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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonies, meteors and tidal mechanics
There's no greater reading pleasure than good science writing. By combining ingredients from history, stirring in good data, adding some spice of characterisation, a recipe of adventure and inquiry becomes a delicious result. Dana MacKenzie has produced a confection suited to any reader's taste in this account of thinking about our neighbour in space. Tracing the history...
Published on 15 Mar 2004 by Stephen A. Haines

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good but derrivative.
I enjoyed this book but all through it I could not help thinking I had read it before. I'm not saying the author copied anything but I do feel he leans heavily on books that he does not credit. In particular I felt the ghost of Patrick Moore's recent book on the moon and Mackenzie seems to work very hard not to credit David Whitehouse's excellent book on the moon of 2001...
Published on 24 Sep 2004 by Rod Wilson


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moonies, meteors and tidal mechanics, 15 Mar 2004
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to be: A Violent Natural History (Physics) (Hardcover)
There's no greater reading pleasure than good science writing. By combining ingredients from history, stirring in good data, adding some spice of characterisation, a recipe of adventure and inquiry becomes a delicious result. Dana MacKenzie has produced a confection suited to any reader's taste in this account of thinking about our neighbour in space. Tracing the history of thought on our satellite, he travels down the centuries to reach an earth-shaking conclusion.
It's difficult today to view the Moon as the ancients did. Once, it was considered a disc. Even whether its light came from the sun or originated from the lunar surface was disputed. The nature of the markings, MacKenzie explains, was equally contentious. The dark areas were finally deemed "seas" and the Latin "maria" remains with us today. After Galileo determined the moon was cratered, the origins of these enigmatic forms opened new discussion. Volcanoes held sway as their origin, although no Earth vulcanism had produced caldera of such size. Meteor impact was viewed with suspicion in an age when catastrophic events were looked on with cautious scorn.
The moon's effect on the oceans was realised in ancient times, brought strongly to further awareness as Europe sent ships to far shores. Tidal predictability became a normal calculation, but much about tidal forces remained mysterious, MacKenzie reminds us. Examining tidal action would help lay the foundation for the most likely mechanism of the Moon's formation.
Although MacKenzie introduces us to many thinkers on the lunar phenomenon, the key figure is Ralph Baldwin. In the midst of growing debate about the lunar craters, Baldwin had the temerity to suggest that one impact had formed a significant part of the lunar surface. The debate was resolved, of course, by the Apollo landings. Among the rocky souvenirs brought back from those explorations were some green, glassy samples. These objects can only be formed by high speed impact of solid bodies. Deep in the past, The Moon had bombarded by meteors. Some of the bolides had been large, and their origin remained in question.
One object had far greater impact than anything the lunar surface implies. It was the body that had led to the formation of the Moon itself. MacKenzie's "great splat" is the analysis of lunar material that revealed the Moon is made up of Earth-like surface material. The Moon doesn't have the iron core typical of rocky planets. The reason for this is that the Moon didn't co-form when the Earth did. The Moon was the result of a Mars-size planetoid striking the Earth shortly after its formation. The impact drove a mass of material into space which coalesced to form our satellite.
MacKenzie's lively account is an excellent read and highly informative. He deals ably with some tough questions and cantankerous characters. Scientific dispute is often entertaining, particularly when the reader has little stake in the outcome. Yet, anything that advances research should be given attention and this book deserves yours. In demonstrating that questions about the Moon are still with us, MacKenzie's final chapter examines the strange story of conspiracy theorists who contend none of the Apollo landings took place. It's easy to dismiss this kind of thinking until you become aware of how many accept the notion. He deals with it carefully, asking the questions and dismissing the idea with carefully developed answers. This finale is almost worth the price of the book. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 27 May 2003
This review is from: The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to be: A Violent Natural History (Physics) (Hardcover)
While the Apollo astronauts collected rocks from the lunar surface, their mentors on Earth debate whether the moon originated as the Earth’s ‘daughter’, ‘sister’ or ‘spouse’ - each of which theories had its eminent advocates, its good points and its faults. At first, it seemed that the moonrocks had not resolved the issue, but in the mid-1980s, out of left field, came the ‘giant impact’ theory (the Big Splat of Mackenzie’s title) which combined all the good points of the earlier theories without their faults. If you wish to know how scientists came to realise how the moon formed, then this delightful and eminently readable book is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, 11 Nov 2003
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to be: A Violent Natural History (Physics) (Hardcover)
In this fascinating book, author and scientist Dr. Dana Mackenzie traces man's "scientific" study of the Moon from the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras, through the Pythagoreans, Aristotle, Kepler, Newton, and on to the present. Along the way, you get to see the flowering of modern science, and how advances helped and hindered the various explanations for how the Moon came into being. In the final chapters, the author examines the newest theory, and that is that the Moon was created by a collision between the Earth and another planet (which some have tentatively named Theia).
This is a book that really exercises the mind. It is highly informative, and brings the reader right up-to-date on the latest thinking on the nature and origin of the Moon. If you are at all interested in the Moon or the history of our solar system, then I highly recommend that you get this book.
As an added bonus, the book has an appendix that seeks to refute the theory that the lunar landings were merely a hoax, perpetrated by NASA. Overall, I thought that this was a well-written piece, but feel that anyone who believes in such a conspiracy theory probably wouldn't read this book anyway. That said, it gives you an interesting little thing to read when done with the book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good but derrivative., 24 Sep 2004
This review is from: The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to be: A Violent Natural History (Physics) (Hardcover)
I enjoyed this book but all through it I could not help thinking I had read it before. I'm not saying the author copied anything but I do feel he leans heavily on books that he does not credit. In particular I felt the ghost of Patrick Moore's recent book on the moon and Mackenzie seems to work very hard not to credit David Whitehouse's excellent book on the moon of 2001 even though I feel he was "inspired" by it.
Try Moore and Whitehouse as well, they have amuch wider scope and are better written.
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