Week 8: Meteorite gallery, planetarium, and dust collecting


Week 8 was one of my favorite weeks so far. On Tuesday, we walked over to the meteorite gallery and the planetarium with astrophysicist Santiago Torres. I was surprised to find out that UCLA had its very own Meteorite Collection. The image above captures the Camp Wood meteorite, a 148 kg magmatic iron meteorite formed by fractional crystallization in the molten core of an asteroid. The Camp Wood iron was first discovered by a hunter in Texas around 1968. The meteorite gallery contained many different meteorites and rocks from all over the world; one of my favorites was the Libyan Desert Glass. Despite its name, this rock is from the Great Sand Sea in the Western Desert of Egypt. It was formed by melting quartz-rich sand and is a kind of layered tektite. What was interesting was that the greenish glass is composed of foam-like layers that are full of bubbles.IMG_4737.jpg

Next, we went to the planetarium where we viewed the solar system and Professor Vesna's  [Alien] Star Dust project. On the project website it states: "Every creature contains hydrogen atoms and every material element is manufactured in stars through their fusion. We, along with our myriad siblings of animals, plants, insects, plankton, bacteria, fungi and viruses are created from stardust by nuclear fusion. We all function together in vibratory fields from the bottom up, just as nature and nanotechnology work." To be submerged in almost complete darkness and look up at stars was an amazing experience. IMG_4758.jpg



On Thursday, we went to collect micrometeorites around campus with a magnet. Before this though, Ryan and I tagged along on Alexia and Matt’s conversation with Santiago about their final project. It was interesting, listening to the astrophysicist talk about science as if it were poetry. He says he thinks “the universe is kind”. He describes stars as “ambitious”. He finds comfort in the vastness and unknowability of the universe, something that has always instilled fear in me. I’m inspired by this middleground for science and creativity that I’ve become aware of through this class and the many speakers that Professor Vesna brings in.

Works Cited

Meteorite collection. UCLA. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://meteorites.ucla.edu/gallery/exhibit-2/

About. ALIEN STAR DUST. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2023, from http://alienstardust.com/about/