COSMOS: In his tireless search for uncanny strangeness, Herzog encounters different types of meteorite-hunters who look for a lived connection with the larger cosmos – and explores the deeper causes of our apocalyptic thrills.
Anders Dunker
Dunker is a Norwegian philosopher, and regular contributor.
Published date: November 13, 2020

I once had the rare and remarkable experience of seeing a meteorite with my own eyes, swooshing across the sky with a trail of smoke behind it, up in a remote valley in Norway. Even if it was a random event, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that the sight was something profoundly meaningful: what is extremely rare not only attracts our attention, but it is also charged, like an encounter that can transform us. It is this transformative power of the encounter Werner Herzog is after in many, if not all, of his documentaries.

Herzog’s latest film in collaboration with the British volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer has the suggestive title Fireball – and as their former documentary about volcanoes, it is a series of encounters with fascinating places and people around the world. One of the most subtle and intriguing stories is that of Norwegian Jazz musician Jon Larsen, who besides being a guitar virtuoso is a pioneering citizen scientist. Aware that there is a constant drizzle of microscopic meteorites from space onto Earth, amounting to a couple of truckloads a day, Larsen has figured out an astounding method to actually collect these minuscule particles. On the big white roof of the Vallhall Arena in Oslo, the drizzle of cosmic dust accumulates in puddles of rainwater and can be fished out with a simple magnet. When magnified millions and millions of times and photographed they reveal their alien origin; …

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