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Moon Space Science

Moon Younger Than Previously Thought 212

TaeKwonDood writes "Analysis of a piece of lunar rock brought back to Earth by the Apollo 16 mission in 1972 has shown that the Moon may be much younger than previously believed. Researchers say that the findings allow for one of two possibilities: the moon is 200 million years younger than previously thought, or the theory that the moon used to be a molten ocean is wrong."
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Moon Younger Than Previously Thought

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  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @07:36PM (#37124550)

    TFA says: Once we removed the contamination, we found that this sample is almost 100 million years younger than we expected," says researcher James Connelly of the Centre for Star and Planet Formation.

    Come on /., doesn't anybody verify facts / articles anymore ??

  • Re:Same material? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:28PM (#37124888) Homepage Journal

    Well, some lighter elements can be converted to other elements as a result of being bombarded by cosmic rays (it's one of the methods of telling how long rocks have been exposed to the surface on the Earth, as you can't exactly radiocarbondate rock). So stuff that's on the surface of the moon - even stuff that's nominally been there for 4 billion years - may not be the same as it was 4 billion years ago.

    Compounds are more complicated. The updated theory for the moon's formation is that it is the gelling together of two smaller moons that formed when the Earth was struck by a planetoid about the size of Mars. Anything that dates back to the original two smaller moons will clearly be older than that material which formed due to the energy of the collision. Further, as smaller masses radiate heat faster than larger masses and the two original moons are theorized to have been different sizes, rocks from the larger original moon will show a younger age from rocks from the smaller original moon.

    And, yes, there have been plenty of impacts from space debris. One was so massive that observers on Earth recorded that the moon appeared to have horns. Since that was in historic times, we can assume that similar-sized collisions have happened in times before observers. Energies large enough to create light visible from Earth are going to be great enough to change the date of the rock in the area.

    Then there's another complication. Rock is not just one super-crystal but a solidified soup of many compounds - and, in some cases, a solidified mix of distinct rocks that got cemented together. The age of the compounds may be very different from the time of solidification. (Mudstone, for example, isn't considered as old as the mud from which it formed.)

    Obviously, NASA isn't stupid. They are going to make sure that they use appropriate methods. After all, the wrong method would be just like mixing feet and meters, or wiring a magnetic sensor upside-down. (Seriously, even though they have done some stupid things, they probably are using the correct method here. However, because of the update to the theory on the moon's formation - having two precursor moons of different age colliding at slow speed, I am not necessarily convinced by their interpretation. I am not convinced the theorists are communicating as well as they need to.)

  • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

    by inasity_rules ( 1110095 ) on Thursday August 18, 2011 @03:34AM (#37126852) Journal

    believing in something for which there is absolutely no evidence, and in fact is contra-indicated by the evidence,

    That is debatable. Some would say, those who believe in God have a different view of the universe than you. The view is arguably self consistent and rational. They merely start from a different set of assumptions (or arguably have a few less assumptions than you) about the nature of things.

    As another atheist said, strong atheism is indefensible. Not even Dawkins for all his passion states "THERE IS NO GOD". There is a "probably" in his statements. It is an emotional argument viewpoint to say categorically that there is no God, no more, no less. It lacks understanding of the other side and is generally a bit silly.

    Rather say (from your POV) God is not likely. While even that is debatable, it is at least more honest.

    And now will someone mod this whole thread down for being off-topic. Including this post please.

  • Re:Or... (Score:4, Informative)

    by YttriumOxide ( 837412 ) <yttriumox@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday August 18, 2011 @07:03AM (#37127700) Homepage Journal

    Rather say (from your POV) God is not likely. While even that is debatable, it is at least more honest.

    While you're technically correct, the problem is that you then end up needing to do that for pretty much everything to be consistent, which is just a massive drain on time and common sense. If I say "There are no people in this office other than me", what I really mean is "There are no people in this office other than me, as far as I can tell, based on everything my senses tell me, combined with common sense and an admittedly incomplete understanding of the laws of the universe.". After all, I can't really rule out that there is someone hiding in one of the cupboards, or that a colleague hasn't recently invented an invisibility cloak and is just remaining quiet.

    It's the same when I say "There are no gods". What I really mean is that as far as I can tell, based on everything my senses tell me, combined with common sense and an admittedly incomplete understanding of the laws of the universe, there are no gods. It just gets a bit cumbersome to say so. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people making similar statements mean similar things.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam