Identify a plastic fragment from the Roswell debris field.
- The specimen is identified as polystyrene. This is a common plastic first commercialized in the 1930s. The shape of the fragment suggests it is part of a plastic eating utensil. This is a very common use for polystyrene.1 The earliest patent for a polystyrene eating utensil is February 21, 1950. 2 So, it is unlikely related to a crash retrieval team in 1947.
- The outside surface has suffered oxidative degradation i.e. suffered weathering due to exposure to sunlight under atmospheric conditions. Polystyrene is normally designed for a one time use,3 and is not weather resistant.4 It is difficult to estimate how long the sample was in the ground not knowing specific exposure conditions. A speculation, based on the appearance of the infrared spectrum and polystyrene’s poor weathering properties, is that it was no more than 10-20 years.