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Every meteorite since 861 AD: watch them fall
May 8, 2013 9:40 AM   Subscribe

From Nogata to Chelyabinsk.

This is the latest of a series of data and science charts from the Guardian.

The Guardian datastore previously, and even more previously.
posted by Gilgongo (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice chart... but what I want is a map (or a globe!) with animations.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2013


I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years. Is it easily explained by population growth and people being more spread out upon the earth in order to witness such events?
posted by koucha at 10:00 AM on May 8, 2013


I can't decide if the falling meteorite time series thing is a brilliant device or a cheap gimmick. I like it!

How many of these visualizations is The Guardian funding and publishing, and how many are just republished? The meteorite visualization is also on its own site with no mention of The Guardian.

infinitewindow: here's a map of meteorite finds (albeit not animated). The map says a lot more about where people are and where the ground cover makes it easy to spot a meteorite (ie: deserts). Also the treatment is a bit bogus; need a different projection to do it right.
posted by Nelson at 10:01 AM on May 8, 2013


I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years. Is it easily explained by population growth and people being more spread out upon the earth in order to witness such events?
Better understanding and records. A bunch of illiterate peasants witnessing a meteorite hundreds of years ago neither knew that it was a rock from space nor had any way of writing the event down for posterity.
posted by Jehan at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years.

Not as many literate people with a way of communicating with the world - since 1800, being able to read and write, telegraphs and postal services became increasingly commonplace worldwide.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There were fewer than 500 million people on the earth in 1000 AD. Today there are more than 7 BILLION
posted by cnanderson at 10:06 AM on May 8, 2013


I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years. Is it easily explained by population growth and people being more spread out upon the earth in order to witness such events?

That, and also, the historical record is only the stuff that's been a) written down and b) not burned or rotted or been eaten by rats or whatever.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:11 AM on May 8, 2013


Sorry about the terrible link to the population growth curve. Poor size. Here is a better one. I bet you could bin the time series from the meteorite data and the time series from the population data to see changes in per capita sighting rates. Note also that the curve shows growth from approx. 1 Billion in 1800 to 7 Billion today.
posted by cnanderson at 10:15 AM on May 8, 2013


koucha: "I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years."

Because there are fewer pirates.
posted by brundlefly at 10:26 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I poked around a little bit, but couldn't find an explanation for why there have been so many more sightings within the last 200 years."


"In the last decade, we've been sending probes deeper and deeper into space. We've drawn attention to ourselves."

Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Doctor Who, "Spearhead from Space" (1970)

Yes, I know that's not the reason, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind, especially because that story involved meteorites.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:36 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Tunguska meteor in 1908 in was only 13 grams? I thought it was the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history.

But I learned of the Sikhote-Alin meteorite in 1947, which I had never heard of before, so I forgive the graph maker.
posted by Triplanetary at 11:31 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also the treatment is a bit bogus; need a different projection to do it right.

Given that the poles are not represented at all on web mercator, yeah, projection fail.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:40 AM on May 8, 2013


Not as many literate people with a way of communicating with the world

Phew, well now we finally have a way to prevent massive barrages of meteorites from heading our way....illiteracy!
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:03 PM on May 8, 2013


Triplanetary: "The Tunguska meteor in 1908 in was only 13 grams? "

According to Wikipedia there is a lot of uncertainty (might have even been a comet), but somewhere around 300 feet in diameter estimated. It was an airburst with no crater, remains were microscopic fragments embedded in trees and earth found generations later. May be 13 grams discovered.
posted by stbalbach at 1:18 PM on May 8, 2013


Fortean moment: It wasn't until April 26, 1803 that a meteor shower in France forced science to stop ridiculing the idea that rocks fell from space.

So logically a lot of the falling rocks seen before then were not reported. And, not surprisingly, this chart suggests exactly that.
posted by Twang at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phil Plait: Have Tunguska Meteorites Been Found? I Have My Doubts
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on May 9, 2013


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