Cosmic Catastrophes by Clark R. Chapman

By Clark R. Chapman

The authors talk about such issues as "impacts with asteroids, the greenhouse impression, nuclear wintry weather, fringe catastrophism, supernovae and an evaluate of risks." (New Scientist)

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Cosmic impacts represent just one example of a general shift in thinking that has made the idea of catastrophes respectable in science, in contrast to an older uniformitarian attitude that had dominated the earth sciences for the previous 150 years. We shall discuss other such catastophic phenomena in the following chapters. CHAPTER 3 Uniformitarianism and Catastrophism We humans are curious about our world. Long before we had evolved the scientific method of thinking, people wondered about the forces shaping their lives.

The Face of the Moon and its 1963 successor, The Measure of the Moon, laid out arguments for the impact origin of lunar craters in strict logical detail. Baldwin supported his thesis with extensive tables of his own measurements of crater sizes and shapes. He also drew widely on other evidence, much of it very controversial at the time, including ideas about Meteor Crater and cryptovolcanic structures. Baldwin may have done his science in his spare time, but he was no armchair speculator about heavenly processes.

The darker lowlands are called "maria" (Latin for "seas") and are overlaid by black basaltic lava flows. Some maria, which are roughly circular in shape, are the lavaflooded bottoms of immense basins formed by the biggest impact events recorded in the geological history of the Moon. The mare surfaces are flat, with just a few scattered craters to break the monotony; for each mare crater, there are about 20 highland craters. An early Soviet space probe photographed the back side of the Moon (the side we can never see from Earth), and showed that it is nearly all cratered highlands, with very few dark mare provinces.

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