The Oddities in the News Page

On this month's Oddities in the News Page:

A man had no idea he possessed a rare meteorite



Loch Ness
Donald Trump Look-Alike
A Real Killer Clown
New Dinosaur
Elisa Lam


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Oct. 5, 2018 (AP) - A Michigan man recently learned that a rock he's been using as a doorstop is a meteorite worth $100,000.
The Smithsonian Museum and Central Michigan University say the nearly 23-pound hunk of iron and nickel is the sixth largest meteorite found in Michigan.

David Mazurek says he took his doorstop to the university for examination after seeing reports in January of meteorite pieces selling for thousands of dollars. Mazurek says the meteorite came with a barn he bought in 1988 in Edmore. He says the farmer who sold him the property told him it landed in his backyard in the 1930s.

More tests are being conducted to see if the meteorite contains rare elements.

Mazurek says that when he sells the meteorite, he'll donate some of the money to the university.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

From Gary H. Piatek, the assistant director of communications for Central Michigan University:

Throughout her 18 years at Central Michigan University, Mona Sirbescu, a geology faculty member in earth and atmospheric sciences, has had many people ask her if the rock they had found was a meteorite.

"For 18 years, the answer has been categorically 'no' — meteor wrongs, not meteorites," she said with a smile. That has changed.

Earlier this year a man from Grand Rapids, Michigan, asked her to examine a large rock that he has had for 30 years. She was skeptical but agreed to meet him. When he arrived, he pulled out of a bag the biggest potential meteorite she had ever been asked to examine.

"I could tell right away that this was something special," she said.

She determined that it was in fact a 22-plus pound meteorite, making it the sixth-largest recorded find in Michigan — and potentially worth $100,000.

"It's the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically," she said.

A valuable doorstop.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, obtained the meteorite in 1988 when he bought a farm in Edmore, Michigan, about 30 miles southwest of Mount Pleasant.

As the farmer was showing him around the property, they went out to a shed. The man asked about the large, odd-looking rock that was holding the door open.

"A meteorite," the farmer said matter-of-factly. He went on to say that in the 1930s he and his father saw it come down at night on their property "and it made a heck of a noise when it hit." In the morning they found the crater and dug it out. It was still warm.

The farmer told the man that as it was part of the property, he could have it. Opportunity strikes.

The new owner lived on the farm for a few years before moving on, with rock in tow.

He kept it for 30 years — also using it as a doorstop and sending it to school with his children for show and tell.

The meteor that blazed through Michigan this January changed his life's trajectory as he read accounts of people finding and selling small pieces of the meteorites.

"I said, 'Wait a minute. I wonder how much mine is worth.'"

A friend and CMU geology alum directed him to Sirbescu in the College of Science and Engineering, where she took it to one of the labs in Brooks Hall and examined it under an X-ray fluorescence instrument to determine that it was an iron-nickel meteorite with about 88 percent iron and 12 percent nickel, a metal rarely found on Earth.

Iron meteorites typically consist of approximately 90-95 percent iron, with the remainder composed of nickel and trace amounts of heavy metals including iridium, gallium and sometimes gold.

Show or sell?

Looking to confirm her evaluation of the rock and to properly classify and record the new find, Sirbescu cut off a slice, polished it and sent it to a colleague at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., who validated her conclusion.

"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.

The Smithsonian is considering purchasing the meteorite for display. If it doesn't buy the entire rock, the slice will stay in its collection. They all have agreed to name it the Edmore meteorite, she said.

The Smithsonian also sent the sample to John Wasson, professor emeritus in the earth, planetary and space sciences department at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is considered the guru of iron meteorites, Sirbescu said, and is doing a neutron activation analysis to determine its chemical composition. There is a possibility that the analysis could reveal rare elements that could increase its value.

A mineral museum in Maine also was considering buying it, and the owner herself — a collector — said she might purchase it.

A win for CMU.

Whatever amount the owner receives, he has promised to give 10 percent of the sale value to the university to be used as funding for students in earth and atmospheric sciences.

Regardless of how much that is, Sirbescu feels that she, CMU and her students already have benefited.

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

And she has given that same experience to students this fall, as they have been able to touch a real-life example of what typically are just photographs in their textbooks.

See the article HERE












See another The Horror Zine page about meteorites HERE


What are meteorites?

Meteorites are pieces of other bodies in our solar system that make it to the ground when a meteor or "shooting star" flashes through our atmosphere at speeds of 15 to 70 kilometers per second (roughly 32,000 to 150,000 miles per hour). The majority originate from asteroids shattered by impacts with other asteroids. In a few cases they come from the Moon and, presumably, comets and the planet Mars. Meteorites that are found after a meteoric event has been witnessed are called a "fall," while those found by chance are called a "find." Meteorites are usually named after a town or a large geographic landmark closest to the fall or find, collectively termed localities. The word "meteorite" can refer to an individual specimen, to those collected within a strewnfield, or to a specific locality.

Has anyone ever been hit by space debris?

For the Only Person Ever Hit by a Meteorite, the Real Trouble Began Later

The “Hodges meteorite” brought problems to the woman it struck, but good fortune to at least one neighbor

Only one person in recorded history has ever been directly hit by a meteorite.

Ann Hodges, 34, was napping under quilts on her couch in Sylacauga, Alabama, on November 30, 1954, when a nine-pound meteorite came through the ceiling and bounced off a radio before hitting her in the thigh. It left a deep bruise and catapulted her into both quiet fame and a major legal dispute with her landlady, who thought she rightfully owned the rock.

Ann’s bruise, seen in a photo in Time, looks painful. But the real trouble started for Ann after the meteor strike, writes Phil Plait for Slate. Between the protracted court battle with her landlady and the media attention, Hodges’ mental and physical health went downhill, he writes. She separated from her husband and eventually died of kidney failure in a nursing home at the age of 52.

The meteorite did bring good fortune to one of her neighbors. Julius Kempis McKinney, a local farmer, found a chunk of the “Hodges meteorite” that was less than half as big as the one that struck the woman it was then named after. McKinney told his postman, writes the Decatur Daily, who helped him get a lawyer to negotiate the sale of his find. In the end, he made enough money to buy a car and a house.

Another neighbor, Bill Field, told the Daily he remembered seeing the meteorite as a five-year-old. “I was standing in the back yard with my mother, who was at the clothesline,” he told the newspaper. “I remember this object shooting across the sky with a white trail that I pointed out to my mother. There was a loud boom and black smoke.”

Sixty-two years after her brush with the heavens, Hodges remains the only well-documented case of somebody being hit by a meteorite. But humans have continued to be affected by space junk. In 1992, a meteorite blazed across the sky in Peekskill, New York, before striking a woman’s parked car. The repair bill probably stung a bit, but she wasn’t injured in the strike. In 2003, a 40-pound meteorite crashed through the roof of another home, this time in New Orleans, though fortunately no one was hurt. And in 2007, a meteorite strike made people sick in Peru when it released arsenic fumes from an underground water source, writes Brian Howard for National Geographic. In 2013, a meteorite exploded over central Russia. The resulting shock wave injured 1200 people and caused $33 million in damage.

As Hodges’s unique case demonstrates, the odds are on our side when it comes to meteor strikes. One scientist found the lifetime odds of dying from a meteor strike near you to be 1:1,600,000—to put that in perspective, your odds of being struck by lightning are 1:135,000. The odds of dying as the result of a meteor strike anywhere in the world—like the kind of rare but catastrophic geologic event that shapes an eon—are 1:75,000.

The odds of winning the PowerBall lottery? 1:195,249,054. Stop buying lotto tickets and watch out for meteorites, folks.

See more HERE


Dashcam image (above) of a Russian meteorite falling to earth in 2013