Was Florida boy hit by meteorite fragments?

This story is questionable. But there is evidence to be tested.

WPEC-TV CBS12 News – Far out! Loxahatchee dad convinced his son was hit by meteorite fragments.

The odds are astronomical, but 7-year-old Steven Lippard and his dad are convinced the boy was struck by pebbles from a meteorite Saturday while playing outside.

Steven has a gash — stitched up with three staples — on his head to prove it. Initial testing at Florida Atlantic University indicates the little stones — pea sized and smaller — are metallic, a good sign they came from space. Other testing supports the meteorite theory.

The fragments can only be confirmed as a meteorite through chemical testing. It’s not clear from this story if that will be done. Also, many details are missing. What did the boy describe happened to him? It doesn’t say. Kids get injured in the dardest ways. Was this some other injury? Where and how did they find these fragments? Will they be tested or is the story they have now enough? (It wouldn’t be for me, of course). The odds of getting hit by material from space is ridiculously low, as Phil Plait points out from 2009.

space rock

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  33 comments for “Was Florida boy hit by meteorite fragments?

  1. stan
    November 27, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    0.0% chance this is legit. these stones are nearly fully covered in fusion crust. meaning the incoming meteoroid would have had to break up at an altitude of tens of miles. it’s more likely the kid would be hit by lightning every day of the week for a few months than it is 5 pea sized stones would fall from 40 miles up and land in a 3 foot circle. Meteorites of this size fall at terminal velocity once they are in the lower atmosphere. Thats less than 100 miles per hour for something this size, something that would weigh a small fraction of a gram. a plastic BB from a low power pellet gun would carry much more energy and you dont need stitches when hit with one of them.

    • November 28, 2013 at 2:39 PM

      I might not say it’s 0.0% chance. I’d say definitely extremely unlikely though. It has happened once before in recorded history that one person has been hit by meteor fragments, Ann Hodges.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylacauga_%28meteorite%29

      She even gets her own entry in this article from Cracked:

      http://www.cracked.com/article_17416_the-7-most-bizarrely-unlucky-people-who-ever-lived.html

      • stan
        November 28, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        Did you read what I wrote? I did not say a 0.0% chance because it was unlikely that a human would be hit. Things are hit by meteorites all the time, there is even a nickname given to this class of meteorites, ‘hammers’. houses, cars, animals and yes, even a person has been hit. I said there is 0.0% chance this story is legit for technical reasons pertaining to the fall of meteorites. How they come down through the atmosphere and how much kinetic energy they carry with them. no matter how low the odds of being hit are, you arent going to receive an injury requiring staples from a meteorite hit if the stone that hits you has the kinetic energy of a cotton ball thrown by a 2 year old.

        • November 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

          Sorry, I misunderstood what you meant then. As Sharon mentions in the beginning of the post though, the evidence still needs to be tested before we can say anything for sure.

          • stan
            November 28, 2013 at 3:45 PM

            testing will reveal nothing. you can buy meteorites like what is seen in the photos any day of the week on ebay for a few dollars. if the stones are meteorites it proves nothing, other than the fact that there are meteorites being held in someone’s hand. i stand by my previous argument based upon the physical realities involved. there is a 0.0% chance this story is legit. Meteorites do not fall in the way claimed, and individuals so small would not have enough energy to break the skin.

        • WAYNE
          November 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM

          I AGREE THE STORY DOESNT ADD UP IF ONE IS TO BELIEVE ALL THESE LITTLE FRAGMENTS FELL 7 + MILES STAYING IN VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY OF EACH TOGETHER THEN FOR ONLY ONE OF THEM STRIKE AND INJURE A LITTLE BOY. QUESTION IS WHY WOULD THAT MAKE WORLD NEWS??? UHH, COULD IT BE IT WAS ONE ROCK AND AFTER STRIKING THE BOY IT HIT THE GROUND NEXT TO HIM BROKE APART AND THESE ARE THE FRAGMENTS FOUND THUS FAR???

    • WAYNE
      November 29, 2013 at 2:47 PM

      I would have to agree with stan. It looks like you put some thought into this one however did the thought occur to you that this is so outlandishly ridiculous that maybe the reporter stated what happened a little off? This story has hit the news all over the world with slight variations with each interpretation. It doesn’t take much thought to realize the more likely story is this object or meteorite shown was in one piece, possibly more than a gram, and carried more speed say 100+ mph. striking the boy ,whose head was only a foot and half away from the ground, with a glancing blow and breaking into several pieces on the solid concrete driveway where he was playing??? This scenario would fit the claim don’t you think?

      • stan
        November 29, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        nope. these pieces are complete individuals almost or fully coated with what is known as fusion crust, the remnants of the entry event where the meteoroid was glowing hot due to atmospheric friction. This occurs only at very high altitudes, tens of miles up, when the air is thin enough so that a majority of the reentry speed of the stone has not yet bleed off. the formation of this fusion crust is impossible at lower altitudes, so the scenario you suggest is physically impossible

        • WAYNE
          November 29, 2013 at 5:50 PM

          Did you happen to notice my name is Wayne? Wayne Lippard that is. Sounds like you at least agree they look like a meteorite! You just further convinced me that am right on target with my evaluation. I have the pieces and i decided to try to match them together within a minute or two I was able to match two of the larger broken pieces together! If you would like I can Email you a couple of pics so you can zoom in and see the difference between the outside and the inside. The inside is mostly dark but the silvery flecks of metal are exposed. I cant wait to get this thing verified! I don’t blame you or anyone for not believing it , but its true and i will prove it! Please challenge me with whatever questions you may have.

          • stan
            November 29, 2013 at 7:48 PM

            Wayne,
            I did not notice, and regardless of your opinion I am sorry but I can not accept your story or suspicion. I have been involved with the study of meteorites for over 25 years and have one of the worlds largest private collections of meteorites, in sheer mass weighing in at over 5000 lbs. If I do not already own, I have held in my hand every type of meteorite known to man. I guarantee you that I have more experience in this subject than anyone you talked to at FAU.

            That said, my prior comment (assuming these stones were in fact meteorites) was basically predicated on the assumption that these stones were bought off of ebay and the story is just one big fabrication. I do not want to make this into a personal attack but given all of the information I have available to me that is what this story looks like, and it wouldn’t be the first time it happened. A boy in Norway claimed to have been hit by a meteorite a few years ago with much the same conclusion reached by the professional community.

            Now in the interest of getting down to the bottom of this matter, and in good faith, if you would like to examine this event further then I would suggest taking some good close up photos with a field of view no more than something the size of a penny with as much resolution as possible and posting them to a public hosting site such as imageshack.us or the like. I will make all reasonable and impartial observations that I can and post them here publicly for all to see. If I conclude that these are meteorites I will put you in contact with some of the foremost scientists in the field, men and women who have dedicated their professional life to nothing but studying meteorites. These are tests for short lived radionuclides that can provide definitive proof that these rocks fell from the sky only a matter of days ago.

            Just to broach the subject in advance, the established procedure set by the nomenclature committee of the meteoritical society for the publication of research on privately owned specimens requires the donation of 20 grams or 20% of the total mass to an acceptable academic institution where the material can be curated for future scientific study. Most researchers will not bother to work on material without this ‘type specimen’ donation, so if you want to make things official, that would be required of you.

            Feel free to post back with a link to the photos, please take as many as your care to, and I’ll follow up ASAP.

  2. November 28, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    Of course, the chance of a human being hit by fragments from space is ridiculously lower than low. However you have to multiply this by the world population and time. This makes it possible or even likely ‘sooner or later’.

    • Halidom
      November 28, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      I agree with MG that the odds are astronomical but the facts about the found so called bits of the asteroid are putting it well beyond believable. Want to get rich selling a story try striking your head with a rock!!

  3. Dave in Spokanistan
    November 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    The chunk that hit Anne Hodges’ house and then hit her, weighed 3.86 kg (8.5 lb). Lots of collateral damage to confirm: Hole in roof, damaged furniture, big bruise on her thigh.

    This kid gets beaned by maybe a gram of rock that may or may not be pieces of meteorite.
    More likely scenario: Dad tosses a rock at — and hits the kid; then covers his backside by the space-rock claim.

  4. WAYNE
    November 29, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I know lets fire a pebble that weighs about a gram at someones head ( a willing volunteer of course) at a speed of 100 mph and see if it breaks the skin??

    • November 29, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Sounds like a Mythbusters experiment.

    • stan
      November 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      those pieces are certainly sub gram in size. probably about 100mg each. a plastic BB would travel 2x as fast and weight 2x as much (8 times the kinetic energy). see my previous comment regarding the idea they broke after hitting the boy.

      • WAYNE
        November 29, 2013 at 7:44 PM

        You seem very confident when I out right told you were wrong? I also offered to Email pics to you in my previous comment. I take it you want to stick to what you say no matter what evidence is given? that doesn’t sound like a very open minded scientific approach to me. The only reason i suggested a gram is the scientist that i took them to at a local university suggested that was the size again collectively not individually. You say from one picture 100mg ea. that still puts the whole thing at .6 grams by your estimate. Plus whose to say i found it all? scientific sites on meteorites suggest most meteorites travel small to large at 200 – 400 mph. at what speed would you say a meteorite between .6 – 1.0 gram would have to travel to break the skin and cause a small hematoma? have you seen the pictures of my sons head? JUst so there is no misunderstanding please do not maintain they were all separate I have explained you can plainly see its broke apart so its a non issue the whole pieces theory you are simply wrong. no big deal lets just move forward with the under standing it was one piece when it cracked my sons head and do your number crunching based on the facts. Respectfully.

        • stan
          November 29, 2013 at 7:54 PM

          Please see my earlier response to you.

          that said, speaking specifically to the size of the individuals, maybe you misunderstood my reply, but if these are meteorites (and to be fair, they look like them in the limited photos ive seen) then it would be PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for them to appear as they do and have broken up on impact with either your son’s head or the ground. The only way they would appear as they do is if they are the remnants of some larger mass of unknown size that broke up 20 miles high and fell to the ground where you found them from that height. if this is the case then the mass that impacted your sons head would be much less than a gram. and if it broke up upon hitting your son’s head or the ground they would NOT EVER look as they do. this isnt a matter of opinion but a matter of what is and is not physically possible.

          Again, please refer back to my other reply from a few minutes ago.

  5. WAYNE
    November 29, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Wikipedia: Airsoft pellets are spherical projectiles used in Airsoft gun models. Typically made of plastic,[1][2] they usually measure around 6 mm[3] in diameter, though select models use 8mm, and weigh between 0.12 and 0.48 g, with the most popular weights being 0.12g and 0.20g. Although sometimes called BBs, they are not the same as the 4.5 mm projectiles fired by BB guns.

  6. WAYNE
    November 29, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Looks like a plastic “bb” would be any where between 1/5th – 1/2 the size of this rock not three times as suggested. I just read that .22 bullet weighs about 2.5 grams now that would be close to three times the size of this.

    • stan
      November 29, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      *sigh* please see my comment in reply to your introduction as the father in this story.

      FYI stone meteorites average about 3.3 g/cm^3 in density. looking at the biggest piece in the photo in this story and using your thumbnail as a judge of size I guesstimated the largest chunk to be about 3mm in size. this gives a volume of about 0.014 cubic centimeters using a spherical approximation. That gives an estimated weight of 47 milligrams

      • stan
        November 29, 2013 at 11:16 PM

        forgot to mention – terminal velocity for something this size and density is 30-40 mph. if the stone was 5 or 6mm then it would be 50 to 60 mph. at 215mg in weight we are still talking much less kinetic energy than a plastic bb

        • WAYNE
          November 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM

          Now we are getting some where. Lets say all of theses did break apart after the it struck the earth and not in the air as mentioned in your opening comment would be impossible, that is for them to all land in a three foot area. So humor this idea that these were one piece and also consider there may be missing fragments. With what you have seen and the knowledge you have of usual composition of this type of meteorite. please collectively add and approximate their mass density so forth as one rock if you will and determine the terminal velocity of these again as a whole. then and only then will you be scrutinizing my claim thus far you are scrutinizing what you think you see not what I say namely from the out set they were all one piece. thats why i agreed with your first comment.

          • WAYNE
            November 30, 2013 at 3:05 PM

            These pictures are my “evidence” for now. you can see in one pic i had them flipped to show out side the other to show inside, thats not burnt, with the exposed metallic flecks.

            http://imageshack.com/a/img22/3034/fn5l.jpg
            http://imageshack.com/a/img89/5779/qnw8.jpg

            I need to figure how to go about getting close up images of these. I am thinking I might take them to a jeweler. I know that if you could see them in person your whole perspective of this story would change. These pieces fit together like a puzzle and you can plainly see the difference from the burnt outside and the split open inside thats not shiny with exception of the shiny flecks of metal it contains. Maybe after confirmation they are meteorite material they can be tediously pieced back together to se if it is apparent another piece is yet to be found adding to the overall mass? I found these right after the injury occurred. here are some facts I have put together for our investigation. (Fact: There have only ever been three meteorites confirmed in the state of florida.) (Fact: these small stones have not yet been verified as meteorites – this claim can be verified by some one with the right resources. it would be documented somewhere)(Fact: these stones are attracted to a strong magnet, I believe its called paramagnetic.) (Fact: two scientist, one being you, have confirmed they visually look like meteorites) (Fact: “they were not purchased.” – on a public forum I’m sure Fox News would oblige they have expressed much interest in the outcome challenge anyone and everyone who sells these things to come forward with a sales a receipt and pictures you will not find them this came from my driveway you can offer a million dollar reward, you will not find not any history of these prior to me finding them moments after they fell from the sky November 23rd 2013 at 10:15am)(Fact: In person you can plainly see the stone broke apart after entry/burning whatever if you held them in your hand you would immediately acknowledge this scientifically)
            Thats just for starters!!

            I have the rock what more do the scientist want? Come to my house scan the driveway do the radio whatever tests this happened on november 23rd at 10:15am in Loxahatchee, FL. (Hurry! I have to move out next week.)

            • stan
              November 30, 2013 at 5:04 PM

              Wayne,
              see my marked copies of your images:
              http://imageshack.com/i/0a7bwij

              This is what I had tried to explain before.
              When a meteoroid is traveling at a good fraction of it’s cosmic velocity in the upper atmosphere, the outside starts to ablate and leave what is known as fusion crust.

              if we assume the stones in your hand are meteorites then they are all nearly totally covered with fusion crust

              i drew a red line across 2 stones that shows the transition from the fusion crust, ie the natural ‘skin’ of the stone as it falls through the atmosphere, and the broken interior of the stone.

              as you can see from the photo, one stone looks to have maybe 90 or 95% of it’s surface covered with fusion crust, the other one maybe 60 or 70% covered in crust.

              now this is the problem – if this was a stone that fell to the ground and hit something, breaking up, the pieces you found would not have such a large fraction of their surface area covered in crust. think about it. pretend you have an orange and slice it in half. then slice a half in half leaving you with quarters. then slice a quarter in half leaving you with eights of the orange. take any one piece and how much of it’s surface are is the orange skin? a small minority of it. you would never be able to cut the orange in such a way that one piece had 90% of the skin and another hand 60% of the skin – and the other stones look to be close to 100% crusted – you are now at a total of 560% of what you originally started out at!

              fusion crust NEVER EVER EVER forms at 3 ft altitude. (except maybe in impact events that kill off all the creatures on a planet). so if we agree that it’s unrealistic something traveling 20,000 miles per hour would break up 20 miles high and have half a dozen piece land all within the same 3 ft circle – then the theory you are trying to push is ALSO unworkable because the stones have too much of their surface area covered in crust.

              To comment on your list of facts,

              – yes, meteorite finds are very rare in florida. mainly because a majority of meteorites are recovered long after they fall, and the hot, humid environment in florida is not the best for preserving meteorites. virtually all meteorites have a good content of iron in them and they literally rust away to nothing in geologically short periods of time. most finds are in the desert where it is exceedingly dry.

              – meteorites are not paramagnetic, they are magnetic because of the previously mentioned iron content. the content varies with type so some attract a magnet strongly, others not so much.

              – hate to make this sound as an attack on you personally, but any claims that these were not purchased would be greeted with much skepticism. do a search on ebay for ‘meteorite’ there are thousands of listings any day of the week. in particular do a search for ‘chelyabinsk’. this is a recent fall that landed in russia, you may have seen it on the news, this is the meteorite that broke up high in the atmosphere with the force of a 400 kt nuclear bomb, breaking windows and injuring 1000 people. this fall scattered countless numbers of small stones that look exactly like your own, in fact if you look you can see small lots of these ‘chelyabinsk peas’ as they are called for sale right now. for an outside observer like me, someone who does not know you, the coincidence of the availability of such items on ebay and the timing of your story jumps out and says ‘look at me, i’m the likely explanation!’. can this be proved or disproved? no. but like i said, it is an obvious coincidence.

  7. November 30, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    Reminder to Stan and Wayne: While I appreciate the discussion, this is NOT a forum for debate. I have no control over the comment app telling you that are you posting too often in a short time span. I think the points have been made. It seems unlikely and the person making the claim (Wayne), needs to pony up the evidence to show that this is indeed a meteorite that hit his son. That’s the way sound evaluation of claims work – the burden of proof is on the claimant.

    Please read the Comment Policy again. http://doubtfulnews.com/rules-for-commenting/

  8. November 30, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    Guys, I think both sides have made their cases. We are not going to resolve things here.

  9. WAYNE
    November 30, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Your conclusion from these pictures in itself proves my story that in your vast experience you have concluded they like meteorite this tells me history has been made!!!! As far as the crust conclusion who is to say it was originally a 360 sphere thats a huge conclusion to jump to?? If you held these in your hand you would be astonished for sure!! Apologies to me are unnecessary its about getting to the facts the true story and documenting it no matter how it comes about! it looks like we are getting shut down here. :( If you want hold true to your word call Fox News for my phone # or Email or SHARON HILL can give it to you. Thank You VERY MUCH!!! I promise you in front of the world you are wrong about the skin the pictures are deceiving you. Keep a look out for better pictures mean while send any colleges intrested in being part of HISTORY my way. PLEASE. THESE NEED TO BE TESTED A.S.A.P.!!!
    How much time do we have for these tests for short lived radionuclides that can provide definitive proof that these rocks fell from the sky only a matter of days ago??? Time is ticking away it will be exactly one week tomorrow at approximately 10:15 am!!! You ask for proof? Certainly I am not equipped to perform this test even if was who could trust the results without verification from an authoritative source. do i need instructions on how to handle it or where or how to store it so as to protect these qualities???

  10. WAYNE
    November 30, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    AMERICAN METEOR SOCIETY http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireballs/faqf/
    “The majority of meteorites, including the stone varieties, contain sufficient amounts of iron (Fe) and nickel (Ni) to cause them to be paramagnetic. Meteorite hunters often employ metal detectors, or very strong magnets attached to a walking stick, to aid them in their searches.”

  11. December 6, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    If it is legit tho. I think this would be the first recorded case of a meteorite directly hitting a human by gravity without hitting another object on the ground first. This kid would be in the Guinness book of records.

  12. James
    December 22, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    I’m still waiting for the follow up to this story.

    • December 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM

      I suspect you aren’t going to get any. It will just go away.

  13. James
    January 11, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Wayne.
    I’ve been in debate with n individual since this story broke.
    I’m on your side, although the chance is slim.
    Where is the follow up to this story?
    Your reputation is on the line, Wayne.
    Come on. Give us the evidence that these are meteorites, so I can save face.

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