UMPI has made history. Its geology research members made the news public on March 5. They discovered traces of a rare, priceless substance. Scientists and Marvel fans know it as “vibranium.”
“I led my research team on a trek through some the woods in the area. We brought tools to collect samples of bedrock,” Frederick Feigel, a student seeking a geology Ph.D., said.
“I was dead mad we had to do it in the winter. But, my course schedules and chaotic events with my family gave me no choice,” Feigel said with a laugh. “I wanted samples of the limestone bedrock surrounding Presque Isle. It was for my Ph.D. dissertation. It suggests a new theory about limestone bedrock formations. By studying the samples with a new research method, I hoped for some crucial data,” he said.
Feigel said he never expected to find vibranium. “On one of the larger rock samples, I did a drill test,” he said, “Then, all of a sudden, as I peacefully drilled along, I heard a loud ringing noise! My small drill jerked out of my hand. In the rock, the drill’s handle kept spinning. I pulled it out. Something in there made the end smash in like Play-Doh.”
Feigel removed the hard substance from the rest of the rock. At first, he thought it was palladium. Like palladium, the material was shiny, silver and metallic. He still felt unsure and ran more tests. The tests went on for weeks. He began to think he had found a new element. Then Lania Irving, one of his colleagues, said it might be vibranium. The research members conducted more tests. Two days later, they found that Irving guessed right.
“Since we let out the news, my phone rings off the hook!” Feigel said. Vibranium is rarer than uranium. With many uses, the substance conducts very well. It weighs a third of the same mass of steel. As the name suggests, it uniquely absorbs vibration. The U.S. military owns most of the vibranium in the country.
The sample Feigel discovered weighs 1.18 ounces. Vibranium prices increased during the quarantine. Hence, the sample would sell for over $19 million.
Feigel said he has received calls from top universities, including MIT and Cambridge. Not only schools, but mining companies ask about his findings. “I’m sending the vibranium sample to geology labs around the country for free,” Feigel said, “And the property value of the small section of woods I took samples from is skyrocketing to hulking prices.”