Science: That Chunk of Sputnik

After a series of bright, meteorlike objects had shone in Middle Western skies, and cops picked up a 20-lb. piece of hot steel on a quiet Wisconsin street, word got out that a Soviet Sputnik had broken up above the U.S. The steel was rushed to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge. Mass., where a 6-lb. piece was cut off. The rest went to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico to be tested for radioactivity. Last week, skeptics, who had all along suspected a hoax, got an official disappointment: the steel really came from a Sputnik.

First report was from Los...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!