Bored with the available options for stealing things made here on planet Earth, thieves have taken to taking things that come from outer space.
One man has been arrested and another may be behind bars soon for the Christmas Eve pilfering of 100 meteorites from the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute near Asheville, North Carolina.
Apparently, buying and selling space rocks is a big deal online.
As with major works of art by dead painters, things that are rare and unusual can command a high price. Anything that can bring in bucks is a target for the criminal element, but one has to wonder if meteorite futures are as bright as the prospects for, say, works by Picasso or Munch.
After all, if the value of a thing is defined by its scarcity, one must take into account that the Universe is full of rocks. Most of them did not come from Earth, so while meteorites might be valuable today, how impressive will they be in 50 years when your descendants can take a day trip to the moon and come home with a bag of space chunks?
Yes, any serious connoisseur of extra-planetary debris should begin building his or her collection with an eye for the long term – the very, very, very long term. Rocks that somehow landed on earth by accident are fascinating, but it would be wise to be a little more discerning.
Some sky watchers predict it won’t be long before we discover another planet showing exactly the right conditions to be a mirror image of Earth. Wouldn’t space rocks from such a place be far more valuable than a collection of mere pebbles from Mars? And what if a civilization was discovered on this planet? Wouldn’t their tools, appliances and ephemera be extremely collectible? What are a few metorites compared to getting your hands on a Pandoran fork?
And of course once the cosmic trade routes are set up, the reverse will be true as well. Your excess stuff, which you see now as worthless, will be viewed as pricey exotica on distant worlds. This, it seems to me, is the only rational argument for hanging on to all that trash in the basement – to package it up and ship it off to another civilization shortly after contact is made.
That’s why I’m collecting wine corks. Light and easy to ship, they’ll be valuable treasures on Earth II, where the amazed resident creatures will gladly part with their fortunes to own and display a souvenir of our strange world.
With what commodity are you ready to corner the inter-galactic trinket trade?