Ever faithful, ever unappreciated, the humble doorstop is always there for us when we really don't want to open the door a second time. Of all the objects that function simply by sitting still and being heavier than average, the doorstop is arguably the most useful—at least more so than a paperweight. A Michigan man recently discovered another way his noble doorstop might make his day just a little brighter: netting him a cool $100,000 via sale to the Smithsonian Institute.
No, the Smithsonian hasn't opened a new museum dedicated to particularly stunning doorstops, it's that this specimen happens to be an extremely rare and valuable meteorite. Composed of 88.5% iron and 11.5% and weighing in at 22 pounds, the meteorite is the sixth largest found in the state of Michigan. The award of sixth best in Michigan is not usually worth $100 in any category, let alone $100,000, but the world of space rocks is wild. Money gets tossed around like there's no tomorrow, apparently.
It could be that the Smithsonian was just so pleased that a supposed meteorite actually turned out to be the real thing. Mona Sirbescu, a geology professor at Central Michigan University, says that she gets asked to identify "meteorites" all the time:
"For 18 years, the answer has been categorically 'no' -- meteor wrongs, not meteorites."
That level of snark could only be forged through countless hours of looking at normal rocks and saying "that's a normal rock." Sirbescu was most likely getting ready to unload another zinger when she was asked to identify the doorstop from space, but she was surprised to find that it was not only a genuine article, but an exceptional one at that:
"I could tell right away that this was something special. It's the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically"
A small piece of the meteor was sent to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC for secondary verification. They confirmed that it was a special rock.
The man—who has chosen to remain anonymous, ostensibly to protect himself from would-be rock thieves—says that the meteorite came with a farm he bought in 1988. As he was touring the property, he spotted the meteorite doing its noble duty propping open a door and inquired about its nature. The farmer told him that it was indeed a meteorite, and that it came down in his field sometime in the 1930's and "made a heck of a noise when it hit." The farmer and his father dug the meteorite out of the ground the next morning, still warm from its nosedive through the atmosphere.
The current owner has since moved away from that farm but he took the meteorite with him, continuing to use it as a doorstop and sending it to school with his children for show-and-tell. Perhaps the most valuable thing about this new identification is that now his children can prove they weren't lying about having a meteorite. It doesn't matter how old they are, the pain of being called a show-and-tell liar lasts a lifetime.
After hearing stories of others selling their meteorites, the man decided to get his appraised. Now both the Smithsonian and a mineral museum in Maine are interested in purchasing the space rock. The man says he will donate 10% of the sale value to Central Michigan University.
So, what's the takeaway from this? There's cool stuff everywhere. Look around, you never know when a doorstop might change your life.