Published On: Tue, Oct 23rd, 2012

4 Billion Year-Old Meteorite Served as Doorstop for Lewis Family (Photo)

The doorstop of the Lewis family in Tennessee is not your ordinary rock. It turns out that it’s a rare meteorite estimated to be 4 billion years old.

The eureka moment came in when George Lewis ran a metal detector over it last May. To his surprise, the detector registered it as ‘overload’. Since then, the family brought the special rock to Jerry Cook, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Eastern Kentucky University.

The university’s tests revealed that indeed it is a special rock which turned out to be meteorite. “Tests at the University of Tennessee confirmed the object’s origins: it was probably part of a known meteorite strike that had first turned up evidence in Tazewell in 1853,” the Eastern Kentucky University said in a press release.

Donna Lewis and Jerry Cook with 4 billion-year old meteorite
Image Credit: Eastern Kentucky University

The university has since purchased the meteorite at an unknown price to be displayed in various science fairs. “We don’t want to lock it up somewhere,” Cook said in a statement. “We want kids to be able to touch it, lift it, and understand what it is. Part of our job is to get kids interested in science, and this … will stir their curiosity,” Cook said.

The 4 billion year-old meteorite is described as oval-shaped and weighing 33 pounds. It was formerly used as a doorstop and flower bed ornament over the years where it was once painted green. It was initially found by Tilmon Brooks, the late grandfather of Donna Lewis in 1930s in a cow pasture in Tazewell Tennessee. It is now believed to be the second largest known meteorite from the Tazewell strike. “The first weighed approximately 100 pounds,” Cook said.

According to Armagh Planetarium, meteorites are samples of space rock that fall on to the Earth’s surface from space. They are identified by their chemistry which is subtly different from the rocks that make up the Earth.

Five months ago, a mother found a meteorite worth $20,000 in Sacramento California, weighing 17 grams, and believed to be also 4 billion years old. Considering a 17 grams meteorite to be worth $20,000, how much do you think will this 33-pound meteorite costs?

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