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Evidence of Protoplanet Found On Moon

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Space 105

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes 'Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon. Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia. The researchers claim that their discovery confirms the theory that the Moon was created by just such a cataclysmic collision. The accepted theory since the 1980s is that the Moon arose as a result of a collision between the Earth and Theia 4.5bn years ago. It is the simplest explanation, and fits in well with computer simulations. The main drawback with the theory is that no one had found any evidence of Theia in lunar rock samples. Earlier analyses had shown Moon rock to have originated entirely from the Earth whereas computer simulations had shown that the Moon ought to have been mostly derived from Theia. Now a more refined analysis of Moon rock has found evidence of material thought to have an alien origin.'

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"Simplest explanation" (1, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 months ago | (#47177877)

It is the simplest explanation, and fits in well with computer simulations.

Oh heck no: turtles all the way down, biz-rotches!

Re:"Simplest explanation" (1)

wooferhound (546132) | about 5 months ago | (#47178327)

I thought the simplest explanation was that it was captured by Earths Gravity

Re:"Simplest explanation" (5, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 5 months ago | (#47178343)

Earth isn't large enough to capture an object the size of the moon in such a close orbit. and the moon was orbiting in a much much closer orbit 4 billion years ago.So, no, it was the most complex explanation.

Re:"Simplest explanation" (3, Funny)

Ecuador (740021) | about 4 months ago | (#47179957)

Right, while the simplest explanation was "That's no moon..."

Re:"Simplest explanation" (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47178447)

Also consider that the proto-earth and Theia originated from the same material overall, which means that it would be hard to distinguish them from each other.

Re:"Simplest explanation" (3, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 months ago | (#47179631)

I thought the simplest explanation was that it was captured by Earths Gravity

Thats only simple until you figure out that that sort of thing isnt actually possible. In cases where gravitational capture is possible, it is the gravity of a 2nd body (such as a moon) that enables a 3rd body (such as an asteroid) to lose enough velocity to orbit a 1st body (such as a planet.) Conservation of energy means any body that wasnt in a planets orbit will by default have escape velocity if it ever approaches that planet, and this is true unless it is acted upon by a force external to the mutual gravity of the planet and would-be capturer.

Re:"Simplest explanation" (1)

gumbi west (610122) | about 4 months ago | (#47184909)

Yet pop the astronomy books that I read my children are full of moons being captured. I've never gotten that.

Re:"Simplest explanation" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47180423)

No. The simplest explanation is: That's just what God wants you to think.

Re:"Simplest explanation" (5, Informative)

rgbatduke (1231380) | about 4 months ago | (#47180849)

Damn, I had to give up modding this to answer, but I can't leave this.

One cannot "capture" a body the size of the moon by any two body elastic (e.g. gravitational) interaction. Within irrelevant perturbations such as gravitational wave radiation (presuming such a thing to exist), energy is conserved, and if it starts out unbound to the Earth it will end up unbound to the Earth.

One can capture in a three (or more) body interaction, but in that case the missing energy has to go someplace, and we are talking about a LOT of energy in the case of an orbiting moon. Enough energy to basically melt the moon and the earth and then some. One would expect to see some sort of orbital remnants of such a many-body event, and all of the other bodies in the solar system are a bit too far away to be good candidates in terms of the forces needed, and show none of the orbital perturbation one would expect as a consequence.

That leaves inelastic events. Tidal interaction is inelastic over time, but to make it strong enough to mediate a "capture" it would damn near be a collision anyway, brushing up on Roche's Limit (look that up). Also, that too would leave the nascent moon in an orbit much closer than the initial radius of its apparent orbit. Also, it wouldn't explain the apparent deficit of heavier elements and an iron core in the moon (thought to have been literally blown out of the incoming body in the collision and either ejected altogether to carry away the missing energy and momentum needed to leave the remnant in orbit or absorbed into the Earth) and a bunch of other things.

So really, the collision hypothesis makes "enough" sense and is consistent with enough data that it is AFAIK the "accepted" explanation of the moon's origin, with the usual caveat that contrary evidence or a better argument in the future might change that as we cannot easily be certain about events 4.5 billion years ago.

rgb

It's all a lot of gobbledeegook (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177887)

I hate flimsy science.

Somewhat confused (4, Insightful)

ocean_soul (1019086) | about 5 months ago | (#47177891)

I haven't read the Science article yet, but from the BBC report it seems that the differences between the isotope ratios in moon rocks and earth are still a lot smaller than expected. This would suggest the Theia hypotheses to not be true, contrary to what the title says. I'm going to track down the original paper, because this BBC article has me somewhat confused.

Re:Somewhat confused (1)

vedranius (2647301) | about 5 months ago | (#47177921)

BBC is for sure famous for being reliable source of information :-)

Re:Somewhat confused (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177963)

Well in fact that's exactly why it is famous.

BBC - Who (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 months ago | (#47178403)

Well they have The Doctor and I am sure he knows, he probably watched it happen

Re:Somewhat confused (0)

torsmo (1301691) | about 4 months ago | (#47180079)

That's coz it is.

Re:Somewhat confused (4, Informative)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 5 months ago | (#47177925)

I haven't read the Science article yet, but from the BBC report it seems that the differences between the isotope ratios in moon rocks and earth are still a lot smaller than expected. This would suggest the Theia hypotheses to not be true, contrary to what the title says. I'm going to track down the original paper, because this BBC article has me somewhat confused.

The absolute terms "true" and "not true" are not appropriate for a hypothesis like this. There may be some parts of it that are accurate, but for instance the size, mass, velocity, density distribution etc. of the Theia might be wrong, or the physics in the simulation might be wrong, etc.

Re:Somewhat confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47181199)

The earth had a baby, them committed a babycide (yea I know..... but babycide just sounds better)
The moon is the baby corpse that earth disposed in its backyard

Re:Somewhat confused (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47177967)

The isotope ratio is more different than you'd expect for formation without an impact by a third body, but it's less different than you'd expect from an impact given what we know about the distributions of oxygen isotopes in the solar system. So both hypotheses need revision: for the Theia hypothesis, they suppose that it was an inner planet with a remarkably similar composition to Earth, and for the non-impact hypothesis, they suppose that the Earth's isotope ratio diverged from that of the moon due to later (small) impacts delivering different compositions.

Re:Somewhat confused (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178101)

I hypothecize thusly:

Some scientists decide to make a big stink about some statistical noise in order to gain attention and mindshare for their ailing geology / natural sciences program,
so as to attract more funding / students.

Re:Somewhat confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178377)

I "hypothecize thusly":

You are an idiot.

Actually, I think we can upgrade that to a full blow theory given the evidence.

Re:Somewhat confused (1)

albeit unknown (136964) | about 4 months ago | (#47181885)

It would make sense that Theia would have a composition very similar to earth if it formed in the same orbit at one of the Lagrangian points. http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/... [arxiv.org]

Alien Origin? (0)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 5 months ago | (#47177907)

Everyone knows the moon is made of cheese!

Re:Alien Origin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178185)

But what if it was made of barbecue spare ribs? Would you eat it then?

Re:Alien Origin? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47180869)

Re:Alien Origin? (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 months ago | (#47178455)

That would take a lot of cows.

Re:Alien Origin? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 4 months ago | (#47179029)

Or just one or two really big cows.

Re:Golgafrincham Origin. (1)

M8e (1008767) | about 4 months ago | (#47179385)

Or one enormous mutant star-goat.

Re:Alien Origin? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47179621)

But they would be spherical cows!

Wow. A physics approximation that actually works.

Re:Alien Origin? (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#47180267)

Auðumbla - look her up in Norse mythology

I'm ignorant (1, Troll)

ArturoBandini77 (2610501) | about 5 months ago | (#47177913)

I'm ignorant, but today's science seems like "Tell me what is your theory, and i will find data to prove it's true"...
Or as a law predicts, "Given an enough amount of data, ANY theory can be proved"... :-)

Re:I'm ignorant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178003)

I'm ignorant, but today's science seems like "Tell me what is your theory, and i will find data to prove it's true"...

Yes, like that famous current scientist Einstein produced a theory of gravitation and then several years later they found data to prove it was true.

Or as a law predicts, "Given an enough amount of data, ANY theory can be proved"... :-)

There is no law that predicts such a thing. Given enough data, almost all theories are disproven. The only ones that remain are the ones that fit the data.

Re:I'm ignorant (4, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 5 months ago | (#47178031)

Given enough data, almost all theories are disproven. The only ones that remain are the ones that fit the data.

Given enough data, almost all hypotheses are disproven. The ones which remain and have not yet been disproven by evidence become theories.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 5 months ago | (#47178135)

"become theories"

"I KNEW it!" he said conspiratorially.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178231)

That's not quite it either. The theory is a theory from the start, assuming it makes any concrete and testable predictions. What you disprove (or eventually accept) is the hypothesis that the theory is correct.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 5 months ago | (#47178427)

Where did you learn science? Home School creationism?

Observation of actual phenomena (evolution) ->Hypothesis of the mechanism of observed phenomena (Natural selection, genetic mutation, etc) -> Test, Test, Test, Test, Test ->Mechanism is stated to be a theory by consensus ->Test-> (maybe) revise theory -> (and on we go)

Re:I'm ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178645)

In reality it goes more like:
Test, Test, Test, Test, Ignore, Test ->Mechanism is stated to be a theory by consensus

There is always anomalous evidence that doesn't fit with the theory that gets handwaved as "something odd" since all the other evidence seems consistent with it.

Re:I'm ignorant (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 5 months ago | (#47178819)

No, this is simply the definition of a theory. If it's simply "I think that mice cause global warming", that's a hypothesis, but as soon as you add "you could test this by doing this, this and this, it predicts this result from the above tests" it becomes a theory. Once you do the testing it may stay a theory, or become simply wrong.

Re:I'm ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179045)

No, a hypothesis is a consequence of the theory. It cannot be elevated to a theory, as a "proven" hypothesis does not explain facts, it merely states facts.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#47180281)

Where did you learn science? A blog written by a home-schooled creationist?

The bumper-sticker version: An hypothesis is a testable prediction. A theory is a predictive model.

One does not graduate in to the other. A theory is a theory from the beginning.

You're likely just confused by the question of what makes a theory a scientific theory. For that, I'll direct you to Karl Popper.

Re:I'm ignorant (2)

alexhs (877055) | about 5 months ago | (#47178769)

Given enough data, almost all theories are disproven. The only ones that remain are the ones that fit the data.

Given enough data, almost all hypotheses are disproven. The ones which remain and have not yet been disproven by evidence become theories.

Nope, the AC was right.

By your definition, there is ultimately no such thing as a theory. Newtonian physics don't fit as they've been invalidated by Einstein's general relativity, which itself is known to be wrong as it is inconsistent with quantum mechanics (which are also wrong for the same reason).

You can't claim that former theories that were refined / invalidated never were theories in the first place : The "not yet" in your second sentence is problematic as it only allows theories to be defined with hindsight.

Therefore :

When data doesn't fit current theories, you're forming hypotheses, and test them. If your hypothesis fits the data better than former theories on some domain of validity (whose boundaries might not be completely known at the time of formulation, and will be refined with time and experimentations), good for you: you now have a new theory. It will ultimately be replaced by better theories, usually with an extended domain of validity (data that were missing at the time of formulation and testing).

And that was well summed up by the GP.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 5 months ago | (#47178793)

No, you're misunderstanding what a theory is. A theory is merely a hypothesis that has a well understood method of disproving the hypothesis.

Re:I'm ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179107)

No, you're misunderstanding what a theory is. A theory is a view of the world that explains facts. A hypothesis is a potential fact that may or may not be proven to be true. The hypothesis is a consequence of the theory, and proving it is a step towards validating the theory that posits the hypothesis. The hypothesis itself is not elevated to a theory, they aren't in the same category.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 4 months ago | (#47179361)

The ones which remain and have not yet been disproven by evidence become theories.

Newton's theory of gravity has been disproven and it's still a theory. Some theories are more equal than others, especially if they're good enough for many cases and much simpler than a more correct alternative.

Re:I'm ignorant (2)

radtea (464814) | about 4 months ago | (#47179629)

Given enough data, almost all hypotheses are disproven. The ones which remain and have not yet been disproven by evidence become theories.

Science is the discipline of publicly testing ideas by systematic observation, controlled experiment, and Bayesian inference. The last one is important, because Bayesian inference never "proves" or "disproves" anything in the Cartesian (or Poperian) sense of those terms. It instead increases or decreases the plausibility of propositions.

At best, "proof" and "disproof" are convenience terms that mean "overwhelmingly plausible with no alternative that has remotely similar plausibility" and "hugely implausible regardless of alternatives."

The asymmetry that Popper pointed out still exists on the Bayesian view: an extremely plausible idea may turn out to be in competition with unknown alternative ideas (think Newtonian gravity vs General Relativity) that are incrementally more plausible. Newtonian gravity (in its modified form) is still fairly plausible (although I don't think anyone really accepts it is better than GR), unlike, say, phlogiston theory, which is utterly implausible.

This is important because it means we don't have to accept the "most plausible" idea as "true"--the Bayesian standard of plausibility is absolute, not relative. It just never reaches a value of 1.0, only 1 - epsilon (or conversely epsilon for a maximally implausible idea.)

Bayesianism is compatible with "I don't know" as an answer when all current ideas have very low plausibility, and with "This is good enough for going on with" when one idea alone has high absolute plausibility, and "Could be this or that" when two or more ideas have similarly high plausibilities.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#47180207)

The ones which remain and have not yet been disproven by evidence become theories.

Wow, not even close.

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

njnnja (2833511) | about 5 months ago | (#47178151)

With four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.

- John von Neumann

Von Neumann said it; that's close enough to a law for me!

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 5 months ago | (#47178317)

Well, parameters are something else, eg. coefficients in a function or the color of jelly beans [xkcd.com] .

The more arbitrary parameters a theory includes, the easier it becomes to make it fit the data regardless of whether it makes any sense.

The same is true with today's pseudoscience! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179681)

> I'm ignorant, but today's science seems like "Tell me what is your theory, and i will find data to prove it's true"...

The complementary and alternative medicine (Reiki, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, Homeopathy) pseudoscientists have that philosophy. They use junk science to try to show that they are of benefit. Well controlled studies have never shown any significant benefit over placebo (save for Chiropractic for low back pain ONLY).

The best study that I've seen evaluating physiologic changes with traditional medicine and some CAM is from the New England Journal of Medicine, and is available at:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1103319
It showed that the albuterol inhaler treatment resulted in an ~20% improvement in air flow, while no treatment, placebo inhaler treatment, and sham-acupuncture resulted in 7.1%, 7.5%, and 7.3% respectively. The patient's perceived improvement was 50% with albuterol, 21% with no intervention, 45% with placebo inhaler, and 46% with sham-acupuncture.
The take-away from this study is that if you want 'real' improvement and to 'feel better', take the medicine, if you want just to 'feel better', do whatever you want.

Re:The same is true with today's pseudoscience! (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about 4 months ago | (#47179771)

The problem with all of you is that you all are hung up on the word "theory". Which science really doesn't use that much any more. The aim of science is to produce a predictive model. Over time models get replaced or refined by later models as they get subjected to greater and refined tests. Newton's Model was replaced by Einstein's which was further refined by Hawking which is now in the process of being refined by whatever version of string theory, if any works out. (A very simplistic and nickel analysis of the process.

Re:I'm ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47180507)

Yes, like that famous current scientist Einstein produced a theory of gravitation and then several years later they found data to prove it was true.

I was aware it hasn't been disproven, yet. I was unaware that it had been proven. Pray tell, when did this happen?

Re:I'm ignorant (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 5 months ago | (#47178381)

You could have saved us a lot of time and just stopped after your first sentence.

Re:I'm ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178555)

s/sentence/phrase/

Skeptics (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about 5 months ago | (#47177929)

And the rest of the article discusses the skepticism of this "evidence". To sum it all up, the evidence is the different ratios of oxygen isotopes found between 3 moon rocks and Earth. Most experts are saying the difference in the ratios should be much, much larger, because of how different the ratios of isotopes are in meteorites and other outer solar system bodies. The difference between the earth and moon is so small that other theories are just as likely for explaining it. The counter argument is that maybe all of the inner planets have the same ratios of oxygen isotopes as one another, and it was an inner planet that struck Earth and basically everything involved was made of the same stuff so the differences are small.

I think that until we have actually measured the ratios from Mecury or Venus, we can't assume that every inner planet is exactly the same in that regard, and thus the "evidence" this study has found is actual evidence one way or another. The only thing we know for certain is all the extraterrestrial material we have analyzed so far from the rest of the solar system has had very different ratios of the isotopes, and so this evidence requires a whole new theory about the homogeneousness of the solar system to be true.

Re:Skeptics (4, Interesting)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 5 months ago | (#47178095)

Considering the nature of the impact it is also possible that most of Theia is here on Earth under the Pacific or something while the moon is made up more of jettisoned Earth pieces. Or that the original Theia pieces make up the core/underground bits of the Moon with a tasty Earth frosting.

Re:Skeptics (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#47178235)

The impact simulations kind of rule that out. I'd say the sample size is a real issue though. Also, there are quite a few assumptions that I'd say are questionable. We've no idea where this protoplanet came from. It could have been from outside the solar system... or it could have been part of earth at one time, jettisoned in a previous impact and came back for revenge. The fact that we have as much information as we do blows my mind. Science is amazing.

Re:Skeptics (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 5 months ago | (#47178263)

it is also possible that most of Theia is here on Earth under the Pacific or something while the moon is made up more of jettisoned Earth pieces.

AFAIK, not according to the computer simulations, which is what backs up the Theia hypothesis.

Or that the original Theia pieces make up the core/underground bits of the Moon with a tasty Earth frosting.

Again, I don't think this is compatible with the simulations.

Re:Skeptics (1)

wooferhound (546132) | about 5 months ago | (#47178281)

With Deep Space Sprinkles on top

Re:Skeptics (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 5 months ago | (#47178883)

The pacific is the product of plate tectonics and has nothing to do with an impact crater.

Re:Skeptics (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 4 months ago | (#47181429)

I beleive he is using "is here on Earth under the Pacific or something " as a proxy for the phrase, "place we haven't conducted the appropriate testing at with the appropriate level of accuracy." Effectively, making it as it it were covered by miles of water, for the purposes of the known data set.

Re:Skeptics (3, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | about 5 months ago | (#47178651)

The only thing we know for certain is all the extraterrestrial material we have analyzed so far from the rest of the solar system has had very different ratios of the isotopes, and so this evidence requires a whole new theory about the homogeneousness of the solar system to be true.

Not exactly. One thing missing from the popular discussions of this question is why we believe that isotope ratios necessarily vary across all larger bodies in the solar system.

It is true that measurements on meteorites show different ratios from what we see on Earth, but no particular conclusion can be drawn from that. It certainly does not follow from "None of the people I measure are the same height" that "No two people anywhere are the same height", so it would be bizarre in the extreme to go from a sample of fairly odd, mostly non-planetary, space rocks to a sweeping generalization about what is necessarily the case across the whole solar system. There may be some theoretical reason for believing this to be the case, but I've never seen it mentioned in any of the articles on this subject.

Furthermore, Theia has a very, very special property: its orbit intersected that of Earth's almost instantly after its formation. This is not the case with meteors, which have been wandering the solar system for more than four billion years, and therefore likely formed in very distant regions. Theia almost by necessity formed in a similar orbit to that of Earth. We know this, because only a body that formed in a similar orbit would likely find itself in a collision with Earth almost immediately after formation.

None of this "proves" or "disproves" anything, mind, because we're talking about knowledge here, not faith. Knowledge is by its nature uncertain, and the quest for certainty is simply an error pursued by pre-scientific peoples (philosophers), no different from the alchemical pursuit of transmutation of base metals into gold, or attempts to build perpetual motion machines, or attempts to trisect angles with nothing but straight-edge and compass.

Re:Skeptics (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#47180499)

Well said. Sometimes it sounds like they're too eager to jump to conclusions because it's the result they want.

Re:Skeptics (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 months ago | (#47179109)

Mostly right, but you are glossing over Mars, which I think is the really big deal. It shouldn't shock anyone that Kyber belt objects have a very different composition than earth rocks. Nothing out there looks much like Earth at all. But Mars is one of the inner planets. The fact that rocks from Mars *also* look way different tells us that either *every* planet can be expected to have its own unique compositional "fingerprint", or that for some unexplained reason Mars (the one rocky planet we've been able to examine so far) is an outlier among the rocky planets, and all the others will suddenly start to look alike when we can get around to examining them. Of those two options, the former seems far more likely.

So yes, I think it is perfectly reasonable to assume Mercury and Venus will show the same thing we've seen with every other object in the Solar system we've examined, save only the Moon. We should still prove this theory by getting samples from those planets as soon as we reasonably can. But in the meantime it is the one theory that survives Occam's Razor with the data we have today.

Kuiper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179479)

That's Kuiper, not Kyber. Named for one of the most famous american astronomers.

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

Re:Kuiper (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 months ago | (#47179845)

Lol, you're right.

That's why I really don't like it that Google automatically assumes you meant something else when it figures you misspelled something, and takes you to the "right" search. If you don't notice the "Showing results for kuiper belt Search instead for kyber belt" at the top in your haste for looking at the results, you're apt to think your misspelling/bad memory was right.

Theia (-1, Troll)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about 5 months ago | (#47177931)

So how do they know the Planet was called Theia; was someone alive at the time to name it?. It's a nice fantasy but about as reliable as saying some Alien World crashed into Jupiter and formed it's Moons, which is kind of silly since it's a Gas Giant. The truth is, nobody really knows anything and most likely never will.

Fantasy land is a nice place but I wouldn't want to live there.

Re:Theia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177947)

So how do they know the Planet was called Theia; was someone alive at the time to name it?. It's a nice fantasy but about as reliable as saying some Alien World crashed into Jupiter and formed it's Moons, which is kind of silly since it's a Gas Giant. The truth is, nobody really knows anything and most likely never will.

Fantasy land is a nice place but I wouldn't want to live there.

What are you even on about? Was someone around to name it? I don't know, was there someone around when the Earth was formed to name it Earth? Or what about the Sun? How do we know it's REALLY named the sun since we don't know who was around when it formed to name it?

Re:Theia (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178059)

Yea but why are they giving a specific name to something only hypothesized to exist? Sure we can give names to imaginary things like Santa Clause, but its odd the scientists are doing it. Wikipedia gives this reason:

"Theia's mythological role as the mother of the Moon goddess Selene is alluded to in the application of the name to a hypothetical planet which, according to the giant impact hypothesis, collided with the Earth, resulting in the Moon's creation."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theia

Re:Theia (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 4 months ago | (#47181419)

Yea but why are they giving a specific name to something only hypothesized to exist? Sure we can give names to imaginary things like Santa Clause, but its odd the scientists are doing it. Wikipedia gives this reason:

"Theia's mythological role as the mother of the Moon goddess Selene is alluded to in the application of the name to a hypothetical planet which, according to the giant impact hypothesis, collided with the Earth, resulting in the Moon's creation."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Yeah, and why does the Tachyon [wikipedia.org] have a name, it is only theoretical too! Also, the Higgs Boson shouldn't have had a name until recently, they should have called it "The boson that Higgs postulated" until they actually observed it.

Sometimes, when you are talking about something it is helpful to give it a name so that every time you talk about it you don't have to refer to it as "the planetoid that may or may not have crashed into the Earth in its early history, forming the moon".

Re:Theia (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 months ago | (#47178457)

Maybe the IAU has retroactive naming powers

Re:Theia (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#47179137)

The problem, I think, is in the wording of the sentence... The sentence in question:

Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia.

Simply saying it was called Theia like that implies that somebody was actually around back when this actually happened, and gave it that name.... There's absolutely nothing inherently wrong with giving it a name, however... but I would suggest that it would be less ambiguous to explicitly state that they gave the name Theia to the other planet, rather than simply that is what it was called. It may be called Theia now, but it certainly wasn't called Theia then, while how the quoted sentence from the summary is phrased heavily implies the latter.

Re:Theia (1)

camazotz (1242344) | about 4 months ago | (#47181545)

The problem, I think, is in the wording of the sentence... The sentence in question:

Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia.

Simply saying it was called Theia like that implies that somebody was actually around back when this actually happened, and gave it that name.... There's absolutely nothing inherently wrong with giving it a name, however... but I would suggest that it would be less ambiguous to explicitly state that they gave the name Theia to the other planet, rather than simply that is what it was called. It may be called Theia now, but it certainly wasn't called Theia then, while how the quoted sentence from the summary is phrased heavily implies the latter.

Going to venture a guess that someone who is confused about the naming conventions in scientific process of hypothetical worlds (or anything, for that matter) probably has no business rooting around in such articles; they've got bigger, more remedial issues to work out. The article is fine; it does not need to dumb down the conversation to explain something so obvious to anyone who has even a modicum of understanding in basic astronomy.

Re:Theia (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#47185183)

It's not a matter of dumbing down the conversation... the sentence says that it was called something... when it was not... that is what they are call*ING* it... in the present tense.

It's about using words that actually mean what they say.... and saying it was called Theia is ambiguous.

Re:Theia (5, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#47177973)

That's like asking, "how do we know that the Cretaceous period was called the Cretaceous period, the dinosaurs didn't have written language".

Re:Theia (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 5 months ago | (#47178017)

No they did have a written one though. some punk kids would write it down on the bones of their victims.

oddly enough it was why they theories the T-rex's were pissed off all the time. the short arms meant they couldn't even lift bro.

Re:Theia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47178077)

The dinosaurs?! That theory is about as reliable as saying some Alien Godzilla robots jumped into the sea and formed the mountains, which is kind of silly since the sea is made of water. The truth is, nobody knows anything, least of all me.

Re:Theia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179699)

I knew that something was wrong with the cretaceous period - thank you for pinning it down.

Re:Theia (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 4 months ago | (#47180533)

Oral tradition? :-D

And now we know (4, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | about 5 months ago | (#47177975)

... where all those pesky Thetans came from

Which Apollo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47177999)

Hey, submitter, there were several moon landings during the Apollo program. Which one are we talking about here/?

Prediction!!! (2)

Alex Taylor (3668185) | about 5 months ago | (#47178065)

This means two things: firstly we can now be reasonably sure that the Giant collision took place; secondly, it gives us an idea of the geochemistry of Theia

Re:Prediction!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179397)

No. This shows that a collision occurred at some point in time that caused those rocks to end up with those measurements. Not that the collision was in fact between Thea and earth.

The birds and the bees (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 5 months ago | (#47178441)

Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon.

And that's how baby planets are made.

Is anyone else as confused as I am... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about 5 months ago | (#47178653)

Okay, so these rocks are found on earth and the moon. So um...how do we know they're alien? And not native to the Earth/Lunar system?

Protoplanet Evidence: call for Action (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 4 months ago | (#47179303)

[excerpts from Secretary of State testimony before the UN]

"... Numerous sources tell us that they are moving, not just documents and hard drives, but Protoplanet fragments to keep them from being found by inspectors. [...] In this next example, you will see the type of concealment activity [...] We must ask ourselves: Why would the Moon suddenly move equipment of this nature before inspections if they were anxious to demonstrate what [evidence of Protoplanet impact] they had or did not have? [...] While this -- less than a teaspoon of Protoplanet dust, [shows small glass vial] a little bit about this amount -- provides evidential clues of a Protoplanet impact, UNSCOM estimates that the Moon could be harbor TONS of Protoplanet material, enough to wipe out every competing Lunar formation theory on Earth [...] The Moon has now placed itself in danger of the serious consequences called for in U.N. Resolution 1441. And this body places itself in danger of irrelevance if it allows the Moon to continue to defy its will without responding effectively and immediately. [...] There can be no doubt that the Moon has in its possession evidence of planetary impact and the capability to rapidly produce more, much more. [...] My colleagues, we have an obligation to our citizens, we have an obligation to this body to see that our resolutions are complied with. We wrote 1441 not in order to go to war, we wrote 1441 to try to preserve the peace. We wrote 1441 to give the Moon one last chance. The Moon is not so far taking that one last chance. We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us. We must not fail in our duty and our responsibility to the citizens of the countries that are represented by this body..."

THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW. We must move on the Moon, in waves of human exploration and occupation to establish the Protoplanet theory, secure all available Protoplanet evidence, and ensure the evolution of our species' manifest destiny to expand into space. Also.

And then, ON TO MARS to further secure the region. We must gather an invasion force, resolve to stay the course until 'mission accomplished', and declare war on Martian aggression (which has been implicated in the sudden disappearance of Pluto).

As an alternative to conquering the rest of our world so as to destroy the currency of others to protect the value of our own... as an alternative to easing into authoritarian government to enable the building of gulags that could encircle those unrepentant, those dissenting... as an alternative to this sewer of cultured dependencies and endless terrestrial wars [slashdot.org] ...

We choose to broaden our horizons. This means space war.

We choose to meet this Lunar threat head-on and go to the Moon. And We Choose Mars also.

If it is war they want, such a war we shall give them.

Re:Protoplanet Evidence: call for Action (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 4 months ago | (#47179693)

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Protoplanet Evidence: call for Action (1)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about 4 months ago | (#47180027)

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Thanks for your inquiry. Don't bother to give your name or address, simply head down to the nearest book store and purchase a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. You will be hearing from us soon.

alien material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179329)

Theres tons of material on the moon of an "alien origin" just like the earth the moon is constantly bombarded with non terrestrial stuff. Where do you think all those craters came from?

Simulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179421)

Does the theory fit the simulation, or was the simulation designed to fit the theory?

The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47179769)

Why didn't the lab work reveal that the "moon rocks" are just petrified wood?

Not quite alien (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 months ago | (#47179825)

If the theory is correct, then Earth was created by a collision of two hunks of rock, neither of which was the Earth in any meaningful sense. I'd imagine that everything we have is substantially different from either of the original masses: different surface (because the old ones were utterly scrambled), different orbits (because it seems unlikely that orbit.a + orbit.b == orbit.either_one), different compositions (because TFA says they were made out of slightly different stuff).

It's not like the Earth was chugging along happily until something came along to disturb it. The Earth as we know it was created from other things at the moment of impact. Both young worlds were alien, and so neither one really is.

On a marginally related note, I know the solar system was way too young at the time for there to have been anything you could reasonable call "life". Still, I think about what if there was life on either or both of those bodies, and it was intelligent enough to look up into the early, hostile sky and wonder what that brightly glowing, daily growing circle in the sky was. Were little animals awakened in terror at the sound of their world ending? Did an ancient family hug each other one last time and close their eyes as the tidal earthquakes began?

Re:Not quite alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47180277)

If the theory is correct, then Earth was created by a collision of two hunks of rock, neither of which was the Earth in any meaningful sense. I'd imagine that everything we have is substantially different from either of the original masses: different surface (because the old ones were utterly scrambled), different orbits (because it seems unlikely that orbit.a + orbit.b == orbit.either_one), different compositions (because TFA says they were made out of slightly different stuff).

It's not like the Earth was chugging along happily until something came along to disturb it. The Earth as we know it was created from other things at the moment of impact. Both young worlds were alien, and so neither one really is.

On a marginally related note, I know the solar system was way too young at the time for there to have been anything you could reasonable call "life". Still, I think about what if there was life on either or both of those bodies, and it was intelligent enough to look up into the early, hostile sky and wonder what that brightly glowing, daily growing circle in the sky was. Were little animals awakened in terror at the sound of their world ending? Did an ancient family hug each other one last time and close their eyes as the tidal earthquakes began?

I always wonder how people can "know" something such as there was absolutely no life that early in the solar system. How do you know? We don't even know why we're here, really. How do you know that that early there was an absolutely 0% chance of any sort of life forming? Maybe not our carbon based type life forms, but how do you discount the possibility that there was some form of life that early that we don't know about? Maybe it's simply too complicated for us to hypothesize. We always assume life will be carbon based. That life will need water and oxygen or this or that. How do you know there isn't a life form out there that evolved thriving on whatever the conditions were that early in the solar system? Don't discount anything because it's entirely possible that we're simply not advanced enough to even hypothesize certain things. Like dark matter. We can't see it but we can observe gravity's effect on it, how do we know it's not actually alien space stations with cloaking or some such technology? We don't. We assume the whole universe is exactly like it is here, but we won't know until we're actually out there exploring space. Sorry this was so long, and you may be correct. I don't like to assume anything though or discount ANY possibility. /end rant.

Re:Not quite alien (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 4 months ago | (#47180827)

OK, you're right about "know" and bring up good points. I think we can reasonably say that it was exceedingly unlikely that there was advanced life in the pre-Earth solar system, though, because of the state things were in at the time. It's taken us approximately 4.5 gigayears to get from barren to our current ecosystem, and that's a much longer span than from when the sun ignited and the planets began coalescing to the hypothesized impact. Not only was that early time period much shorter, but it was also much more violent. Collisions were everyday occurrences as the inner planets were bombarded from rock and comets, which is how they gained their mass (and oceans and atmospheres) in the first place.

Life finds a way, sure! But the early solar system was a pretty deadly place with planet-sterilizing events happening regularly. I'd suspect it would've been hard for life to get a toehold long enough to claw its way up to something recognizable as living, i.e. not just self-replicating chemical reactions but actual growth, reproduction, adaptation, etc. It very well might have happened. It just probably didn't.

Which still doesn't stop me from looking up at the night sky and wondering "what if".

Re:Not quite alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47182005)

Well one hypothesis about the formation of life holds that tidal forces from the moon were instrumental in abiogenesis.

If that's true than chances are prior to the impact neither pro to-Earth not Thiea would have had the conditions for abiogenesis and therefore could not have had life.

Re:Not quite alien (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 4 months ago | (#47182355)

It's all a matter of perspective. Just ask the civilizations that perished in the Big Freeze, when the Universe's accelerating expansion locked every quark away into isolated groups of two or three.

The vast majority of intelligences across the lifetime of the Universe will be at a loss to fathom what conditions were like in these first few unimaginably violent fractions of a terayear, when the entire universe was too hot for Bose-Einstein condensates to exist except in isolated pockets under exceptional circumstances.

Wouldn't there be traces of Theia on earth? (1)

Lockdev (3028637) | about 4 months ago | (#47180573)

Just a thought, but if there was a major impact from another planet, wouldn't we see a lot of that planet here on earth? Seems odd that they would just find it on the moon.

Re:Wouldn't there be traces of Theia on earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47181125)

Just a thought, but if there was a major impact from another planet, wouldn't we see a lot of that planet here on earth? Seems odd that they would just find it on the moon.

I'm no expert on this, just postulating. Could the material from Theia be mostly at Earths core? If our Earth was a result of this collision then perhaps over time all (most?) the material compacted to the core of the planet. Again I'm not even sure if this is scientific, just a guess.

Re:Wouldn't there be traces of Theia on earth? (1)

camazotz (1242344) | about 4 months ago | (#47181621)

Just a thought, but if there was a major impact from another planet, wouldn't we see a lot of that planet here on earth? Seems odd that they would just find it on the moon.

Yes, but the Earth is a geologically active world with a lot of churn, an atmosphere and constant active chemistry going on. The moon changes very little over the course of its life outside of occasional impacts. Barring that issue, I think from what i recall the Theia collision theory models around the idea of a large planet effective broadsiding Earth, and pulling off a significant chunk of crust as it does so. The models all seem to suggest that the vast majority of the debris forms the moon itself, while Earth loses some mass but keeps on going. But disclaimer: IAAAA (I am an armchair astronomer) so take it all with a grain of salt; but I'm pretty sure that we have a lot of specific factors that make finding remnants of this collision on Earth really difficult, vs. on the moon where nothing ever really changes even on a geologic clock.

They need to dig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47181743)

They need to go visit the site, and then excavate. They will find a large smooth object with dimensions in the ratio of 1 : 4 : 9.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47182763)

Every time someone mentions the "another world collided with our to form the moon" argument I ask them, "Ok smart guy, where's crater on earth indicating this happened?"

Then they promptly shut the fuck up.

I think the moon has a probability more likely that it was towed here by an alien race than a world magically just colliding with ours.

"The Moon is bigger than it should be, apparently older than it should be, and much lighter in mass than it should be. It occupies an unlikely orbit and is so extraordinary that all existing explanations for it's presence are fraught with difficulties and none of them could be considered remotely water tight"

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