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Nininger Moment #22 Changing The Main Stream Thinking On A Program Of Meteorites

Besides Hunting for meteorites and his growing program of recovery, Nininger had a passion and a dream that there would sooner or later be an area of science of meteorites. His first efforts talking to a number universities, colleges, institutions, and museums that some sort of a program should be funded for their understanding and pursuit seem to fall on deaf ears and often Harvey Nininger ran into many negative avenues when he would suggest that such a program was very vital to learning about them. Sometimes he was told that all that was known about them was enough. He stated that at a time he was growing all consuming in the subject and felt a need for more study on them, was the time they seemed to be dead or dying out in America with the except of two men. They were Dr. George P. Merrill of the U.S. National Museum in Washington D.C. and Dr. Oliver C. Farrington of the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Nininger stated that he was in debt to both men for their help and encouragement, though not always positive.

In 1928 he outlined his idea of a field program for locating and preserving meteorites to Dr. Merrill. Suggesting that such a program would provide meteorites for the great museum. Nininger spoke at great length to Merrill but was told that if such a program were funded well, that it would take the rest of Nininger’s life to find a single specimen. Nininger told him that he didn’t know how but he would proceed some way with his program and the next time he saw him, he would have a new meteorite to sell to him. Merrill amusing laughed and they shook hands. The next time they met, Nininger had two specimens to sell him and both were bought!

His multiple visits with Farrington and expressing his ideas seem radical to Farrington but were listen to with great interest. Farrington was a great student of meteorites, their structures and chemical compositions, along with many other aspects of meteorite finds, falls and numbers. On one of his final visits he outlined his ideas of a program of meteorite research. Farrington at that time was old and not in the best of health but expressed a deep desire he could have join Nininger in his program and adventure if he were younger. Farrington expressed a desire to help Nininger realize his dream if at all possible.

Nininger stated at a time in the 20’s when the talk of rockets for exploration was the wildest of fiction, he believed that man was destined to explore more of the universe. Yet no one seem to share his interest of a program of meteorites. Nininger found out at the time that less than 10% of colleges and universities and very few high schools had even a single meteorite, let alone a collection. Nininger considered meteorites among the most important items these institutions could have maybe more than other items that were on display. Nininger was working outside of his field of study and because of this was not always respected or welcomed with his ideas of a program to find meteorites or study them. He realized he needed to use the lack of interest to his advantage and found ways of doing so, like finding ways of buying meteorites from falls that the institutions didn’t need or want after a new find or fall. Nininger realized that for the most part, realizing his dreams would fall upon his own shoulders and he would have to find a way to fund his program in order to prove his ideas were workable and not the fantasy of a young man.

In order to do this he needed to devote his full attention to the program, retire his position at the university he taught and find a way to make meteorites pay for the program of recovery and study. The Trip down to Mexico had provided many specimens but were still not enough to fully insure his program. However the fruits of his program were beginning to produce results and after a short while provided the needed stock of meteorites for Nininger to set off fully on his new program though risky.

The Nininger Moments are articles or books written originally by Harvey Nininger and put into a consolidated form by Al Mitterling. Some of the items written in the moments might be old out dated material and the reader is advised to keep this in mind. Source: Find A Falling Star

–AL Mitterling

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