It's a Hoax! Famed "Moon Rock" Turns Out to Be Hunk of Wood

By Allison Bond | August 31, 2009 1:23 pm

rockEver since Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong gave former Dutch prime minister William Drees a chunk of moon-rock in 1969, the public has been eager to see it. In fact, the relic has drawn tens of thousands of people to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum.

But Houston, we have a problem: Turns out that so-called moon rock (which was insured for 308,000 British pounds, or about $500,000) is really just a hunk of petrified wood—and its actual value is less than 50 British pounds.

The Telegraph reports:

Researchers Amsterdam’s Free University were able to tell at a glance that the rock was unlikely to be from the moon, a conclusion that was borne out by tests. “It’s a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone,” said Frank Beunk, a geologist involved in the investigation [of the rock].

Xandra van Gelder, who oversaw the investigation, said the museum would continue to keep the stone as a curiosity. “It’s a good story, with some questions that are still unanswered,” she said. “We can laugh about it.”

An investigation is under way to find out how the heck this debacle could have happened (a bait-and-switch, perhaps?). Meanwhile, we bet moon conspiracists will view this discovery as far from a laughing matter—in fact, it may add fuel to their argument that the moon landing never really happened. (For the record, it did.)

Related Content:
Discoblog: NASA Geologist Is Sent Thousands of Rocks from Around the World
Discoblog: Document Reveals Nixon Prepared for Aldrin, Armstrong Deaths
Discoblog: Buzz Aldrin, Rapper?

Image courtesy of Rijksmuseum

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Aliens Therefrom
MORE ABOUT: conspiracy, faux pas, moon, rocks
  • Romeo Vitelli

    Finding petrified wood on the moon would be a pretty awesome discovery in itself.

  • John Stewart

    My first thought was that it was switched by a courier and the real moon rock sold to a collector. What documentation accompanied the sample? I would expect that it should, in principle, be traceable to a particular sample collected at a particular time.

  • John Karabaic

    What do we know about the chain of custody since it was given to the Dutch? It could be that they were given the real thing and this was substituted by a thieves later on.

  • Paolo Attivissimo


    This may be a misunderstanding caused by two Dutch artists, Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol, who organized an artistic event in 2006. This is where this “moon rock” first appeared. The event was very tongue-in-cheek, so maybe they concocted a fake rock” and plaque to test the perceptions and knowledge of the participants, and then the origin of the rock was forgotten. There are quite a few clues pointing in this direction.

    For example, why would the plaque of a US gift have such very Dutch mistakes as “Apollo-11” (with a hyphen) and “Centre” (British spelling)? Why would the US government give a moon rock to a Dutch politician who at the time had not been in office for over 10 years? Why give away a fist-sized moon rock barely three months after the first sample return and before Apollo 12 landed? Why was the rock shown for the first time in an art exhibition rather than a science exhibition?

    That’s as far as I’ve got with my research (I’m a consultant for the Italian skeptic association CICAP). Maybe you can pull a few strings and wring more information out of the parties involved? For example, can we get independent confirmation from Ambassdor Middendorf? Are there any Dutch records of this artifact being shown before?

  • Pingback: Strummin’ the Moon With Your Program | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • Brian

    Something’s not right about this. Petrified wood is usually pretty distinctive (what with the biological origin and all…). Moon rocks would have no such lineage. Who would be fooled into thinking that a hunk of petrified wood was a lunar sample??

    Casting geology into computing, that’s roughly the equivalent of mistaking a keyboard for a mouse. Yes, they are both input devices, but they can be easily told apart.

  • YourMammyAstroNots

    This is just one of many many fishy things about the moon landings. Apparently, they gave over a HUNDRED of these “moon rocks” to over a hundred nations. Test them all, and I am certain they are all fake….more than likely because they were never on the moon. Bunch of jive muthas~

  • John Dee

    Take another look at the ludicrous video of the astronauts leaving the moon. If the craft ascended slowly, wobbling slightly as computerised compensating thrusters, deployed around a ring approximating the circumference of the vehicle, adjusting the trim and then gradually accelerated, it might just be plausible. THINK, how much fuel would the LM and command module need to slow from 15,000 kilometres per hour, sufficiently to park the LM , take off and accelerate (LM) and dock with the Command module?. No atmosphere there to slow you down, all must be done using rockets, rockets use fuel, lots of fuel No other human other than the Apollo programnes astonshingly successfull astronauts have travelled further than 400 miles from the Earths surface, simply because it cant be done and won’t be done for decades. THINK…….outside of the Earths magnetosphere is an extraordrinarily hostile enviroment , no protective atmosphere and lots of tiny solid things travelling at speeds that make a high powered rifle bullet appear almost stationary, and lots and lots of deadly radiation. THINK….take an objective view of the successs and failure rates of all space programnes by all nations over the decades especially using new techniques and technology, especially in the 60’s and 70’s and relate that to the manned landings. If something seems just too good to be true then it is. Exit the barking mad Nixon, and exit the miracles. Stop being so determined to hold onto a child like beliefs, Kennedy in flush of patriotic delusion,or perhaps he was persuaded by some artfull scammers, set an impossible task, and sent a river of money flowing into NASA, so what are the the contractors to say……..”Whoa back up a moment, let’s just solve a few little problems before we start banking all this loot, and see if this thing can be done!”No, they are going build as many bits as they can , money no object and just hope some clever clogs comes up with answers to some very tricky problems. After all they’ve been given till 1969 to sort it out. We’re talking highly motivated Capitilism here, the President might have been just a teensy bit overenthusiastic , but what the hell. THINK… there must have been a “PLAN B”from the get go!!!! Sorry, I”d love to believe I didn’t get taken for a ride, but I did, so did most of us. We’re not the first generation in the history of the world to stand scratching our heads as we watch the carpetbaggers gallop off into the sunset with a good part of the treasury in their saddlebags. Build a bridge , get over it, and wake up………them good old boys will be back with another sure thing……….

  • Atom

    @ John Dee, the end of your absurd paranoia-induced rant seemed “too good to be true”. Does that mean you’re going to start up again?

    @ Brian for:
    “Casting geology into computing, that’s roughly the equivalent of mistaking a keyboard for a mouse.”
    So true. lol or a mac and a pc. The mac is a worthless piece of dried wood, but the pc is like from outer space man! 😛

    If this is a true story, I have to say that I really like Buzz and Neil alot more now!!!

  • John Dee

    Atom. Hi , long time no see. Debunkers will always try to insert “paranoia”, in an attempt to demean just plain old simple logic, that they simply won’t confront.
    Yes it was a bit of a rant, but fun.
    Manned moon landings just didn’t happen, and they are not going to happen for many decades. Sorry,thats just just how it is. Maybe you will see it one day, maybe you wont.
    The mesmerisng effect of the news coverage, convincingly dispensing the fantasy as a fact, was a brilliant exercise in gulling a large part of the worlds poulation. It has proved a great insight into the credulous nature of humanity. We tend to believe what we are told by an authority .. We are programned that way from birth, and indeed we are genetically inclined that way. For the large part of human existence, those inclined to think for themselves were generally culled from the gene pool. Humans consequently are more guillible than they would be if free thinking had been allowed historically.
    Atom, you were born into a historical window of oppurtunity to think for yourself. Regardless of how challenging that is , that right is yours, should you choose to exercise it.
    Of course, emotionally it is safer to run with the herd, quite understandable. Cheers and good luck.

  • pete

    guys i think its time to start testing the rest of the samples given by nixon, a rude shock awaits


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