Two hundred years ago General Ignacio Alvarez, commander of a South American region that would later become Argentina, sent James Madison a pair of duelling pistols forged from the iron of a meteorite. It was a pretty cool gift -- assuming the guns were real. But recent tests performed at the ISIS neutron source in the UK have revealed that the guns were cheap fakes. From BBC News
The machine was used to compare Monroe's pistols to a fragment of a meteorite from the Campo del Cielo crater in Argentina; the supposed origin of the metals from which they were forged. The results were conclusive. "They were completely different," Dr Godfrey told BBC News. "There were differences in microstructures, there were differences in carbon content, there were differences in chemical composition. We can say for sure they weren't made from meteoritic iron."
Even worse, the silver handles of the pistols turned out to have been made from a cheap brass alloy. Researchers aren't sure whether General Alvarez knew the guns were fake, or if he himself was duped. In fact, researchers aren't even sure if the guns are the original ones given to Madison. It's possible someone at some point in time may have switched the real ones for fakes. (Thanks, Joe)