Car belonging to Field Notes proprietor's sister hit by space junk


Lewman says: "Aaron Draplin, proud proprietor of Field Notes brand notebooks [which I blogged about earlier today -- Mark], also has a great blog. And today, something you Boingboingers might find interesting... Drap's younger sister's car was pranged by what is being investigated by Portland State University professors as a meteor strike."

They think they might’ve run something over, or were hit by another car. The impact is that violent. They pull over and notice a large hole in the quarter panel behind the driver’s side front wheel. They cautiously drive back out on to the freeway and take the first exit to further inspect the hole. They don’t notice anything too specific, aside from the gaping hole in the car.

The next day Leah gets on the ringer with her insurance company. She takes the car into a body shop and the guys there are freaking out after they extract this insane hunk of metal from the car. The car suffered some $3000 in damages from the possible interstellar attack.




  1. #1 If I ran an insurance company I would take that bet. The odds would be.. really big.

    Speaking of big (or small), I can’t get a bead on the size of this thing. Could you ask Aaron that the next time a piece of space junk hits his sister’s car could he include a ruler in the photograph?

  2. Seems unlikely it’s space junk. It’s dirty! The NSA would at least hose down its spysats before launch. Maybe road-collision debris thrown by a truck? Or an industrial accident (read: explosion) within a mile or two?

  3. Um, that doesn’t look like a meteorite to me.

    It looks more like a piece of deformed steel plate than the usual lump of iron or stony-metal amalgamate.

    There’s no apparent indication of heating during reentry.

    And is that dirt I see in the folds?

    Can some astronomy nerd share their opinion?

  4. Space junk or scrap metal, it might be fun to run some tests to figure out what metal it is – mild steel, an aerospace alloy, or the blends of elements that are found in meteorites, or what? Send it to a bunch of materials science undergraduates with lab facilities (XRF, metallographic microscopy, XRD, etc) and have them identify it as a class project!

  5. The dirt and the fact it looks to me like it is sheet metal makes me think it’s unlikely to be from orbit. All those flat surfaces would have been melted away in short order you’d think.

  6. It looks like a piece of lead flashing…

    The amount of folding makes me think that it has to be a rather malleable metal.

    #1 – Satellites crashing down on to your house or other property are usually not covered by standard insurance policies.

  7. Good thing her name was Leah instead of Sally, or else she’d have been hit by space junk, smashed by space junk, and killed by space junk.

  8. You’re all missing the far broader implications of this. This is predicting the future of interplanetary playground warfare. Whereby we throw rocks at each other’s planets. Millions and millions of dollars go into developing enormous slingshots. Millions of calculations and years of research into the proper weights, trajectories, gravitational forces, etc. All to wage playground warfare with strange alien species. And they’re winning.

  9. Are you sure this isn’t like that insurance commercial?

    “A meteor hit the car, dear”

    “A METEOR???”

    “Yes, a meteor!”

  10. Meteors are very cold. If they had found this thing when it first struck, and touched it, they would know whether it came from space.

  11. i never touched her
    she never saw it
    when she was hit by space junk!
    she was smashed by space junk!

  12. As a former airman who blew up munitions that had remained in one piece past their rated shelf life, I can say that this looks very much like shrapnel from a general purpose bomb.

    it’s dirty, it looks like metal, and it is twisted beyond recognition. there’s no scale in the photo, but going by the wood grain I’d say it’s at least 4 inches across. I don’t think that this is actually part of the bomb casing itself, but rather part of the guide fin assembly that is tacked on the tail end of the bomb to coax it to is destination.

    If there is not a military installation within 5 miles, I would hit the library and see if there are any former bombing ranges in the area. California had a few in the WWII era, and an undiscovered, unexploded bomb could definitely produce this projectile.

  13. uh, dudes, its scrap metal.
    This is whats left of cars etc. after going thrugh one of those hammmer type shredders

  14. It could have acquired that much energy by being picked up in the tread of a semi or wedged between two tires, then flicked free at the radial velocity of the tire. A hunk of steel thrown at 80 mph might easily puncture a quarter-panel, especially if it’s one of those mostly-plastic ones. It could have gained additional velocity if it had an elastic collision with another tire or sufficiently elastic surface traveling opposite it before hitting their quarter-panel.

    I once worked in a building that was about 50 meters from an interstate highway. One morning, one of the developers found his window smashed and a rock the size of a chicken egg embedded in his wall. It was attributed to a semi having flung it.

  15. I know of one case where the driver of a car following a dump truck was killed by the cap from a fire hydrant picked off the road by tandem tires and flung.

    Yep, the physics work, but the described entry angle?

  16. I once worked at a sawmill that had a tub grinder for grinding down discarded chunks of logs so they’d fit in the boiler. Every now and again, a steaming chunk of steel would come crashing through the roof of the plant after having been lobbed out of the grinder. The stuff generally looked like that pictured.

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