Friday, October 9, 2009

'I Told You the Moon Was Wet!'

"Controversial New Idea Surfaces on Origin of Moon's Water" (October 6, 2009)

"Many experts were shocked by the recent discovery of water on the moon, which was long thought to be bone-dry.

"But not everyone was surprised.

"Astrophysicist Arlin Crotts of Columbia University has been working for years on research that he says predicted this finding. In a paper he submitted recently to the Astrophysical Journal with his graduate student Cameron Hummels, Crotts hypothesizes the existence of widespread water on the lunar surface, and offers an idea for how it got there.

" 'I am predicting something that just happened, that nobody else was predicting,' Crotts said. 'I hope people recognize that this is a true prediction of the spatial distribution of water around the moon.'..."

"...Crott's paper outlining his hypothesis has been submitted to an academic journal, and is in the process of being peer-reviewed before possible publication. Some scientists are waiting to reserve judgment until then...."

Now that water's been found on the moon, there's going to be a scramble to explain how it got there. One of the possibilities is that hydrogen seeps up from the core - or gets blown in as the solar wind - and that oxygen gets involved.

It's going to be interesting, seeing how the research goes.

I trust Crott's peer review is conducted by people who aren't committed to an opposing view, don't have a grudge against him, and aren't afflicted with NIH syndrome (NIH: Not Invented Here: referring to the not-nearly-uncommon-enough feeling by many that they and their little group of confidants are the sole source of good ideas.)

Although 'office politics' is probably part of academic culture for the foreseeable future, I've seen indications that there's a bit more openness to ideas than when I last did time in academia, back in the eighties. And I don't think that 'where water came from on the moon' is quite as subject to ideological screening as some topics might be. I hope not, anyway.

Enough of that.

The article gives a pretty good overview of Crott's - unusual? - idea, and other models that try to explain how water got into moon rocks.

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