The history of meteoritics – overview
Published:January 01, 2006
G. J. H. McCall, A. J. Bowden, R. J. Howarth, 2006. "The history of meteoritics – overview", The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds, G.J.H. McCall, A.J. Bowden, R.J. Howarth
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This volume was proposed after Peter Tandy and Joe McCall organized a 1-day meeting of the History of Geology Group, which is affiliated to the Geological Society, at the Natural History Museum in December 2003. This meeting covered the History of Meteoritics up to 1920 and nine presentations were included, the keynote talk being given by Ursula Marvin. There was an enthusiastic audience of about 50, who expressed the view that this meeting should lead to a publication. Dr Cherry Lewis, the chairperson of the group, discussed this with Joe McCall, who said that the material was too small for a Special Publication, but it could be developed by expanding it, taking the history through the 20th century, when there was a revolution and immense expansion both in the scope of meteorite finds and the application of meteoritics to scientific research on a very broad front with the advent of the Space Age. This was agreed and a format of about 24 articles was designed, approaches being made to selected authors.
The sections of this Special Publication relate to the early development of meteoritics as a science; collecting and museum collections; researches establishing the provenance of meteorites; and impact craters and tektites.
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The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds
This Special Publication has 24 papers with an international authorship, and is prefaced by an introductory overview which presents highlights in the field. The first section covers the acceptance by science of the reality of the falls of rock and metal from the sky, an account that takes the reader from BCE (before common era) to the nineteenth century. The second section details some of the world's most important collections in museums - their origins and development. The Smithsonian chapter also covers the astonishingly numerous finds in the cold desert of Antarctica by American search parties. There are also contributions covering the finds by Japanese parties in the Yamato mountains and the equally remarkable discoveries in the hot deserts of Australia, North Africa, Oman and the USA. The other seven chapters take the reader through the revolution in scientific research on meteoritics in the later part of the twentieth century, including terrestrial impact cratering and extraordinary showers of glass from the sky; tektites, now known to be Earth-impact-sourced. Finally, the short epilogue looks to the future.
The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections should appeal to historians of science, meteoriticists, geologists, astronomers, curators and the general reader with an interest in science.