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Literal lunacy.
May 14, 2009 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Back in 2002, 4 interns pulled off an unusual heist: they stole a quarter tonne of moon rocks under NASA's nose, which reads like a surreal pulp. [via jwz]

It's a mix of social engineering and bizarre science, handy on the off-chance you're looking for an extra-terrestrial gemstone.
posted by myopicman (24 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hahaha, what a fantastic story!

This one actually has quotes from Roberts. "'I was in love with Tiffany,' he says. 'In my mind, I was thinking, Baby, I'd give you the moon. It would be a romantic start to our relationship.'"
posted by callmejordan at 10:48 PM on May 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


The samples they took were from every Apollo mission, ever. Sometime between the heist and its resolution, Tiffany and Thad arranged the moon rocks on a bed—and had sex amongst them.

Checkmate, candles and Air Supply.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:09 PM on May 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


I GOT 'EM ONE ROCK AT A TIME
AND THEY DIDN'T COST ME A DIME
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:50 AM on May 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


NASA's nose reads like a surreal pulp?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:53 AM on May 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


arranged the moon rocks on a bed—and had sex amongst them.

Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky!

not apocryphal-ist
posted by zippy at 12:53 AM on May 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: NASA's nose reads like a surreal pulp?

yeah, I'm an old man, but I came in here to complain about the lack of an object for 'which'... why does that annoy my silly ass so much?
posted by koeselitz at 12:58 AM on May 15, 2009


Thad Roberts's mooniness in this article oddly reminds me of the game I wish I were the Moon.

Collectspace has an interesting timeline of articles, and Thad Roberts's original NASA coop profile.
posted by Lush at 1:33 AM on May 15, 2009


I started reading it thinking it was going to be a wacky adventure where they all laugh at the end and learn to love again. But adultery, ruined lives, jail....yeah, this is too depressing. What a bunch of idiots.
posted by DU at 4:35 AM on May 15, 2009


Where are pics of this tiffany girl? And how is it fair that she didn't get any jail time? What B.S.
posted by delmoi at 5:09 AM on May 15, 2009


Tiffany was equally dynamic—a firecracker and former cheerleader who spoke French in bed

...but anywhere else, she had absolutely no knowledge of the language.
posted by Spatch at 5:30 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, I was going to post this story but when I saw it was from 2002 I figured it must have been posted before, even if I couldn't find it. I'm glad you forged ahead with it.
posted by TedW at 5:34 AM on May 15, 2009


That Gizmodo article reads like a rough draft of a real magazine story, before an editor got a chance to look at it. Like the author sets up reversals, and the buries the reveal at the end of a paragraph. And the random asides of "note, this doesn't really sound plausible" are awful.
posted by smackfu at 6:51 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Moon rocks are sort of a big deal I guess. They contain Helium 3 which I read somewhere that 1 shuttle full of it could power the whole USA for 1 year. If we were to mine Helium 3 from the moon it would take 10,000 years of running shuttles everyday to mine it out completely. So I think it is save to say that there is plenty up there. That's some good cheese up there!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2009


>Moon rocks are sort of a big deal I guess.

As it happens, I'm working on a project that requires testing against the sort of stuff strewn around in space (cosmic dust, left over particles from the accretion disk, bits and pieces of asteroids, etc.). It's difficult at best to find materials like that but meteorites are one good source, so I just bought 5 for around $250. Together they're about as big as a golf ball. Even amongst these the cost is high, and I still have to worry about how the heat of atmospheric entry might have changed the constituent chemicals inside of them, whether it imparted any magnetism to them, and other things.

Those moon rocks are basically the lone source of material that doesn't have the entry problem. Until science understands every facet of how they were created and can replicate those conditions, they aren't valuable: they're priceless. They're the lone control test we have to verify any of the theories on that sort of thing, in addition to whatever folks like me want to do with them.

I'd have paid money to buy those "used" rocks as long as I knew what experiments had been done on them and under what conditions. Now that they've been exposed to the atmosphere and more biological material than I care to imagine, they're about as good as the soil in a park.
posted by jwells at 7:21 AM on May 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Santorum does indeed ruin the scientific value of extraterrestrial lunar samples. I hope this guy's life sucks forever.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 7:37 AM on May 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


M-O-O-N, that spells "dumbasses".
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:05 AM on May 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It would have been an even better story if, when they realized they couldn't crack the safe, they left quietly the way they came rather than carting the whole damned thing out like a bunch of idiots.
posted by mrmojoflying at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2009


Joakim Ziegler: NASA's nose reads like a surreal pulp?

yeah, I'm an old man, but I came in here to complain about the lack of an object for 'which'... why does that annoy my silly ass so much?


Dammit! My writing was as good as the article at times; a lesson to proofread when not utterly exhausted. The links throughout the article help flesh out the story substantially, since regardless of the copy, the tale is utterly bonkers.
posted by myopicman at 9:30 AM on May 15, 2009


Wait, the Collectspace timeline says the safe they stole weighed 600 lbs., but that it contained "53 different lunar samples, amounting to 5 ounces (142 grams); and 165 meteorite samples, also amounting to 5 ounces."

The 10 oz. space rock heist.
posted by steef at 10:11 AM on May 15, 2009


That Gizmodo article reads like a rough draft of a real magazine story, before an editor got a chance to look at it.

Yeah, it's really pretty bad. Strangely the person who wrote it is an editor.

Otherwise, this is an interesting post. I like how every article likes to say how brilliant all these students were, yet they decided to sell moon rocks over the internet, writing emails from the Johnson Space Center.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2009


Wow, profound stupidity. Did they think they wouldn't get caught?
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:43 AM on May 15, 2009


How the hell did these two people unbolt a 600 pound safe from a floor and get it onto a dolly in three minutes? How did even three people load it into a vehicle? I say no way.
posted by orme at 3:48 PM on May 15, 2009


Yeah, it's really pretty bad. Strangely the person who wrote it is an editor.

I had the same weird impression. I think the "(note: this doesn't sound plausible)" comments were his interlinear notes, and he pushed the wrong button on his fancy-ass CMS program.

"Publish" is not "Return for Edits".
posted by rokusan at 4:31 PM on May 15, 2009


How the hell did these two people unbolt a 600 pound safe from a floor and get it onto a dolly in three minutes?

Because this is really just extreme viral marketing for a spec movie script this kid is writing and 3 minutes fits within the plot line. But really, by the writer's own admission the story is uncorroborated. To put it in perspective though, my father and I moved a 2,000 pound safe into my parents home, not because they have anything valuable mind you, but someone gave it to him off of a job and he thought it could be useful (fireproof, waterproof, inaccessible storage). It was about a cubic yard in size (3ft x 3ft x 3ft). We had a one-ton pallet jack, a lifting winch to take it off of the truck, 4 other people, and clear access to the utility room where it was going. It took 6 people with the appropriate tools two hours to set it, it might have taken another hour or two to bolt it properly.

I wonder what kind of dolly they had. 600 lbs would crush a typical hand truck. A reinforced floor dolly would handle, but you couldn't get the safe onto it without tools let alone into a vehicle, even with two people. I've moved 450 lb. drums myself (carefully) about 25-30ft with a drum dolly. But the heist does make a good story, especially a good movie story where these details aren't as important.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:28 PM on May 15, 2009


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