in spite of public outcry
Posted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 | 04:12 PM
Meteors burn up due to friction
This falsehood is often reported by mainstream media, which explains why it never goes away. In fact, a meteor vaporizes due to something called ram pressure. Air in front of an incoming space rock or speck of dust is compressed and heated, like the air in a handheld tire pump.
This I actually did not know, and I used to be a space buff.
An interesting related note, however, is that the loudest sonic boom ever heard by life on Earth occured when the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs hit the atmosphere.