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Court to Decide If Man Can Keep His Moon Rock 390

Posted by samzenpus
from the dark-side-of-the-moon-rocks dept.
Joe Gutheinz, a former senior investigator for NASA's Office of Inspector General, has made it his goal to collect all 230 moon rocks presented by the US to governments around the world, and put them in a museum. Deadliest Catch Captain Coleman Anderson wants to keep his little piece of the moon. Anderson says he found the rock in the trash mixed with debris following a fire at an Anchorage museum in 1973. He's kept it as a good luck charm ever since. "Our astronauts and their descendants are not permitted to have an Apollo 11-era moon rock to sell for their own enrichment and neither should a private citizen who acquired one in a less-noble manner," Gutheinz said. An Alaskan judge will now decide who legally owns the rock.
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Court to Decide If Man Can Keep His Moon Rock

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  • by SEWilco (27983) on Monday July 11, 2011 @02:01PM (#36723688) Journal
    The State of Alaska seems to agree that stuff in the trash is abandoned property (PDF) [alaska.gov].
  • Re:wow what a shame (Score:4, Informative)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Monday July 11, 2011 @02:25PM (#36724078) Journal

    Actually, it had nothing to do with aluminum being precious, but rather that most metal manufacturing (until the advent of CNC milling in the 1950s) was done by casting, and pure aluminum doesn't cast well.

    It was also a relatively expensive material because the technology to cheaply extract aluminum from aluminum oxide was still in its infancy (the modern Hall-Héroult process having not been invented until two years later, in 1886, with the previous technologies being either extremely expensive, difficult to use in large quantities, or both), but this was in large part due to lack of demand, which was in large part due to the fact that it was historically difficult to cast pure aluminum precisely and get yields comparable to that of other metals or aluminum alloys.

    See The Point of a Monument: A History of the Aluminum Cap of the Washington Monument [tms.org] for details.

    Still, the point remains that its cost was largely due to its novelty.

  • by brokeninside (34168) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:40PM (#36725350)

    The state's side of the story:

    Guthienz and Riker weren't the only ones searching for Alaska's moon rocks. Alaska State Museum curator Steve Henrikson had been looking for them on and off since he was hired 21 years ago in Juneau. The story he pieced together didn't match Anderson's.

    The last people to see the plaque, Henrikson said, were two museum employees who walked through the building after the fire. According to them, the moon rocks were intact, in a glass case. After that, museum staff discussed taking the plaque out of the burned-out area and putting it in a more secure part of the museum.

    A few days later, a museum employee noticed it wasn't in the case. Instead there was just a clean square in the ash and dust where it had been sitting. She assumed Phil Redden, a museum curator, took it home for safe-keeping. But later, when he was asked, Redden denied it.

    Shortly after the fire, the museum lost its funding and all the employees were let go, Henrikson said. That left the cleanup and inventory of the artifacts to employees in Juneau. It took them three years to go through everything. They kept expecting to find the moon rock plaque but they never did, Henrikson said.

    From Alaska News Daily [adn.com].

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

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