Nickel for Your Thoughts: Urey and the Origin of the Moon

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Science  03 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4563, pp. 891-898
DOI: 10.1126/science.217.4563.891


The theories of Harold C. Urey (1893-1981) on the origin of the moon are discussed in relation to earlier ideas, especially George Howard Darwin's fission hypothesis. Urey's espousal of the idea that the moon had been captured by the earth and has preserved information about the earliest history of the solar system led him to advocate a manned lunar landing. Results from the Apollo missions, in particular the deficiency of siderophile elements in the lunar crust, led him to abandon the capture selenogony and tentatively adopt the fission hypothesis.