micrometeorites!

10/05/2020

Sharing a sample of one of the many, many ‘lesson plans’ that I created, using bits and pieces from all over. So that the other teachers can also follow the script/steps & do it, may be spice it up, add some of their own kinkiness etc etc – that is, if they like these modes of madnesses, or madenesses, if you will.

Of course, I claim no originality, because am bounden to giants, and any way, y’all know that am under the feet of & getting squished by many intellectual behemoths such as ak47 – but these kinda experiments can be done with our kids, while sitting at home in these times of Chinese Covid-19 Chindemic.

(IIRC, this micrometeorite experiment has always been such a hit, when kids stay overnight at school, I tell horrible ghost-stories made up ‘on the fly’ (my fly, I mean) with a little bit of random science thrown in and some sick/slick science fiction about the wonders of space, and when the kids collect their space debris in the morn… And, oh the remembrance of times past…)

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Linkages: Astronomy, Physics of falling bodies, Geology, Elements, Magnification

Draft of 25th June, 2010

erdkinder programme

Micrometeorites!

So, you think only Astrophysicists or Meteorologists or Geologists could collect meteors? That, it requires costly and complicated equipment? ‘

That the collection of meteors is a dangerous idea as they may even fall on you, hurting you badly as after all, even the mighty dinosaurs were wiped out by some such meteorites?

Yes. You can collect meteors. The real ones. But they wont obviously be gigantic. They are actually micro meteorites. The ones that are so small that they may, more often than not, require the help of magnifying glasses or microscopes.

The idea:

Tonnes and tonnes of cosmic, interstellar dust keep falling on the earth – all 24 hours of a day. Of course these are not very visible – but with a little bit of effort, one can collect them – even from your backyard – or the terrace.

Oh how fascinating it will be, to collect the nearly five billion year old meteors (micrometeorites) that must have gotten formed when our earth was getting formed too!

Aim:

To collect micrometeorites from space.

To know what materials/elements they are composed of & when and how they got formed, why are they falling on earth… …

Needed equipment / items:

  1. A good plastic sheet (4 ft x 4 ft)
  2. 4-6 reasonably heavy stones
  3. Undisturbed / not too very windy place (on the terrace or on the level ground)
  4. A magnifying glass (20X and above) – or better still, a microscope
  5. A simple bar magnet
  6. Stationery for noting down observation

Procedure:

  1. Check the plastic sheet for any metallic object that could have got stuck to it due to static.
  2. Spread the plastic sheet and weigh it down with the heavy stones that you have got for the purpose – by keeping them in suitable places.
  3. After 1 hour (or more) roll up the sheet or lift up the corners, mildly shake & tap the sheet so that the gathered materials on the sheet will form a small cluster.
  4. Now, run the magnet at the bottom of the plastic sheet and try to separate the metallic parts.
  5. You may think of turning the sheet upside down, so as to shake off the non-magnetic dust.
  6. There will then be some remnant nodules or some dust particles that would have got attached to the magnet through the plastic sheet..
  7. Closely examine them – using your lens or a suitable microscope. Some of them will have some telltale poke marks. These near spherical nodules with pitted surface are micrometeors!
  8. You are of course handling something as old as your mother earth, that came from outer space!

Congratulations!!

Safety precautions:

  1. Sound common sense, nothing else.
  2. Normally, micrometeorites are not edible, but ingesting them is not an issue; in any case, if any kid gets very experimental – at worst, next morning, the kid will be in Krypton thanks to Newton’s III law of loose-motion, so no worries.

Questions to ask, reflect upon & elicit responses:

  1. Why are these meteors called meteorites, that too micrometeorites?
  2. Is this a good way to ‘produce’ steel or iron in our backyard – commercially?
  3. Why is Fe there in the micrometeorites in great proportions?
  4. How can I be sure that these nodules are not from a nearby factory sending out smoke?
  5. How come I didn’t see the meteor showers – before they landed on the sheet?
  6. How come the plastic sheet did not get poke marked by the hot micrometeorites even as they fell on it?
  7. Is it safe to sleep outdoors anymore?
  8. Would there be a difference in the amount of debris collected during the times of showers like Geminids, Leonids, Perseids… etc?
  9. Is there a chance that we would be able to find some DNA or RNA or some fossilized remains, embedded in the micrometeorite? If so what would it mean?
  10. What do we know about KT extinction?
  11. Could the end of the earth or homo sapiens sapiens happen because of a meteorite?

Reference:

 

16 Responses to “micrometeorites!”

  1. susil Says:

    Fascinating!!!


  2. Thanks Ram,
    These kind of articles helps to parents also. Let me discuss with my daughter

  3. Raj Chandra Says:

    Thanks for the post. Really useful…if you can post these kind of practical science and about the books you have read (including S. Ra ones, hahaha), people like me will get some light (i usually don’t suggest people what should they write, so this is me thinking loud :) ) .

    –Rajesh


    • Sir, thanks for the kind words; a bunch of us have been planning and planning AND planning to write about books, make book lists etc etc. Let us see what can be done about it.

      Maybe also about music, films and gen purpose ideas. Let us see.

      In the meantime, let me go do the dishes. bfn.

  4. Muthukumar Says:

    ——0—- Ellie Arroway (in the climax of the play) ——o—–
    I had an experience…
    I can’t prove it…
    I can’t even explain it…
    But everything I know was, …. as a human being… it was real…
    I was given something …. wonderful…, something that changed me …forever….
    A vision (probably दर्शन )…of the universe…that tells us undeniably…how tiny and insignificant…and how rare and precious we all are.
    A vision (probably दर्शन ) that tells us that we belong to something…that is greater than ourselves, that none of us are alone.
    I wish I could share that. I wish …. That everyone if even for one…moment…. could feel …that awe and humility and hope.
    ——0—- Ellie Arroway (in the climax of the play) ——o—–

    முக்தியென்ற்றொரு நிலை சமைத்தாய் – அங்கு
    முழுதினையும் உணரும் உணர்வமைத்தாய்
    பக்தியென்றொரு நிலை வகுத்தாய் – எங்கள்
    பரமா பரமா பரமா
    -0-0-0-0-
    //… And, oh the remembrance of times past…// in the fraction of “earth time”, Dwelling in the Past… a happy reading sir…
    BTW, why those “burdened” people not even hearing Hinduism sir?

  5. Navinkumar L Says:

    Dear Ram,
    I am going to do this experiments with my boys.Planning to watch Contact.

    Please share these kind of particle experiment. ( some time back you shared making charcoal from Coconut shell)

    I did the workshop in past how to make chair from pallet.
    would you able to share that plan.

    I am going to try to make chir

    Thanks
    Navin
    ( P.s. I already did the dumpster dive and got the some pallets )


    • hey good! keep us here, posted of your adventures.

      good luck to you and the chair adventure too, but I could not locate the reitveld chair design blogpost that I did; just search for a suitable design on the web please!

      bfn

      • Navinkumar L Says:

        Hi Ram,

        I found the link. I had typo in my previous message it should be ” You did the workshop in past how to make chair from pallet.”

        https://othisaivu.wordpress.com/2016/05/29/post-646/

        பள்ளிச் சிறுவர்களை-சிறுமிகளை வைத்துக்கொண்டு ஆனந்தமாக, ஒன்றரை நாட்களில் மர நாற்காலி செய்து இன்புறுவது எப்படி
        29/05/2016

        Thanks
        Navin


  6. […] Okay, I retrieved another experiment/details teacher-doc from elsewhere and my broken hard-disk – I wrote a draft of this some 12-13 years back or so. (Here’s one on micrometeorites!) […]


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