Published February 22. 2013 4:00AM
In addition to grizzly bears, blizzards, hunters, lightning, rattlesnakes, floods, tornadoes, forest fires and avalanches, those of us who dare to poke our heads outdoors now must be on the lookout for meteorites — not that you could do much to protect yourself from a 10,000-ton hunk of rock hurtling from space at 30,000 mph.
Until now, that is.
In response to the giant meteorite that exploded Feb. 15 over Chelyabinsk, Russia, I have come up the perfect protective device: the Fagin Meteorite Early Warning Detector and Deflector.
It is modeled loosely after the Skylab Safety Helmet a buddy and I devised in 1979 when the 169,950-pound space station began veering from orbit.
Back then NASA scientists feared molten Skylab debris would rain down on unlucky earthlings, which caused near-panic among millions of Chicken Littles. Our invention basically consisted of a hardhat and list of instructions (“Place on head. Avoid open spaces. Don’t look up.”) Later we saw somebody else had the same idea, and I admit that model included a superior feature: An early warning detector consisting of a spike protruding from the helmet that would give the wearer a nano-second alert.
I have refined this concept in the Fagin Meteorite Early Warning Detector and Deflector, offering both a standard version (3-inch spike) and deluxe model (9-inch spike). It also comes with a money-back guarantee; if the Fagin Meteorite Early Warning Detector and Deflector should ever fail, the wearer or his heirs will cheerfully receive a full refund.
I’m reasonably confident about this offer – not so much because of the design of the Fagin Meteorite Early Warning Detector and Deflector, but due to the law of averages.
Back in 1979, some of you may recall, Skylab broke apart and disintegrated when it reentered Earth’s atmosphere, with only a small amount of debris striking remote portions of Western Australia.
And every year thousands and thousands of meteorites shoot to earth – nearly all landing harmlessly in the ocean or other uninhabited areas.
In fact, in all of recorded history there has been only one documented case of a fatality attributed to a rock from space – an unlucky Venezuelan cow struck in 1972 by what is now called the Valera Meteorite.
There have been numerous close calls – meteorites striking cars, houses and even, decades ago, grazing a German teenager and Alabama housewife in separate incidents. Scientists say the odds of a human getting turned to guacamole, or perhaps crème brule, by a meteorite are about a trillion to one, or only slightly less than, say, winning the Powerball jackpot.
Now that I think about it, maybe I should be selling meteorite insurance policies rather than hardhats.
Anyway, I’ll be taking orders for the Fagin Meteorite Early Warning Detector and Deflector as soon as I come up with a supplier that can guarantee me at least a thousand percent markup. Stay tuned for details.