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geophysics

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geophysics

Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start

A series of fossil finds suggests that life on Earth started earlier than anyone thought, calling into question a widely held theory of the solar system’s beginnings.

Thinking Places

Jason Morgan Recalls Discovering Earth’s Tectonic Plates

Jason Morgan developed the theory of plate tectonics in 1967 while working among a critical mass of talented geophysicists at Princeton University.

planetary science

What Made the Moon? New Ideas Try to Rescue a Troubled Theory

Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit.

Journey to the Birth of the Solar System
Multimedia

Journey to the Birth of the Solar System

Join David Kaplan on a virtual-reality tour showing how the sun, the Earth and the other planets came to be.

Abstractions blog

On the Moon’s Far Side, Clues to a Cataclysm?

A mission to collect samples from the far side of the moon could answer questions about a barrage of asteroids nearly 4 billion years ago.

Earth scientists hope that their growing knowledge of the planet’s early history will shed light on poorly understood features seen today, from continents to geysers.
geophysics

Explorers Find Passage to Earth’s Dark Age

Geochemical signals from deep inside Earth are beginning to shed light on the planet’s first 50 million years, a formative period long viewed as inaccessible to science.

Abstractions blog

A Quasicrystal’s Shocking Origin

By blasting a stack of minerals with a four-meter-long gun, scientists have found a new clue about the backstory of a very strange rock.

geophysics

How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals

Did the minerals on our planet arise in a predictable fashion, or did they result from chance events? The answers could eventually help scientists identify planets likely to harbor life.

Physics

In a Grain, a Glimpse of the Cosmos

When scientists traced a museum rock back to its origins, they uncovered mysteries about the early solar system.