Strange one this. At the time, NASA wasn't handing out samples, though they later gave a lot of small souvenir fragments to foreign countries. Looks like either a misunderstanding on the part of the Dutch ex-PM - the plaque doesn't actually say the thing is from the moon - or complete incompetance on the part of the US State Dept.
Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind - Terry Pratchett ...the ascent module ... took off like a rocket - Moon Man
Hi guys, I live in the Netherlands and I did some asking & google around this 'grand fraud'.
It seems that a small group of Dutch scientists already knew a year ago that this little rock was a fake, being just a piece of petrified wood. A petrochemist and astronomer from the Amsterdam University, mr. Arno Wielders, found out about the reality. It was a private present from the US Ambassador Middendorf, which gave it to the former Dutch Prime Minister Willem Drees. The Ambassador gave the 'rock' to Dreesin 1969 after a visit to Holland by the three Apollo 11 astronauts.
In 1988 Drees died and the legal heir of Drees donated the 'rock' to the Dutch National Museum. In 2008 Arno Wielders saw the 'rock' at the national exhibition 'Fly me to the Moon'. "Its size and colour didn't match with the data I know" Wielders said. He checked out the case with the organization in the US that stores most of the collected moonrocks. They agreed with Wielders that this little gift could not be a real authentic stone.
After that Wielders and petrologist Wim van Westrenen of the University examined the rock. It only took them two minutes with a spectroscope. "This is not a stone that can be found on the Moon. It is petrified wood."
The only authentic little moonrock in The Netherlands comes from the collection of the Apollo 17, together with some grit of Apollo 11. These can be found in Museum Boerhaave in Leiden.
Wielders says it's a good story. What exactly happened, nobody knows. The Ambassador is still alive and was asked for a comment. He didn't remember exactly but thought he received the 'stone' from 'somebody' at the State Department.
I was wondering; how about these legal heirs? What exactly is their part in this story? I guess we will never know.
Post by Nowhere Man on Sept 8, 2009 12:10:43 GMT -4
Calling it a "fake" implies that there was a deliberate attempt to make people believe that it really was a moon rock. From what I've read, it's more a case of mistaken identity and failure to double-check. No malice was intended.
Fred, I guess you are right. I am still searching for some old stuff on the internet and it seems that mister US Ambassador was a close friend of the former Prime Minister Drees, so I think that he was trying strengthening the friendship with this gift. I somehow can imagine how things were going in those days, on these levels of politics, allies and 'old-boys' networks. Drees (and his family) must have had no doubt about the rock, because they really had no idea of what Apollo 11 had brought back.