On August 28, 2009, as an allusion to an old Saturday Night Live skit where Steve Martin repeatedly asked "What is that? What the heck is that? What is that thing?" I created a blog posting entitled:
The original blog post contained these same two pictures (above and below).
Today is Friday the 13th. How lucky that I now have an answer! Recently my wife and I had dinner at the home of the next door neighbor where that thing was located. As part of post-meal conversation, I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up the original blog article. Our neighbor took one look at the pictures and was kind enough to share the answer. The device was an air quality measuring device that was temporarily placed there to collect samples. Mystery solved.
The answer is alive in the lab.