Boffins offer explanation for meteorite sickness

Space rock syndrome is ruled out


Relax: the aliens aren't using poisonous space rocks to soften us up in advance of an invasion, after all.

Last week, you may recall, a meteorite fell in Peru. Locals who were first on the scene reported feeling ill immediately after contact with the space rock, with symptoms including headaches and nausea.

Speculation began immediately as to the possible cause of the illness. Was it radiation? Alien bugs? Toxic gases? Was the meteorite a meteorite at all, or was it an explosion of marsh gas?

According to Luisa Macedo, a researcher for Peru's Mining, Metallurgy, and Geology Institute (INGEMMET), the cause of the illness was arsenic poisoning.

Speaking to National Geographic, Macedo explains that numerous arsenic deposits exist in the soils of Peru. The most likely explanation is that these deposits have contaminated the local water supply, which was vaporised when the meteorite landed.

Astronomer José Ishitsuka notes: "If the meteorite arrives incandescent and at a high temperature because of friction in the atmosphere, hitting water can create a column of steam."

The early arrivals on the scene would then inhale this water vapour, and with it small amounts of arsenic. Although arsenic can be deadly in large doses, small doses are easily survivable, provided they are not repeated. Prolonged exposure can lead to digestive problems, cancer, diabetes, liver disease and thickened skin.

Fortunately, all those who had complained of feeling sick were on the mend by last Wednesday, Macedo said. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Want to buy your own piece of the Pi? No 'urgency' says Upton of the listing rumours

    A British success story... what happens next?

    Industry talk is continuing to circulate regarding a possible listing for the UK makers of the diminutive Raspberry Pi computer.

    Over the weekend, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that a spring listing could be in the offing, with a valuation of more than £370m slapped onto the computer maker.

    Pi boss, Eben Upton, described the article as "interesting" in an email to The Register today, before repeating that "we're always looking at ways to fund the future growth of the business, but the $45m we raised in September has taken some of the urgency out of that."

    Continue reading
  • JetBrains embraces remote development with new IDE for multiple programming languages

    Security, collaboration, flexible working: Fleet does it all, says project lead

    JetBrains has introduced remote development for its range of IDEs as well as previewing a new IDE called Fleet, which will form the basis for fresh tools covering all major programming languages.

    JetBrains has a core IDE used for the IntelliJ IDEA Java tool as well other IDEs such as Android Studio, the official programming environment for Google Android, PyCharm for Python, Rider for C#, and so on. The IDEs run on the Java virtual machine (JVM) and are coded using Java and Kotlin, the latter being primarily a JVM language but with options for compiling to JavaScript or native code.

    Fleet is "both an IDE and a lightweight code editor," said the company in its product announcement, suggesting perhaps that it is feeling some pressure from the success of Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, which is an extensible code editor. Initial language support is for Java, Kotlin, Go, Python, Rust, and JavaScript, though other languages such as C# will follow. Again like VS Code, Fleet can run on a local machine or on a remote server. The new IDE uses technology developed for IntelliJ such as its code-processing engine for features such as code completion and refactoring.

    Continue reading
  • Nextcloud and cloud chums fire off competition complaint to the EU over Microsoft bundling OneDrive with Windows

    No, it isn't the limited levels of storage that have irked European businesses

    EU software and cloud businesses have joined Nextcloud in filing a complaint with the European Commission regarding Microsoft's alleged anti-competitive behaviour over the bundling of its OS with online services.

    The issue is OneDrive and Microsoft's habit of packaging it (and other services such as Teams) with Windows software.

    Nextcloud sells on-premises collaboration platforms that it claims combine "the convenience and ease of use of consumer-grade solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive with the security, privacy and control business needs." Microsoft's cloud storage system, OneDrive, is conspicuous by its absence.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021