos. Even if you took the radiation aspect away from the Hiroshima bomb it still would have done far more damage. Guess the whole line of "location, location, location" really is true.


      Well, I hardly expect those curtains to be at ground-zero.
    • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nutria (679911) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:16PM (#15507011)
      I guess but if I recall correctly hiroshima did a little bit more then just "blow in some curtains".

      If Little Boy was detonated in the far northern mountains of Norway, it also would have had similar minimal effect.
    • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:4, Informative)

      by NewmanBlur (923584) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:20PM (#15507023) Homepage
      I've been to Hiroshima. The atomic bomb killed 140,000 people, if you include those who died of bomb-related injuries and illnesses, within (iirc) a year after the attack. If you increase that to five years, the number increases by many thousands, though I don't recall the exact number.

      The bomb levelled literally the entire city -- only one building remained, now referred to as the Genbaku Dome [worldheritagesite.org]. It's still standing, but it has been re-inforced with a steel structure to retain the shape it was in after the war.

      Anyway, the point is that even if this meteor was "substantially bigger" than the 200-pound record holder, I find it extremely hard to believe that it would do even a miniscule fraction of the what the A-bomb did.
      • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Schemat1c (464768) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:32PM (#15507062) Homepage
        Anyway, the point is that even if this meteor was "substantially bigger" than the 200-pound record holder, I find it extremely hard to believe that it would do even a miniscule fraction of the what the A-bomb did.

        It probably wouldn't be so hard to believe if it hit downtown Manhattan.
      • Re:Hiroshima? (Score:4, Informative)

        by gameforge (965493) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:28PM (#15507457) Journal
        I've been to Hiroshima.
        Then you know how densely populated it is...

        ...even if this meteor was "substantially bigger" than the 200-pound record holder, I find it extremely hard to believe that it would do even a miniscule fraction of the what the A-bomb did.

        In 1980, Mt. St. Helens caused the largest landslide in history... then proceeded to level everything within many miles. Trees brushed over like toothpicks... valleys buried to hundreds of feet in ejecta and ash... it blew the entire north slope of the mountain away.

        It had the force of 27,000 atomic bombs like the one dropped on Hiroshima (source [wikipedia.org]). It managed to kill all of 57 people.

        Please note that energy != destruction. If this meteorite crashed into Hiroshima, depending on the circumstances, the energy released on impact could have the potential to level the entire city and kill over 100,000 people.

        And if Mt. St. helens was located in the right spot in Japan, it could have taken out FAR more than this (think millions).
      • This one also flattened quite a bit of trees.

        Guess what, it makes a *difference* if you hit the centre of a densely populated city, or if you hit some mountains where the main casualties are trees in the surrounding. Hint: when there's -zero- buildings within 20km of the strike-zone it's not that surprising that the human casualties in this case was zero. (as far as we know anyway)

    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:30PM (#15507056) Homepage
      There is a difference in how the energy was distributed. With the A-Bomb, it was an atmospheric blast. With the space rock, the energy was absorbed into the Earths crust.
      • by Deadstick (535032) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:10PM (#15507215)
        Should be modded up. An airburst sends down a mongo shock wave that flattens structures over a big area (not to mention the radiation that isn't a factor in the case of a meteor impact). A ground impact/explosion "over-destroys" a much smaller area, using its energy to excavate a crater instead of knocking buildings down.

        The Tunguska event of 1908 devastated a really big area because it was an airburst: apparently a comet whose ice content flashed into steam when it hit the atmosphere.

        rj
        • Actually, airbursts are apparently quite common with even Iron metorites...

          Take the Meteor Crater [wikipedia.org] in Arizona for example. Throughout its history (after being discovered and acknowledged to be a impact from a space object) people thought they could find a rather large iron core. There were many owners of the site who set up drilling/mining projects so they could find the "grand prize" of this object.

          However, all this time they could never find this no matter how deep they went, but all over the site was plen
    • Now for the science! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gerf (532474)

      Only if the Hiroshima bomb was a dud. Seriously, a bomb unleashing 63 terajoules of energy (from wikipedia). Even if that rock was 300kg, that means that it would have to be travelling at 648,000m/s or about 1,500,000 mph, in order to have the same amount of energy. Heck, that's about .0022c!

      To say this guy overstated the impact is an understatement in itself.

      • Um, how can you make this calculation without knowing the mass of the meteorite. The article states that it was substantially larger than 90 kg, but the actual size it unknown.

        Substantially larger could be 300 kg, or it could be 3000 kg. That is a massive difference, a 3 metric ton rock would deliver a pretty substantial blow. More than likely they ARE overstating this a bit, but an explosion even a tenth that size would be quite substantial and the closest thing most readers could relate to would be an a
        • by gerf (532474)
          The point is, neither the readers, nor the authors can relate to an atomic bomb. They simply have no personal knowledge of such energy. Thus, it's a pointless analogy.
          • I disagree. Atomic bombs are the most energy our civilization can easily release in a short period of time. That nature smacks us as powerfully with a space rock somewhere randomly every five years or so is interesting.

          • The point is, neither the readers, nor the authors can relate to an atomic bomb

            I don't know about you, but I've heard that an atomic bomb was detonated in a populated area a couple times, and I understand it killed quite a few people and destroyed the cities. I'd say that's being able to relate to the power of an atomic bomb. You don't need "personal knowledge" to understand how destructive something can be, an imagination does wonders.

      • Only if the Hiroshima bomb was a dud. Seriously, a bomb unleashing 63 terajoules of energy (from wikipedia). Even if that rock was 300kg, that means that it would have to be travelling at 648,000m/s or about 1,500,000 mph, in order to have the same amount of energy. Heck, that's about .0022c!

        To say this guy overstated the impact is an understatement in itself.

        Where did you get the figure 300kg? You just made it up? Maybe someone can estimate the energy of the impact from seismometer readings, but your est
      • by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:01AM (#15507825)
        Perhaps you're mistaking entry mass for landing mass?

        A meteorite's surface vapourizes from reentry heat when it enters the atmosphere. If the meteorite is small enough, the entire object will be plasma long before it hits the ground; it takes a large or dense object to survive reentry, and even then much of it's mass is lost.

        That doesn't however mean that it disperses. There is at least one theory that a meteorite could hit the ground as a ball of plasma with a solid core, due to the surrounding air pressure preventing the superheated surface from dispersing even after it vapourizes. I seem to recall seeing this put forward for the Tunguska blast in Siberia. IANA Astrophysicist, so I don't know how fast the object would need to be moving, or how large it would have to be initially, to produce this effect.

        If that did happen, what would you use for your calculations? The mass of the meteorite wouldn't all be solid when it hit, and whatever material wasn't vapourized by descent or on impact would only make up a fraction of the mass present during the impact. The core might be 90kg, or 300kg, or whatever, but using that figure to calculated the speed the object on impact would be incorrect. You'd need to mass of the meteorite on reentry, minus whatever mass bled off during descent.

        However, I would agree that comparing the impact to an atomic bomb blast is silly. It's like comparing a firecracker explosion to a bullet impact - yes, you can say that one has X amount of energy and the other has Y (and you could probably calculate this by measuring the gunpowder present in each, and determining how much energy you get from burning it), but that comparison doesn't actually tell you anything useful, since the energy is applied in a very different fashion. It's comparing apples to oranges.
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:59PM (#15506948)
    Was it as big as the one that (supposedly) fell at Tunguska [wikipedia.org]? Although I'm still pretty sure that was caused by dark matter or a UFO or something.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@prae[ ]tator.com ['can' in gap]> on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:32PM (#15507061) Homepage
      Actually, I saw a paper presented back in the late 90's that fairly convincingly made the case for a mostly iron meteor. The author's contention was that the object slowed due to air resistance, it would heat up. As is heated, the metal would have softenned. As it softenned, the metal would start to pancake like a dum-dum bullet. As it pancakes, its air resistance increases, causing it to slow down even more and heat up even faster, causing it to pancake even more... until you get an airbirst at an altitude with on the order of magnitude suggested by the tree angles at Tunguska. If you acept his hypothesis about the meteor's composition, there were no major contradictions in the evidence.
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        As is heated, the metal would have softenned. As it softenned, the metal would start to pancake like a dum-dum bullet. As it pancakes, its air resistance increases, causing it to slow down even more and heat up even faster, causing it to pancake even more.

        I just can't see it working that way. The outer layers of the meteorite would turn to liquid and gas and carry off the heat generated by friction. Thermal conductivity is just too slow to heat up the core of a large body to the point where it will melt in

        • For the given model of the object, it works, but if you make other assumptions about it's composition, it doesn't. As you say, much depends upon just out of what the thing is made.
      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

        by Tablizer (95088)
        made the case for a mostly iron meteor. The author's contention was that the object slowed due to air resistance, it would heat up. As is heated, the metal would have softenned. As it softenned, the metal would start to pancake like a dum-dum bullet. As it pancakes, its air resistance increases, causing it to slow down even more and heat up even faster, causing it to pancake even more.

        Metal? Pancake? You sir have just described a flying saucer. So much for ending the Tungusta conspiracy theories :-)
  • by tool462 (677306) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:00PM (#15506950)
    he would compare the explosive force of the impact with the Hiroshima bomb.
    Yeah, but how many Libraries of Congress is that?
    • by TCQuad (537187) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:50PM (#15507142)
      Yeah, but how many Libraries of Congress is that?

      Well, Hiroshima was 15 kilotons [wikipedia.org] or 6.3x10^13 J and one burning Library of Congress is 7.3×10^14 J [slashdot.org], so ~8.5% of one LoC per meteor strike.

      Yeah, I'm going to go pretend I didn't just spend part of my Friday night researching that calculation now...
    • Yeah, but how many Libraries of Congress is that?

      Well, they sent it back through time, and of course the Library of Congress is much bigger in the future.

      So, just one actually.

      As to why the Library of Congress was sent back through time, you have to understand that in the future, books are fighting an endless war with Google, which by that time controls all information, or at least, all electronic information. The libraries managed to stop Google's plan to assimilate all printed matter in 2012, and h

    • Let's see. One Library of Congress (1 LoC) is generally equated with twenty terabytes (20 TB). If we assume that all the data is represented in a standard-font printout, then you can fit about 60 lines per page and about 100 characters per line, giving 6 kB per page. So 20 TB / (6 kB/page) = 3.58 * 10^9 pages. Now we know that a ream of paper weighs about 10 pounds. A ream is 500 sheets, so each kilopage weighs 20 lbs. (Assume we're printing single-sided to make this easier.) So 3.58 * 10^9 pp * 20 lb / kpp
  • by daeley (126313) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:01PM (#15506958) Homepage
    Steve Jobs's giant wallscreen sparkles to life. A visibly pale and shaken Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg appears with a panicked situation room full of Norwegian officials behind him.

    "Ah, Prime Minister, good," Jobs says with a trademarked smile. "I see you got our little message. Let's finish our chat about DRM regulations...."

    (reference [aftenposten.no])
  • by EGSonikku (519478) <petersen@mobile.gmail@com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:06PM (#15506976)
    Nø really! She was carving her initials intø the side øf a røck with a sharpened interspace tøøthbrush given tø her by Svenge -her brøther in law- an an øslø dentist and star øf many Nørweigan møvies: "The Høt Hands øf an øslø Dentist", "Fillings øf Passiøn", "The Huge Mølars øf Hørst Nørdfink"...

    Mynd you, Meteørite hits kan be pretti nasti .....
  • Pictures (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ATH500 (872417) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:08PM (#15506982) Homepage Journal
    Here is the website of the newspaper and pictures of the meteorite in the sky and the impact: http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article134 6820.ece [aftenposten.no]
  • Welcome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by joh_tank (856841)
    I for one, welcome our new chondrite overlords!
  • by nstlgc (945418) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:13PM (#15506998)
    .. what we're really concerned about: Høw many møøses gøt killed?
  • by eweu (213081)
    Steve Jobs [slashdot.org] has "contacts" all over the universe, I guess.
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:27PM (#15507046) Homepage
    I wonder (1) how recent and what resolution Google Earth's latest imagery is, and (2) can we get them to take another shot ASAP and compare them?
    • Uh, this may come as a surprise, but Google actually does not own a massive network of multi-billion-dollar imaging satellites. All the images on Google Earth are cobbled together from various collections of satellite and aerial photographs, and are anywhere from one to ten years old. New images will be available whenever somebody else takes them, and once Google gets a hold of them.
  • Fiction or Reality? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Yehooti (816574)
    Though we've seen this information posted multiple places on the www, considering the nature of this beast how can anyone know if it's factual or not?
  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:10PM (#15507216) Homepage
    We had one of these a few weeks ago in south east New Mexico. The explosion shook the house. People that did see it said it was the 'size of a dinner plate' before it exploded. Unfortunately nobody had a camera handy. Didn't get much media coverage at all.
    • by PapayaSF (721268)
      The evening of December 24th, 1995 I was soaking in one of the famous cliffside hot tubs at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. I heard a jetlike roar coming towards us from over the hills to the east. I looked up and saw, nearly overhead, what looked like the flame of welding torch, looking roughly an inch and a half or so long at arm's length, and quite low, perhaps 500-600 feet. At first I thought it was a jet fighter on afterburner, but I couldn't see a silhouette of an aircraft against the stars. As it pa
  • Based on the guy in the photo, the story seems to be about some Norwegian relative of Steve Ballmer.
  • What, Superman is released soon...next there will be reports of flying men with capes originating from the meteor's site?
  • by Hamster Lover (558288) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:07PM (#15507396) Journal
    When I seven I was in our very large backyard swinging on our swingset with my friends one summer when we saw this streak of light high in the sky. It was only visible for a few seconds, but as we watched the streak grew brighter until it streaked over the roof of our house. About twenty or thirty feet above the ground it seemed to disintigrate with a popping sound. We searched the backyard for debris but didn't find anything. The meteorite was so small that I am not surprised, but it sure was bright for something so small. That was very cool. Even our neighbor on the hill above us came running down and said he saw the meteorite and wondered if it hit our house.

    Years later as a teenager I was sleeping out on our deck to avoid the summer heat inside the house and I was woken by this shrieking sound, like fireworks, except much louder. I jumped up and saw a very bright, long streak of light screaching across the sky over the lake our house overlooked. As the meteor approached the ground the screaching got louder and higher in pitch until it seemed to "pop" into nothingness. Besides the incredibly high pitched shriek, I was awed by how bright the meteor was as it lit up our deck like a very bright lantern.

    Obviously, both these meteorites do not compare in size to the one that hit Norway, but it was still an awe inspiring sight.
  • When it comes out the other side, will it be a dupe?
  • If around the meteor there's oddly a huge amount of worms that morph for days into two-head lizards, dragons and blue monkeys, get the hell outta there.
  • There goes my profits from selling Meteor Insurance.
           
  • Record setting? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by raider_red (156642) on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:51PM (#15507654) Journal
    Two issues with this. First, I think whatever hit Tunguska was probably bigger. Second, unless this thing kills most of the major species on earth, it's probabaly nowhere near the record.

    It may be the biggest confirmed meteor though.
  • Whoa whoa whoa...

    Where's Pat Robertson? I need his opinion! Who's immorality caused this?

    I bet it was those people over at digg....
  • by KFury (19522) * on Saturday June 10, 2006 @01:55AM (#15507949) Homepage
    Technically a meteorite didn't streak across the sky; a meteor streaked across the sky. Once it hits Earth the pieces are meteorites, and before it entered the atmosphere it was an asteroid.

    Saying a meteorite streaked across the sky is like saying ham likes to wallow in the mud.
  • The Witness (Score:3, Funny)

    by Frightening (976489) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @07:47AM (#15508633) Homepage
    After climbing a little higher, he found a large, glowing piece of rock. He walked around it, astonished, and from one angle you could see an unmistakable engraving on the side.

    LEAVE THE PIRATES ALONE

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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