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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Mars for Sale
11 November 1997 8:00 pm
You don't have to be a martian or even Bill Gates to own a piece of Mars. In a full-page ad in the New York Times today, a New York City-based company called The Sky Is Falling is offering 0.1-carat slivers of a Martian meteorite for $98 apiece: hundreds of times the price of gold.
This year's holiday science shopping story actually began on 3 October 1962, when an 18-kilogram meteorite slammed into Earth near Zagami Rock, Katsina Province, Nigeria, narrowly missing a farmer. Since then, the Zagami meteorite, made of basalt, has been carved into thousands of pieces and has been the subject of hundreds of scientific papers. Two years ago, researchers found compelling evidence that the rock came from Mars after matching the composition of trapped air bubbles to gasses in the martian atmosphere. Scientists think that a comet or asteroid slammed into Mars about 2.5 million years ago, flinging the rock into space.
Museums and research institutions own most of Zagami and the 11 other confirmed martian meteorites, says The Sky is Falling co-owner Darryl Pitt, curator of the Macovich Collection of Meteorites. Pitt says he acquired his stash of Zagami by bartering his personal meteorite collection to museums and buying some from another meteorite dealer. With every purchase, Pitt includes a certificate vouching for the meteorite's authenticity. The rock "is for smart, romantic people," Pitt pitches. "They can say, 'that's a piece of Mars on the coffee table.'"
Pitt says his wares don't harbor martian life forms--but just in case, they're encased in a block of resin in a sealed vial. Experts predict the Mars bits will sell like hot cakes. "People collect meteorites," said Martin Prinz, curator of meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which has also purchased meteorites from Pitt. "They seem to want a piece of something from outer space."