Pick the Statistic You Want to Be

Janice Kaplan & Barnaby Marsh | Nautilus

A woman named Ann Hodges was at her home in Sylacauga, Alabama, one day in 1954, napping on the couch under a big quilt, when a hunk of black rock crashed through the ceiling and hit her on the thigh. With that (unlucky) burst from the sky, she became the only confirmed person in history to have been hit by a meteorite.

You probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about meteorite strikes since “it’s more likely you get hit by a tornado and a bolt of lightning and a hurricane all at the same time,” Florida State College astronomer Michael Reynolds said about that remarkable hit. And yet we do worry. Scientists say an asteroid that smashed into the earth 66 million years ago led to a change in climate that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. It was long ago and rare, but who knows—if there’s an asteroid strike every 66 million years, another may be due tomorrow.

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The editorial staff of ORBITER magazine humbly pursues life's Big Questions, illuminating the human condition and our place in the universe.