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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: careysub]
      #5722245 - 03/09/13 12:40 PM

Carey is right, there are properties inherent to meteorites that cannot be replicated on Earth - such as the formation of chondrules. Sure, a sophisticated 3D printer might be able to make a convincing model of a chondrule that is visually indistinguishable from the real thing. But, there are a battery of tests that can determine if a sample is indeed a meteorite.

For one thing, chondrules formed over a period of millions of years as a result of condensation from the solar nebula, thus they contain trace elements and isotopes that are not present on Earth. Also, we can test for cosmic-ray exposure times, the rate of radioactive aluminum isotope decay, oxygen isotope measurements, electron microprobe (for elemental composition data), etc. Simpler tests include thin-sectioning for petrographic analysis and scanning electron microscope.

I don't forsee a 3D printer being able to fool all of those tests without being detected.

It is much easier to buy a common recent fall, like Chergach or Bassikounou, and then misrepresent that meteorite as another of great value. For example, a seller on eBay was recently caught trying to pass off a specimen of Oum Dreyga for the new Russian Chebarkul-Chelyabinsk meteorite. Eagle-eyed members of the meteorite community caught the scam and exposed it. But this is a very real problem and has happened more than once in the meteorite world.

The average collector cannot analyze a specimen in a lab, so if a forgery can fool the casual eye, then it is likely to succeed in deceiving the buyer. And to many eager or inexperienced buyers, any fresh chondrite stone looks like any other fresh chondrite stone. And they might be surprised to discover later that their prized Chebarkul meteorite is actually a less-remarkable Chergach imposter.

Martian meteorites contain trapped gases that match the Martian atmosphere - that would be hard to fake with a 3D-printer.

Best regards,

MikeG


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MeteoritesEire
Vendor (EmeraldIsle Meteorites)


Reged: 01/09/11

Loc: Loch An Iuir , Ireland
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: careysub]
      #5723459 - 03/10/13 07:21 AM

completely agree with careysub........
It's simply not possible to fake a high end meteorite.It would collapse under the most basic of scrutiny.It will never happen-it would take 4 billion years to make a convincing fake ;-)


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CygnuS
sage


Reged: 07/11/11

Loc: The Great Rift
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: MeteoritesEire]
      #5723704 - 03/10/13 11:24 AM

Thank you everybody for your well informed responses.
I'm starting to feel confident that the good guys will always outwit the bad guys when it comes to fakes.
Glassthrower, this "battery of tests" is something that I assume would be needed if a person wanted to buy an ultra expensive meteorit but what about mid-range meteorites? (say 500-2000 US dollars) When an relatively inexperienced buyer wants one in that price range what should they ask for? Having the meteorite pass the visual test that the reputable dealer put it through is nice but should the tests be more extensive as the value of the meteorite goes up? Of course it would have to be within reason. Nobody would pay for 700 dollars worth of tests to confirm the value of a 900 dollar meteorite.


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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5724035 - 03/10/13 02:39 PM

Hi Cygnus,

Exactly - the testing gets very expensive and the number of qualified individuals and labs is limited. During the last 20 years, the flood of meteorites from the Saharan desert has overwhelmed the labs with common chondrites that have comparatively little to teach us. Many institutions and universities have stopped accepting unsolicited samples for analysis. They will now deal only with veteran hunters or dealers who have a history with these labs.

An electron microprobe will unmask any fake in moments, but it's a precision piece of equipment that costs over a million dollars and requires training to operate. An entire university might use that same microprobe for different purposes - the geology department, the physics department, planetary sciences, chemistry, etc. Time on the equipment is booked in advance and is rationed out to grad students and others who are doing less valuable work, such as analyzing unsolicited rock samples for strangers.

The advanced layman does have resources at their disposal though - XRF guns, magnetic susceptibility meters, thin-sectioning, and even a simple nickel test can help determine what a sample really is. An XRF gun can give a basic elemental analysis in seconds, and a magnetic susceptibility meter can determine if a chondrite is an L, LL, H, or something else.

Another factor is training and areas of expertise. For example, a facility that does elemental analysis testing of rock and soil samples for oil exploration or the mining industry may be qualified to tell you if your sample contains X parts per million of a given element, but they are probably not qualified to deliver an authoritative answer on what petrologic type a meteorite may be. It's outside their area of expertise. I see this problem a lot when people email me with photos of an Earth rock that some local geologist told them is a meteorite.

The meteorite community confronts this issue by breaking it down into two rough but distinctly-different determinations :

1) identification - is a given sample a meteorite at all?

2) authenticity - is a given meteorite what the seller claims it is? In other words, is a piece of Ensisheim really a piece of that historic fall, or is it a piece of an entirely different and more common find?

The first one (ID) is fairly simple and almost any experienced collector or dealer can determine if a rock is a meteorite or not, even if it is convincing (in one way or another) visually.

The second one, authenticity, is more problematic. Authenticity is determined by a combination of factors, but it is not nearly as definitive as identification.

Let's take a hypothetical micromount crumb that is offered as "Ensisheim" by a fictional seller. Let's say that this crumb is quite small, perhaps 2mm x 5mm, and it only weighs about 10 or 20mg. It's not much to look at and on the current market, it might sell for anywhere from $10 - $40. There's not much profit potential there for a greedy scammer, but a busy scammer could slowly accumulate a pile of proceeds by selling off many many fraudulent crumbs over a period of time. Most scammers are in a hurry to make large sums of easy money. Selling fake crumbs requires much more time and effort than most scammers are willing to expend to make $10 or $20. So, generally speaking, the vast majority of such specimens being offered by reputable dealers are legit. They have no logical motive to knowingly let a fake or misrepresented crumb pass through their hands.

But how do we know the dealer isn't honestly and unknowingly passing off a bogus stone without realizing it? What if the dealer was tricked? This can happen. It has happened before and will probably happen again. But it is a very rare occurrence and does not happen nearly often as one might expect - the meteorite community is small, close-knit, and very adept at self-policing. In any case, good dealers keep records and every buyer of a "recalled" or "tainted" batch of specimens is tracked down, one by one, and money is refunded. The bogus specimens are pulled from the market, the damage is mitigated, and the seller takes a hit to their reputation. If the fraud was intentional and knowing, then the seller is exposed as a criminal and blacklisted by the community.

But, back to the hypothetical Ensisheim crumb. Let's say I have one I bought on eBay from John Q. Public, and now I am unsure if it is really a piece of a historic meteorite, or a piece of somebody's garden landscape rock. There are ways to test a specimen to narrow down the range of possibilities, and some of these tests can be done by the layman.

Break off a tiny portion and do a nickel test on it. If the result is negative, then it is not a meteorite. A negative test for nickel is almost always a sign that a sample is not meteoritic. If it tests positive, this is a good sign, but it is not definitive on it's own. It just means the sample contains nickel, which is much more common in meteorites, but is still found on Earth.

Find somebody with an XRF gun and have them analyze the sample. This is quick and relatively easy process, but finding a XRF gun may not be easy. I know somebody with one, but I won't pester him to use it unless it's important. I'd love to have one myself, but they are a little too pricey for me to invest in. The technology is linked below. The hand-held version is what the meteorite world refers to as an "XRF gun". If a genuine sample of Ensisheim is available for comparison, one can simply compare the two readings and see if they match.

XRF - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-ray_fluorescence

Genuine Ensisheim is an LL6 chondrite. LL chondrites have a known magnetic susceptibility range. If the hypothetical sample is actually an H-chondrite NWA imposter, a magnetic susceptibility meter will reveal this discrepancy. If the sample reads as anything other than an LL chondrite, then it's a fake.

And the dealer's own eye can catch certain distinctive features - shock veining, brecciation, metal content, texture, and grain size can all be distinctive in some way. For example, a big slice of Portales Valley with it's distinctive metal melt veins/rivers would be hard to imitate.

For larger specimens that are not crumbs, it becomes even easier to spot the fakes.

In the end, the provenance of the specimen is the ultimate trump card. Provenance is a product of the seller/dealer and that dealer's sources, and the integrity of both. For example, a certificate of authenticity (COA) is only worth the paper it is printed on, if it doesn't have someone or something reputable standing behind it.

Best regards,

MikeG


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CygnuS
sage


Reged: 07/11/11

Loc: The Great Rift
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5724971 - 03/10/13 11:51 PM

Wow Glassthrower! I was extremely impressed with this response. Thank you so much for putting so much time and effort into it. I sincerely appreciate it.
With people like you watching over the meteorite community it's certainly in good hands. You're also a great asset to this fantastic website. Thank you for all your contributions here and thank you for making me feel more confident in purchasing meteorites.
Once again, I'm impressed!


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StarWars
Mr. Postmaster Man
*****

Reged: 11/26/03

Loc: At the Gym >Spudtastic<
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5725777 - 03/11/13 12:43 PM

Quote:

I'm very concerned about how fake meteorites made with 3D printers could dramatically alter meteorite values. Is this something that is already starting to happen? I don't know if 3D printers can make fakes YET. I do know that something shook me up that is in the current Astronomy magazine on page 13 (April 2013) It stated that 3D printers can create small objects out of synthetic Moon rock material.
Several weeks ago I posted my concern about 3D printers on the Off Topic Observatory but the vast mojority of responders only had high praise for these gizmos. Is there any concern at all from meteorite collectors?





I believe 3D printers use a special resin which will melt at a low temperature compared to a rock. Just apply some heat to the meteor in question the resin should melt when tested.


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oblako
member


Reged: 07/01/12

Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5727051 - 03/11/13 10:43 PM

Quote:

Carey is right, there are properties inherent to meteorites that cannot be replicated on Earth - such as the formation of chondrules.
Best regards,

MikeG




Well, that's right, chondrules are found only in meteorites, except sometimes there are some spherical inclusions in the Earth rocks, inclusions that look as chondrules. For example I looked at a rock I found under a microscope and found a few inclusions that do look as chondrules
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8524/8526180851_6fee07d5a1_b.jpg
I emailed the image to an expert, and she still does not believe my rock is a meteorite.

And as I mentioned earlier there's no need to make a fake meteorite, just find a rock and sell it on Ebay like this guy is doing http://www.ebay.com/sch/king*tuts*treasure*trove/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&am... I doubt that any of the rocks he offers as meteorites have anything at all to do with meteorites, yet he gets some bids.

Edited by oblako (03/11/13 10:52 PM)


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BSJ
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/22/08

Loc: Grand Isle, VT
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: StarWars]
      #5728074 - 03/12/13 12:34 PM

There are printers capable of printing with titanium…

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CygnuS
sage


Reged: 07/11/11

Loc: The Great Rift
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: BSJ]
      #5729223 - 03/12/13 10:38 PM

Quote:

There are printers capable of printing with titanium…



Is there anything (non liquid or gas) they're not capable of printing with?

Edited by CygnuS (03/12/13 10:40 PM)


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BSJ
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 12/22/08

Loc: Grand Isle, VT
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5731940 - 03/14/13 10:17 AM

I dunno. If you can heat/melt it with a laser or arc, I'd say you can "print" with it.

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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: BSJ]
      #5732411 - 03/14/13 03:12 PM

Simple solution #8471:

When buying meteorites from a source of unknown reputation, scan and print the cash and send the copies.

if the Meteor proves to be real, then you send the real bills.

if not you have just lost some effort...



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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: Mister T]
      #5732532 - 03/14/13 04:33 PM

There are limited scenarios where I could envision a 3D-printed pseudometeorite being successfully passed off as a genuine meteorite. But, even under those circumstances, the specimen would not stand up to close scrutiny.

For example, let's suppose you make a visual replica of a meteorite and then encase the specimen in a "protective" glass dome for display - or, put the specimen into lucite. Either way, the specimen cannot be readily touched or examined very closely because of the limitations imposed by the container or display vessel. It might look very convincing and could be listed on eBay or some online venue where the buyer can only see photos and not the item first-hand.

In such a scenario, an uninformed or overly-eager buyer could be duped. They might receive the specimen and be pleased with it, put it on their mantle, and treasure it. But, if it is ever removed from the display container, the ruse is likely to be exposed quickly.

In this kind of case, one wouldn't need a 3D-printer to achieve similar results. A potato covered in textured polymer clay and painted to resemble a meteorite would pass muster if the prospective buyer can only see photos to make their judgement.

It's kinda fun coming up with hypothetical scenarios for this.

Anyone wanna buy a painted space potato?

Best regards,

MikeG


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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Making fake meteorites [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5733216 - 03/14/13 11:10 PM

Sure!

Can you make change for a $300 bill?


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Paraclete
super member


Reged: 01/15/11

Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5736236 - 03/16/13 12:59 PM

Me personally, I feel a whole lot better since this thread came up. In the past, I wanted to buy some meteorites, but I was a little skeptical about their authenticity.

Since this thread came up, I have whole lot more confidence in making the purchase from a reputable seller of meteorites.

Long story short, next paycheque, some of that money is going towards some meteorites. (And I am reasonably confident that they will be the real deal!)


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cpsTN
Carpal Tunnel
****

Reged: 04/26/07

Loc: Rutherford Co, TN
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5736935 - 03/16/13 07:08 PM

Quote:

I would gladly get rid of all the nuclear weapons in the world if the cost was losing all the nuclear power plants.




Why are people always so willing to get rid of all the good to reduce the small possibility of bad? The bad that comes with something will always be managed well if the good it brings is worth it. As far as fake meterorites go, I agree that only the expensive ones will be faked if at all. This is the same reason no one fakes $1 bills, unless there is a rare one.

Edited by cpsTN (03/16/13 07:15 PM)


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CygnuS
sage


Reged: 07/11/11

Loc: The Great Rift
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: cpsTN]
      #5737046 - 03/16/13 07:51 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I would gladly get rid of all the nuclear weapons in the world if the cost was losing all the nuclear power plants.




Why are people always so willing to get rid of all the good to reduce the small possibility of bad? The bad that comes with something will always be managed well if the good it brings is worth it.



I understand why you feel that way. I had a best friend killed in a car accident years ago and I never proposed to outlaw cars. Nuclear weapons that could destroy all life on earth are different though. In regards to 3-D printers I'm not proposing to outlaw them, just warning of what can come. In the off-topic observatory nobody agreed with my argument of how they could upset the global economic balance...but nobody disagreed either. I guess it all boils down to fear of the unknown. When every nation has nukes there will be no unknowns. Nuclear war will be certain. Since nuclear armed nations won't stop proliferation there is nothing to stop this thing from following the path to its natural conclusion.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: CygnuS]
      #5738274 - 03/17/13 09:43 AM

I thought we were discussing meteorites.

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darklighteditorModerator
Theatre King
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Loc: Sparty Nation
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5740587 - 03/18/13 12:09 PM

Quote:

I thought we were discussing meteorites.




Agreed. Let's keep this thread on-topic by discussing meteorites. It's a good thread and doesn't need to go off-topic.


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CygnuS
sage


Reged: 07/11/11

Loc: The Great Rift
Re: Making fake meteorites new [Re: darklighteditor]
      #5747493 - 03/21/13 12:25 PM

I agree. Any further discussions of 3D printers should be addressed in the off topic observatory if it isn't meteorite related. A 3D printer thread is currently on page 4 since nobody's posted on it for a few days. Thankfully we've established here that 3D printers aren't a serious danger to meteorite collectors. In the meantime if anybody thinks that there are no downsides to technology I would be happy to engage in a friendly and constructive debate in the off topic observatory.

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