Published on JTV.com: November 2012
A Personal Perspective on Travelling with Co-Founder Jerry Sisk By: Tim Matthews, CEO & President
After the Vault tour, Alan took our group on a few "side tours" inside the bowels of the museum to see some additional treasures not on public display. We stopped by to see Dr. Caroline Smith, a museum expert on meteorites, to learn about Martian meteorite material and other exceedingly rare specimens. One specimen struck me as particularly interesting, a meteorite dated to approximately 4.56 billion years ago, predating the formation of not only the earth but our solar system as well. You can imagine how exciting it was to hold a piece of history in your hand like that! She also passed out a Martian meteorite sample for each person in our group to examine.
Dr. Smith explained how they could determine that a meteorite fragment originated from Mars. Essentially, its origin was validated by matching the tiny air bubbles trapped in the rock with atmospheric samples taken from our Martian probes, like the NASA Viking and MER missions. Because of Jewelry Television's interest in moldavite, a material also formed by meteoric impact in a way that trapped atmospheric gases in the rock, I asked her about moldavite and the size of the largest specimen in the museum. Interestingly, she described the museum's specimens as about the size of a large coin. At Jewelry Television, I knew that Bill Kouns was studying moldavite rough and had numerous pieces of rough specimens that exceeded the size in the museum. It was exciting to confirm that Jewelry Television works with some of the rarest finds around the world, like our moldavite rough collection. Our tour at the museum was not limited to the Minerals gallery.
In a most exciting detour, we ventured into anthropology studies with a private showing of the skull of "Rhodesian Man" (homo rhodesiensis), discovered in a mine in Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia (now Kabwe, Zambia) in 1921. This finely preserved specimen has been dated in the range of 125,000 to 300,000 years old and represents one of the most significant and oldest finds of human or nearly-human species in the study of the history of man.
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