Un court-circuit céleste

The New York Times, dimanche 18 janvier 1920
s1Chris Aubeck, Magonia Exchange, 24 mars 2007
L'article d'origine
L'article d'origine

Cette intéressante théorie pour expliquer la perturbation électrique qui a accompagné la chute d'un énorme météore récemment dans le Lac Michigan est avancée editorialement par H. Gernsback dans le Electrical Experimenter.

Le 26 novembre tomba ici dans le Lac Michigan un météore de taille sans précédent. Press reports which have since been verified through a number of independent sources reveal the following remarkable facts:

Witnesses aver they saw the great ball of fire, white and orange colored, which illuminated the whole country, pass over the lake south of Grand Haven. It fell into the waters, creating a fog of steam clouds.

Telegraph operators of the New York Central Lines reported wire trouble as far north as Grand Rapids, Mich.

The power plant of the Calumet Electric Light Company at Kalamazoo was put out of commission, and another plant near Berrien Springs was disabled.

The greater majority of the meteors which strike the earth are rather small, probably well below 100 pounds for the individual fragment. Great meteors such as the Peary Ahnighito, weighing 371/2 tons, are exceedingly rare. The composition of most of the known aerolites is iron with a small percentage of nickel. While the meteor moves through interstellar space at the terrific speed of from eighteen to thirty-six miles per second, its temperature is that of free space, namely, 459 degrees Fahrenheit. The instant the meteor strikes the upper regions of the atmosphere, the latter, acting like a cushion toward the meteor, retards its flight. That means that an immense amout of heat is immediately generated, because you cannot arrest a body traveling at such a prodigious speed without generating heat. But as the aerolite rushes earthward the atmosphere becomes denser and denser and the friction between the world wanderer and our planet's air becomes enormous. That means still more heat—sufficient, as a matter of fact, to melt all or part of the iron-nickel mass.

From the time the meteor enters into our atmosphere till it finally strikes the earth, only a few seconds elapse. The entire cooling and subsequent heating process, ranging from 459 degrees to over 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, probably takes place in less than three seconds.

When a really big meteor...