The oldest known piece of matter from the solar system can be found closer than you think.
It’s nearly five billion years old and is on display at an exhibit at the Mathers Museum in Bloomington.
“It’s from the very early stages of the formation of the solar system so once you see this, you’ll probably never see a piece of material that is older than this,” explains Kathy Schick, co-director of the Stone Age Institute in Bloomington.
Schick, along with other co-director Nicholas Toth, collected this piece with hundreds of others to represent the top 100 events in the evolution of everything. The exhibit is called, “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything.”
“I’d describe this project as the coolest scavenger hunt of all time,” Toth said, “and I mean of all time. Kathy and I have collected some very cool things here.”
The exhibit is made up of 300 artifacts ranging from a T-Rex skull to a full-size Neanderthal skeleton to the oldest car in Bloomington. Toth says he is especially proud of the earliest electric guitar from the 1930s. The items fall are divided into 10 time scales that Schick says happened naturally.
“We developed this huge, huge long list of hundreds, probably thousands of things that were important,” Schick said, “but then we started looking at the list and felt that they were falling out in natural chunks.”
This idea was created three years ago when former IU trustee Jack Gill suggested Schick and Toth make a brochure of the most important events throughout time. When they approached museum director Geoff Conrad about the exhibit, he says he thought this would help give a broader context for the other cultural exhibits.
When asked why people should care about this exhibit, he said, “Without this, you wouldn’t be asking the question. You wouldn’t exist. There would be nobody to ask the question ‘Why should I care?’ and if you can’t care about being here to ask the question ‘Why should I care?’ I don’t know what you can care about.”
The exhibit is open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.