11 August 2010

Meteorites: Legal protection does not lead to preservation

"It belongs in a museum, or untouched where it is" could be the title for a story in this week's New Scientist.

Deep Impact Market: the race to acquire meteorites by Laura Margottini focuses first, on a meteorite-impact crater recently discovered in Egypt that "is like an open-air lab". Unfortunately for scientists, the meteorites that define it are now disappearing piece by piece, as did the bottle that the scientists tossed into the crater, gods-must-be-crazy style.

What to do?

The article's conclusion is:
"The Kamil crater should be listed as a protected site by UNESCO, which would put pressure on the Egyptian government to step in to preserve it. Otherwise, the fragments will all disappear, just like the bottle left on the sand."

Legal protection is a mirage
This is the problem explored in my short story, "Sincerely, Petrified", about a much easier site to protect, the Petrified Forest National Park in the USA. Petrified wood in the Park is disappearing at more than 12 tons a year.

Fiction faction
"Sincerely, Petrified" is another of my fiction-about-science stories (as opposed to science-fiction) and appears in this collection:
Lovecraft Unbound
edited by Ellen Datlow
published by Dark Horse, September 2009

The reason I mention this story is that the petrified forest's protectors depend on something either surprisingly unscientific or brilliantly scientific (flawless theory) to help this forest's last fragments from disappearing. I wrote my story based on this fact, a fact that has so far missed a readership more used to reading (and wanting to believe) that myths are true. Scientists would never put up with that bunkum, would they?

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