Houdini, Meteorites, and Airbursts: Oh My

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~Dr. Boslough and Felicia~


I found myself wondering how many people with a scientific Ph.D. surrounded me in a room of at least 500 people tonight. It is so much more interesting for me to spend the night learning, writing or crafting then doing something completely mindless. I learned so much from the lecture of Dr. Mark Boslough, a physicist and New Mexico’s “expert on planetary impacts and global catastrophes.”

Dr. Boslough’s lecture was titled “2013 Chelyabinsk (Russian) Meteorite and Other Stories of Destructive Impacts and Airbursts on Earth.” It was very interesting and we walked out in amazement. On Valentine’s Day here in the United States in 2013, an asteroid “descended at about 19 kilometers per second exploding at high altitude in a momentary flash brighten than the sun and generating a shock wave that injured over a thousand people.” It was both scary and amazing to learn about because these things can be “more damaging than a nuclear explosion” and can generate more than enough heat (1800°C) to literally melt the Earth.

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~Yes...I took notes and looked at stars.~

The lecture was sponsored by the New Mexico Academy of Science, which was founded in 1902. The academy was proud to host an event for Dr. Boslough who received his doctorate from CalTech. What did I find most interesting? Learning about the geologic origins of Libyan desert glass was rather cool. It was awesome to find out that King Tutankhamun had a chest plate which featured a scarab beetle carved from this desert glass. What a beautiful piece!!

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~King Tut's breast plate with a scarab beetle carved from Libyan desert glass.~

Dr. Boslough has been featured on BBC, NOVA, PBS, and the Discovery and National Geography Channels. He even had an asteroid named after him (73520 Boslough, 2003 MB1). Super cool for a man who focused his career on geophysics right? He was very happy to report (he seemed star struck, but who could blame him) about his recent presentation in the Canary Islands with the notorious Stephen Hawking. Dr. Boslough showed us a piece of a meteorite that Hawking felt there. It seemed like he wanted to say “I’ll never wash this thing!”

Of course I had a question at the end… “What software do you use to render models and create simulations?” He stumbled around, but finally said they use Houdini. He also knew all about metadata!!! At first I thought he was joking by saying he used Houdini, because he was kind of comedic. At the end, Gail leaned over and whispered in my ear… “Have you heard of Houdini?” I told her no, but that I would look it up. I checked it out tonight and the physicist wasn’t kidding. Houdini is real. It runs in a Windows based system and is a 3D animation application software developed by Side Effects Software of Toronto. Maybe that was the other thing I found most interesting!

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2 Comments on “Houdini, Meteorites, and Airbursts: Oh My”

  1. jenniesisler Says:

    Fascinating! I find the 1908 Tunguska blast in Siberia to be one of the most creepy and yet interesting things I’ve ever read. Who knew it happened here too?


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