A Man Used This Rock “Doorstopper” For Years, Until A Scientist Told Him The TruthBy Aileen D
We never really know the value of the things around us until someone tells us what they are worth. Take this man, for example. He had treated this particular rock as a doorstopper for a number of years, but it would have rightfully belonged on a shelf of trinkets or ancient collectibles. However, who would have thought that it could cost as much as $100,000?
Would you want to make easy money the same way this guy did? Yeah, so would we. But that’s nearly impossible if you don’t live near some wide open fields and clear skies.
And that’s why this man discovered the value of this particular doorstopper a little too late. He didn’t have many people around him who could tell him what it was and what made it so extraordinary.
A man kicked at a pebble and then looked at the field around him. He breathed in the fresh air, taking a minute to let it wash over him. The silence gave him time to listen to his thoughts and sift out the noise. He would have stayed for much longer, but his stomach growled.
He walked towards the house, taking a leisurely walk around the cabin. He had to check if there had been anything else that needed fixing. Seeing that the repair he did last week held up, he thought of cooking himself lunch.
The Lucky Guy
David Mazurek has been living on the farm for over 30 years now. He thought he had seen it all. After all, there isn’t much new happening in this part of Edmore, Michigan, and once there is, then word gets around quickly.
He knocked his boots clean against the mat and then let himself in the front door. His dog barked at him. For a minute he blindly patted the walls trying to find the switch and realized that he could just open the door to let the light in.
The sunlight blinded him. He squinted and looked to his right, where he held the door. Then he moved the doorstopper with his right foot and pushed it towards the edge of the door. Once the door was steady, he released his grip and walked into the kitchen.
David hadn’t changed much of the design and the landscape of the property since he bought it. He remembered that day vividly and could still imagine himself affixing his signature on the dotted line sitting right at the kitchen table.
He bought it in 1988, and he still speaks to its previous owner every now and then. They have moved much of their stuff out of town, but they still have a residence a couple of miles from the Edmore, Michigan farm.
So whenever they’re in town, David welcomes them to this home every visit. They were due to visit in a week, and that reminded David to clean up the place. He also had to buy food and drinks for his guests. He got his keys and headed out the door.
That Lone Night
Once again, he moved the doorstopper with his foot, and some fragments chipped off. An odd question came to mind, had that thing been there since he bought the house? He didn’t recall buying it. Then it hit him that it was left by the previous owners — he’d even asked them about it years ago.
He was set to buy some groceries for the vacant house. He got to his truck and then drove off to town. He loaded his cooler with drinks and bought himself a weeks’ worth of goods and meat. He headed back home and reached it just a little past 3 pm.
In the First Place
He moved the doorstopper and made an effort to be more gentle with it this time around. The previous owner had an interesting story about this doorstopper, the same way he did about the barn. That’s what got David to buy in the first place.
The same day David had bought the house, he and the seller spoke about a number of things, and finally, David asked about the doorstopper. “What? That thing?” The previous owner pointed at it. “My dad and I saw that land on the property.“
David pressed, “land? Did I hear that correctly?” The man before him laid down his glass and then looked David in the eyes. “Yeah, land. It landed in 1930. My old man and I saw it come down at night on this very property.“
“Couldn’t have missed it, either. It made one heck of a noise when the whole thing hit.” The man pointed a finger at a patch of land two hundred meters away from where they were seated. The morning after the crash, they found the crater.
“Folks here found it ‘dug out’ and found it warm.” David cocked his head, “so you’re telling me, that thing, landed from space?” The man nodded, “Yep, sure looks like it. It’s a good thing it landed out there too, missing this by chance,” he said, pointing at the house.
The two kept chatting for a couple of hours longer, and then the old man decided to call it a night. He congratulated David for buying the farmhouse and then patted him on the shoulder and saw himself out. And with that, the house belonged to David.
Forgot About It
David couldn’t get his mind off the odd-looking doorstopper. But that same week he had to tear some walls, do a couple of repairs, and then paint the house and barn’s walls. And, soon enough, he forgot about the doorstopper.
Even though he saw it nearly every day, inspecting it never made it onto his “to-do” list. He learned to dismiss the otherworldly doorstopper on his way into the house every day for 30 years. He hadn’t forgotten the fact that there were frequent meteor showers over the land, though.
In fact, there was going to be one in a few days; David just didn’t know it yet. Not that it mattered if he had known. The thing was almost a natural reoccurrence in Michigan. It has happened nearly every year during October.
The best time to see it is from midnight until the early hours of the morning — when it’s darkest. Several streaks of light flash across the sky. Bits and pieces of comets and asteroids fly at high speed and burn up.
If luck is on your side, one might even land in your front yard. While David didn’t find any small craters in his yard, that meteor shower brought something else. David soon learned the true value of that meteorite as he turned on the television.
He was changing the station rapidly until he saw a whopping figure on the screen. He turned the volume up. “I didn’t know this would amount to this much, but I’m sure glad I had it checked.” David’s jaw went slack. The woman was holding a stone that looked a lot like his doorstopper.
He left the TV on and went to get the doorstopper. Holding it, he couldn’t help but wonder, “is this worth anything? Seems pretty ordinary to me.” He looked back at the television and then told himself, “it couldn’t hurt to try and find out.”
For the first time in 30 years, he laid that doorstopper on his bedside table. He placed it down gently because he was afraid there’d be more that would chip off of it. “Got an early day tomorrow.” David was planning on making a few calls.
Making A Call
David was hopeful that the doorstopper might prove to be a meteorite, but he didn’t want to get ahead of himself. The next morning, he rummaged through the shelf for a personal contacts notebook. He knew he wrote her number down somewhere; if only he could find it.
Eventually, he found the black leatherbound book and then thumbs through the pages. He found her name, cleared his throat, and then dialed her number. She had been a long-time friend who he knew studied geology at Central Michigan University.
The phone rang for what seemed to be an eternity. His palms sweated, and he smoothed his hair with it. He was starting to think how absurd his questions were. “Hey, just wanted to ask if this doorstopper I have would also fetch me $100,000.”
There were a couple of rings before someone picked up on the other end. It was her. Mona Sirbescu had become a head professor at Central Michigan University. He cleared his throat, said the customary pleasantries, and dove right into it.
Something For You
“I think I have …a rock… that might interest you. I think it’s a meteorite, but I can’t be too sure.” Even if there were some tell-tale signs, he wouldn’t know what to look for. He nervously chuckled, but Dr. Sirbescu calmed his nerves. She asked what he knew about it and where he found it.
David laughed. “See that’s the funny thing. I’ve been using it as a doorstopper for many years now.” What made him take a closer look was a documentary he stumbled upon. He couldn’t help but wonder if his “doorstopper” was the same thing as those meteorites other folks around Michigan had been collecting.
Mona was surprised to learn that this wasn’t a new find. She asked for a few more details. “Did you chance upon it after a meteor shower?” David hesitated. He technically couldn’t confirm that, since it was the previous owner who found the rock.
He relayed to her what the previous owner told him — it was found in the 1930s in a crater. By now, Mona’s curiosity was definitely piqued. She scheduled a meeting with him, hoping to examine the potential meteorite as soon as possible.
First Things First
David didn’t waste time and agreed to meet the following day. Again, as they had on the phone, the old friends exchanged pleasantries. He congratulated her on landing a professorship. The woman was talented and hard-working; certainly deserving of the title.
Mona led him to her office. During the walk, Mona tried to give David some fair advice. He wasn’t the first person to bring a potentially extra-terrestrial rock to her department; not by a long shot. “But it turns out they’re not meteorites; they are meteor-‘wrongs’ for the most part.”
David felt a bit discouraged, but he wouldn’t let Mona see that. After reaching her office, he laid down the meteorite on her office table. Mona pushed her glasses to see better, and it was at that moment she knew it wasn’t like any other old rock.
Intrigued, Mona gently turned it over and examined it from all angles. After a few minutes of silence, she addressed David. Further tests would be required to confirm (or deny) if it was a meteorite. But he’d have to be patient since it could take weeks or even months.
Mona did not disappoint. The moment David left the office she made sure to call the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to say that she was sending them a sample for confirmation. “I could tell right away that this was something special.”
She examined it relentlessly in her own laboratory, making sure to extract two small slices to be sent to the museum and the rest to study with her team. Mona recalled, “it’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily, and scientifically.”
To Each Her Own
She called a couple of members of the team saying that they would be tasked to do groundbreaking work. They had to use an x-ray fluorescence instrument, or an XRF, to connect the chemical composition. The team didn’t waste one minute.
“That fell right in the field where it belongs to, in terms of concentration of iron and nickel.” Plainly, that’s one check proving that it was a meteorite. Separately, a Smithsonian expert conducted his version of microscopy, upon receipt of the samples
Dr. Cari Corrigan was able to confirm that it was undoubtedly an iron meteorite. The two experts validated the results over the phone. Dr. Mona explained, “the whole meteorite is basically a metallic object. It has a very irregular shape.“
Typically in meteorites, you’ll see little indentations like thumbprints. Those are the result of partial melting as the meteorite burns. This happens because meteorites travel at 160,000 miles per hour as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. So, why don’t we find more of these?
That speed burns up other forms of meteorite, but there are a rare few cases such as these that survive passage and hit the ground. True meteorites have a specific pattern called the widmanstätten. These are lines that appear on iron meteorites.
Scientists induce them after a cross-section of the meteorite is etched with weak acid. You might think that it can be mimicked, but this pattern requires molten iron and nickel. This mixture must be cooled down over several millions of years.
In the Clear
As such, these can only be found in asteroidal bodies and not in any naturally forming rocks on the Earth. After learning that piece of information, it should be easier for anyone to find meteorites. You can find them with magnets.
Geologist Catherine Corrigan communicated her findings to Dr. Mona who had also undertaken her share of tests to confirm the widmanstätten pattern unique to meteorites. Next up, just how much would this thing cost? We already spoiled it for you, but at that moment, David and Mona were eager to find out.
A sample had also been sent to John Wasson of the Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences Department at the University of California. He performed a neutron-activation analysis to determine the meteorite’s chemical compositions. After studying it, the scientists called Dr. Mona to tell them of their findings.
Dr. Mona in turn shared the good news with David. He had a few options. If he wanted to sell it, a collector or museum would be a safe bet. In fact, she had some contacts who would be interested in buying the rare find.
End of the Rainbow
David couldn’t believe what he had heard. All this time, he had been sitting on a fortune of meteorite which he had used as a doorstopper! And seeing that it had been left by the previous owner, it was as if he had gotten a refund on the house!
After mulling over it, he decided to call Dr. Mona to tell her, “I’m done using it as a doorstop. Let’s get a buyer!” David, however, vowed that he would donate ten percent of the proceeds to Central Michigan University to help with further geological studies.
Dr. Mona’s eyes widened. She already felt privileged to have been able to examine such a rare find. David insisted, saying that it was her team that did the hard work. They deserved some of the money since they put in more effort into finding its worth.
All scientists agreed that this meteorite could easily fetch up to $100,000, maybe even higher if sold through an auction. The Smithsonian and a mineral museum in Maine were among the potential buyers of this meteorite, but in the end, the Abram’s Planetarium at Michigan State University was able to claim it.
And just in case you’re a private collector, know that this meteorite weighs over 22 pounds and is the sixth-largest space stone discovered in Michigan. It also helps that it’s nearly 80 years old, and probably a million years more if we were to count its life span in space.
It is pretty unique because whereas most meteorites consist of 90 – 95% iron, this one had 88% iron and 12% nickel. That’s on the technical side of things; listen to what Dr. Mona had to say about this marvelous piece of art.
Early Solar System
She, in the 21st century, was holding a “piece of the early solar system.” Her team didn’t go digging for it; fate dropped it on their lab bench. The meteorite now dubbed “Mazurek’s meteorite” or “Edmore’s meteorite” is still being analyzed in the hope of discovering rare elements within.
In case you are wondering, the other meteor-right Dr. Mona had received was sent from Kenya, Africa. She had concluded it was a fragment of the Sericho pallasite meteorite, and such was donated to the Central Michigan University meteorite collection.
So if you’re looking to make a couple hundred thousand bucks, try looking for some meteorites near craters. Impact craters are produced by the collision of these millenia-old meteorites with the earth. Just remember to bring your metal detector or magnets!
You never know what you might get. Sometimes these meteorites can cause mass extinction *audible gulp*, they can land you a fortune of money that can last your entire lifetime, or they can be used to hold a door open.
And for those of you who can’t tell what’s the difference between meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites, well not to worry. Meteoroids and meteorites are really just fragments from a cosmic body such as an asteroid. These travel at fast speeds.
Such speeds create streaks of light, known as meteors, in the sky. These fragments that travel outside the earth’s atmosphere are known as meteoroids. Those that manage to breach through the earth’s atmosphere and land on its surface are called meteorites.