back to article Whacked moon rocks yield up their secrets

Since NASA is trying to find the moon rock samples it once cheerfully scattered around the world, here’s a hint: some of it is over at Curtin University in Western Australia. However, the sample at Curtin has been put to good use: working out how to identify rocks that have suffered a meteor collision, by looking at formations …

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Anonymous Coward

They may have stuffed around with me and many others when I was there 20 years aog, but it's nice to see that Curtin is still making a name for themselves....

There's a reason I no longer acknowledge my degree.

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Truly excellent.

I think this piece is the best bit of science reporting I've seen in the Register in the past few years. It discusses an interesting (to me, at least) subject in a concise, informative, and entertaining way.

What pleases me most is the following: "It’s a no-brainer (or to put things more scientifically, a long-accepted assumption) that the moon takes meteorite hits...." This pleasure is occasioned by the author's parenthetical note that lunar meteorite hits are "a long-accepted assumption," not a proven certainty. Finally, someone at the Register is able to write about science and convey the doubt that is (or should be) entertained by all scientists. Well done!

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Except

It's not an assumption, it's a fact. Not only did Apollo bring back pieces of meteorite in their samples, but impacts have actually been observed:

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/02sep_lunarperseids/

(and many more).

On Earth you can use shocked quartz to identify impact sites, but there's precious little quartz in lunar rocks.

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Don't disagree with you, but....

I don't think we disagree, Mike. Bits of rock picked up on the Moon are quite similar to bits of rock picked up on Earth which are known to have fallen from the sky. Cameras and seismographs have recorded impacts of high-speed objects with the Moon's surface. The idea that meteorites have significantly impacted (unintentional pun alert!) the Moon seems almost beyond question.

Good scientists and others who strive for wisdom seem to have a small portion of their brains set aside for the purpose of entertaining doubt. As Abraham Lincoln said: "I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views." In others, particularly those in politics and religion, this area of the brain is often atrophied or absent altogether. Scientific belief in the existence of meteorites is little more than 200 years old. Details of the nature and origin of meteorites are still debated, as is the origin and history of the Moon. The current hypotheses and theories may be supplanted by others in future. The work described in this article re-searches one aspect of these ideas.

Too many scientists and science writers don't entertain doubt. This failure leads to the problem that Mark Twain described: ""You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."

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Moon hit by meteorites

Who knew?

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Silver badge

Well, Bishop Ussher had his suspicions but it didn't fit his timeline.

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Alien

They aren’t meteors...

...they're monoliths landing.

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