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12 February 2009

I don't believe this

This picture is from The Guardian 12 February 2009. The caption reads:



"A mysterious metallic object that crashed through the roof of a New Jersey family's home in January 2007 was not a meteorite after all. Scientists say it is a stainless steel alloy that does not occur in nature and is most likely orbital debris, perhaps remnants of a satellite, a rocket or some other spacecraft component".

Now come on guys, we know what space debris does. It either falls as a pile of recogniseable junk or it burns up as it descends. It does not melt into something that looks like an iron meteorite. A stainless steel object falling from a plane would not melt at all.
Stainless steel is iron with 10-20% chromium, 5-15% nickel added. Whilst all metal meteorites are iron-nickel alloys they include no chromium, hence the mystery. Chromium is mined as FeCr2O4, no nickel.
So what is it? I don't know, I merely don't think there is a likely explanation. Some phenomena don't presently have explanations, and 'scientists' shouldn't be grabbing the nearest available one and saying 'that must be it'.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Occam's razor, dude!

No mystery.
Tossed by a human. No way it came from space.

hartley said...

That was a suggestion on a forum I found discussing the mystery. Occam's razor only works with known possible explanations of course.

Anonymous said...

I just gave you a probable explanation - someone tossed it.
There wasn't enough damage to have originated from space (<~70 kps)

The finder is either a victim of a prank, or scammer.

Isn't "known possible explanations" oxymoronic?