UC Davis geologist Qing-Zhu Yin, left, thanks Gregory Jorgensen, with his 7-month-old daughter Abriela, for the meteorite donation. Gregory Urquiaga, UC Davis/Courtesy photo

Professor Qing-Zhu Yin and Gregory Jorgensen talk about the meteorite as his daughter Abriela, seven months old, shows interest in eating it during the donation of a fragment of meteorite in the Earth and Physical Sciences Building on Wednesday May 30, 2012 at UC Davis. Gregory Jorgensen, a UC Davis alumn, found the meteorite on his driveway. Professor Qing-Zhu Yin hopes to find dust grains of presolar material that is older than the solar system from the meteorite. He also hopes to find amino acids, which are life building blocks, and the meteorite will aid to the zeroing in on the age of the solar system.

UC Davis

Rare meteorite fragment donated to UC Davis

UC Davis alumnus Gregory Jorgensen presented UC Davis geologist Qing-Zhu Yin with a donation Wednesday of a meteorite piece that fell beside his driveway.

The meteorite, a rare carbonaceous chondrite, contains the dust and grains that helped form the Earth and other planets more than 4.5 billion years ago. Yin calls it “invaluable” to science and has asked others to come forth with donations. His lab is one of the few in the nation with the equipment needed to analyze and date the meteorite.

Jorgensen is a chemistry professor at American River College in Sacramento. His donation is one of two meteorite pieces he stumbled upon. The first was found while taking a casual walk with his wife, Alice, and 7-month-old daughter, Abriela at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma.

He hadn’t heard the fireball that indicated the meteorite’s fall on April 22, and his wife was in Los Angeles at the time. When they saw people at the park looking for something on the ground, they thought they were mushroom hunters. Then they learned of the meteorite.

“When we got back to the car, I looked down and saw a rock that looked a little different,” said Jorgensen. “I put it in my pocket. Over the course of the days, I figured out it was a meteorite.”

Wednesday’s donation ceremony at the Earth and Plant Sciences Building at UCD also was attended by Winston Ko, dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and department chair Howard Spero.

— UC Davis News Service

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