Come on, Russian media! A “UFO tooth-wheel”? Silly. (Update: not extraordinary)

Did Voice of Russia become the new Pravda? Cause this is laughable.

300-million-year-old UFO tooth-wheel found in Russian city of Vladivostok: Voice of Russia.

Lighting the fire during a cold winter evening a resident of Vladivostok found a rail-shaped metal detail which was pressed in one of the pieces of coal that the man used to heat his home. Mesmerized by his discovery, the responsible citizen decided to seek help from the scientists of Primorye region. After the metal object was studied by the leading experts the man was shocked to learn about the assumed age of his discovery. The metal detail was supposedly 300 million years old and yet the scientists suggest that it was not created by nature but was rather manufactured by someone.

When geologists broke the piece of coal in which the metal object was pressed into and spot-treated in with special chemical agents, it turned out that the metal detail was unusually light and soft. No more than seven centimeters long, the object was found to be composed of 98 percent aluminum and 2 percent magnesium. On the one hand, such an alloy stalled the scientists because nearly pure aluminum is very rarely found in nature. Thus, the detail was most definitely created artificially. On the other hand, however, when it became clear that the object was made from aluminum-magnesium alloy the experts quickly found an answer to the question of how a metal detail could withstand the ravages of time so well. The scientists explained that pure aluminum is increasingly prone to oxidization which contributes to the creation of a special layer protecting it from further corrosion. As a result, the metal detail made 98 percent from aluminum can endure not only high pressure but also heat and other severe natural conditions.

Another question that interests Russian scientists is whether the aluminum alloy is of Earthly origin. It is known from the study of meteorites that there exists extra-terrestrial aluminum-26 which subsequently breaks down to magnesium-26. The presence of 2 percent of magnesium in the alloy might well point to the alien origin of the aluminum detail.

The last property of the object that puzzled the scientists was its distinctive shape which was reminiscent of a modern tooth-wheel. It is hard to imagine that an object could take regular shape of a tooth-wheel with six identical ‘teeth’ naturally.

I’m putting this story up because it’s started to go around the unconventional newssites sparking some fascination. There so many red flags, you should discard it entirely. For example, that’s not the picture of the thing shown, as far as I can tell since it says wikipedia. Where is the picture? Why is it not published in a journal? We have to accept the man’s word for it, where he found it and how he discovered it? Why speculate on the alien origin of aluminum? Many minerals have edging as described. Or, it’s man made. Aluminum is easy to cut and form, that’s why we use it for lots of things, like fancy car wheels.

THIS IS NOT NEWS. It is trumped up piece.

This story is reminiscent of this piece (also on “wheels”) from a year ago.

Check out this lab grown piece of bismuth and tell me if you wouldn’t find this “alien” if you saw it.

Lab-grown bismuth

UPDATE: I finally found a picture of the object.
metal piece

But it’s NOT part of a gear. It’s a natural crystal formation I’d say (not having examined it IRL). But as following the typical template for these stories, the extreme speculative and dramatic interpretation is hyped over any consideration of an actual explanation. That’s sad because it could be cool.

Addition (24-Jan-2013): After thinking about this a bit there are a few more things I have questions about. It looks like pyrite which is EXTREMELY common in coal deposits (is iron sulfide) I also have no indication of how pure the coal is. Coal can also have a lot of impurities (other mineral in it). What scientist would “suggest” it was manmade? What suggests that it is and not a normal but odd crystal structure. And the big question – if this was “manmade”, where’s the rest of it? Why such a tiny piece of a “wheel”? How did this one piece break off. The idea that it is man made does NOT hold together in any coherent way.

(Added 14:33) A final option which I am currently favoring after discussion with knowledgeable folks is that this is a piece of metal from the mining or processing equipment that broke off in the coal. Note that the discoverer spotted it in his coal bin so it was processed. He did NOT find it in situ in the coal formation. Apparently this is not uncommon to have pieces of the excavation or crushing equipment break off periodically. I think with all the various TERRESTRIAL and quite unspectacular options, we can safely say this is not a Fortean or alien mystery.

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  16 comments for “Come on, Russian media! A “UFO tooth-wheel”? Silly. (Update: not extraordinary)

  1. Bobbi Snow
    January 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Well, if it’s not from a UFO or some other device made by humans elsewhere of those eras, then perhaps it came from a Time Traveler?! Since eventually we probably actually WILL figure out how to time-travel, perhaps it comes from OUR future!

  2. RDW
    January 22, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    I have to admit, that is kind of …. scary. Thank Goodness that there are knowledgeable people like Ms. Hill to explain this complex stuff.

  3. LovleAnjel
    January 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    “nearly pure aluminum is very rarely found in nature” =/= “most definitely created artificially”

    Black swans are rarely found in nature, so the one you saw was definitely dyed black at a hair salon. Makes no sense.

  4. spookyparadigm
    January 23, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Wait, so the one piece is the one in question. Not the complex one? That’s it? That’s all? Kee-rist that’s disappointing.

  5. Borgirost
    January 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    I don’t understand how you can repeatedly say that it’s just some “Crystalline structure” Scientists identified it’s components as aluminum. Last time I checked Aluminum is not crystal. Lab grown crystal is exactly that, grown in a lab with no environmental inhibitors to force a shape. That’s why the piece you posted looks insane. That could never ever happen in nature. Symmetry is not natural in the formation of minerals. It is also not Pyrite because scientistsliterally know it is metal. Stop being biased and skeptic just for the sake of being biased and skeptic. Sc

    • January 24, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      You just said “Symmetry is not natural in the formation of minerals.”

      Symmetry is natural. LOOK IN THE MIRROR! Do you have an eye on each side, an arm and leg? Our own external (and some internal structures) are symmetrical.

      It also reveals you know absolutely nothing about mineralogy. Having taken a minerology class, you would have been introduced to the multiple classes of minerals, which are classified by…. symmetry.

      We do science here, not speculation.

      • January 24, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        I’m sorry…but your response to borgirost gives the impression of being overly defensive and deflective. I also appreciate the need to establish scientific discipline to purported ‘discoveries’ of this type, but his point is well taken. The photos and accompanying recounts from the original story reflect that the ‘geologists’ established that the object that they extracted from the coal is comprised of a metallic aluminum/mag alloy. Aluminum is not a mineral in its natural state. And your comment about symmetry was (imo) an evasive one. To try and connect human symmetry to the conversation is disingenuous and does not serve to forward the conversation. This object, whatever its origin, IS symmetrically framed (with the additional appearance of being shaped) and is one that does not conform to naturally formed aluminosilicate structures like kyanite. I’m sure that life can be fairly mundane out in the Russian expanse, but it does push credulity just a bit to think that the individual would risk the wrath of the commissars if this was determined to just be a ruse. That being said, on the surface, the information is intriguing and worthy of serious and objective follow up.

        • January 24, 2013 at 1:20 PM

          Apologies… I meant to type that aluminum is not a METAL in its natural state.

        • January 24, 2013 at 1:38 PM

          Perhaps it may seem that way but please read our comments policy. It’s not a free for all forum here. However, since this post is linked to the Huffington Post piece, we are getting a lot of new visitors who are not used to the purposes and goals of this site. My goal is to combat misinformation in the media stories. There was questionable information, misinformation or NO information in this story. First, Voice of Russia is not a overly credible source. I know nothing about the scientists, the testing mentioned. It’s not confirmed, it’s not published in another place and it’s not been reviewed by others. I do not accept a claim that would be quite extraordinary on such scant data.

          I shall not assume that every thing in the Voice story was true. We do not even know this is aluminum. One person in the story said so. I have not examined the piece (though I am extremely familiar with coal being a geologist in Pennsylvania) and I have not seen the tests. By default I assume that is has a reasonable explanation, not a ridiculous one such as it being man-made and embedded in coal.

          The symmetry point was an egregious error. It exhibited that the commentator was not knowledgeable or qualified to discredit my statements. I’m sorry if that comes off as “defensive” but it needed to be addressed. Scientists critique each other ALL the time, that’s not being unnecessarily defensive. It’s the way we establish clarification and understanding. This site is not here to speculate about unexplained discoveries, it is to point out the questionable issues in these claims and help people think more carefully about them.

          • January 24, 2013 at 2:42 PM

            It turns out it is likely man-made and embedded in coal. (oops) but not as it was portrayed – as an anomaly. It was possibly a piece of broken modern equipment embedded in the rock. Coal is not very hard so this is certainly a plausible explanation. We don’t need aliens or time travelers.

            • January 24, 2013 at 7:05 PM

              I appreciate the follow up. I’ve also checked a couple of articles from different sources that speak to the factors that you mentioned. What remains interesting to me is that no one yet has established a clearly stated source or identity of the artifact. Yes…it is ‘possibly’ a piece of modern equipment, but it does seem that it’s been identified as an alloyed aluminum artifact. I would suspect that only extremely hard metals (steel, iron, titanium, etc) are used in coal extraction…certainly not something as soft (comparatively speaking) as aluminum. And then of course, how did it become embedded in the coal? A piece of metal on a conveyor belt? But if this was something that routinely happens, why would this particular scenario be noteworthy? It remains interesting.

  6. January 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    u shld do sum resrch be4 spouting ur opinons

    • January 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      Was kinda thinking the same thing. I counted a few contradicting and backtracking statements in the article.

      • January 26, 2013 at 10:49 PM

        Brian’s comment was a joke about the similar comments he gets. This piece was an evolving story. Would you rather I leave it wrong than correct it? I didn’t delete anything.

  7. RDW
    January 24, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Extra-Ordinary claims require extra-ordinary proof. No good scientist or interested observer would (should) want to assign false meaning to a story like this based on the shoddy evidence of a single photo. This object deserves close scrutiny, no doubt. If, in fact, after very close examination, this object were determined to be “Unexplainable” as to it’s origin, by actual experts, many people would find it extremely interesting. Just to make a guess, I’d think the object were formed during an impact of a comet or asteroid and hurled into an ancient forest by the force of the impact, to be discovered just lately. If it isn’t another hoax, that is.

  8. January 24, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    I was alerted to ANOTHER flub in the article. I didn’t quote that part here but it mentions “Cambrian” coal in Massachusetts, 500 million years old. There was no Cambrian age coal because there did not exist the dense vegetation needed to make coal beds prior to this age. There’s a reason why most of the coal is around 300 million years or younger.

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