Friday, June 16, 2006

Meteorites and lutefisk

One day my wife was talking with a doctor who inquired if she was part Norwegian due to her light-colored hair. When my wife answered, "yes," the doctor said he, too, had Norwegian blood in his veins, and he pulled out a book of Norwegian jokes, most of which involved lutefisk. Being good-natured, my wife laughed politely at each joke, even though she had no clue what lutefisk is (it's fish pickled in lye).

Anyway, make up your own joke about lutefisk and the Norwegian meteorite. According to this story from Sky and Telescope, a fireball (extrememly bright meteor) was seen in Norway early this month, and it evidently impacted the Earth, as seismic detectors recorded the hit as a small earthquake. Initial reports put the explosion at about 10 kilotons of TNT, or similar to the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Revised data, though, show it was much smaller -- maybe only 100 tons. Still, that is a lot of energy!

Meteorites with this energy hit the Earth several times a year. Most hit in the ocean and are only detected as a bright heat signal by military satellites. Most of the rest of these meteorites hit ground far from civilization. So to have one hit near civilzation is a rare event.

No pieces of the meteorite have been found yet, as the area of the impact is heavily wooded. But if you happen to be in Norway and have a spare week or so, why not go meteor hunting? If you find the meteor, it could be worth your while.

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