Rock Star: ASU Geologist Receives 10,000th Rock in the Mail After 2004 Internet Request

In 2004, Arizona State University geologist Phil Christensen put out a request via Internet: Send rocks.

In five years, children and adults worldwide have answered the call -- big-time. Last week, ASU reported the Rock Around the World program was sent its 10,000th rock, the piece of quartz from Nepal in the picture at right.

The milestone -- get it?? -- caught the attention of ABC News, which contains an amusing anecdote about how Christensen (below) started the program, then skipped town for a few days on business.

"Three days later, we got our first rock," Christensen said. "The next day it was three. The next day it was eight, and the next day it was 17. Within about two weeks we were getting 150 rocks a day."

Christensen, who was luckily still in Pasadena, escaped the wrath of the guys who deliver mail to the offices at ASU. They lugged in four or five tubs of rocks a day, sometimes weighing up to 300 pounds.

By the time Christensen retuned to Tempe, he couldn't get into his office. Crates of rocks were stacked so high that "I literally couldn't get in," he said.

Christensen has true, um, rock-star status at ASU, so we're pretty sure no one really minded. The geologist has played a major role in robotic Mars exploration.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.