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Scientific Psychic
2010-02-06
 

Lorton meteorite ownership is disputed

On January 18, 2010 a small stony meteorite weighing 308 grams punched a hole in the roof of a doctor's office in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Lorton, Virginia. There was some damage to the office, but nobody was hurt. The doctors, Marc Gallini and Franc Ciampi who were in the adjacent room, thought the noise was caused by a falling bookshelf.

The doctors donated the meteorite to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian officials planned to give them $5,000 dollars in compensation. The Smithsonian planned to display the meteorite, and the doctors wanted to use the money for the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

The owners of the building objected, and said that they were the rightful owners of the meteorite. The landlords informed the museum officials that they were going to take possession of the meteorite with the objective of selling it to pay for the damage to the building. The doctors got a lawyer to bar the museum from releasing the stone until ownership is determined. In the past, U.S. courts have ruled that a meteorite becomes part of the land where it arrives through natural causes, and therefore is the property of the landowner. The Smithsonian is keeping the meteorite until the dispute is settled.

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