Filed under: Published stuff
My new Intelligent Life column is about the origins of the moon, and more generally about how science makes the dissimilar similar, and the unearthly earthly.
By the time people actually got to the moon it was known to be deeply dissimilar to the Earth, a dead, drab, alien counterpart to our planet’s richness.
Science, though, thrives on finding similarities between apparently disparate things. A dolphin looks like a shark—but as a mammal and a social hunter it is more like a wolf. The coasts of Uruguay and Namibia appear quite different—but the rocks of which they are made are identical, laid down together in the same ancient sea before the opening of the South Atlantic pulled them apart. Perhaps most famously, the fall of an apple in a Lincolnshire garden, and the monthly swing of the Moon around the Earth, are manifestations of the same gravitational attraction. And in the 1970s, chemical analysis of Moon rocks showed that though the Moon looked nothing like the Earth, its crust was made of the same mixture of elements, in strikingly similar proportions.
The full Music of Science back-catalogue can be found here.
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