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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy


By Phil Plait

Things I learned today: Having a video series called "This Week in Science and Technology" makes it hard to introduce.

"This week on This Week in Science and Technologyâ¦" Awkward.

So I'll just go with this:

This week on TWIST: A ginormous meteor over Russia, you are more bacterium then human, and antioxidants may actually be useful.

Also, don't take Carin to karaoke. But that's a judgment call.

Speaking of terrifying Russian meteors, in the week since the impact we've learned quite a bit about it. Scientists have taken the videos from all over the area around the asteroid's entry site and constructed an orbital path for it. It originally came from the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, though it had a highly elliptical path that brought it well inside Earth's orbit. Pieces of the meteorite found indicate it was a relatively common stony type, embedded with chondrules (small, usually round mineral deposits). It also was lined with stress fractures, indicating it had been struck by other bodies while out in space. All that's pretty typical, really.

Lots of pieces have been found, and predictably people are hawking what they claim to be from the meteorite on eBay and elsewhere. Approach those claims with extreme skepticism! It's not hard to buy meteorites online, but it can be tough to make sure they're authentic, or the kind you want. It's like buying anything else; you need to do your due diligence before plunking down your hard-earned filthy lucre.

I'll note that there have been a pile of reports of bright fireballs in the days since Chelyabinsk, also as expected. People are watching the skies more, and going online to look for more information. That's great; we're seeing a nice uptick in interest! I know that will wane with time, but hopefully people's attention to this issue will stay moved up a notch.

Incidentally, my apologies for getting this video posted late; I was on travel and had to learn how to embed video using the spiffy Slate viewer. The next one will be up in a more timely manner. And if you missed them, don't forget to watch TWIST Episode 1 and Episode 2!

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