It’s December 22, 2011, just past the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere… and T-minus 364 days to the Mayan apocalypse if you believe in that sort of thing. I don’t, but I do find it fun to follow (barring any mass hysteria as the day approaches, of course). There are of course some interesting coincidences as the day draws nearer: weird global weather, worldwide economic crisis and social unrest, and these small metallic objects that have been falling to Earth from space for the last 20 years.

What? You don’t know about them?

I didn’t either until today. Popular Science has an article, Mysterious Metallic Space Ball Falls to Earth in Africa, Baffling Authorities (with some pretty funny comments) based on one from PhysOrg. It’s probably space junk, but what interested me was that it’s not the first. “Several such balls have dropped in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in the past twenty years, authorities found in an Internet search.” Universe Today has pictures of others. If NASA and the ESA don’t know what it is, then maybe military space junk.

(Or aliens.)

Discovery identifies the objects as probably COPVs, used to store gases under pressure in a space environment. Space junk is not as much fun as possible alien pods, but becoming more and more of a serious issue in proportion to our ever-expanding need for communications and technology.

Humans are messy creatures. But maybe next December 21 will take care of that. 😉