Another meteorwrong

The entire universe in blog form
June 3 2009 7:00 AM

Another meteorwrong

If a rock that falls from space is a meteorite, then one that's misidentified is a meteorwrong. And I am sure that's what we have in Texas.

Texas meteorwrong
Photo from Fox 4 and Steve Hudgeons
A land owner there claims to have found a long ditch with a large teardrop-shaped rock at one end. It looks just like a scene from Superman, when Kal-el's ship crashed into Kansas, in fact. Experts were called out, but the object is limestone, a sedimentary rock that is clearly and most certainly not a meteorite.


I was rather surprised to see a news segment about this that was actually even-handed-- not because it was Fox, but because local news in general does not treat scientific stories very well, and tend to be very credulous when it comes to meteorite stories in particular.

So what is this? I'm not sure. It could be a hoax, and that's the most parsimonious explanation. But it could also be natural, like a channel carved by torrential rain which unearthed the rock. It looks like the ditch is up on a small rise, though, so this is peculiar. A wider shot would help, I think.

Most reports of meteorites are misidentified terrestrial rocks. Slag from factories, ejected teeth from industrial grinders, weirdly-shaped stones, and the like are endlessly shown to scientists. But sometimes a true piece of an asteroid is found, so if you do find something you're not sure about, it's better to tell someone! Call a local university and see if they have a geology or astronomy department member who's willing to take a look. If what you have is real, it could be valuable, both to science and to your wallet.

My thanks to my old friend Mike Fanelli and to BATweep IanDavidB for alerting me to this!

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.