My first publication of a scientific observation came when I was twelve. It was in the august scientific journal, the Daily Mail and came about because I had written about seeing a meteor light up the sky to Big Chief I-Spy. He had a weekly column in the Daily Mail and, out of all the letters he must have got from precocious kids like me each day, he chose to highlight mine. My reward, other than ever-lasting fame, some kudos at school and two copies of that day's newspaper (rounded up by my dad), was a pen. No one ever said science paid well.
The thing I never mentioned in the letter was that the meteor explosion scared the hell out of me. When I was four, our house had been struck by lightning and this bolide (exploding meteoroid) resembled lightning (but without the thunder). It lit the sky up and the night it and I chose to be in the same rough location at the same time was Boxing Day 1974. Nearly forty years later I mostly remember the flash but I suppose it looked something like this:
In the main they are. No one is reported to have been killed by a fall and barely any falls have caused damage to humans or even their property. There are far too many square miles on the Earth's surface that are not occupied by humans, and then there's all that sea. But dozens of meteorites land on the surface each day and some of them are found. It's easier to look in the desert where vegetation doesn't obscure them, and better still to look on ice sheets because any rock on the surface of the ice almost certainly got there from the sky. But they do cause the odd bit of damage, as this Alabama woman found out first hand in
But I find the most amazing thing about this meteorite business is that we've found one on Mars.
here. One day, perhaps not too far off, an astronaut will kick their boot against a meteorite on the sandy martian surface and perhaps that rock will have begun its life here on Earth.