Man Keeps Rock For Years, Hoping It’s Gold. It Turns Out to Be Far More Valuable
In 2015, David Hole was prospecting in Maryborough Regional Park near Melbourne, Australia.
Armed with a metal detector, he discovered something out of the ordinary – a very heavy, reddish rock resting in some yellow clay.
He took it home and tried everything to open it, sure that there was a gold nugget inside the rock – after all, Maryborough is in the Goldfields region, where the Australian gold rush peaked in the 19th century.
To break open his find, Hole tried a rock saw, an angle grinder, a drill, even dousing the thing in acid. However, not even a sledgehammer could make a crack. That’s because what he was trying so hard to open was no gold nugget.
As he found out years later, it was a rare meteorite.
“It had this sculpted, dimpled look to it,” Melbourne Museum geologist Dermot Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2019.
“That’s formed when they come through the atmosphere, they are melting on the outside, and the atmosphere sculpts them.”
Unable to open the ‘rock’, but still intrigued, Hole took the nugget to the Melbourne Museum for identification.
“I’ve looked at a lot of rocks that people think are meteorites,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
In fact, after 37 years of working at the museum and examining thousands of rocks, Henry said only two of the offerings had ever turned out to be real meteorites.
This was one of the two.
“If you saw a rock on Earth like this, and you picked it up, it shouldn’t be that heavy,” Melbourne Museum geologist, Bill Birch, explained to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The researchers published a scientific paper describing the 4.6 billion-year-old meteorite, which they called Maryborough after the town near where it was found.
It weighs a whopping 17 kilograms (37.5 pounds), and after using a diamond saw to cut off a small slice, the researchers discovered its composition had a high percentage of iron, making it a H5 ordinary chondrite.
Once open, you can also see the tiny crystallized droplets of metallic minerals throughout it, called chondrules.
“Meteorites provide the cheapest form of space exploration. They transport us back in time, providing clues to the age, formation, and chemistry of our Solar System (including Earth),” said Henry.
“Some provide a glimpse at the deep interior of our planet. In some meteorites, there is ‘stardust’ even older than our Solar System, which shows us how stars form and evolve to create elements of the periodic table.
“Other rare meteorites contain organic molecules such as amino acids; the building blocks of life.”
A slab cut from the Maryborough meteorite. (Birch et al., PRSV, 2019)
Although the researchers don’t yet know where the meteorite came from and how long it may have been on Earth, they do have some guesses.
Our Solar System was once a spinning pile of dust and chondrite rocks. Eventually gravity pulled a lot of this material together into planets, but the leftovers mostly ended up in a huge asteroid belt.
“This particular meteorite most probably comes out of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it’s been nudged out of there by some asteroids smashing into each other, then one day it smashes into Earth,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
Carbon dating suggests the meteorite has been on Earth between 100 and 1,000 years, and there’s been a number of meteor sightings between 1889 and 1951 that could correspond to its arrival on our planet.
The researchers argue that the Maryborough meteorite is much rarer than gold, making it far more valuable to science. It’s one of only 17 meteorites ever recorded in the Australian state of Victoria, and it’s the second largest chondritic mass, after a huge 55-kilogram specimen identified in 2003.
“This is only the 17th meteorite found in Victoria, whereas there’s been thousands of gold nuggets found,” Henry told Channel 10 News.
“Looking at the chain of events, it’s quite, you might say, astronomical it being discovered at all.”
It’s not even the first meteorite to take a few years to make it to a museum. In a particularly amazing story ScienceAlert covered in 2018, one space rock took 80 years, two owners, and a stint as a doorstop before finally being revealed for what it truly was.
Now is probably as good a time as any to check your backyard for particularly heavy and hard-to-break rocks – you might be sitting on a metaphorical gold mine.
The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria.
A version of this article was originally published in July 2019.
Alien space debris stuck in Earth’s orbit, researchers say
Recently, a group of experts from Harvard University, led by physics
professor Avi Loeb, announced the possible presence of alien space
debris in Earth’s orbit, reports the Daily Star.
space research expert Professor Loeb is confident that the discovery of
such “interstellar objects could help expand our knowledge of possible
alien civilizations and technologies. A team of scientists is conducting
research to confirm that some of the objects in our orbit may be
connected to other star systems.
During an interview with Live
Science, Professor Loeb explained that these objects could enter the
solar system from interstellar space, defying Jupiter’s gravitational
pull and occupying limited orbits around the sun.
Some of them may
have technological origins similar to the probes sent by mankind into
interstellar space, such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11
and New Horizons.
despite these interesting assumptions, Professor Loeb did not specify
what specific objects he was talking about. In his research report, he
notes that there could be “a significant number” of potentially
detectable objects in Earth’s orbit.
To confirm their assumptions,
the team of scientists uses computer simulations and the Vera Rubin
Observatory (Chile) with a high-resolution camera of 3.2 billion pixels.
This will allow for regular observations of the Southern sky and the
possibility of detecting several captured objects about the size of a
It is assumed that these interstellar objects passed through the
boundaries of the solar system and may carry unique information about
other civilizations and their technologies. If we could confirm the
origin of these objects, the mysteries that open before us, this would
be a real breakthrough in space exploration.
expresses hope that the new research will not only help expand our
knowledge of extraterrestrial technologies, but may also lead to the
discovery of new alien civilizations . Answers to such questions can be
of global significance and influence our understanding of the place of
mankind in the Universe.
while there are still many questions and assumptions, the study by
Professor Loeb and his team opens a new chapter in space exploration.
Each new discovery can be the key to deciphering the mysteries of the
cosmos and the possibility of encountering alien life forms.
Betelgeuse is acting strange again
Betelgeuse, a red giant on the brink of death, continues to show
unusual behavior. After the Great Blackout, which occurred in late 2019
and early 2020, the star became unusually bright. It is now the seventh
brightest star in the sky, while it normally ranks tenth. This has led
to speculation that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode in a
spectacularly large supernova.
However, scientists believe it’s too early to tell, and it’s likely
that this behavior is due to ongoing fluctuations after the Great
Blackout of 2019, and the star will return to normal within a decade.
Betelgeuse is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It is
about 700 light-years from Earth and is a red giant in the last stage of
its life. It is also an unusual star for a red giant because it was
previously a monster blue-white O-type star, the most massive class of
Betelgeuse has changed its spectral type because it has almost
exhausted its hydrogen reserves. It now burns helium into carbon and
oxygen and has expanded to a gigantic size: about 764 times the size of
the Sun and about 16.5 to 19 times its mass.
Eventually it will run out of fuel to burn, become a supernova, eject
its outer material, and its core will collapse into a neutron star.
Before the Great Blackout, Betelgeuse also had periodic fluctuations
in brightness. The longest of these cycles is about 5.9 years and the
other is 400 days. But it seems that the Great Blackout caused changes
in these oscillations.
A new paper by astrophysicist Morgan McLeod of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has shown that the 400-day
cycle appears to have been halved. This pulsational cycle is probably
caused by expansion and contraction within the star. According to
simulations carried out by MacLeod and his colleagues, the convective
flow inside Betelgeuse may have risen and become material that separates
from the star.
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