There seems to be tests that can determine the age and origin of rocks, that have been used to identify meteorites and test the age of the Moon.  Can these tests be applied to refined materials, such that if you ever did find an alien artifact, it would be possible to identify it as not coming from Earth?

There are two related issues here, determining alien origin and testing for age.  Radioactive age dating is carried out for igneous rocks composed of minerals that contain small quantities of such naturally radioactive elements as uranium, potassium, thorium, rubidium, and samarium, which decay into other elements over time.  The source of a rock (or fragment of metal) can be determined by measuring the precise amounts of various elements and their isotopes.  Thus we can distinguish an Earth rock from a Moon rock from a Mars rock from a Vesta rock, for example.  (All the lunar samples are identifiable as being from the Moon, not the Earth, and we do not have the level of technology that could fake this identification, as supporters of the “Moon hoax” sometimes claim).  Such tests would easily show that a sample or artifact was not from the Earth.  Needless to add, no purported “alien artifact” has ever passed this test of extraterrestrial origin.

David Morrison

NLSI Interim Director

August 8, 2006


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