Exactly ONE WEEK AGO, I wrote the following…
“You’re more likely to be beaned by a falling meteorite” …is a phrase I use often, to denote that the chance of a particular thing happening to a person is REMOTE. But HOW remote IS it?
Maybe I have too much time on my hands, but I decided to look it up. For once, the Interweb was no help, so I got my calculator out and did some maths.
Now the six billion souls on our planet would fit shoulder-to-shoulder on the Isle Of Wight, which is about twelve square miles, while the whole planet’s surface covers some two hundred million square miles. This means if a fist-sized iron meteorite hit said surface, the odds of it striking a human being are less than one in a million.
And while around twenty thousand meteorites MAKE it through our upper atmosphere every year, seventy percent plop into the ocean and most of the rest land in remote areas. But what of the rest?
Well, working with the above stats, a person SHOULD get hit around every seven thousand years. But THAT statistic assumes the World’s CURRENT population level – in earlier times, said population was MUCH lower. Thus it seems likely that in all of recorded history – NO-ONE has EVER been hit by one. So no need to wear that tin hat then.
Certainly, trawling the cyberworld, no instance appears to have been RECORDED. Of course, it would have to happen in the developed World to have any chance of being noted in the first place. I mean, if a pygmy was found in the jungle with a bludgeoned head, it would be assumed he’d simply been clobbered by another pygmy.
However, I DO recall a tale of a bloke living in a shack in Arizona, who was in his living room, when he heard a crash come from the bedroom. Investigating, he found a hole in the roof and another in the wall. Having watched “C.S.I.”, he drew a mental line from one to the other, then went outside and discovered a hole in the garden.
A few seconds of digging revealed a fist-sized rock, which a museum later declared was extra-terrestrial – a meteorite. The local rag came round, interviewed him and took pictures. The story was syndicated, went global and the man became a “cause célèbre” as “The Man Who Dodged The Inter-Stellar Bullet”.
Of course if he had been in his BEDROOM at the time, he would have become REALLY famous – as the only recorded case of someone who actually WAS… Beaned By A Falling Meteorite.
Sadly, his fame would have posthumous!
Well, it just HAPPENED! A German student got CLIPPED by a PEA-SIZED meteorite (he survived with no more than a tiny scar on his hand. He’ll get more – but THIS one will be an ice-breaker, for the rest of his life!)
According to the follow-up story, the chances of getting hit is only one in one hundred million (presumably, ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine, NOW).
Although they did say no-one HAS died from one – except two sailors and a monk, in two separate incidents, back in the 1600s – but those stories require corroboration.
Still, at least it means I’m topical!