Chapter

Rosetta Stone

James Lawrence Powell

in Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences

Published by Columbia University Press

Published in print December 2014 | ISBN: 9780231164481
Published online November 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780231538459 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7312/columbia/9780231164481.003.0024
Rosetta Stone

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This chapter focuses on Ralph B. Baldwin's discovery that led to a reconsideration of the role of meteorite impact on the Moon, the Rosetta Stone of the solar system. In early 1941, the astrophysicist Baldwin wondered whether Mare Imbrium was the moon's largest crater and the moon's “long valleys with raised rims” were splash craters from debris ejected at the birth of the huge pit, and concluded that there were others like Imbrium—Crisium, Nectaris, Humorum, Serenitatis, and Humboldtianum. Baldwin believed that “the circular maria had been produced by gigantic explosions—only the impact of giant meteorites could supply the requisite energy.” He wrote up his ideas, titling the paper “The Meteoritic Origin of Lunar Craters,” and submitted it to leading astronomy journals and to the Annals of the Dearborn Observatory. All rejected the article. Irritated by the cavalier rejection of his ideas by the astronomy establishment, Baldwin set out to prove his critics wrong. This chapter also considers the work of Harold Urey and Walter Bucher.

Keywords: meteorite impact; Ralph B. Baldwin; Moon; Mare Imbrium; meteorites; solar system; Harold Urey; Walter Bucher; astronomy

Chapter.  2098 words. 

Subjects: Social Impact of Environmental Issues (Social Science)

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