Your Wedding Ring Was Once a Meteor

Your Wedding Ring Was Once a Meteor
Wed 20-02-2013

The Telegraph has published an article after the Russian meteor strike, that is getting people's attention.

Tom Chivers, a science writer, explains: 

"Almost all of us own a piece of space rock. Or at least, almost all of us who are married do.
It's true. Your wedding ring, if it's gold or platinum, almost certainly did not start its life on Earth. Four and a half billion years ago, when our planet was forming out of the swirling disc of debris that was the solar system, your jewellery was nowhere to be seen; it arrived hundreds of millions of years later, in a cataclysmic bombardment of asteroids. Or so scientists believe."

"There would have been lots of gold in the forming earth, but because our nascent planet was molten rock at that stage, the heavy materials would have sunk to the core, and gold and platinum are among the heaviest naturally occurring elements. But, around four billion years ago, the moon was subjected to a violent series of large space strikes, as revealed by the craters on its surface and radiometric dating of rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. In 2011 a University of Bristol team found evidence that the crust of earth is partly formed of similar rocks. The period when all this was happening is known as the "late heavy bombardment", and it's believed that this is what delivered almost all the heavy metals in the earth's crust, including gold, tungsten and platinum."

"I'm writing this because it was reported the other day that the meteor that exploded over Russia last week has sparked a "gold rush", as excited collectors hunted for pieces of the rock. One has appeared on a Russian auction site. There should be plenty to find: Nasa researchers have now said that the meteor was far larger than originally thought, about 55 feet across and weighing around 10,000 tons, the biggest object to hit the earth since 1908. Despite the extraordinary force with which it smashed into the atmosphere (it exploded with the energy of 30 Hiroshima bombs), plenty of fragments should have made it to the ground."

"The Assyrians called iron the "metal of god" or "of heaven", and in ancient Egypt it was known as "bia-en-pet", or "thunderbolt of heaven". A dagger made from meteoric iron was found in Tutankhamun's tomb; for centuries the Inuit used harpoons made from iron from a giant meteorite that fell in Greenland."

"Anyway. We don't think of meteors as harbingers of Armageddon any more (most of us), and we don't need them to forge weapons for battle. But I quite like the knowledge that my wedding ring, and my late grandmother's ring which my wife now wears, hurtled out of the sky in a howling ball of flame four thousand million years ago. When someone asks "Where does it come from?", it's a better answer than "a jewellery shop in Stowmarket.""