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The Giant Impact Theory  (Source: starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov)
Two new studies attempt to prove the Giant Impact Theory in different ways

Two different studies say they've found evidence supporting the theory that the moon was created from a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized body.

The Giant Impact Theory, which was proposed back in 1975, suggests that the early Earth and a Mars-sized planet called Theia collided with one another. This completely obliterated Theia, and its composition created a ring around Earth and eventually came together to create the moon.

While scientists have been able to explain how this event occurred, one major thing didn't add up: the composition of the moon.

Scientists long believed that for this theory to be true, the moon would have to be composed mainly of Theia's elements. Moon rocks from that were brought to Earth were studied, and surprisingly, they had the same types and amounts of elements that the Earth had, including titanium, silicon and oxygen. This didn't make sense, and has left the theory wide open for the last 30+ years.

However, scientists from Washington University in St. Louis managed to measure a small excess of a heavier variant of zinc in moon rocks from that were brought to Earth in the 1970s. They believe the excess is due to heavier zinc atoms condensing out of the collision's cloud faster than the lighter zinc atoms, and the vapor that remained escaped before it condensed.

This bit of sorting by mass is called isotopic fractionation, and it's what scientists have been looking for all along. This shows that the moon rocks were depleted of easily evaporated elements called volatiles, and a large collision could explain this depletion while other theories can't.

"The magnitude of the fractionation we measured in lunar rocks is 10 times larger than what we see in terrestrial and Martian rocks," said Frédéric Moynier, PhD, from Washington University in St. Louis. "So it's an important difference."

But the Washington University team isn't the only one to bring new evidence to the table. Robin Canup, a planetary scientist from the Southwest Research Institute Colorado, used Harvard scientists' findings to create a theory of her own related to the collision.

According to the Harvard team, which used computer simulations to create its theory, ancient Earth had to have been spinning too fast for today's 24-hour rotation. They suggested that early Earth and a body half the size of Mars could have collided where both were obliterated and combined elements to create both the moon and Earth's heavy iron core/lighter rock layers.

At a later point, Earth's rotation could have slowed due to the moon and sun aligning in a way that changed Earth's orbit.

Canup used the idea that Earth's rotation was slowed and came up with the theory that two bodies similar in size collided at a slow speed, and their materials merged to create the Earth and moon.

Source: Science Daily



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RE: *sigh*
By Goty on 10/20/2012 3:00:11 PM , Rating: 3
Of course it's a theory. So is Newton's law of gravity, so is relativity. I don't think you really know the scientific meaning of the word.


RE: *sigh*
By Samus on 10/20/2012 10:09:23 PM , Rating: 1
Na, it's not a theory man. I was there when it happened, MAN.


RE: *sigh*
By wordsworm on 10/21/2012 11:58:26 AM , Rating: 1
The law of gravity is not a theory. It's a law. Relativity is a theory, which is why it's called the theory of relativity.


RE: *sigh*
By Goty on 10/21/2012 12:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'll go ahead an lump you in the group with the other guy. I guess gravity being a "law" explains why breaks down in regimes where relativity still functions and why relativity can predict things that Newton's law of gravity cannot (like the precession of Mercury's orbit or the bending of light around massive objects)? Yeah, that must be it.

If you know so little about the subject as to not even recognize that general relativity is a replacement and extension of Newton's law of gravity, you really shouldn't be commenting in this thread.


RE: *sigh*
By StormyKnight on 10/23/2012 1:01:55 AM , Rating: 2
Zing!


RE: *sigh*
By delphinus100 on 10/21/2012 12:45:59 PM , Rating: 2
But that 'law' only describes what gravity does, not what it is.

Laypeople tend to use the word 'theory' in the way scientists use the word 'hypothesis.' One poses a hypothesis, tests it with experiment and/or observation, and theories are built on, or modified by, or invalidated by the results of those experiments or observations.

And no, we don't yet fully understand the actual nature of gravity, mostly because we can't yet reconcile General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (both well-supported theories that describe certain aspects of the Universe in different, inconsistent ways) into a single theory.


RE: *sigh*
By KPOM1 on 10/21/2012 12:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Is it a theory or a hypothesis?


RE: *sigh*
By Goty on 10/21/2012 2:36:30 PM , Rating: 3
Theory. General relativity has been rigorously tested and no contradictions have yet been observed.


RE: *sigh*
By JNo on 10/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: *sigh*
By Goty on 10/21/2012 11:44:49 PM , Rating: 5
Actually, none of these theories have been proven. That's the crux; to be scientific a hypothesis must be disprovable, so absolute proof is unobtainable.

As to the rest of your self-righteous ranting, since when is it wrong to expect a journalist to inform themselves on a subject before publishing or to exhibit self-control in abstaining from adding extraneous, made-up statements to an article instead of making a five minute visit to Wikipedia beforehand? Laziness is not an excuse for poor writing.


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