Published: Sat, October 06, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Man uses $100,000 meteorite as doorstop for decades

Man uses $100,000 meteorite as doorstop for decades

The finding was recently detailed by Central Michigan University, where geology faculty member Mona Sirbescu was asked to take a look at the unusual 22lbs rock.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., corroborated Sirbescu's analysis that the 22-pound "rock" is, indeed, a meteorite, and is apparently the sixth-largest of its type to be discovered in MI.

The Smithsonian and another museum in Maine have already expressed interest in the rock, and Sirbescu called it "the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically".

Sirbescu said this is the sixth-largest meteorite on record to be found in MI.

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The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he was aware of the rock's provenance from the time he bought the house in Edmore in 1988.

A U.S. farmer and his son saw a shooting star come crashing onto their property one night in the 1930s. He reportedly used the meteorite as a doorstop and sent it to school with his children for show and tell.

The farmer told him it was a meteorite, that it was part of the property and he could have it.

Now, the Smithsonian Institution is considering making an offer on the space rock.

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She found that it was an iron-nickel meteorite with about 88 per cent iron and 12 per cent nickel, a metal rarely found on Earth.

"Just think, what I was holding is a piece of the early solar system that literally fell into our hands", Sirbescu said of the meteorite.

The man claimed he and his father heard the space rock crash into their property in the 1930s, and said it "made a heck of a noise when it hit".

So they dug up the meteorite.

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"What typically happens with these at this point is that meteorites can either be sold and shown in a museum or sold to collectors and sellers looking to make a profit", Sirbescu said in a statement. A colleague there further analyzed the sample, including with an acid test to reveal the Widmanstätten pattern, a property of most iron-nickel meteorites that can not be faked. It will be used as funding for students of earth and atmospheric sciences.

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