The interlocutors say that meteorism is not only a hobby, but also a way of life and an inexhaustible source of meaning.
Joshvidas Elinskas / 15 min. Photo / Meteorite collector Michael
– How interesting are the meteors and who are you – just a rest or something else?
Andrei: Meteorites for me were originally a hobby. It all started with amateur astronomy – I had a small telescope. Once, watching the moon, I thought it would be nice to touch it, holding the particle in my hands. This idea completely overwhelmed me, and I became interested in meteors. I realized that it would be interesting for me to collect them.
After many years and efforts devoted to this hobby, I can say that meteorological science and a collection of meteorites today are much more than a leisurely lifestyle: lifestyle and thinking, an integral part of my life, business, angle of reality and the basis of worldview. Indeed, a practical relationship with a meteorite led me to think about the meaning of life more than about the theory of astronomy. The meteorite that you hold in your hand gives you a lot more adrenaline than mathematical equations describing the image of space objects or the functioning of the Universe. He has strong feelings, realizing that he is cast in a far part of the world, alien from the depths of the universe.
Mikhail: I was interested in meteorites, one might say, by chance, when one collector gave me a support for an iron syhot-aluminum meteorite. This material is five billion years old; it is the birthday of the solar system. Unlikely perceived. This experience had a profound effect on me – I remembered my childhood when I dreamed of becoming a geologist, but I chose other sciences – engineering. And this unexpected collision with a meteorite, figuratively speaking, corrected the trajectory of my life – it returned to the dream of childhood, awakened invisible curiosity, the desire to explore and discover.
Like all meteorite seekers, I am a bit arrogant to them, but guaranteed – they give me the meaning of my life. I have not yet found a meteorite, although for many years I participated in expeditions. But I'm looking, because here is the point. I think a few people can understand me.
– What is the most expensive meteorite that was stored in your hands?
Andrei: The most expensive meteorite that I had to hold in my hands was a heavenly wreath of one hundred thousand euros from a private collection. The scientific value of a meteorite usually coincides with the commercial value of a meteorite. The most valuable meteorite is the one that was found rare, which is rarely found in nature, which may contain traces of organic matter – cosmic life – which can provide information about the past of our planet, the solar system, the universe … Sometimes it happens. For example, the famous Chelyabinsk meteorite, in the autumn of 2013 in the winter, was initially considered small, so the cost of each part was high, and something quickly made a lot of money. But later, the material was found so much that a real confusion arose in the meteorite market – the cost dropped tenfold.
Michael: I 2009 In one large meteorite in Italy, I was holding in my hands about a kilogram piece of the Moon, whose face value at that time was about a million dollars. He found a family of meteorite seekers in Italy in the desert of Morocco. They go there every year to look for happiness. It's like a lottery: it's not long, but once – a stone from the moon, and you are a millionaire (laughs).
– You are only two members licensed by the International Meteorite Collector Association (IMCA) from Lithuania. Is it difficult to get into this organization?
Andrei: I have been a member of IMCA since 2012, and Mikhail – since 2015. In order to qualify for an appropriate membership, I had to learn a lot: I spent many hours in the VU library, seriously studied geology, then mineralogy and meteorology, until I understood the principles of systematization, classification, origin and value of meteorites and the principles of attribute recognition.
Indeed, this study never ends: as an expert, you should know the most relevant information, be interested in news in this area and constantly check the conformity of theoretical assumptions and practical results, especially when faced with a new, unfamiliar meteorite. The requirements and standards of IMCA are very high and membership is becoming more complex.
Mikhail: I also started, I can say from scratch – I did not know this topic, I had no acquaintances in this area. He needed a lot of work, study, establishing necessary contacts, conducting special examinations, and preparing recommendations from at least two members of the IMCA. This is not easy, because the guarantors take responsibility for you, guarantee that you are not the vanguard, but a fraud. They run the risk of being permanently denied membership if the recommendation fails.
– What are you ready to do for the meteorite, what and how many victims?
Andrei: Now that I have assembled a huge collection of meteorites, I can breathe easier, but it took many years to achieve this goal. Often it was necessary to sacrifice time for the family, a significant part of the budget and common interests. But the desired result was not immediate – neither material nor moral return. In those times when there was no Internet, I sent paid advertisements to newspapers to buy meteorites.
I ran all over Lithuania. There was a man calling and saying that he should. I need to go, check it out – after all, you can't identify the phone, really or not. Naturally, my wife was initially clearly appreciated by my hobby, even a storm of emotions arose. Now the house — my wife and daughters — is not against my activities, I have got used to it and have seen and learned a lot during this time that it is already difficult for them to surprise something.
Mikhail: I, like Andrei, have invested in a meteorite for an infinite time. I understood: you need to make systematic efforts and make every effort to get a result. Awards do not come immediately, so you need to patiently endure and be ready to wait.
– Is it possible to disappoint your activity and think that maybe you no longer have such a thing?
Andrew: Because of bad things, I am disappointed that I have set myself a clear, pragmatic task: to buy one or another meteorite, process it, prepare a collection plate, replenish my collection or sell it. Of course, it was not possible to implement the plan, but the success of other projects ultimately made up for the failures that were experienced.
Mikhail: Maybe this is paradoxical, but, first of all, I am disappointed not with me, not with meteors, but with relationships with people. Sometimes: trusting, communicating, we move toward a common goal, and it turns out that some people think only of themselves that they can give results.
– Which expedition do you remember the most? What problems do you face?
Andrew: I rarely participate in expeditions, because I am primarily a collector, and not a seeker. The biggest problem and challenge for me are negotiations that require both knowledge of psychology and scientific knowledge, tactics and understanding.
Mikhail: I will never forget the expedition to the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Ural region, Russia, where I was going to be a diver when we were looking for a meteorite at the bottom of one reservoir. Diving conditions were especially difficult: muddy water, poor visibility, unpredictable bottom … I had to dive, assess the situation, obtain primary data using a special device or have a massive meteorite body at the bottom. Until now, the hump behind his back: sensations – like in space – do not matter in the unknown, the ears exert pressure, there are no landmarks, neither the top nor the bottom …
At a depth of about 15 meters I hit the bottom of my head, the oxygen tube jumped, the mask barely dropped. Perhaps it was a serious misfortune. However, I was accumulating, I was worried, I was constraining the equipment, I fell from the bottom and climbed. It is symbolic. Life before your eyes has passed. I felt second born.
– Do you participate in special meteor events?
Andrew: 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 is not necessary. Purchases, sales, exchanges or loans can be made online. I will act only if you need to keep in touch with your hands in order to look at the meteorite before the transaction.
Mikhail: Over the years there are 3-4 major exhibitions in the world, huge meteorological events that you must attend if you want to be visible and well known. If you do not have them, you do not exist in the meteorite. There I am like 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 the razor's edge, risking their lives, for example, to Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, where it is terribly dangerous, unsafe, but you can get rare meteorites. True madness I know a seeker to whom Somali gangsters fired at a pistol and, knocking on the road, he explained to them what meteorites are and why they are needed. It all ended happily. Began
– 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 meteorite phenomenon is directly related to a meteorite. A completely separate topic – cars. Watching this, she thinks that she cannot evaporate in the atmosphere and reach the surface of our planet, becoming a meteorite. I could tell about the cases when the observers accurately determined the trajectory of the car’s flight, immediately went in search of the material and found it. Unfortunately, I still have no luck (laughs).
Mikhail: I, as a meteor hunter and romantic, love to observe meteors on dark, gloomy evenings, especially in the fall. A staritsa. But I, like Andrew, are more interested in the car. True, this phenomenon immediately succeeded only once. Then I thought: “If I fall, I would like to hit my yard – I wish I was leaking (laughs).
– What are special Lithuanian meteorites? From historical sources we know at least four cases of a fall: in 1877 near the village of Juodziai, in the Panevezys district, 1908 near Amen, 1929 Andrionishkis near Anykščiai and in 1933 Zemaitkemis near Ukmerge. What is the fate of this meteoric material?
Andrew: First of all, they are special because of their own. Many collectors want to have a meteorite that fell on its territory. The larger the territory, the greater the likelihood that the country will receive an alien from space. Calculations show that the number of meteorites that fell in Lithuania fully corresponds to the territory of the state – in this regard, our country is not exclusive.
For 1877. and in 1908 Not so much reliable information about the fall, especially in the first place, when there is no meteoric material, its fate is unknown. But the cases of Andrioniškis and Zemaitkemisa are really interesting. It is believed that the Androninsky meteorite is part of the asteroid Vestata, which is truly unique. We can make such assumptions by comparing this material with a meteorite of Mars and the Moon.
The case of Samoytikays is unique because many witnesses watched the fall, and fragments were collected immediately after the collision. This means that the meteoric material was not exposed to the environment, remained “clean”. Even on a European scale, this is rare. I am glad and proud that I have a part of the meteorite "Zemitkemis" in my own collection.
– What advice can you give to a beginner meteorist, a collector?
Andrew: Based on the accumulation of information, the deepening of the subject. Without special knowledge – no step. Become a specialist can only be honestly trained. We met people whose knowledge of meteorites is very superficial, they do not even have the fundamentals of physics and geology, but believe that they know. Then, in all forms of smoking, the science of science and its representatives are discredited. Even if you are very rich, you can try to buy the collection you purchased, but you cannot buy it without a proper education.
Mikhail: I met both in Lithuania and abroad with such pseudologists, who translate a simple bag of stones and professionals, and the professionals believe that they have rare meteorites who themselves have identified the origin of the material, are trying to sell it and exchange it. This is ridiculous and grainy. You need to learn a lot and practice a lot to avoid such situations. For a novice collector or seeker, I would like critical thinking, an adequate attitude and patience, because there is no quick result.
– What did the meteorites teach you?
Andrew: Passion for the meeting taught me to stubbornly pursue my goal and believe in success. When I was interested in collecting meteorites, I began to understand how small our universe is and how large the universe is. This philosophical understanding constantly accompanies me and makes the world look different.
Mikhail: Because I am a jeweler, working with meteoric materials, made me look for new processing methods, more subtle aesthetic forms and improve my skills in craftsmanship. Finally, I accepted the challenge of doing what few can do. And yet I realized that a person can only build reality through his thinking, giving value to things: a stone falls from heaven, and we create a whole context, a narration and see a deeper meaning.