An old joke: “In Soviet Russia, space explores you!”
On February 15, 2013, the sky directly over Chelyabinsk, Russia witnessed a fireball streaming across the sky with multiple cloud trails as fragments broke loose. Citizens witnessed blindingly bright lights as it exploed in the sky. Scientists call this a 100-year event to witness a large meteorite sevent like this. But what made the show more ominous was the series of intensive sonic shock waves that broke thousands of windows. Flying glass sent more than 1500 people to area hospitals.
Miraculously, no one died in the incident. The Internet lit up with searches and posts on the Russian meteorite. YouTube videos instantly went viral and news agencies joined the frenzy seeking footage to share with their audiences. 4,500 buildings were damaged, mostly with broken windows.
Urals Fedreral University scientists identified 53 fragments of the meteor on the frozen surface of Lake Chebarkul and are searching for a larger fragment under water. The original meteorite is believed to have been 55-feet across and compsed of rock and 10% metal. It will be known as the “Chebarkul meteorite” after the lake where many fragments have been found.
The U.S. space agency, NASA, reported the meteor released nearly 500 kilotons of energy, about 33 times more than the nuclear bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. NASA said it was the largest incident since 1908, when a meteor exploded over Tunguska in remote Siberia, destroying 80 million trees over an area of 820 square miles.
Immediately after the fireball specualtion arose about the origin of the fireball and why it occured. Rumors, perhaps taken seriously by a guillible few, thought the meteor was an attack from the United States that failed to kill anyone. A testament to Russian toughness.
Meteor Mania Scams
Wanna buy a rock? Almost as fast as the firebsll, fragments of the meteorite were offered for sale in Russia and abroad. Russian police are monitoring online auction sites and social media for false meteorites offeered for sale. RT television reported samples offered for sale for $4,000 each. A week later there are dozens of Chelyabinsk meteorites on eBay.com for sale eBay listings for Russian meteorite, fake?
No doubt, some of these are stones from Chelyabinsk and Lake Chebarkul, and some of them are real. However, Russian police reportedly have identified over 1,000 false Chelyabinsk meteorites offered for sale, so buyer beware!
Social media wit and humor
Twitter quickly trended #russianmeteor with newsworthy and clever tweets, more than 115,000 tweets in the first hour. First the meteorite exploded, then social media exploded.
From Rick Malambri: “Breaking news: Baby found in the middle of the Meteorite crash site, he is miraculously unharmed. Wrapped in what seems to be a red cape.
Granta Magazine: The #russianmeteor was ‘like something that would precede the materialization of a fairy godmother’
Saragh Adams: “so we’re all just going to pretend like an army of alien super soldiers isn’t going to crawl out of Chebarkul Lake next week”
Sports Comedy: Scientists say that ‘meteor’ this morning was just a Dwight Howard free throw from last night.
Remember back in 2008 when former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house?”
Shanny Moore, #justsayin: “I live in Alaska and I could not see that meteor from my house.”
Ed Yong: “I like to think that just before that meteor hit, some guy in Russia said, “This day couldn’t get any worse.”
Besikec: “Welcome back, Optimus Prime”
spencerpratt: “Way to drop the ball Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.”
Ash Ketchum: What if the #russianmeteor is a fossilized Pokemon from space?
BettyFckinWhite: You know Jor-El is really pissed off, “Russia!? Seriously, Russia? I was aiming for Kansas!”
RT.com: BREAKING UPDATE: Emergency min denies report meteorite was shot down by Russian military
Compiled by David Owens