Science & Technology

Killed by a meteorite? Indian bus driver V. Kamaraj’s death may be a first

Death by meteorite is a common theme in science-fiction movies, however in actual life, the probabilities of being carried out in by a falling house rock are nearly nil. That’s what makes the studies in regards to the death of Indian bus driver V. Kamaraj in an obvious meteorite strike so exceptional.

Some would argue that the case is unprecedented in trendy historical past – however as regular, that relies on how exactly you outline the precedents.

First, the studies: NDTV quotes officers as saying that a blast at Bharathidasan Engineering College, in Natrampalli in India’s Tamil Nadu state, killed Kamaraj and injured three others on Saturday at Bharathidasan Engineering Faculty. A 2-foot-deep crater was left within the floor, and the shock wave shattered windshields and window panes across the website.

At first, the explosion was blamed a “drone-like” flying object or a bomb. However on Sunday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was quoted as saying that a meteorite caused the blast. About $1,475 (100,000 rupees) in reduction was paid out to Kamaraj’s household, and $370 was paid to every of the injured, NDTV quoted the minister as saying. Authorities stated they recovered what seems to be a piece of the meteorite, however discovered no hint of explosives. Scientists nonetheless must confirm that the particles truly got here from house.

“That is the first time within the historical past of meteorites falling that any person died due to a meteorite falling and its penalties, in India or anyplace else,” The Telegraph quoted S.V.S. Murty of India’s Bodily Analysis Laboratory as saying.

NASA’s review of the record agrees with Murty’s evaluation. The house company says “no human previously 1,000 years is understood to have been killed by a meteorite or by the consequences of 1 impacting.” A whole lot of individuals had been injured by flying glass from Russia’s Chelyabinsk meteor blast, which occurred nearly three years ago, however no deaths had been straight attributed to that exact meteorite fall.

The declare will get murkier in case you go additional again in historical past: A list of meteorite falls maintained by the International Comet Quarterly mentions a few studies of fatalities, together with two people who may have been killed by the 1908 Tunguska blast over Russia. However the documentation behind these studies is poor.

There’s no query that final weekend’s fatality might function the best-documented case of death by meteorite. And specialists say it’s solely a matter of time earlier than we face an asteroid risk on the size of the catastrophic blast that worn out the dinosaurs 65 million years in the past.

Luckily, these specialists are working on ways to anticipate the threat. Keep tuned for way more on the topic when the organizers of Asteroid Day conduct a news conference on Tuesday. You may watch it on YouTube at 6 a.m. PT.

Hat tip to Ars Technica’s Eric Berger and David Ropeik.

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