It wasn’t just an American agency that wanted the discovery. Now, there were furious friends and workers saying they were lied to and dangerous gangs trying to sneak into a guarded building in the middle of the night and steal it.
There he was, stuck in the middle of it all, desperately trying to figure out what to do.
Carlos ran a simple mining operation in Brazil. It was part of a childhood dream that caught hold after he had pulled up a large pearl from the ocean floor.
Since then, he kept it on his desk for luck. Now, it was his livelihood. But he had no idea of the monumental discovery that was awaiting him.
As a certified and experienced diver, Carlos loved to delve and dig beneath the earth in search of riches. One day, an important tunnel flooded.
With excited determination, he threw on his gear and went in to inspect the damage and see if the section was salvageable. He swam through the murky water, feeling his fingers trembling.
However, at the very end, something disappointing awaited. A cave-in had blocked everything.
He let out a long, bubbly sigh. The tunnel had so much promise. All that was left was a huge, strange-looking rock that stuck out of an immoveable pile. On the watery floor, he spotted a smaller chunk of the same stone.
Carlos grabbed the souvenir and made for the surface. He ordered his workers to close off the section and went to his office to dry off.
He glanced at the pearl on his desk, chuckled, and set the new rock beside it. He then pulled out his phone and took a photo – having no idea what he was about to start.
He snapped the image and added the caption “Proof that in life we find diamonds as well as duds. Might make a good doorstop?”
A few days passed by and the post got a few likes. But it wasn’t long until he got a new message that made him have to sit down and take a deep breath.
After the first message, people began to clamber, offering to take the “rock” off his hands. But first things first. He had to see whether his strange stone was, in fact, the real deal.
He wanted to have it analyzed by an expert before he got his hopes up. Luckily, he knew exactly who to turn to.
It wasn’t difficult to find out who was the right person to contact, especially since Carlos had a friend who had once studied geology at Central Michigan University.
He was soon on the phone to one Dr. Mona Sirbescu, a professor at CMU. She agreed to examine the rock but wasn’t optimistic as to its outcome. She was about to be proven very wrong.
Carlos arranged for his rock to be sent to Michigan so that Dr. Mona Sirbescu could examine it as a favor.
It seemed every Tom, Dick, and Harry had come to the Geology professor over the years and she had examined hundreds of objects. But only a small handful of those had ever turned out to be anything other than ordinary rocks.
“People bring meteorite suspects all the time, but it turns out they’re not meteorites; they are meteor-wrongs for the most part,” she explained.
But the moment she laid eyes on the ‘doorstop’ she knew it wasn’t any old rock. But tests were needed to confirm anything further. She then sent two small slices of the rock to the Smithsonian for confirmation.
“I could tell right away that this was something special,” Dr. Mona Sirbescu said. “It’s the most valuable specimen I have ever held in my life, monetarily and scientifically.”
The professor believed that if it was what they thought it was it was, it could easily fetch thousands of dollars. Carlos was floored by the revelation.
Carlos’ meteorite was one of the largest space stones of its kind to be recovered. With a pedigree like this, Dr. Sirbescu was confident that the rock could fetch a ton at auction.
But just before she sent the specimens away, she recounts her initial process.
“Just before I did that, we used an x-ray fluorescence instrument—or XRF—to connect the chemical composition, and that fell right in the field where it belongs to in terms of concentration of iron and nickel.”
“Separately, Dr. Cari Corrigan at the Smithsonian conducted another microscopy, and she confirmed without a doubt that it is an iron meteorite.” What does this rock look like?
Dr. Mona Sirbescu goes on to explain, “The whole meteorite is basically a metallic object. It has a very irregular shape. It has the typical little indentations like thumbprints which are caused by partial melting as the meteorite burns.”
And it is without a doubt 100% authentic, the specific pattern called widmanstätten proves that. Here is how.
“That widmanstätten pattern is revealed on the fresh surface that I cut after adding a bit of acid with a certain concentration.”
“That pattern is unique. You cannot reproduce it on Earth. It cannot be faked.” Dr. Mona Sirbescu finished. But, little did Carlos know, his discovery was about to ruin his life.
Geologist Catherine Corrigan was the first person to examine the stone. It only took a few tests to confirm it. Now she could corroborate Dr. Sirbescu’s findings and wait to see what would become of Carlos’ incredible find.
He had two options if he wanted to sell the meteorite; sell the stone to a museum, or sell it to a private collector looking to turn a profit. Either way, Carlos was determined to put the proceeds from the meteorite to good use. Then, he got a call.
It was none other than NASA. The image had somehow found its way to them and they also wanted to take a look and do some tests.
He quickly answered back, “Would I get anything?” His body was already shaking, but their answer made him gasp and see dollar signs bounce around him.
Carlos already knew that it was worth something. But now that NASA was involved, there would certainly be a large financial compensation.
Carlos leaned back in his chair, imagining a new house, car, and other luxuries he and his family could enjoy. He chipped off another piece and sent it away. A few weeks later he got his answer.
As Carlos already knew, it was an actual meteorite. NASA wanted it and would pay plenty.
Carlos jittered with excitement. The rock on his desk was already worth a lot, but he was the only one who knew that the larger, underwater piece was worth an absolute fortune. He hatched a plan to bring it to the surface.
First, he offered his workers some decent overtime and hazard pay if they would help bring it up.
He also brought in extra oxygen tanks so he could oversee it personally. The only thing he told people was the tunnel needed to be opened and samples inspected. After weeks of toiling and danger, it finally reached daylight.
It was like something out of an action or spy movie – and Carlos enjoyed every moment of it.
He secretly moved the large meteorite to a safe room and locked it up. According to NASA, he read that some space rocks had living bacteria on them. In a way, this thing was alive. Several days later, a new problem surfaced.
Somehow, news of the find had leaked out and the story spread like a spring mudslide.
It wasn’t just America that was interested. He was now getting calls from China, Russia, and other countries around the world. Everyone wanted it. The workers also found out… and they weren’t happy at all.
Rage-filled masses stood below his office, screaming that they should have been paid more.
Carlos tried to argue that they had already been paid handsomely. Since he was the one that originally found it, and it was his, it belonged to him – as did the forthcoming money.
Everyone was seeing green. Workers threatened to quit, locals insisted that the money should be shared, and his family sat huddled and afraid in their home because people showed up on their own doorstep.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, an intimidating man with far too many tattoos barged into his office and demanded the meteorite.
Carlos mustered all of his courage and said, “No! You’ll never have it. Get out now.”
Despite the gang member leaving without a word, Carlos still knew something was very wrong. He immediately hired a security team – it was a decision that would pay off a few days later.
As he sat at his desk and mulled over the many generous offers, a loud BOOM shook the office.
Smoke billowed into the night air and wisps of fire bounced off part of the storage building. The security guards rushed to put out the flames. The gang had set off an explosion and tried to steal it. Things were getting out of hand.
In less than a few months, Carlos and his family’s life had been turned upside-down.
Lawyers need to speak on his behalf, his family had to go underground and into hiding, and the meteorite needed to be shipped to various secret locations. Also, the gang hadn’t given up.
As much he wanted to draw out the bidding, the top offer was already in the millions.
He sighed. “It will have to do.” He picked up the phone and called the first people that had contacted him – NASA. At this point, he just wanted it gone. But he did have one more question.
“Can you name it after my son?” he asked.
The rest was just precautionary steps – the official news would be a “donation” but the payment would be discreetly put into a new bank account. The last thing he wanted was criminals to keep sniffing around. He leaned back and reached into his pocket.
Carlos pulled out the pearl – the thing that had started him on this path. He was now a multi-millionaire. He could do anything – diving expeditions, treasure hunts, maybe even another mine.
Despite all the drama, the “itch” he had since he was a boy had grown exponentially stronger. What other marvelous finds would appear in his future?