Sept. 30, 1993
Vol. 13, No. 3

current issue
archive / search

    History of solar system focus of Compton series

    The history of our solar system will be explored in a series of free, public lectures at the University beginning Saturday, Oct. 2. The lectures, titled "The Oldest Rocks in the World: Meteorites and Moon Rocks," will be given at 11 a.m. Saturday mornings through Dec. 4 in Kersten 115. The lectures will be presented by Steven Simon, Research Scientist in Geophysical Sciences.

    Simon said one of the best ways to find out about the birth of our solar system is to examine rocks from space. Many of these rocks formed at the same time as the solar system and have remained virtually unchanged since then, and some meteorites even contain interstellar grains that predate the formation of the solar system.

    "People who come to these lectures will see how we use meteorites as clues to the early history of the solar system," Simon said. By examining the chemical composition and mineralogy of meteorites that have fallen to earth and of lunar samples gathered by Apollo astronauts, scientists have learned a great deal about how the solar system evolved.

    Simon will also speak about the geology of the moon and other planets and will describe what a lunar base might look like, as well as how astronauts could mine the lunar soil for oxygen and metals and even grow crops in it.

    Simon received his Ph.D. in geology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 1988. His research interests include the mineralogy and petrology of meteorites and lunar rocks.

    The talks are part of the Arthur Holly Compton Lectures, a series now in its 18th year. Sponsored each fall and spring by the Enrico Fermi Institute, the Compton Lectures are intended to make science accessible to a non-specialized audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the physical sciences.