This strange rock landed in my mailbox in July 2007. The following text accompanied it:
On February 12, 1947, a chunk of nickel-iron the size of a minivan came screaming in from the north traveling at nearly 15 kilometers per second--54,000 kilometers per hour. Trailing smoke and flame, the meteoroid underwent vast pressure as it rammed through our thick atmosphere. At a very high altitude it began to break up from the force.
The pieces hit the ground and spread out over a large area. Named after the area they fell, thousands of Sikhote-Alin (sick-OH-tee uh-LEEN) meteorites have been found.
What you are holding in your hand is a piece of metal that was once deep within the core of a planetary-sized body that was destroyed by the impact of another planet-sized body 4 billion years ago. It orbited the Sun, relatively untouched all that time, until that fateful day in 1947. It's a piece of outer space brought to Earth in a fiery, violent decent.
And now it is yours. Enjoy.
Enchantment rained over me. I inhaled, traced the line of my lips with the meteor fragment. I clutched it in my hand and felt it thrum. I wore the fragment around my neck for awhile, but found it too overwhelming. Now it hangs from a window crank to the right of my desk. Talk about your perspective ...
The man who delivered unto me four billion years of daily encouragement is one Phil Plait, whose new TV show Phil Plait's Bad Universe will premiere this Sunday at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.
I am beside myself with joy over this.
Sunday night shall come, as have the four billion years before it. I'll sit here in the west with my impossible shard from Phil's universe. I'll nod to the priest in the north, the ghost in the south, and to the jester in the east. Then I'll wink to all of them, click a tiny button and watch as my buddy Phil beams in from the west and into my family room.
I believe in magic.
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