Sometimes I find myself thinking that programs such as “Antiques Roadshow” exist for people who have a high tolerance for disappointment. Whenever I watch such shows, I find myself wanting to root through my closet for overlooked treasures.
I know I have some family hand me downs (I hesitate to call them heirlooms) that have been kicking around for decades. But I’m sure that an appraiser would explain that, sorry, they really aren’t that rare or valuable.
That’s just the way the world works, isn’t it? By definition, rare and valuable things just don’t fall out of the sky.
Or at least they don’t for most of us. One anonymous Michigan man had a fortune quite literally drop from the sky into his backyard — and for years he used it as a doorstop.
According to INSIDER, a Grand Rapids, Michigan, resident bought a farm near the town of Edmore in the late 1980s. Now if you’ve ever spent time in an old farmhouse, you know that most of them have odd bits and bobs stashed all over them, remnants from earlier eras.
Well, this farmhouse came with came with a big black rock. The previous owner had used it to hold a shed door open.
The previous owner also told the Grand Rapids man that the rock was a meteorite. He and his father had been on the property when it struck.
Central Michigan University reported that the previous owner stated, “It made a heck of a noise when it hit.” In fact, he and his father discovered the rock was still warm when they dug it out of the crater it had made the following morning.
A fascinating story, but it didn’t keep the man from continuing to use it as a doorstop — for the next 30 years. Then in January, he read about a spectacular meteor shower that lit up the Wolverine State.
That piqued his curiosity, so he arranged for a meeting with Dr. Mona Sirbescu, a geologist at Central Michigan University. Sirbescu had spent years telling people that random rocks they claimed had plunged from the sky were, in fact, just ordinary stones.
“For 18 years, the answer has been categorically ‘no’ — meteor wrongs, not meteorites,” she said. “[But] I could tell right away that this was something special.”
Unlike most of the samples Sirbescu had seen, this one was enormous. It weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds.
What’s more, she discovered it had an odd composition when she got it into the lab. The meteorite was made up of 88 percent iron and 12 percent nickel, a much larger concentration of the metal than normally found in meteorites.
“It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically,” Sirbescu stated. “Just think, what I was holding is a piece of the early solar system that literally fell into our hands.”
What’s more, it’s an expensive piece of the solar system. Current estimates stand at upwards of $100,000, but they may go higher after more detailed analysis.
Though the owner of the meteorite stands to profit from it, he hasn’t forgotten those who helped him along the way. He has pledged to donate 10 percent to Central Michigan University for the study of atmospheric science.