‘Meteorite’ lands on cricket pitch during county match says The Telegraph. Why is meteorite in quotes? Is The Telegraph so anti-science that it now refutes the very idea that there are bits of rock whizzing around over our heads?
Well, no. It’s not that bad.
When two spectators standing on the boundary at a cricket match saw an object hurtling down from the sky, their first instinct might have been to applaud.
However Jan Marszel, 51, and Richard Haynes, 52, were not witnessing a six, but an extremely rare meteor strike.
The rock, a few inches long and believed to be up to 4.5 billion years old, broke in two when it hit the ground in front of them close to the pitch.
That sounds pretty definitive, right? A meteorite*, 4.5 billion years old, landed on a cricket pitch.
The pair have kept the seemingly extraterrestrial pieces of rock for posterity and said they would be happy for experts to examine them.
Oh, no expert has looked at this rock yet, it might not be 4.5 billion years old,** it might not be rare, and there’s no guarantee that it’s extra terrestrial. Okay.
Dr Matthew Genge, a meteorite expert at Imperial College, London, said: “If this turns out to be a meteorite it’s very exciting and would be the first fall in the UK since 1992.
“Potentially it contains secrets as to the formation of our solar system.”
So how about this, Telegraph. Put the couple in touch with Dr. Genge, find out whether it is a meteorite or not, then publish.
Incidentally, they don’t say which match it was, but given that it was apparently a Sussex match with Panesar and Wright playing, it could well have been the recent Sussex v. Middlesex game which means a) this story’s been rushed into the papers and b) the match might have been carried on Sky (I can’t find their past listings, but it looks like they’re carrying a lot of county cricket at the moment) in which case this might be the first meteorite landing recorded on camera. Now that would be an interesting story.
* FYI, a meteor isn’t the rock, it’s the flash of light. Come on Telegraph, next you’ll be mixing up stalagmites and stalactites!
** If no expert has looked at the rock, where did they get the curious number 4.5 billion from? Surely they didn’t just go to the Wikipedia article on meteorites and spot the line “Chondrites are typically about 4.55 billion years old“, right?
Edit: The article – including the interview with Dr. Genge – originally came from the Brighton Argus, which includes a picture of the two discoverers holding the ‘meteorite’; which is very clearly not the meteorite in the picture in The Telegraph‘s article. Despite that, The Telegraph has captioned the photo “Meteorite: The rock, a few inches long and believed to be up to 4.5 billion years old, broke in two when it landed“. Misleading?