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14-Year-Old Boy Smote By Meteorite 435

eldavojohn writes "Winning the lottery requires incredible luck and one in a million odds. So does getting hit by a falling space rock. A 14-year-old German boy was granted a three-inch scar by the gods. A pea-sized meteorite smote young Gerrit Blank's hand before leaving a foot-sized crater on the road. The boy's account: 'At first I just saw a large ball of light, and then I suddenly felt a pain in my hand. Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang like a crash of thunder. The noise that came after the flash of light was so loud that my ears were ringing for hours afterwards. When it hit me it knocked me flying and then was still going fast enough to bury itself into the road.' Curiously, the rock was magnetic, and tests were done to verify it is extraterrestrial. The Telegraph notes the only other recorded event of a meteorite striking a person was 'in November 1954 when a grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of a house, bounced off furniture and landed on a sleeping woman.' Space.com lists a few more anomalies and we discussed the probability of these things downing aircraft recently."


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14-Year-Old Boy Smote By Meteorite

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:41PM (#28311817)

    Great story to tell your parents after you've burned yourself with the crack pipe.

    • Seems suspicious to me too.

      When it hit me it knocked me flying

      From a graze on the hand?

      I suddenly felt a pain in my hand. Then a split second after that there was an enormous bang

      Yeah right. Pain signals travel through nerves at less than 10 feet per second and it takes much, much longer for the brain to recognize something's wrong. But you hear something almost instantaneously.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by piojo ( 995934 )

        I'm not saying I don't believe it (I'm not sure), but another point for thought is that it should have reached terminal velocity, right? I don't think a pea-sized rock falls fast enough to leave a crater the size of a foot and cause a loud bang.

        On the other hand, I don't blame him for an inaccurate accounting of events--most of what we "remember" is actually reconstructions from logic.

        • by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:39PM (#28312801)

          If it were simply dropped within the atmosphere with no impetus, yes - it'd hit terminal velocity.

          But if it actually came from space, it could have been traveling hellaciously fast, been slowed down somewhat by the atmosphere, but by no means just down to whatever terminal velocity would be.

          Think about it this way - if you fire a gun from the top of a building, the bullet would still hit faster than terminal velocity because it had something propelling it. Same for a meteorite.

        • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:05PM (#28313241)
          It wasn't pea-sized the whole way down. It was probably quite a bit bigger than that initially (it would have to be to make it all the way to the surface). That's just the size it had been burned down to by the time it reached ground. It must have been moving pretty damn fast.
      • by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:04PM (#28312201)

        Pain signals travel through nerves at less than 10 feet per second

        Can you imagine the early, renaissance-era experimental measurements of this quantity?
        "I'm going to need two men. One very tall, the other very short. Without shoes. And I'll need two hammers."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        He's likely misremembering what happened. Car crash witnesses do it all the time. He's just (unconsciously) assembling the information he has into something that meshes with his expectations and with what he knows happened after the event happened. He was likely blown back by the force of the meteorite's impact with the Earth, not it hitting him, and as you very correctly mention it was too fast for him to perceive of pain then the sound.

    • So, that's twice in one century. Maybe there's too many people on the planet.
  • by GigaHurtsMyRobot ( 1143329 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:41PM (#28311819) Journal
    Why not a picture of his hand?
  • Today... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joe Snipe ( 224958 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:42PM (#28311829) Homepage Journal


  • by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:42PM (#28311833) Homepage

    Is he like Magneto?

    • If he is, he'll be able to stop further meteorites from hitting him. But only metallic ones.

    • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:37PM (#28312767)

      Clearly he is some sort of Cylon or Terminator as the magnetic rock was attracted to him...

      Curiously it his his hand, which means either Luke Skywalker or a certain state alchemist...

      So I am a bit torn as to if we should mob him or not. Better burn him just to be sure. Probably a witch anyway.

      Also if he was like Magneto, he would probably make the meteor not hit him I would guess. Which would make him sort sort of Anti-Magneto, his arch nemesis. Which ironically are quite common and Magneto doesn't really like them either. Unless you are in a alternative universe, in which case the opposite would be true.

      Its Friday and I am ready to go home now... :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Goffee71 ( 628501 )
      He gets his own movie, Gerite Point Blank
  • quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:43PM (#28311843)
    "The teenager survived the strike, the chances of which are just 1 in a million - but with a nasty three-inch long scar on his hand."

    Wow, there was a 99.9999% of it killing him!

    Seriously, surely the odds of being struck are much smaller than one in a million? Isn't it closer to one in a few billion, since there's a population of 6 billion and only 2 occurrences?
    • Re:quote (Score:5, Funny)

      by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:47PM (#28311905)
      This reminds me of an arguement I had with a co-worker about extra-terrestrial life a few years back.
      Him: Do you know how much stuff would have to be just right for that to happen? It'd be like hitting the lottery.
      Me: People hit the lottery every week.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Considerably less than that. There have been no reported hits since the '50s. There were fewer people back then, but still more than a billion. So the per year chance of being hit by a meteorite must be more like 1 in a few hundred billion.

    • I am not a statistician, but isn't it a little more difficult than simply counting the current population size and dividing that by the total number of occurrences? I mean, shouldn't we also factor in everyone who lived between 1954 and now (for the sake of argument, lets say time began with the first strike), and also somehow factor in time since many of those people may be dead today and thus should not count as being hit by a space object?

      Two instances of such an event in less than 60 years does not a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dodobh ( 65811 )

      However, it is a well known fact that one in a million chances happen 9 times out of 10.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can't count with population of 6 billion. About 1.3 of that live in India. Have you ever been to the country's poor areas (=which is nearly all of it). I've only traveled once through the country and most of that time in a train but I feel confident to say that if someone gets hit by a small meteor there, it won't get reported and confirmed.

      Same is true for chine which also has over a billion people. And the poor parts of Africa... And I would guess that the same stands even for a lot of South America a

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      1 out of a million chances happen 9 out of 10 times.
      - Terry Pratchett.

  • Clearly, this kid is all set to gain numerous super-powers from his encounter.
    • by igny ( 716218 )
      He already had superpowers, given that the meteorite travelling at some 40km/s bounced off his hand before making a huge hole in the ground. Not forgetting the boy actually survived.
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by snowraver1 ( 1052510 )
        I would expect a huge gaping hole where his hand used to be. Possibly the meteor missed him entirely hit the ground near him, and some of the debris from the impact with the earth hit his hand.
  • About self-gratification. This is /. after all. ;)

    • by exley ( 221867 )

      Scanning through the comments I don't see a single one along those lines, but I do see a ton of them about the kid having superpowers now. Now that's Slashdot :) Or maybe everyone was just too busy jerkin' it to be bothered to make comments.

  • yikes (Score:5, Funny)

    by spidercoz ( 947220 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:48PM (#28311913) Journal
    the gods or whatever clearly hate this kid, maybe we should take the hint and finish him off
  • by a whoabot ( 706122 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:49PM (#28311929)

    What is more amazing is that it struck a 14-year-old German. I didn't think these things existed anymore; I thought all Germans were over 40 by now.

  • Count me a skeptic (Score:5, Informative)

    by pease1 ( 134187 ) <bbunge@@@ladyandtramp...com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:52PM (#28311987)
    No photos of any wound, but fast enough to bury in the ground or leave a foot long mark on the ground? Loud noise? Many small meteors are traveling quite slowly by time they reach the surface. Small meteorites are quite easy to obtain. Apparently this [sky.com] is a photo of the rock. Is that the 3-inch scar? Just dunno...
  • ein minuten bitte (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spidercoz ( 947220 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:55PM (#28312045) Journal
    FTA: "A red hot, pea-sized piece of rock then hit his hand before bouncing off and causing a foot wide crater in the ground."

    First, meteors aren't hot. Second, if a "pea-sized piece of rock" is going fast enough to make "a foot wide crater in the ground," it's not going to be "bouncing off" shit, least of all this kid's hand. It would tear through him like a shotgun slug. Was the kid's hand blown off? No? Then it didn't leave a fucking crater in the ground either. How about some photographs? Oh, there are none? Hmmm.
    • First, meteors aren't hot. Second, if a "pea-sized piece of rock" is going fast enough to make "a foot wide crater in the ground," it's not going to be "bouncing off" shit, least of all this kid's hand. It would tear through him like a shotgun slug. Was the kid's hand blown off? No? Then it didn't leave a fucking crater in the ground either. How about some photographs? Oh, there are none? Hmmm.

      The only way I can read this is that "foot wide crater" must mean something more like "hit a pile of dust and pebbl

    • Did you really just say meteors aren't hot? They burn up in our atmosphere how wouldn't they be hot. Heat is cause when anything enters the atmosphere at high speeds it is the same reason that all space crafts have special heat resistant tiles on their underbodies for when they reenter the atmosphere.
    • Second, if a "pea-sized piece of rock" is going fast enough to make "a foot wide crater in the ground," it's not going to be "bouncing off" shit, least of all this kid's hand. It would tear through him like a shotgun slug.

      I responded to this question on dig and I have simple answer because the same thing happens with full metal jackets ammunition on soft targets.

      First the idea that bullets or any objects that pierce flesh will cause blow back is false [intuitor.com].

      Secondly, the US forces in Mogadishu (you know Black Haw

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by spidercoz ( 947220 )
        Interesting but I don't think it applies. How big of a gun with what kind of ammo would you need to blow a foot-wide hole in a road? Most typical rounds would just bury, or bounce. Though I think the real problem here is just the article's lack of any kind of logic.
  • by koan ( 80826 )

    I bet he has super powers now, which frankly, is just as likely as getting hit by a meteorite.

  • In the meteorite marketplace, any that have hit a man-made object are significantly more valuable, given the rarity of such an occurrence.

    A meteorite known to have hit a person would be even more so.

    But anyone in such a position would be considered lucky if it doesn't kill them.

  • by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:57PM (#28312073)
    The injury was more likely from the debris kicked up from the impact of the meteor on the ground than the meteor directly striking him on the hand.
  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#28312097)

    This guy now automatically wins all bar scar-comparing competitions (when he's allowed to go in a bar, that is).

    See this? My cat attacked me, gashed my wrist all the way to the bone.

    That's nothing. Look here, rabid racoon, I had to be quarantined for days.

    Child's play. Look at this, shot myself with a nail gun, stumbled back and stepped on a rake.

    Oh yeah? Well God shot me with a meteorite.

  • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:58PM (#28312101) Homepage

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/12/a-boy-claims-he-was-hit-by-a-meteorite/ [discovermagazine.com]

    Short story is that it's possible (although not as presented in the media right now), but be skeptical.

  • ON ;picture
    No reference
    A pea sized Meteorite wouldn't have been traveling fast enough to leave a " foot sized crater on the road. "

    If something the size of a pea falling from space could leave a foot sized crater, then building would have a tough time of it becasue we are bombarded with things this size hitting the ground all the time.

    Another example, shoot a bullet straight up* and when it falls and hits the ground it will be traveling about as fast as a meteorite.
    Hell shot a bullet into the ground and you

  • The article states that "14-year-old hit by 30,000 mph space meteorite", which sounds like he would have been hit by it with this velocity. Now if he would have been, then he and his near surrounding would be dust. It's true, that meteorites get this speeds when they enter atmosphere, but in the final phase before impact they are slowed down to only a few mph because of the air resistance.

    Only really huge fucking cataclysmic asteroids reach ground with devastating speeds (the much bigger ones that create la
  • I had a nightmare about this just a couple of days ago!

    I was in some icy place like the arctic or something, looking at the Aurora Borealis, which was beautiful, and then i saw one point get really bright and then in an instant i realized it was a meteorite and it was coming right for me. It landed about 5 feet from me and I had only enough time to be incredibly frightened and then try to turn to run, but it hit before i could even turn, and then rather than just ending, the dream sort of froze, and I had t

  • by WoodenTable ( 1434059 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:05PM (#28312221)
    For everyone who can't see it because the image was cropped, I can confirm that the scar is indeed shaped exactly like a lightning bolt. In line with the prophecy from 1979 that states that "the boy who lived" with "lightning in his hand" may one day confront and defeat the terrifying Asteroid menace, I believe we have finally found our champion, the one who finally end the Asteroid threat to all of Earth once and for all. But we'll have to work hard to keep more Asteroids from hitting him in the meantime... are we up to it? I believe so. It is - he is... perhaps our greatest hope.
  • Watch out chilluns (Score:4, Informative)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:09PM (#28312281)

    Curiously, a British girl was hit in the foot [bbc.co.uk] by a meteorite a few years ago. Is this tit for tat in a new grudge war between the two rivals?

  • What kind of super-powers he developed afterwards.


    My guess, he did not get hit by the meteorite that made the 1ft crater. Rather, he probably got hit by a small granual fragment that had broken off of the meteorite.

  • by beanyk ( 230597 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:11PM (#28312313)

    ... unless the boy as doing the smiting.

    • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:44PM (#28313853) Journal

      I was kind of curious on the choice of the word Smote in the title as well.

      Smote: past of smite

      1: to strike sharply or heavily especially with the hand or an implement held in the hand
      2 a: to kill or severely injure by smiting
          b: to attack or afflict suddenly and injuriously
      3: to cause to strike
      4: to affect as if by striking [children smitten with the fear of hell â" V. L. Parrington]
      5: captivate, take [smitten with her beauty]

      intransitive verb: to deliver or deal a blow with or as if with the hand or something held

      The title would have me believe that this meteorite was hurled by someone or someone smacked the kid with this meteorite by holding it in their hand.

      By using smitten, the kid would be awe struck, or wondrous toward the meteorite but not necessarily physically hit by it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mkettler ( 6309 )

      Heh, the average American believes the only use for the word "smitten" is as a synonym for lovestruck, and you expect /. to get the grammar right?

      Good luck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        There are actually two types of Americans who say 'smitten': those who become lovestruck and those who play D&D. These groups are mutually exclusive.
  • odds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by paulpach ( 798828 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:14PM (#28312349)

    2 people hit out of 6 billion in the world, so odds are 1 in 3 billion or the PDOOMA 1 in 1 million FTA

    what are the odds that either the androgynous boy or some reporter made the whole thing up?

  • uh-oh (Score:2, Funny)

    by KingPin27 ( 1290730 )
    So now what? random genetic mutations? Green Skin? Red Laser Shooting Eyes?
    Or maybe something cool like a sex hungry space alien ala Species?
  • by jsveiga ( 465473 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:18PM (#28312429)

    ...the dog ate my homework was good enough!

  • it seems the meteorite has made him grow to 4-5 times the size of cars next to him

    i saw this in a 1950s science documentary involving a woman who grew 50 feet tall and deranged from this sort of tragic accident

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @03:44PM (#28312895) Homepage Journal

    Pea-sized? That's about 9mm or even larger depending upon the cultivar. I've seen peas the size of .50 caliber rounds (about 12.7mm) and at the 30,000mph in TFAHL that would not only rip the boy's hand off but probably break the bones up to his elbow from the shock. Even at 400mph it would do way more than that. Also, to be pea-sized and make a crater that large, it would have to have more mass than it should have since it's supposedly composed of primarily ferrous material.

    And I doubt 30,000MPH. Maybe 250 at best.

    But this *IS* the Telegraph. Not exactly a reliable source of news. I'm surprised this actually made it here.

  • Tough hands! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RoboRay ( 735839 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:09PM (#28313325)

    The meteor bounced off his hand then made a foot-wide crater in the road? Wow! He's got tough hands!

    Oh, wait... Maybe the injury to his hand was caused by a debris fragment from the road impact. That would actually make sense.

  • by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @04:21PM (#28313501) Homepage

    So let me get this straight: a meteor strikes a boy's hand, bounces off, and then impacts the ground with enough force to make a 1 ft crater in the ground, and a noise loud enough to leave his ears ringing for hours.

    Somehow, I think any object with enough kinetic energy to do that kind of damage to the road would have completely obliterated a soft, fleshy hand, or at least blown clear through it. But just leaving a 3 inch scar and bouncing off, yet packing enough force to knock him to the ground? No way. Not unless this kid is Iron Man.

  • Original Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by tenco ( 773732 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @05:16PM (#28314239)
    http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/staedte/essen/2009/6/9/news-122286237/detail.html [derwesten.de]

    Well, and I don't know where the details in TFA here posted came from. Actually, the german article states some facts differently (I'll try a translation, umlauts were replaced by me, because /. sucks at Unicode):

    "Erst habe ich nur einen grossen, weissen Lichtkegel gesehen. Meine Hand hat weh getan, dann hat es geknallt."

    "First I saw only a big, white cone of light. My hand hurt, then there was a bang."

    "Nachdem ich das weisse Licht gesehen habe, habe ich an meiner Hand etwas gespuert. Ich denke, dass mich der Meteorit gestreift hat. Vielleicht war es aber auch nur die Hitze", berichtet er und zeigt den Ruecken seiner linken Hand. Die rund zehn Zentimeter lange Brandwunde ueberdeckt bereits eine Kruste. "Das Geraeusch, das folgte, klang wie das Reissen einer Steinplatte und war ziemlich laut", erinnert sich Gerrit und deutet auf den kleinen Kreis aufgeplatzten Asphalts zu seinen Fuessen.

    "After I saw the white light, I felt something at my hand. I think, the meteorite streaked me. But maybe it was only the heat." he reported and shows the back of his left hand. A brand around 10 centimeters long is already covered by an eschar. "The sound that followed, sounded like a paver being ripped apart and it was pretty loud", he comemorates and points to a small circle of burst open bitumen by his feet.


    There's also a picture where one can see the "crater" in front: http://www.derwesten.de/nachrichten/staedte/essen/2009/6/10/news-122286237/imageshow.html?resourceId=picture23923142 [derwesten.de] (the caption reads: "Gerrit Blank shows his brand and the meteorite that streaked him, while it was falling, near the "crater".

  • Occam's Razor (Score:3, Informative)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday June 12, 2009 @06:00PM (#28314799)
    The probability of somebody lying about a meteor strike is much, much higher than the probability of somebody actually being struck by a meteor.

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