ON METEORITES, OR CELESTIAL STONES 95
that stones might fall to the earth in some other way. The result of the investigation was summed up as follows :
the existence of thunder-stones was regarded as doubtful at a time when
physicists had scarcely any idea of the nature of thunder, it is even
less admissible to-day, when modern physicists have discovered the
effects of this natural phenomenon are the same as those of
electricity. There is no record that the fulgarite, the fused sand or
rock struck by the lightning, has ever been used.
The opinion which seems the most probable to us, and that which is most in accord with the accepted principles of physics as well as with the facts reported by Abbe Bacheley, and our own investigation, is that the stone was originally covered with a slight crust of earth and turf, and was struck by lightning and so made visible.
reports in a pamphlet published in 1794 that the mass of meteoric iron
discovered by Dr. Pallas in Siberia, and known as the Pallas or
Krasnoyarsk iron meteorite, was regarded by the Tartars as a sacred
object which had fallen from heaven.45 As it is somewhat
unlikely that this belief could be accounted for by an ancient
tradition, we must seek an explanation in the conviction among
primitive peoples that any mass of rock or metal of unusual appearance
and differing notably from the surrounding formations must have come
from the sky. In this way primitive instinct often anticipates the
results of modern scientific investigation. This siderite, of irregular
form and weighing some 1500 pounds, was seen by Dr. Pallas in 1772, and
deposited by him in 1776 ; he learned that it had been found in 1749 at
the summit of a mountain situated between Krasnoyarsk and Abakansk, by
a Cossack. Most of this famous siderite is preserved in the St.
A singular circumstance in regard to the fall of a meteor, and one that in ancient times would have been explained in
* King, " Remarks Concerning Stones said to have Fallen from the Clouds," London, 1796, p. 26.