When he's not keeping strange hours producing even stranger prototypes, we sometimes let our resident mad scientist out of his lab. Hans is a huge fan of the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, so we always release him for that.
If you've never been to the show, imagine if tents popped up in parking lots throughout your city and convention halls, warehouses, and local hotels converted their rooms into storefronts for the world's largest rock, fossil, and mineral marketplace. Even as the show starts, collectors around the world are frantically hoisting their finds out of the earth and preparing them to exhibit -- fresh new finds often arrive in Tuscon by land, air, and sea several days into the event.
If you go, you'll be guaranteed to see many premieres, where new finds are exhibited for the first time anywhere. It's often the first place and sometimes the last place you can find these objects for purchase -- some leftovers might show up on eBay much later, but many will disappear into private collections. If you've just read about a dig in Scientific American or New Scientist, and you want that four-by-two-foot opalized mossasaur-chewed ammonite mortality cluster in matrix as your new coffee table, this is the place to go. You might have to get there early and outbid the Smithsonian, though. But it's not all million-dollar sales; there are bargains to be had and deals to be made (especially toward the end).
Peekskill slice Hans took to Tuscon.
The show isn't just about seeing amazing rocks for sale -- it's also where collectors go to learn from the experts or to bring items from their collections to have them worked on. This year, Hans took a couple of planetary rocks (meteorites containing rock from other planets) and a Peekskill slice to Luc Lebenne for cutting. Luc cuts meteorites so brilliantly they sometimes seem to glow.
On the last day of this year's show, meteorite hunters around the country felt a great disturbance in the force, or at least in their plans -- amazingly, a meteorite was caught on camera streaking across the skies of Austin, Texas that afternoon. One of Hans' favorite dealers, Geoffrey Notkin, headed directly from Tuscon to locate the fresh fall. Check out Geoffrey's inspiring article about the race to recover the West, Texas meteorites!