Friday, August 27, 2010

Bad Universe indeed

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.

* * *


swine said...

what a wonderful thing! that made MY day, i cannot imagine what it did to yours.

Erin O'Brien said...

It is amazing to consider this meteor fragment.

And it is so great to know a guy like Phil. He's 100 percent genuine in his person and his science--not some geeky front man for a tv show.

VideoDude said...

My friend turned me on to his Bad Astronomer blog years ago. Phil Plait is one of the smartest most forthright people I have ever seen. I can't wait until Sunday!

Erin O'Brien said...

AND he sent me that cool meteor chunk! Phil Plait rocks my face off.

Vince said...

I had to look it up in wiki. It would be pretty darn nasty if the thing hit over a populated area. And I'd like to see a 900,000kg minivan. You need to be thinking in the realm of a Amish barn

Anonymous said...



lucy beckett 1935 said...

Am I late? I just saw your post on FB and came right here! You are truly fortunate in having a friend such as Phil, who would give you such a precious, yes, and indeed, magical, gift. I believe in magic, too. It's all those things I can't wrap my brain around...the things that some folks might call God, or the equivalent. And your writing is positively poetic, my dear friend.

Vince said...

And who the hell did an O'Brian knock a brown eye out of to provide you with that look, hmm.

Bill the Wrenchbender said...

I am the friend of VideoDude, and I had to work all weekend and had no cable, dammit!