Ruth & I watched a visually stunning and important documentary on Apple TV+ last night that I highly recommend. It’s called Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, and it was so good that I have watched it 3 times. It makes me feel insignificant as a human being but is full of technical detail about the cosmic dust and meteors that are constantly falling on our Earth. These particles from space contain messages that are creating new sciences. One female scientist in the film says, “We are not going to torture you with details” so that viewers with limited interest in science will watch and understand this film. Her promise is mostly kept.
Fireball begins with dancers on the Yucatan Peninsula tossing fire to each other to represent the fireballs that fall from space and create impact craters all over the Earth. The meteorite that forever changed the Earth and probably killed off the dinosaurs fell near the Yucatan. It’s estimated that its crash created tsunamis and earthquakes that would now measure 11 or more on the Richter scale. The dancers turn out to be Day of the Dead male performers. Humans have, up until now, undervalued the meteorites and cosmic dust that collects on roofs. Meteorites have come to our planet by these discovered-so-far impact craters and by other means. There are about 190 impact craters dotting our Planet, and they vary in importance.
The first one mentioned in the film is the Wolfe Crater in Western Australia. It’s about 95 miles south of the town of Halls Creek in a National Park. We have been to this part of Australia called The Kimberley twice, and I would have seen this crater if I had known about it when we were there. We have also tried on a couple of occasions to see Meteor Crater in California’s Mojave Desert but still have not. I recently wrote about the meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 causing havoc. It’s in a blog called “Many, Many Berlins” dated October 26, 2020.
Fireball is the work of German filmmaker Werner Herzog. Herzog has created some great movies during his long career. He is now a robust 78 and still making excellent films. The New York Times favorably reviewed Fireball in its November 13, 2020 issue, which brought this documentary to our attention. Clive Oppenheimer is as important as Werner Herzog when it comes to Fireball. He is the Cambridge University teacher who co-directed it and narrates most of the film. Looking a bit like Gene Wilder, the actor who created Willie Wonka and other great characters, Oppenheimer gets increasingly excited as he tells viewers about impact craters and interviews men and woman who are just beginning to understand that a meteor found in Antarctica might be made of cosmic dust from a planet that no longer exists from another solar system.
See this film to wander and wonder.