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Space Science

Meteorite Causes Illness in Peru 357

eldavojohn writes "A meteorite struck in Peru on Saturday leaving cinders, rock & water boiling out of the ground. Villagers nearby reported headaches & vomiting and attributed it to the event. From the article, 'Seven policemen who went to check on the reports also became ill and had to be given oxygen before being hospitalized, Lopez said. Rescue teams and experts were dispatched to the scene, where the meteorite left a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) and 20-foot-deep (six-meter-deep) crater, said local official Marco Limache.' It's not yet clear whether this is from the meteorite, gas trapped underground that was released or a chemical reaction between the two."
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Meteorite Causes Illness in Peru

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  • by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:06PM (#20655185) Homepage Journal
    Ah, I suspect this was either not a meteorite or there is something else going on given that any meteor leaving a 30 meter wide and 20 foot deep crater (meteor being approximately 30 inches wide) [] is not going to hit the ground steaming hot. On the contrary, it will be cold as ice (or colder) given its composition and time for heating. However, I suppose it could also be a re-entry event from a satellite carrying a toxic payload like plutonium... After all, we have the remnants of many satellites and the debris associated with them still in decaying orbits and you can easily spot many of them []. Some satellites particularly those from the former Soviet Union and China have a history of toxic components. Though I suspect we'll know soon enough if it were a satellite, it would have been tracked by numerous agencies and individuals who monitor that sort of thing.

    • by swb ( 14022 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:10PM (#20655253)
      I thought I'd read those were built to withstand re-entry without vaporizing or breaking open. I seem to recall Danger-Will-Robinson arm-waving paranoia about these thermal generators the last time NASA sent one up, but the NASA boys being basically on top of it and packaging them in a way that wasn't a threat.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Itchyeyes ( 908311 )
        And the Titanic was built to not sink, and Chernobyl was built not to melt down, and Challenger was built not to explode, and the Tacoma Narrows bridge was built not to collapse, etc, etc, etc...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Titanic design was good, hubris caused bad operation. Chernobyl was a know bad design before it was built.
          • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:50PM (#20657295)

            Chernobyl was a know bad design before it was built.

            No. Chernobyl had issues, but the reason it melted down was that ALL of the safety features were disabled to run a test for the Soviet equivalent of the NRC.

            The test in question was meant to determine how much power could be extracted from a nuclear plant in meltdown. Which information would allow them to plan better for dealing with meltdowns, should one happen.

            Alas, to put Chernobyl into the near-meltdown condition required for the test, they had to disable all of the safety interlocks, then push the plant to the brink of a meltdown.

            And when you push a nuclear plant to the brink of meltdown with ALL of the saftey interlocks disabled, bad things can happen.

            • by Jake73 ( 306340 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:02PM (#20657537) Homepage

              Alas, to put Chernobyl into the near-meltdown condition required for the test, they had to disable all of the safety interlocks, then push the plant to the brink of a meltdown.

              I'm no expert on Chernobyl, but I thought the test actually required low power. In fact, when they started the test, they slowed the reactor down so much that they were worried about accidental shutdown and subsequent startup procedure. So, to get things going again, they ended up bringing out too many control rods (more than the allowed limit) -- this, of course, got the reaction going too quickly which caused the coolant to steam and explode.
              • by fireylord ( 1074571 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:18PM (#20657839)
                partially true, but what supposedly caused the major problem afair was the technicians noticing the runaway chain reaction and dropping the control rods in a panic, which happen to have graphite tips (a pretty exclusively used moderator material). This caused a sudden and massive spike in reaction, and heat generation which was not removed because of the fact that the reactor was almost shut down. This caused the explosion.
            • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:38PM (#20658163)
              Chernobyl was an RBMK design. Because it was configured to convert on demand to a military apps operation mode that could produce lots of Plutonium 239 for quickly building bombs, it was built without a containment vessel, at a time when all U S commercial reactors were already encased in multiple meters of steel and concrete.
                    The soviet union deliberately compromised safety for military advantage, and yes it was a known bad design.

              "The test in question was meant to determine how much power could be extracted from a nuclear plant in meltdown."

                    Not exactly - the test initially conducted was an extreme low power test, where the reactor was being run at such a low level it didn't provide enough power to run all the feedback systems designed to control the reactor itself. Extra power to run control systems was supposed to come from outside sources. A reactor near meltdown under some configurations may be producing much less power than usual and so this test had applicability to some meltdown research, but this particular design, in weapons production mode, would also have greatly reduced spare power for control in normal operation, so this test was probably to confirm the military applications of Chernobyl 4.

              Here's a link to Gordon Prather's page, which is a good explanation for the non-technical. Note Dr. Prather's credentials at the bottom if you think he's just some guy spouting off.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jollyreaper ( 513215 )

              Wiki is your friend. I won't even try to summarize, just read the article. It's an interesting study in the confluence of poor design choices, poor training, and bad luck.
        • nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

          by name_already_taken ( 540581 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:29PM (#20655667)
          And the Titanic was built to not sink, and Chernobyl was built not to melt down, and Challenger was built not to explode, and the Tacoma Narrows bridge was built not to collapse, etc, etc, etc...

          Ok, let's refute your specious points one by one.

          The Chernobyl reactor that failed was not built to not melt down - and it was being operated outside of its designed normal operating envelope which is what actually caused the catastrophic failure. Hell, the thing didn't even have a containment vessel.

          The Space Shuttle Challenger didn't initiate the explosion, the solid rocket boosters did, which was because they were being used at too cold of an environmental temperature and, against warnings from the manufacturer, the shuttle was launched anyway (human error once again, but not in the design, in the use of the machine in question).

          The Tacoma Narrows bridge apparently was not designed not to collapse - the designer failed to factor in the high wind speeds in the Tacoma Narrows and the resulting resonant effect on the structure into the bridge design.

          In other words, your post is a bunch of pointless fear mongering along the lines of "humans can't do anything right". That is complete and utter nonsense - humans design things that work in extreme circumstances all the time. You might as well have said "Won't somebody think of the children!?!?".
          • Re:Bridge failure (Score:5, Informative)

            by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:52PM (#20656133)
            The Tacoma Narrows bridge apparently was not designed not to collapse - the designer failed to factor in the high wind speeds in the Tacoma Narrows and the resulting resonant effect on the structure into the bridge design.

            Before you re-write history, check the news reports of the day. It wasn't a very windy day. The bridge was stable at much higher winds. The moderate wind and the direction was just right to produce a resonant feedback. It wasn't high winds that too the bridge down. It was steady mild wind that kept putting more motion into a resonant system.


              At the time it opened for traffic in 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was the third longest suspension bridge in the world. It was promptly nicknamed "Galloping Gertie," due to its behavior in wind. Not only did the deck sway sideways, but vertical undulations also appeared in quite moderate winds. Drivers of cars reported that vehicles ahead of them would completely disappear and reappear from view several times as they crossed the bridge. Attempts were made to stabilize the structure with cables and hydraulic buffers, but they were unsuccessful. On November 7, 1940, only four months after it opened, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed in a wind of 42 mph--even though the structure was designed to withstand winds of up to 120 mph.

            The wind-induced collapse occurred on November 7, 1940 at 11:00 AM(Pacific time), due partially to a physical phenomenon known as mechanical resonance. [4]

            And for sake of balance here is a modern study stating it wasn't resonance but instead a negative feedback;
            " . . . in many undergraduate physics texts the (1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge) disaster is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance . . . Engineers, on the other hand, have studied the phenomenon . . . and their current understanding differs fundamentally from the viewpoint expressed in most physics texts. In the present article the engineers' viewpoint is presented . . . It is then demonstrated that the ultimate failure of the bridge was in fact related to an aerodynamically induced condition of self-excitation or "negative damping" . . . This paper emphasizes the fact that. physically as well as mathematically, forced resonance and self- excitation are fundamentally different phenomena.

            The one common thread in all the above is it was not a high wind that took the bridge down. It was the feedback pumping energy into the motion.
          • Galloping Gertie (Score:3, Informative)

            by number6x ( 626555 )

            Actually the winds were moderate when the Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsed.

            It could be said that the bridge was designed to collapse, but not intentionally. The designers failed to take in to account the effect of resonance. From the wikipedia article here:

            "Preliminary construction plans had called for 25-foot-deep (7.6 m) girders to sit beneath the roadway and stiffen it. Moisseiff, respected designer of the famed Golden Gate Bridge, proposed shallower supports -- girders 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. His approac

    • What satellites around the Earth carry plutonium? The only thing I've heard of launched with plutonium was a space probe now far away from us, and that caused a big public uproar.
      • What satellites around the Earth carry plutonium?

        Most of them. If not plutonium, then a different radioisotope like 90Sr. Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTG's) are a very common method of providing power for electronics in satellites.
        • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:33PM (#20655745) Homepage Journal

          Most of them.

          No, sorry. That's horrendously incorrect. There have only been a handful of missions that used RTGs as power sources. Most satellites rely on Solar Power and batteries to operate. The reasoning is simple: Nuclear materials are EXPENSIVE. Far too expensive for anyone other than NASA to use. And NASA only uses them for very specific missions where no other option is feasible. (For example, while the current rovers have a few grains of plutonium to keep the joints from freezing on Mars, they are still powered by solar panels. The follow-up mission was supposed to use RTGs to provide a longer-lasting robot, but that's being reevaluated in light of the longevity of Spirit and Opportunity.)

          Wikipedia has a list of RTGs and their missions here:
          • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:42PM (#20655969) Homepage

            Far too expensive for anyone other than NASA to use.
            Almost true. Lose one of the A's and you'd get another agency that's known to use RTGs on satellites. (Shortly after 9/11, the plutonium that was to be used for New Horizons was suddenly reallocated to an "unnamed Federal agency". It wasn't NASA, New Horizons was their only mission to the outer solar system being prepared just then. Most people were able to conclude, reasonably, that the RTGs were heading for spy sats.)
            • by Kartoffel ( 30238 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:36PM (#20656995)
              Sort of.

              1) Los Alamos National Laboratory, the place that was making the fuel units for New Horizons, halted production due to a security breach. By the time production stopped, there were enough fuel units on hand to generate partial power. The New Horizons team decided they could live with the reduced power budget.

              2) There were 18 fuel units in work when the lab shut down. Assuming they "went away", rather than being reprocessed, they'd likey have gone into the NRO spacecraft rather than the NSA. Solar arrays have two major drawbacks on military satellites: (1) they cause lots of drag, especially when you fly low; (2) extensible arrays can be floppy, making rapid slewing and precise pointing more difficult. You don't get much power from an RTG, though, thus ruling out the likelihood that the plutonium went into radar sats. What about big telescopic IMINT satellites? Again, not likely unless it was something radically different than typical Hubble Space Telescope / Improved Crystal layout. What's that leave? SIGINT and SDI stuff. Tinfoil hat types, feel free to speculate further...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Just Some Guy ( 3352 )

            the current rovers have a few grains of plutonium to keep the joints from freezing on Mars

            Out of curiosity, how much would it take to generate an appreciable amount of heat? The idea of little nuclear pebbles slowly warming a robot on an alien world is kind of horrifying to me in sort of a primal way.

        • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:38PM (#20655887)
          This is incorrect. Very few satellites in earth orbit use any sort of RTG power source. Only satellites that are destined for the outer reaches of the solar system use RTGs, as the power available from the sun is inadequate at those distances.

          There is an exception to this rule though:


          By comparison, only a few space vehicles have been launched using full-fledged nuclear reactors: the Soviet RORSAT series and the American SNAP-10A.


          Radar-equipped Ocean Reconnaissance SATellite or RORSAT is the western name given to the Soviet Upravlyaemyj Sputnik Aktivnyj ( ) (US-A) satellites. These satellites were launched between 1967 and 1988 to monitor NATO and merchant vessels using active radar. RORSATs were launched under cover name of Cosmos satellites. Because a return signal from a target illuminated by a radar transmitter diminishes as the inverse of the fourth power of the signal emitted, for the surveillance radar to work effectively, RORSATs had to be placed in low earth orbit. Had they used large solar panels for power, the orbit would have rapidly decayed due to drag through the upper atmosphere. Further, the satellite would have been useless at night. Hence the majority of RORSATs carried type BES-5 nuclear reactors fuelled by uranium-235. Normally the nuclear reactor cores were ejected into high orbit (a so-called "disposal orbit") at the end of the mission, but there were several incidents, some of which resulted in radioactive material re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.
        • by Detritus ( 11846 )
          Very few spacecraft carry RTGs. Their primary use is for deep space missions, not those that are in Earth orbit. Solar cells are simpler and cheaper.

          Nuclear reactors have been used on spacecraft with very high power requirements, like Russian ocean surveillance satellites.

      • Spy satellites, as far as I know. It's considering prudent to *not* have large solar panels on your birds if you don't want to make it easy for others to know where your sats are at a given time.

        As far as I have ever heard, most other satellites just use solar panels.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      When I read this, I thought "Woah! ALIEN DISEASES! It's like a comic book!"
      Don't persuade me otherwise, my version is much cooler. ;D
    • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:22PM (#20655541) Homepage Journal

      On the contrary, it will be cold as ice

      You're as cold as ice, create a 30 M. wide hole
      Just a block of ice, hot as a meteorite is cold

      I've seen it before, it happens a lot
      Crash on some villagers, trash all they've got
      They look out the door to see a rock in the sky
      A big stinky mess, makes the poor suckers die
    • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:25PM (#20655603) Homepage Journal
      PU-238 would be an unlikely source of problems of this sort. Most of the radiation is Alpha Particles which are easily rejected by human skin. (Alpha particle dangers are almost entirely due to internal consumption.) Even if we take possible Gamma and X-Ray emissions from long decay into account, the people who were near the meteor shouldn't feel sick until an hour or two after the exposure.

      According to the article (coral cache []), the problem was a "strange odor" that caused the headaches and vomiting. Such an odor suggests a strong chemical of some sort that has been aerosolized near the point of impact. The officials will probably send out a Hazmat team, take air samples, collect the debris from the crash and investigate the exact composition. (Assuming that the authorities have the necessary resources. Otherwise they'll probably get someone to dispose of it and let the air clear.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalirion ( 728907 )
      On the contrary, it will be cold as ice (or colder) given its composition and time for heating.

      And how do you know its composition? How do you know it's 30 inches wide? All the article tells us is the size of the impact crater. That's not nearly enough for the calculator.
    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:31PM (#20655697) Homepage Journal

      If the meteorite was of Iron/Nickel composition there's a good chance a fair amount of nickel was boiled off and carried into the area, possibly some produced by the head of the impact and blast.

      Please see: Toxicity Summary for NICKEL AND NICKEL COMPOUNDS []

      Acute inhalation exposure of humans to nickel may produce headache, nausea, respiratory disorders, and death (Goyer 1991, Rendall et al. 1994).
      • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:42PM (#20657129) Journal
        No one has mentioned what I think is the likeliest explanation: hysteria unrelated to any physical cause.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by IQgryn ( 1081397 )
          That was my first thought, but The BBC article mentions animals being affected, too. Animals aren't (usually) subject to the mental tricks we're all so prone to.
      • Also called foundry fever or Monday morning shakes. Wikipedia article here. []

        Basically, heavy-ish metals, in particular zinc and magnesium when they burn make zinc oxide and magnesium oxide and give you temporary flu like symptoms. People working in foundries would get a blast of it first thing Monday morning, get "the flu" Monday night, and then be desensitized to it all week long. Over the weekend they'd lose their sensitivity, and get the flu again next Monday.

        In high enough doses though - it can ki

    • The sucker coming in has a huge kinetic energy (0.5 * m * V * V) and potential energy ( m * g * h ) ... as the body falls the potential energy converts to kinetic energy, and the sucker has zero kinetic energy after impact. That energy has to go somewhere: some of it gets converted into heat as it reenters the atmosphere (heat being transferred both into the body and into the air), the rest on impact changes into translational energy for the dirt (very crude analysis of course ... the dirt will warm up, eve
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Detritus ( 11846 )
        The object's surface can become very hot and vaporize without having a significant effect on the core temperature of the object. You have to consider the object's surface-to-volume ratio, the length of time it's exposed to atmospheric heating, and the heat dissipated by erosion of the surface material.
    • by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @03:21PM (#20657903)
      There isn't a man-made object in space that could create a crater like that. The big ones like the ISS are too low density. The high density ones like the Russian Cosmos nuclear satellites aren't big enough. All of them would have a shallow entry angle that would result in a low velocity for anything that did hit the ground.

      As you speculated, when events like this are reported, the various space agencies are usually very quickly able to identify possible satellites that may have entered during a given time frame. For example, a Russian booster entered over my home county about 10 years back. It had already been identified the next morning. Incidentally, it burned up completely. No crater.

      Regarding a plutonium carrying satellite. Although I've mentioned such couldn't account for such a crater, there have been quite a few put into space. Cosmos 954 [], which failed to reach orbit and disintegrated over Canada (note that it was not designed to survive re-entry) is a notable example, but the Russians built dozens of these satellites. Actually, the Cosmos RORSATS were powered by uranium-fueled nuclear reactors, not plutonium RTG's. Anyway, when the RORSATS reached the end of their life, the fuel bundle was actually ejected by a small rocket into a 1000 km disposal orbit, which will delay their re-entry by several hundred more years. I suppose most of the satellite bodies themselves have already re-entered.

      Interestingly, this has been found to be a rather major source of space debris, as some of the liquid sodium coolant was ejected simultaneously with but free from the core. Once free from the heat of the reactor, the liquid sodium hardens into little metal spheres.
  • Fungus is among us (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:07PM (#20655205) Homepage Journal
    Looking at the pictures, the ground looks like a prime area for fungus to release spores when disturbed, like anthrax.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Let me know when the Space Spore Zombies show up...
      • by TobyRush ( 957946 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:43PM (#20657173) Homepage

        Let me know when the Space Spore Zombies show up...

        Um, okay, but you're going to need to give us an e-mail address or something.

        I'm not saying they've shown up yet, I just want to be prepared. Because when they do show up, and everyone is going to be running around and freaking out and trying to shoot space spore zombies with hastily loaded rifles and everything, they're going to be thinking, "Aw, crap, that one guy on Slashdot asked us to let us know when this happens, and we totally are letting him down!" But not me, man. When those zombies start clawing on my door, first thing I'm gonna do: I am going to LET YOU KNOW.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You might be right about a fungus being released, but Anthrax is not a fungus. I expect better from /. to know the difference between a bacterium and a fungus ought to be trivial.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:13PM (#20656561)
      Anthrax? It's a good thing it didn't hit the US, otherwise we'd blame Al Qaeda for the attack and launch an invasion of space.

      Goerge Bush: "This aggression will not be tolerated. Space terrorists hate us for our freedom. We're fighting them up there so we don't have to fight them down here."
  • Headaches? (Score:5, Funny)

    by smitty97 ( 995791 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:07PM (#20655209)
    If I got hit with a metorite, I'd have a headache too
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#20655233) Journal
    Now tell me: who here doesn't want to see the darn crater? Of all things in TFA, what I really missed is a picture of the crater that the alleged meteorite created. Just seeing it would give us some idea of whether it was a meteorite at all, and if so, how big.
  • by Sciros ( 986030 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#20655251) Journal
    There's no other rational explanation. Especially if the meteorite was green. Though there's different kinds of kryptonite out there. For instance Superman is very allergic to red, although it doesn't kill him. ... This is not off topic! :-(
    • There's no other rational explanation. Especially if the meteorite was green. Though there's different kinds of kryptonite out there. For instance Superman is very allergic to red, although it doesn't kill him. ... This is not off topic! :-(

      If the meteorite was of Iron/Nickel composition there's a good chance superheated Nickel became vapourous. Nickel as a gas is highly toxic.

  • by pimpbott ( 642033 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:10PM (#20655257)
    Meeeteyer sheeit!
    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
      Mod parent up for semi-obscure reference (for those that don't know, this is from the movie "Creepshow")
      • by u-bend ( 1095729 )
        Thanks for clearing up a vague memory I've had since I was a kid! I remember it being funny, but then creepy and sad when he offs himself at the end, reduced to a gravelly-voiced moss pile. Or at least that's what I remember. Nice reference tho!
  • Zombies! (Score:3, Funny)

    by LineGrunt ( 133002 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:10PM (#20655277)
    Oh COOL!

    When do we get the zombies?

    And are they slow or fast?

  • by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:12PM (#20655319) Homepage Journal
    yet, this for now seems like radiation poisoning, with headache, vomitting and such.
    • this for now seems like radiation poisoning

      I have a friend which is an expert on meteorites and radiation []. Lex will surely lend the guys a hand... for a price.
    • by sofar ( 317980 )
      absolutely not. Any poisening symptoms include headaches and vomiting. Even rat poison will produce those already.

      While it is absolutely 100% assured that radiation levels of meteorites will be above normal levels, it's unlikely that they will achieve high levels that cause immediate symptoms as widespread as reported.

      If this meteorite was ferrous (heavy metal type), it's much more likely that the impact and subsequent vaporizing of material containing heavy metals (lead, copper are the immediate suspects)
    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *
      I would think radiation levels high enough to cause those symptoms that quickly, would kill the person after a day.
  • Photo (Score:5, Informative)

    by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:13PM (#20655343) Homepage
    Better article [] with a photo of the impact site. Quite an impressive hole. One hopes it's just some underground gas, and not the realization of Andromeda Strain []...
  • Phazon is here! Where's Samus when you need her?
  • Colour Out of Space! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#20655369)
    Show me a picture of the blasted heath, I want to see! Or maybe this will be the boring kind of meteorite, the one that just raises zombies.
  • It sounds like the beginning of some Sci-Fi B-Movie. When will the people start exhibiting strange powers?
  • by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <> on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#20655391) Homepage Journal
    (rubs hands together conspiratorily)
  • by Mad Martigan ( 166976 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#20655393) Homepage
    They're going to want to be on the lookout for androids carrying suspiciously labeled bags [].
  • This is an alien virus sent to kill us all.
  • god damn space whore said she was clean....
  • "And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:10-11 KJV)

    And yes, the Russian word for "wormwood" is Chernobyl. But ironically, this is not the FIRST thing I thought... I thought of the Phantoms from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I'd rather think about Aki Ross than some stupid beast.

    Ok, where did I store my bio-aetherics shield generator...

  • If the dead start rising, I'm getting outa dodge....
  • Alternative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aphxtwn ( 702841 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:34PM (#20655769)
    It could be a downed satellite - maybe some hydrazine or something is causing the illness.
  • Yes, I knew I heard this before - Smallville!
  • too much TV (Score:5, Funny)

    by LM741N ( 258038 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:35PM (#20655805)
    now that Britney has made her way on TV in S. America, there have been waves of vomiting and sickness.
  • I believe it was supposed to hit the Earth somewhere else...

    Tiberium is named after the Tiber river in Italy where it was first discovered.
  • by Ang31us ( 1132361 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @01:36PM (#20655817) Homepage
    Here's a picture [] of what it looked like as SCO streaked across the sky and made that big, noxious, radioactive hole in the ground! ;-)
  • It was meant to wipe out BA, but they were far enough that our planet looked REALLY small to those multi eyes. The next one will be to wipe us out.
  • by slashmojo ( 818930 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:25PM (#20656797)
    Could this be just another failed launch such as the russian proton which failed [] about a week ago and was fueled with rather toxic hydrazine? Any satellites launched shortly before this peruvian incident?

    Maybe this [] recoverable craft got recovered sooner than planned.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:25PM (#20656803) Homepage Journal
    These people are being attacked by Martian vampires. I expect a wave of sightings of batboy []. Though such a massive undertaking as this interplanetary missile is surely part of a huge attack.

    By Hallowe'en, 6 weeks from now, the biters will have amassed enough strength to finally strike when we all think it's just some kind of joke. So in the meantime, stay vigilant through the night. Vampires can be stopped in their tracks, but not permanently destroyed, by staking them through the heart (wood, metal or any other stake that stays intact driven through their chest). It's also good to chop their head off, and even stuff the neck (both ends) with wolfsbane, if you can get it from some Romanian Internet pharmacy or something.

    But to permanently destroy them ("kill" the undead monster), you've got to expose them to sunlight. Stake 'em and bake 'em.

    And remember that those religious charms you try to use to drive them away work only as well as the strength of your mutual belief in them. So if these Martian vampires have got beyond their fear of "god", you'll just let them come close enough to strike while you mumble and genuflect. And if their tech has made them immune to the Sun, then we're in pretty deep.

    I'll be gearing up the SOLASER, but that guarantees only my safety. Get your stakes ready, and hope we can ride out this season. And then on to the Red Planet, with at least rovers fitted with stakes to drag them from their burrows and pin them on their own surface for a Martian vampbake.
  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @02:30PM (#20656893) Homepage
    A crater that size throws a lot of dirt in the air. Dirt is full of pathogens that may stress individuals.

    Worse if it hits a guano site, town dump or septic landfarm.

  • Pic (Score:3, Informative)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @06:42PM (#20661223) Homepage
    Here's (what appears to be) a picture of the actual crater [].
  • by rocketjam ( 696072 ) on Tuesday September 18, 2007 @08:08PM (#20662115) Homepage

    The scouting party stopped a few hundred yards from the village on the bank of the stream. Yen Lee studied the village through this field glasses while his men sat down and lit cigarettes. The village was built into the side of a mountain. The stream ran through the town, and water had been diverted into the pools on a series of cultivated terraces that led up to the monastery. There was no sign of life in the steep winding street or by the pools. The valley was littered with large boulders which would serve as cover if necessary, but he did not expect resistance on a military level. He lowered his glasses, signaling for the men to follow.

    They crossed a stone bridge two at a time, covered by the men behind them. If any defenders were going to open fire, now would be the time and place to do it. Beyond the bridge the street twisted up the mountainside. On both sides there were stone huts, many of them fallen into ruin and obviously deserted. As they moved up the stone street, keeping to the sides and taking cover behind the ruined huts, Yen Lee became increasingly aware of a hideous unknown oder. He motioned the patrol to halt and stood there sniffing.

    Unlike his counterparts in western countries, he had been carefully selected for a high level of intuitive adjustment, and trained accordingly to imagine and explore seemingly fantastic potentials in any situation, while at the same time giving equal consideration to prosaic and practical aspects. He had developed an attitude at once probing and impersonal, remote and alert. He did not know when the training had begun, since in Academy 23 it was carried out in a context of reality. He did not see his teachers, whose instructions were conveyed through a series of real situations.

    He had been born in Hong Kong and lived there until age twelve, so that English was a second language. The his family had moved to Shanghai. In his early teens he had read the American Beat writers. The volumes had been brought in through Hong Kong and sold under the counter in a bookshop that seemed to enjoy freedom from official interference, although the proprietor was also engaged in currency deals.

    At the age of sixteen he was sent to a military academy, where he received intensive training in the use of weapons. After six months he was summoned to the Colonel's office and told that he would be leaving the military school and returning to Shanghai. Since he had applied himself to the training and made and excellent showing, he asked the Colonel if this was because his work had not been satisfactory. The Colonel was looking not at him but around him, as if drawing a figure in the air. He indicated obliquely that while a desire to please one's superiors was laudable, other considerations were in certain cases even more highly emphasized.

    The smell hit him like an invisible wall. He stopped and leaned against a house. It was like rotten metal or metal excrement, he decided. The patrol was still in the ruined outskirts of the village. One man was vomiting violently, his face beaded with sweat. He straightened up and started toward the stream. Yen Lee stopped him: "Don't drink the water or splash it on your face. The stream runs through the town."

    Yen Lee sat down and looked once again at the town through his field glasses. There were still no villagers in sight. He put his glasses down and conducted an out-of-body exploration of the village - what westerners call "astral travel." He was moving up the street now, his gun at the ready. The gun would shoot blasts of energy, and he could feel it tingle in his hands. He kicked open the door.

    One glance told him that interrogation was useless. He would get no information on a verbal level. A man and a woman were in the terminal stages of some disease, their faces eaten to the bone by phosphorescent sores. An older woman was dead. The next hut contained five corpses, all elderly.

    In another hut a youth lay on a palette, the lower half of his body covered by a blanket. Bright red nipples

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.