How long would evidence of an extraterrestrial visit survive: an educational exercise

Authors

  • James Trefil George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Keywords:

radiodating, C-14 dating, extraterrestrial lunar regolith, weathering

Abstract

With the discovery of objects entering the solar system from interstellar environments, the discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors to Earth has resumed. We examine the question of how long the evidence for such visits could be expected to last on Earth and on the Moon. Using geological estimates and our current knowledge of the lunar regolith, we conclude that evidence for visits to Earth more than 100,000 years ago would not survive to the present. Radiocarbon dating of some organic material (assuming large C-14 abundance) is of the same order of magnitude. Similarly, evidence of visits to the lunar surface would not survive for more than 100 million years.

Author Biography

James Trefil, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Clarence J Robinson Professor of Physics. Physicist and author James S. Trefil is known for his writing and his interest in teaching science to nonscientists. He is a Fellow of the APS and a former Guggenheim Fellow. His numerous books and articles include works written for general audiences.

References

Greicius, T. Small asteroid or comet “visits” from beyond the Solar System. 2017. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/small-asteroid-or-comet-visits-from-beyond-the-solar-system, (accessed 29 October 2017)

Hart, M. H. Explanation for absence of extraterrestrials on earth, Quart. J. Roy. Astr. Soc., 1975, 16, 128–135. [OpenSky Citable URL http://n2t.net/ark:/85065/d7sj1k23]

van der Plicht, J.; Bronk Ramsey, C.; Heaton, T. J.; Scott, E. M.; Talamo, S. Recent Developments in Calibration for Archaeological and Environmental Samples. Radiocarbon 2020, 62 (4), 1095–1117. https://doi.org/10.1017/rdc.2020.22.

Emery K. O. Weathering of the Great Pyramid, J. Sediment. Res. 1960, 30 (1), 140–143 https://doi.org/10.1306/74d709de-2b21-11d7-8648000102c1865d.

McKay, D. S.; Heiken, G.; Basu, A.; Blanford, G.; Simon, S.; Reedy, R.; French, B. M.; Papike, J. (1991), in Heiken, G. H.; Vaniman, D. T.; French, B. M. (eds.), Lunar Sourcebook: A User’s Guide to the Moon, Cambridge University Press, 1991; pp 285–356.

Downloads

Published

2022-05-27

How to Cite

Trefil, J. (2022). How long would evidence of an extraterrestrial visit survive: an educational exercise . Macedonian Journal of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, 41(1). Retrieved from https://mjcce.org.mk/index.php/MJCCE/article/view/2502

Issue

Section

Education