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Wouldn't there be an empty space? (5, Insightful)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074467)

Wouldn't there be evidence of this on the surface somewhere? I know the crust has shifted considerably, but that's a *lot* of material to suddenly vacate.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074517)

If it happened during the time that the earth was mostly molten, then no, there would be on evidence...

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075491)

I'm not sure I agree - The moon has an ungodly amount of angular momentum. I'm having trouble coming up with a method whereby a section of object a leaves object a, and then has enough thrust perpendicular to the direction of object a to get up to it's 1km/s orbital velocity.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (5, Funny)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075695)

People like you are what makes arseholes like Bevets cry at night and hold themselves...you with your "science" and "evidence." Bah! A pox on you!

=Smidge=

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

Gotung (571984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074521)

The article is slashdotted but it is possible that when this happened there was no solid surface yet to leave traces of this.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (5, Funny)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074813)

The article is slashdotted but it is possible that when this happened there was no solid surface yet to leave traces of this.

No, I think the article was slashdotted today.

The server in flames may leave traces on the floor and walls of the server room, but we'll have to wait for a "Best Way For Bright Child To Clean Server Room?" post to Ask Slashdot to confirm.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075117)

LOL! +5 funny is not enought to this one

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (2, Interesting)

psyklopz (412711) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074539)

The pacific ocean is a big, empty space.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (2, Interesting)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074899)

That's what George Darwin said, but no. There's not enough evacuated volume there. Think about it: the Pacific is huge, but not very deep on planetary scales. Volume-wise, you're off by orders of magnitude. (I don't believe Darwin knew the depth of the ocean, so he's off the hook.)

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075039)

But the GP has a point, surely? Plate tectonics suggests that all the world's land mass used to be concentrated in one giant super-continent [wikipedia.org] . If the planet simply formed by random accretion then surely one would expect something more uniform?

I don't think anyone is suggesting that the Moon formed from a thin layer of crust skimmed from the earth's surface. No matter how much material was removed, the earth would have evened itself out into a roughly spherical shape under the force of gravity.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075219)

Pangea post-dates the Earth's accretion by (literally) billions of years. It has nothing to do with the accretion process in any way you can map sensibly. Right after accretion, there were no continents at all since the continents are composed of re-processed rock. It takes billions of years to build up all this larger-generation material until the effects of plate tectonics.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that the Moon formed from a thin layer of crust skimmed from the earth's surface.

That's exactly my point: the Moon is more than a surface scar, it would require a deep, deep gouge. That said, see my comment to the original post about timescales.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075409)

IANAG, but the point I was trying to make is that any gouge that deep would disappear due to the effects of gravity, but might leave behind a region of thinner crust material like the Pacific ocean floor.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075615)

Ah. But even then, you have to consider that over 4.5 billion years, that crust will have been recycled and erased.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075173)

Correct, the total volume of the oceans is ~1.3*10^6 km^3 [hypertextbook.com] , the volume of the moon is ~2.2*10^10 km^3 [wikipedia.org] so it's not even close.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075217)

Doh, make that ~1.3*10^9 for the oceans, stupid online references using the european definition of billion. Still makes it off by more than an order of magnitude.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (2, Insightful)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075315)

Dude, the European definition of billion is a thousand million, just like in the USA.

You might be thinking of the UK, which used to call that a milliard, but even the UK has been with the program since the 1970s.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (2, Insightful)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075591)

Europe counts more languages than one, and "milliard" or something similar to it means a "thousand million" in all but one, which itself is influenced by the US bastardisation of the term and is closer to being the 51st state than a part of Europe, really.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Informative)

adrianwn (1262452) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075603)

Dude, the European definition of billion is a thousand million, just like in the USA.

Huh? Where?! In German, French, Spanish and Italian, the word "billion" (resp. the words similiar to it) always means 10e12.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075639)

You just wait, that imperial system of measurement is catching on, too!

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075681)

I live in Europe (Netherlands) and last time I checked a milliard was still a 1000 million and a Billion is a thousand milliard. Perhaps the UK changed its definition, but the French/Dutch/German speaking nations haven't. No clue about the rest of Europe.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (3, Informative)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075747)

Should have Googled for posting. Nearly all European countries use the Long Scale, some use the Short Scale but with milliard. In fact, the UK is the only European country to do it differently (why doesn't that surprise me, the bloody bastards still drive on the wrong side of the road too). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (3, Informative)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075617)

Correct, the total volume of the oceans is ~1.3*10^6 km^3 [hypertextbook.com] , the volume of the moon is ~2.2*10^10 km^3 [wikipedia.org] so it's not even close.

Not to mention, according to the Giant Impact Hypothesis [wikipedia.org] , the iron core of the mars-size body that struck the earth sunk down and was mostly absorbed into the earth's core. The moon has far less iron in its core than most other bodies in the solar system. Consider also that tectonic plates [wikipedia.org] have been moving for billions of years and have formed more than a dozen different "super-continents" [wikipedia.org] over time in various configurations. There's no way the Pacific ocean is a gouge from the moon-making.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074545)

Others mentioned the Earth being molten, but even as it is now, the Earth is plastic enough that if you removed a big enough chunk, the rest of the planet would flow and deform until it was spherical again.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075503)

"nearly spherical again." The Earth currently bulges slightly at the equator due to centrifugal/centripetal force; I believe the mathematical term for its shape is a "prolate sphereoid."

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075669)

Show me a celestial body that is "spherical" rather than "nearly spherical". You can't, not even the event horizon of a blackhole is exactly a sphere. ;)

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1, Interesting)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075715)

I'd take anything in Cosmos magazine with a healthy dose of skepticism. Since the article is slashdotted these points may already be addressed but anyway...

There is growing evidence based on analysis of ancient crust and zircon crystals that cratons (continental cores) formed much earlier than thought and that the earth was only molten for a very short period, if at all.

I would say there should be evidence of a massive mineral anomaly in the earth's crust. No massive nuclear eruption big enough to put the mass of the moon into orbit could take place without leaving a very large geographic trace with anomalous minerals and elemental levels (iron, radiation decay products, olivine, etc). There is no evidence that such a thing has ever been the case. Even in areas where oceananic crust has been subducted there should be volcanic areas rich in these elements. The earth's big iron deposits are the banded iron desposits thought to have originated when oxygen was produced by the first photosynthetic life and the iron was oxidized out of the oceans. The african natural reactor example some have given is very small in terms of geography, certainly not enough to act as proof of a massive nuclear eruption.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (4, Informative)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074751)

There is a remnant of a naturally occurring reactor that operated in southern Africa 2 billion years ago so I suppose it is possible, however many other odd things are also possible. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap021016.html [nasa.gov]

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075013)

offtopic:

Look at the old Astronomy Picture of the Day from 1995. Like this one for example: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap950629.html [nasa.gov]

The picture is in midget form... a tiny 36 kilobytes! They probably had to make it that small to "squeeze" through the slow 28k modems of the day. The web has really grown in size since then - today's average APOD is 200 kilobytes.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (5, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074955)

Everyone who has replied so far makes fair points, but misses the biggest point: the Moon is over 4 billion years old. There are virtually no rocks on the Earth's surface that even approach its age. That means that the ENTIRE Earth's surface has been replaced and reshaped in the interim. Things haven't just "shifted considerably", we've got a totally different surface. Any scar from that period is long, long since erased. And hole as deep as the Moon has long since filled in since the Earth is still very much a fluid over these timescales.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

Yoooder (1038520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075679)

I would assume that the amount of energy required to part the earth and moon would likely heat both through quite thoroughly; perhaps some amount of each and better allowing them to take a sherical shape without a gaping would.

Thinking about it makes me think of a lava lamp :) the moon is just a blob of goo that departed from our larger blob.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074995)

If the planet was that hard and cool back then how would you explain that the moon got round to? Obviously it wasn't that solid ..

(or friction between pieces has grinded them down and melted them together with time but that sounds less likely I guess.)

There IS a Big Hole (1)

clonan (64380) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075575)

It is called the pacific ocean.

Even the traditional theories suggest that the pacific ocean is a scar created by the impact scraping off the continent and throwing it into orbit (yes I am simplifying).

While this new theory has issues (angular momentum), if it is true, the Pacific Ocean basin is proably the ste it happened.

Re:Wouldn't there be an empty space? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075595)

Of course there is the concept that the simplest solution is more likely. The concept of a huge collision from a large object on the earth seems more likely and possible then a Nuclear Reaction of such size.

stupid scientists (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074507)

the moon is made of cheese

clearly, the young earth was lactose intolerant, and ejected it for that reason

the problem is all infants can digest lactose, and lose the lactase enzyme ability later in life if they don't have the right genes

but all theories have holes in them

like swiss cheese!

Re:stupid scientists (4, Funny)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074533)

That was really cheesy.

Re:stupid scientists (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074911)

big bada BOOM

Re:stupid scientists (1)

pappas.chris (1049134) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075317)

Leeloo Dallas multipass?

Re:stupid scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075653)

*sigh* Mila Jovovich.

Nuff said.

Runaway Nuclear Reaction... (5, Funny)

bytethese (1372715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074519)

Check. Dutch Scientists, Check. Thought that the moon was caused by a Cosmic Dutch Oven, Priceless.

Sanitation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074551)

So Earth basically got a bad case of gas, had an accident and now has its own turd in orbit.

Re:Sanitation (1)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075367)

Imagine my surprise when I searched for the "earthburp" tag and found no other stories whatsoever! What's happened to all those earthburp stories, eh?!

Re:Sanitation (1)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075473)

/me thinks of a stupid joke involving 'Klingons around Uranus.'

Impactors all the way (3, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074579)

While it's certainly an interesting idea I can't see it being right (but I've only read the first page, the site seems to have collapsed). My problem with it is simple that the impactor idea seems to fit all the data so well I think it's unlikley to be wrong.

I wonder though if this could perhaps be tested. The huge explosion theory could well have left old rocks away from the explosion site untouched. The impactor would have melted the whole planet. If we find even one rock old than the impact date we have our answer.

Re:Impactors all the way (5, Interesting)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074783)

We may never *know* for certain. We can have hypothesis after hypothesis, and although the giant impact fits the data nicely, and is unlikely to be wrong, the only way we'll really challenge that is by having other ideas. What really throws this theory out for me however (And I admit, I can't view the page, it's been /.ed) was that most of Earth's fissle material is in the crust, not the core. So any 'deep explosion' would have to have been in the crust or mantle, not the center.

Re:Impactors all the way (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075253)

What really throws this theory out for me however (And I admit, I can't view the page, it's been /.ed) was that most of Earth's fissle material is in the crust, not the core.

That may be a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. Maybe the fissile material in the core was exhausted in the runaway reaction, or in later reactions within the core (perhaps critical T&P exist in the core)... this seems plausible to me if, as with the crust, materials in the core were isolated and concentrated via geologic processes.

It's also possible that the geological processes that occured over the past 4 Bn years have caused the fissile materials to accumulate in the crust instead of the core.

Re:Impactors all the way (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075379)

most of Earth's fissle material is in the crust, not the core.

Citation? Because most fissile material is in the mantle, not the crust.

Re:Impactors all the way (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075783)

I've mentioned it further down

"The idea is based on two very dubious propositions: (a) That uranium (or any heavy element) would naturally go to the center of the Earth. This is almost certainly untrue. It is a misunderstanding of chemistry and statistical physics at a very fundamental level. (b) That there is something about Earth's heat flow or helium that is so wildly discordant with our usual ideas that it requires an outrageous hypothesis to explain it. This is incorrect."

(source [sfgate.com] )

Re:Impactors all the way (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074795)

My problem with it is simple that the impactor idea seems to fit all the data so well I think it's unlikley to be wrong.

Further on they say that the impactor theory doesn't exactly fit the data. I'd blockquote, but I'm stuck on page three, I think we slashdotted it.

They give several reasons; one is that the object would have had to hit at a precise angle to become the moon and not completely vaporize the earth. Another is that the object would have had to have been formed very near the earth; they calculate from the moon rocks it would have had to be between Venus' and Mars' orbits.

Re:Impactors all the way (5, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074967)

> it would have had to be between Venus' and Mars' orbits.

They quote this as a problem?!

The baseline assumption is that the impactor formed in the Earth's trojans, which fixes this "complaint" perfectly. Unlike Jupiter (for instance), the Earth's trojans are not entirely stable, and any large objects placed in it will drift back and forth. This explains a VERY large number of data points:

1) it explains geological makeup perfectly
2) it explains why the impact angle was grazing
3) it explains why the Moon formed so long after the Earth

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_impact_hypothesis

Maury

Re:Impactors all the way (0)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075327)

The baseline assumption is that the impactor formed in the Earth's trojans

That's one condom failure this planet is never going to forget about.

Re:Impactors all the way (3, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075021)

For the first point, it's not all that unlikely. (I don't know of any simulations that show that the impact would destroy the Earth, but you do need a specific range of impact angles to blow material off into orbit.) Remember, there were numerous collisions in that epoch, even between fairly large objects.

As to the second point, I call BS. The moon isn't made of the original material of the impactor. If the authors say it is, they're showing that they don't understand the theory that they're deriding. The Moon is made (principally) of the Earth's mantle. That's why the giant impact theory is so appealing, it explains the compositional similarities.

(That said, I seem to recall simulation work from about a decade ago that indicated that ALL the terrestrial planets had more or less the same composition since the planetesimals would be well-mixed in this region.)

Re:Impactors all the way (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075155)

My old high school science teacher used to talk about how the volume of the moon was similar to the volume of the Pacific Ocean. I don't know if he was trying to imply that indicated where such an impact would have taken place, but since the impact is speculated to have happened over 4 billion years ago, and Pangaea existed two and a half million years ago, the one cannot have anything to do with the other, at least not directly.

Re:Impactors all the way (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075523)

There are some theories that Cruithne was Earth's second moon. So maybe the early Earth had two moons?

Collision Theory (3, Funny)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074603)

I thought that a number of scientists had run simulations explaining the earth/moon systems creation via a collision. I even saw it on TV on a special narrated by Tony Robbins, so it MUST be true!

Re:Collision Theory (1)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074633)

Robinson not Robbins. hehe

The Moon! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074613)

The Moon is a secret Italian conspiracy to spy on, undermine, infiltrate, and subvert America. That's why it is always in OUR sky -- ever wondered about that? How come Mexicans and Chinese don't get the Moon? Because they are in league with the nefarious Italians against our Great Fatherland.

Re:The Moon! (1)

moose_hp (179683) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075477)

How come Mexicans [...] don't get the Moon?

If that's no moon (pun intended), then wtf is in the sky then?

looking for a new place (planet) to wreck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074615)

probably not going to happen. it would make A LOT more sense to clean up the mess we've made here. the creators will provide future accommodations as needed. see you there?

this... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074641)

... idea is one of the most retardedest things ever!

Not possible (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074655)

We all know that if there were a nuclear catastrophe of this magnitude, then the whole planet would be hurled through space at such speed that each week we would encounter a new alien race, group of outcasts, or supernatural being. Seeing as the earth is still in its stable orbit around the sun, we can conclude that this must not have happened.

Re:Not possible (4, Funny)

Twisted Willie (1035374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074719)

Unless ofcourse, as some might argue, this has already happened.

Re:Not possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074923)

OK, I have to ask this: Were you really aiming for 'Funny'?

Re:Not possible (1)

Zan Lynx (87672) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075429)

It's a Space 1999 reference I think. Not that I've ever seen the show.

Re:Not possible (1)

SengirV (203400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075751)

If you had hair down there, you might have gotten the reference.

Re:Not possible (1)

jarrell (545407) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075737)

Wait, so, they're saying that in 1999 (times 2 million) BC, a runaway nuclear reaction blew the moon INTO orbit? Someone call Gerry Anderson, I smell a prequel.

Or maybe (2, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074661)

It was caused by aliens driving 737's and dropping nukes into volcanoes.

Re:Or maybe (3, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074681)

That's just a deranged fantasy. Now, if you were talking about DC-10s...

Re:Or maybe (5, Funny)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074761)

Actually they used DC-8. The 737 didn't come out til like 10 million years later!

Re:Or maybe (2, Funny)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074885)

HAIL XENU

Re:Or maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075479)

It was caused by aliens driving 737's and dropping nukes into volcanoes.

Now you are just spreading crazy unfounded cult-like beliefs. In reality, the aliens were flying spacecraft that looked like DC-9's, not 737's.

It's a long but interesting article (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074673)

I'm on page three. I had to look up a couple of things of wikipedia so far. I hadn't heard the word Petrology [slashdot.org] before; it's the study of rocks.

The term "georeactor" [wikipedia.org] seemed self-explanatory but I looked it up anyway, and was glad I did.

Natural nuclear reactors
In the 1970s, geochemists documented the existence of naturally-occurring slow fission reactors in uranium-bearing geologic formations at Oklo in Gabon, Africa. The Oklo natural nuclear fission reactors operated approximately 1.5 to 2.0 billion years ago, when the natural occurrence of the uranium-235 isotope (required for the fission chain-reaction) was much higher.

[edit] Planetary fission reactors
Large, gaseous planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, radiate more energy into space than they receive from the Sun. (In the case of Jupiter, the radiated energy is almost twice the received energy.) The source of this energy was originally attributed to gravitational contraction, since gravitational potential energy conversion into heat seemed to be the heat source of sufficient magnitude to account for the quantity of energy released. In 1992, J. Marvin Herndon postulated that the excess energy could be explained by the existence of a central nuclear reactor. High-density fissile elements (i.e. uranium) would be concentrated at the core and could undergo sustained nuclear fission chain reactions. Herndon demonstrated the feasibility of a planetocentric nuclear reactor using Fermi's nuclear reactor theory, calculations similar to those used in nuclear-reactor design.

[edit] The georeactor
Herndon subsequently realized that the calculations also permitted the existence of a similar reactor at the Earth's core. Herndon's calculations depend on certain unconventional assumptions regarding the composition of the core, in particular the oxidation state of uranium and the likelihood of its precipitating to the center. He justifies these assumptions by comparison with the composition of enstatite chondrite meteorites, which do have the necessary highly reduced oxidation states and are the only chondrite meteorites which have sufficient iron metal-alloy to match the composition of the Earth with its massive core.

Herndon argues that the georeactor is the energy source for the Earth's magnetic field, and that variations in the strength and direction of the field can be explained by natural variations in the operation of the georeactor.

[edit] Generalization to planetary magnetic fields
Currently active internally generated magnetic fields have been detected in six planets (Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and in one satellite (Jupiter's moon Ganymede). Magnetized surface areas of Mars and the Moon indicate the former existence of internally generated magnetic fields in those bodies.

As Mr. Spock would say, "fascinating." My thanks to the story submitter.

Oops, need more coffee (0, Redundant)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075165)

Somehow the link to the Wilipedia article isn't to wikipedia but to science.slashdot.org. The wiki article on petrology is here [wikipedia.org] .

Sorry.

Re:It's a long but interesting article (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075733)

I'm glad you linked that article, as it states further down

"The idea is based on two very dubious propositions: (a) That uranium (or any heavy element) would naturally go to the center of the Earth. This is almost certainly untrue. It is a misunderstanding of chemistry and statistical physics at a very fundamental level. (b) That there is something about Earth's heat flow or helium that is so wildly discordant with our usual ideas that it requires an outrageous hypothesis to explain it. This is incorrect."

(source [sfgate.com] )
The lack of evidence for fissle material at the core should keep this from being taken too seriously

Another nice bedtime story (1)

macxcool (1370409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074679)

This is really just another nice bedtime story, isn't it? Sure scientists can speculate about this sort of thing, but the possible scenarios are only limited by the researchers' imaginations. There is no way of knowing whether this sort of tale is really what happened. The only thing that can happen here is that someone will come up with a reason why it could not have happened this way. If that doesn't happen all we have is a nice story that nobody has debunked yet.

Space 1999 got it wrong... (3, Funny)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074695)

...but not completely. The nuclear waste that caused the moon to be torn away were stored HERE! A cautionary tale?

From TFA (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074997)

I know you're joking, but

In a major breakthrough reported in the U.S. journal Science in 2005, Earth scientists Maud Boyet and Richard Carlson of the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, concluded that both a partition between the Earth's mantle and core, and another within the mantle, formed within 30 million years of the planet being born.

This internal partition isolated the lower mantle, the D''-layer, from the rest of the mantle. Boyet and Carlson arrived at their conclusion by investigating the rare earth elements samarium (Sm) and neodymium (Nd). Samarium-146 is a radioactive element that decays relatively speedily, with a half-life of 103 million years, to neodymium-142.

At present hardly any samarium-146 is left on Earth. Theoretically, terrestrial rock should contain just as much neodymium as the primordial material from which the Earth was formed - samples of which sometimes still reach the Earth in meteorites.

But the researchers discovered something odd. Rock from the Earth's mantle contains more neodymium than these meteorites. The only conceivable explanation is that samarium was distributed unevenly throughout the planet, because the overall concentration should be equal to that in meteorites.

But where can this neodymium-poor rock be? Not in the Earth's core, because neither samarium nor neodymium can bond chemically to iron. That only leaves the D''-layer. This chunky boundary layer between core and mantle must be low in neodymium.

Boyet and Carlson discovered that the Moon has a peculiarity too: rocks that are just as rich in neodymium as the Earth's mantle. This makes the impact hypothesis very improbable indeed, according to van Westrenen.

"Considering that at this giant impact 4.5 billion years ago the Earth's core and Theia's core fused, it is most improbable that isolated layers deep within the planet survived the impact. Yet this is what the data from Carlson and Boyet suggest."

Carlson was candid about this over the telephone: "Our data show a strong similarity between terrestrial and lunar rock, but there is no good explanation for that at all."

How the impact with Theia took place, and how the D''-layer survived this impact while the Earth's core fused with the core of the impactor, is beyond Carlson's comprehension as well.

Re:Space 1999 got it wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075041)

I was going to post this joke, you insensitive clod!

Explosions? (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074709)

As /. causes a nuclear explosion on cosmosmagazine.com preventing anyone from RTFA

Teach the hypothetical controversy! (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074717)

If the moon were real, it would have been created by God. Clearly a large ball of rock is the sign of an intelligent Creator, if it were there.

Re:Teach the hypothetical controversy! (4, Interesting)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074839)

Christian-minded skepticism would sound a lot less idiotic (no offense to those of you who can't stand that), and something like:

Why do we think this might have happened? Because it might be possible. Do we have any proof of it? None whatsoever. Does it seem likely or probable? Not enough data. Could the moon have been spontaneously created by an infinitely powerful being instead? Sure.

Re:Teach the hypothetical controversy! (5, Informative)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075183)

Just to be fair to everyone here, there will be a variety of Christian-minded skepticism. To lump them all into one bunch is pretty dishonest.

We have group #1 that is going to claim the literalist nonsense. These are the folks that built the creationist fantasy tourist trap where children frolick with dinos in the displays.

We have group #2 that is probably going to take the approach you mentioned to various degrees. Some may say it could have been spontaneously created, but that is no reason to not investigate, we don't have a lot of good information yet. The other end will lean towards the idea that we haven't found any information yet and thus it must be spontaneously created. This is the realm of curable ignorance on one side and pseudoscience nonsense on the other.

Then we will have the final group, that thankfully has gained at least some traction. The group that will say "Sure God created it...and a runaway nuclear reaction or massive impact are two possible methods that the universe played out that caused it to be created...let's go figure it out." Despite the common slashdot groupthink on this subject, there are indeed quite a few very intelligent people that also hold religious beliefs and don't let those religious beliefs muddy up the science. Francis Collins [wikipedia.org] and Ken Miller [wikipedia.org] are two examples that jump to mind. (In fact, if you haven't seen Ken Miller's video on the ID/Dover trial business, it's about 2hrs, but it is an amazing lecture.)

Re:Teach the hypothetical controversy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075299)

I'm agnostic:
Could the moon have been spontaneously created by an infinitely powerful being instead? Not enough data.

I'd love to make an informed comment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26074759)

But the site is /.ed

Nuclear Reactor (5, Interesting)

heavygravity (160241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074779)

Can't get to the article, but - if you haven't heard of this before, it's pretty cool: the Oklo Natural Fission Reactor [doe.gov] in Gabon. And while you're at it, you can read about how this natural reactor has scientists rethinking [wordpress.com] how constant the fine structure constant [wikipedia.org] really is.

Re:Nuclear Reactor (1)

Mac Scientist (153390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074973)

The story description and this comment about a reactor reminds me of "Accidents Happen", a Robert Heinlein story where scientists building a huge nuclear reactor on Earth suspect that someone or something may have built something similar on the moon, and it went "Boom".

Now that is prescient!

OH MY GOD WERE ALL GOING TO DIE (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075635)

Just to be sure I got this right, we're living on a massive nuclear reactor that is still active, and still of the same design that once brought catastrophic failure?

LHC (3, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 5 years ago | (#26074971)

version 0.9 ?

Loony, totally Loony (3, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075027)

I can't get to TFA, but it seems mighty unlikely to have that much fissile material just so happen to gather together, and not be poisoned by cadmium, boron, lead, or other neutron absorbers, and have it stay together and not have a negative temperature coefficient slowing it down, and not form bubbles and geysers and other instabilities, and have it push asymmetrically in one direction, for many hours (cf: speed of sound). Wayaaay too many things to believe before breakfast.

and this is why... (1)

swilde23 (874551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075073)

... we can't have nukler power. You don't want there to be two moons, now do you? What would you do with two moons????

Re:and this is why... (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075297)

... we can't have nukler power. You don't want there to be two moons, now do you? What would you do with two moons????

Unless you live on the ISS and you are the sole survivor(s) of the human race; you get to have two moons in the sky. Take that, George Lucas.

However, that would completely mess astrology.

Doesn't Make Sense to Me (3, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075107)

As noted, the site is Slashdotted so I can't read it straight up. That said, this doesn't make sense to me. A large explosion on the Earth's surface wouldn't launch material into Earth orbit unless it were launched at a very precise angle (probably nearly horizontal). The authors (based on previous comments) complain that the Giant Impact hypothesis requires a finely-tuned impact angle, but what about their model? I'd expect an explosion to blow material almost radially outward. To posit that you'd get the finely-tuned launch angle from their model seems much more of a stretch than that an impact should strike a glancing blow (especially when we don't know how many similarly-sized impactors hit with the wrong conditions and were simply absorbed).

Also, note that you need to loft a lot more material than just the Moon's mass to make the Moon. it's not an efficient process, a lot (most?) of the material rains back down on the Earth. It has to, it starts out in an orbit that intersects the Earth after all.

Re:Doesn't Make Sense to Me (2, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075641)

Not sure if the article addressed this, but another point is that you'd have to assemble the fissionable material very carefully since you need to get it super-critical, but not have any of it blow too early, before you have enough. It's the classic bomb-making problem, only without anyone to supervise it.

Birth of the moon (1)

Reikk (534266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075211)

The birth of the moon? That sounds painful. It would take a very large, stretchy vagina like that of Britney Spears or Queen Elizabeth.

That's no moon! (4, Funny)

Wolfger (96957) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075453)

Oh, wait... it is. Nevermind.

Slashdotted. Mirror here. (3, Informative)

elzbal (520537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075489)

Slashdotted due to runaway nuclear reaction. Mirror here: Birth of the Moon: a Runaway Nuclear Reaction? [spotlynx.com]

(Or should that be a runaway Slashdot reaction?)

Cosmos Magazine : Millions of millions (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075547)

Looks like the site has been slashdotted... time for everyone's Carl Sagan impression to describe the meltdown: "Millions and millions of connections..."

That's no moon... (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075731)

It's the mother of all core dumps!

an other time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26075755)

an other "how the moon formed" story?

look, let's just blow it up, so no one complains anymore!

This is a really cool idea (1)

blackyottabyte (1422241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26075797)

Let's create another MOON!!!

  1. Produce new moon via a runaway nuclear reaction
  2. Wait for dust to settle
  3. ???
  4. Profit!
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