WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, July is the beginning of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest period of the year. But you know what’s cool on a hot day? Knowledge. Grab a tall glass of lemonade, settle down in a hammock under a shady tree, and let Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings set you straight on some shamefully persistent misinformation about hot stuff.

The Debunker: Are Meteorites White-Hot When They Land?

First of all, let’s settle this “shooting stars” thing once and for all. Feel free to make a wish on a streak of light in the night sky, but what you’re seeing is, of course, not a star. It’s a meteoroid—a small chunk of a comet or an asteroid. When the meteoroid enters the atmosphere, friction produces a burst of light and heat, which we call a meteor. If the whole thing doesn’t burn up during its descent, a fragment of rock may fall to Earth, at which point it becomes a meteorite. Got it? The order is asteroid -> meteoroid -> meteor -> meteorite.

wheeeee

The Earth gains 100 tons worth of tiny meteoroid dust every day, including almost 20,000 meteorites greater than 3.5 ounces in mass. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that some of those “shooting stars” must be massive fireballs, like in a sci-fi disaster movie. Why don’t we hear more about grass fires or forest fires caused by meteorites?

Here’s the disappointing truth: when meteorites come to Earth, they don’t make a very dramatic splash. NASA explains that rocky asteroids are poor conductors of heat, so even as the outer layers of the “falling star” burn away due to atmospheric friction, the center remains quite cool. (Remember that the meteorite is coming from millions of years in deep space, at temperatures around a hundred degrees below zero.) The only times that recently fallen meteorites have been observed to be white, it’s not because they were white-hot. In fact, they were covered in frost!

Quick Quiz: Shooting Star was a 2012 EP by electronica musician Adam Young. Young records, and has charted hits like “Fireflies,” under what name?

Ken Jennings is the author of six books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

tumor20


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tumor20

owl city

whatsamattaU


quality posts: 1069 Private Messages whatsamattaU
tumor20 wrote:owl city



A squarryl nailed it. I did an eighth grade project on meteorites. Ah, good times.

hc4dan


quality posts: 0 Private Messages hc4dan

Most meteors fall into the water where they are gathered by the Mighty Betta Koi. They will one day be used as resources to take over the land thereby crushing the V'owls and the Squarrlys. It is then that they will then take their rightful place as rulers of the world.

7/11/14 Birthday Celebration TAKITTEI

Zwilrich


quality posts: 1 Private Messages Zwilrich

"friction produces a burst of light and heat"
Isn't the heating produced by adiabatic compression, not friction?

mlefev


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mlefev

That's cool. I just want to see what clan I belong to.

ouphie


quality posts: 0 Private Messages ouphie
mlefev wrote:That's cool. I just want to see what clan I belong to.



Pretty much...

pcrockett83


quality posts: 2 Private Messages pcrockett83

Just wanting to see what color I am. That is all.

fidwoot


quality posts: 1 Private Messages fidwoot
pcrockett83 wrote:Just wanting to see what color I am. That is all.



me too

sanctusreal


quality posts: 0 Private Messages sanctusreal

Interesting, I wonder if the extra weight over time has done anything else, changed the speed of rotation, climate change, either way it would seem to dispel the idea of a meteorite hit causing a firey inferno

andystj


quality posts: 0 Private Messages andystj

Owl City is the correct answer. Tumor20's squirrelly "owl city" answer should be ignored due to its generally squarrylish lack of capitalization.

The rodentia nibble at the answer, but their bones will be found in my pellets.

Incidentally, the most epic meteorites almost always resemble owls:

;->

markmier


quality posts: 0 Private Messages markmier
fidwoot wrote:me too



me too

moles1138


quality posts: 8 Private Messages moles1138
andystj wrote:Owl City is the correct answer. Tumor20's squirrelly "owl city" answer should be ignored due to its generally squarrylish lack of capitalization.

The rodentia nibble at the answer, but their bones will be found in my pellets.

Incidentally, the most epic meteorites almost always resemble owls:



+1

dwaynejen


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dwaynejen

Me too!

Dwayne Lane

vrysen


quality posts: 4 Private Messages vrysen

qué clan estoy yo en

shabangster


quality posts: 0 Private Messages shabangster

Oops, Ken made a minor mistake after being correct. It should be comet or asteroids -> meteoroid -> meteors. In fact meteor showers are due to comets, not asteroids. Since most comet material is rather fragile it usually doesn't make it to the ground as a good sized meteorite, usually only as micro-meteorites.

Ilikethat


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Ilikethat

Bombarded every day. Poor mother earth.

carlsa


quality posts: 1 Private Messages carlsa

Does Al Gore know this? Surely there is legislation to be passed and tax income to be gained from 100 tons per day. (Bill Veeck once wrote a book titled "30 Tons a Day", but it wasn't from outer space.)

saltone


quality posts: 1 Private Messages saltone
dwaynejen wrote:Me too!



Ditto


"What the hell are we doing fighting government, let's become government and we can then take whatever we want!".
Al Capone

Nitetigrezz


quality posts: 3 Private Messages Nitetigrezz
andystj wrote:V’V’owl City is the correct answer. Tumor20's squirrelly "V’V’owl city" answer should be ignored due to its generally squarrylish lack of capitalization.

The rodentia nibble at the answer, but their bones will be found in my pellets.

Incidentally, the most epic meteorites almost always resemble owls:



Win and win!

~ First ever Book of Cheats ~ 7/11/2014 ~

baybei


quality posts: 49 Private Messages baybei

....

mhodson1


quality posts: 0 Private Messages mhodson1

Yo también

Siempre es un buen momento

cgodzyk


quality posts: 0 Private Messages cgodzyk
pcrockett83 wrote:Just wanting to see what color I am. That is all.



figured I'd join the train

Flybranda


quality posts: 2 Private Messages Flybranda

Yo Y'owls uh-huh

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. -Homer

watcher82


quality posts: 0 Private Messages watcher82

Owl City

gandara


quality posts: 0 Private Messages gandara

Squrrelys rule!


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Joined Woot on Oct 2008