Interviewees say that meteorism is not only a hobby but a way of life and an inexhaustible source of meanings.
Joshvydas Elinskas / 15min. Photo / Meteorite collector Mikhail
– How are meteors interested and who are you – just free time or something more?
Andrei: Meteorites were originally a hobby for me. It all started with amateur astronomy – I had a small telescope. Once, watching the moon, I thought it would be nice to touch him, holding the particle in my hands. This thought completely overwhelmed me and I became interested in meteors. I realized that it would be interesting for me to gather them.
After many years and forces devoted to this hobby, I can say that meteorological science and the accumulation of meteorites are something more than a peaceful way of life: a way of life and thinking, an integral part of my life, business, a look at reality and the basis of worldview. In fact, the practical relationship with the meteorite led me to think about the meaning of life more than the theory of astronomy. The meteorite you hold in your hand gives you much more adrenaline than the mathematical equations describing the image of cosmic objects or the functioning of the universe. He has strong feelings, realizing that he is being cast in a distant part of the world, alien from the depths of the universe.
Mikhail: I was interested in meteorites, I can say, by accident, when one of the collectors gave me the support of the Sichot-Aluminum iron meteorite. This material is five billion years old, it's a birthday for the Solar System. It's hard to see. This experience has had a profound impact on me – I remembered my childhood when I dreamed about becoming a geologist, but I chose other science – engineering. And this unexpected collision with the meteorite, figuratively speaking, corrected the trajectory of my life – she returned to the dream of childhood, woke up invisible curiosity, the desire to explore and discover.
Like all meteorite seekers, I'm a little proud of them, but guaranteed – they give me the meaning of my life. I have not yet found a meteorite, although I have been involved in the expedition for years. But I am looking, because that's where the meaning lies. I think a few people can understand me.
– What is the most expensive meteorite stored in your hands?
Andrei: The most expensive meteorite that I had to keep in my hands was a heavenly wreath in the amount of one hundred thousand euros from a private collection. The scientific value of the meteorite usually coincides with the commercial value of the meteorite. The most valuable meteorite is the one that was found rarely, which is rare in nature, can contain traces of organic matter – cosmic life – which can provide information about the past of our planet, the solar system, the universe … Sometimes this happens. For example, the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite, fall 2013, was initially small, so the cost of each piece was high, and something quickly made a lot of money. Later, however, the material was found so much that there was a real confusion on the meteorite market – the value dropped tenfold.
Mikhail: I am in 2009 In one huge meteorite event in Italy, I held a kilo piece of the Moon in my hands, whose nominal value was about one million dollars at that time. He found a family of meteor seekers in Italy in the desert of Morocco. They go there every year to look for happiness. Here's the lottery: it's not a long time, but once – a stone from the moon, and you're a millionaire (laughs).
– You are the only two members licensed by the International Association of Meteorite Collectors (IMCA) from Lithuania. Is it difficult to get into this organization?
Andrey: I have been a member of IMCA since 2012 and Mikhail is from 2015. I had a lot to learn in order to qualify for the right membership: I spent many hours in the VU library, seriously studied geology, then mineralogy and meteorological science, as far as I understood the principles of systematization, classification, origin and values of meteorites and the principle of recognition by attributes.
Indeed, this study never ends: as an expert, you need to know the most important information, be interested in new developments in this field and constantly check the correspondence between theoretical assumptions and practical results, especially in the face of a new, unknown meteorite. IMCA requirements and standards are very high, and membership is becoming more and more difficult.
Mikhail: I also started, I can say, from scratch – I did not know this subject, I did not have any friends in this field. It required a lot of work, learning, making necessary contacts, conducting special exams, and finally getting recommendations from at least two members of the IMCA. It is not easy, because the guarantors assume responsibility for you, guarantee that you are not a vanguard, a cheater. The risk of permanent deprivation of membership in case of recommendation failure.
– What are you ready to do for a meteorite, what and how much sacrifice?
Andrei: Now that I've collected a huge collection of meteorites, I can breathe easier, but it took many years to achieve this goal. Often the time has come to devote time to the family, a large part of the budget and common interests. However, the desired result was not immediate – neither material nor moral. At a time when there was no internet, I sent paid advertisements to newspapers to buy meteorites.
I ran all over Lithuania. Yes, the person is calling and says he has to. I have to go, check – in the end you will not be able to identify the phone, really or not. Of course, my wife was initially unequivocally evaluated by my hobby, even a storm of emotions was created. Now the house – my wife and daughters – do not worry about my actions, I got used to it and saw so much and learned at that time that it was hard to surprise anything.
Mikhail: I, like Andrea, invested in a meteorite for an infinite period of time. I realized: You must make systematic efforts and spare no effort to achieve the result. The prizes do not come right away, so you have to be patient with patience and be ready to wait.
– Is it possible to be disappointed with your actions and I think that maybe you do not have enough?
Andrew: From bad things, I'm disappointed to put myself in a clear, pragmatic task: buy one or another meteorite, process it, prepare a collector's plate, complete the collection or sell it. Of course, it failed to implement the plan, but the success of other projects finally compensated for the failures he experienced.
Mikhail: Maybe it's a paradox, but most of all I'm disappointed with myself, not with meteors, but with relationships with people. Sometimes: trusting, communicating, we are moving towards a common goal and it turns out that some people think only of themselves that they can give a result.
– Which trip do you remember the most? What challenges do you face?
Andrei: I rarely take part in expeditions, because I am primarily a collector, not a seeker. The biggest challenge and challenge for me are negotiations that require both knowledge of psychology and scientific knowledge, tactics and perceptions.
Mikhail: I will never forget the trip to the Bashkiria republic, the Ural region, Russia, where I intended to be a diver when we were looking for a meteorite at the bottom of one water body. Diving conditions were particularly complex: turbid water, poor visibility, unpredictable bottom … I had to immerse myself, assess the situation, get the original data from a special device or have a massive meteorite body at the bottom. Until now, the hump is on the back: feelings – as in space – they do not matter in the unknown, ears are oppressed, there are no landmarks, neither mountain nor bottom …
At the depth of about 15 meters I hit the bottom of my head, the oxygen tube bounced, the mask barely dropped. A serious unhappiness could have occurred. However, I accumulated, I was worried, I compacted the equipment, fell from the bottom and climbed. Symbolic Life has passed before the eyes. I felt like a second born.
– Do you participate in special events related to meteorites?
Andrei: The main area of my activity is the virtual world. All information, contacts and objects that I need are on the Internet. So physical driving somewhere is not necessary. Purchases, sales, exchanges or loans can be made online. I will continue if you have to keep in touch with your hands to look at the meteorite before the transaction.
Mikhail: Over the years, 3-4 large exhibitions, huge meteorological events have taken place in the world, which you have to choose if you want to be visible and known. If you do not have them, you do not exist in the meteorite. There I find similar people whom I understand well and who understand me, so I feel very good.
Many of them – Indian Jonesbecause their whole life is an endless adventure. They like to walk on a razor, risking their lives, for example in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, where it is very dangerous, dangerous, but you can get rare meteorites. Real madness I know the seeker Somali thugs shot at his head, and he knocked on the road and explained to them what meteorites are and why they need them. Everything finished happily. Started
– What do you think about what you mean by observing the phenomenon of "falling stars" – a meteor shower?
Andrei: Now that I have accumulated enough knowledge about the phenomena of the sky, I know that in very rare cases the meteor phenomenon is directly related to the meteorite. Cars are a completely separate topic. Looking at this, he thinks he will not be able to evaporate into the atmosphere and reach the surface of our planet, becoming a meteorite. I could say about the cases in which observers determined both the route of the car, immediately went to look for the material and found it. Unfortunately, I still have no luck (laughs).
Mikhail: I, like a meteorite hunter and a romantic, like to observe meteors in dark, gloomy evenings, especially in autumn. Beautiful But, like Andrea, I am more interested in the car. It is true that this phenomenon was only succeeded once. Then I thought: if I fall, I would like to hit my yard – it is a pity that I'm rubbing (laughs).
– What are the special Lithuanian meteors? From historical sources we know at least four cases of fall: in 1877 near the town of Juodžiai, in the district of Panevezys, 1908 near Akmene, 1929 Andrioniškis near Anykščiai and in 1933 Žemaitkiemis near Ukmerge. What is the fate of this meteorite material?
Andrei: First of all, they are special because of their own. Many collectors want to have a meteorite that has fallen on its territory. The larger the territory, the greater the chance that the country will get an alien from space. The calculations show that the number of meteorites dropped to Lithuania is fully adequate to the country – in this respect our country is not exclusive.
1877 and in 1908 There are not many really reliable information about the fall, especially the first, where even meteoric material is missing, its fate is unknown. But the cases of Andrioniškis and Žemaitek are really interesting. The Andrionisky meteorite is considered a piece of the asteroid of the Vest, which is truly unique. We can make such assumptions by comparing this material with the meteorite of Mars and the Moon.
The Žemaitkiemis incident is unique because many witnesses observed the fall, and the fragments were collected immediately after the collision. This means that the meteorite material was not exposed to the environment, it remained "clean". Even on a European scale, this is a rare phenomenon. I am happy and I am proud that I have a piece of the meteorite Zemaitkiem in my own collection.
– What tips can you give a beginner meteorite seeker, a collector?
Andrei: Starting from gathering information, deepening the topic. No special knowledge – no step. Becoming a specialist can be honestly trained. We met people whose meteoric knowledge is very superficial, they do not even have the basics of physics and geology, but they believe that they know. Then, with various curiosities, learning about science and its representatives are discredited. Even if you are very rich, you can try to buy a collection that you have already purchased, but you will not be able to buy it without proper education.
Mikhail: I have met in Lithuania and abroad such pseudo-scientists who explain a simple bag of stones and professionals, and professionals believe that they have rare meteors, which themselves identified the origin of the material, try to sell and exchange it. It's fun and grainy. You have to learn a lot and practice to avoid such situations. For a beginner collector or seeker, I would like to think critically, have the right attitude and patience, because there is no quick result here.
– What did the meteorites teach you?
Andrei: Collector's passion taught me to persistently pursue my goal and believe in success. When I was interested in collecting meteorites, I began to see how small our universe is and how big the universe is. This philosophical insight accompanies me constantly and makes the world look different.
Mikhail: Because I am a jeweler, working with meteor materials has caused me to look for new processing techniques, more delicate aesthetic forms and perfecting skills of craftsmanship. In the end, I accepted the challenge of doing something that few could do. And yet I realized that man can build reality only through his thinking, giving value to things: the stone falls from the sky and we create the whole context, the narrative and we see a deeper meaning.