August 18, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Meteorite Impacts Solar System Theories

A study partly funded by NASA and published in Nature1 has thrown a “monkey wrench” into theories of the origin of the solar system, according to a press release from the University of Toronto.  Small grains of minerals called chondrules in two meteorites are “young” – too young to have been formed in the assumed primordial solar nebula.  When Alexander Krot and Yuri Amelin dated these chondrules, they found them too young to have formed at the beginning of the solar system.  They postulate that heat from a collision much later might have formed them.  “It soon became clear that these particular chondrules were not of a nebular origin,” Amelin said.  “And the ages were quite different from what was expected.  It was exciting.”

1Krot et al., “Young chondrules in CB chondrites from a giant impact in the early Solar System,” Nature 436, 989-992 (18 August 2005) | doi: 10.1038/nature03830.

By “young,” Amelin and Krot are not claiming really young, but only a few millions less than billions: some 5 million years after the assumed birthday of the solar system, when meteorites were supposed to have formed.  They exaggerate this birthdate to five significant figures: 4.5672 plus or minus 0.0007 billion years ago.  With such contrived precision (see 06/05/2003 entry), Amelin and crew feed the Age of the Solar System (q.v. acronym) Myth.  The rest of the scientific community falls in line, never questioning these ages.  Here, we see that Dr. Moyboy himself (“millions of years, billions of years”) has found an anomaly that allows him to throw in a thickening to the plot and get more fame in Nature.  If this helps solar system theorists question their assumptions a little, that’s a modicum of progress.  Does it demonstrate that these two chondrules really are 4.5627 +- .0005 and 4.5628 +- 0.9 billion years old?  Better read the caveats at the end of their paper:

This formation event [the hypothetical impact that formed the chondrules] has probably homogenized radionuclides in chondrules and metal of the CB chondrites, and reset short-lived radiogenic isotope systems…. For establishing consistent Solar System chronology, these chronometers have to be linked together and tied to an absolute timescale.  Most meteorites are made of components formed at different time, and/or experienced complex and prolonged post-formation metamorphic history, and are not suitable for linking short-lived chronometers.  In contrast, the correlated studies of multiple short-lived isotope systems in CB chondrites can potentially test the consistency among them and provide a tie to an absolute timescale, which will be an important step towards the unified timescale of the earliest Solar System.  (Emphasis added.)

With such wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes, would you trust a resultant date to five significant figures?  If so, try Madame Bluffy’s panacea potion.  She mixed a pinch of bat wing, a smidgeon of spider eye and a handful of shredded Amanita mushroom gill in a solution of approximately half goat milk and half vodka.  She guarantees it 99.263 +- .004% effective in the treatment of warts, goiter, acid reflux and toenail fungus.

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Categories: Solar System

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