more Gold-dust (was: is it hazy out tonight or is the moon just

Joel Duff (
Fri, 6 Nov 1998 14:59:48 -0500

>Glenn R. Morton wrote:
>> >Is Tom Gold the same Tom Gold who backed the drilling in Sweden for methane
>> >deposits at great depths? One of his theories was something along the
>> >that there are vast deposits of methane underneath the oceans and below
>> >impact craters on land. I remember meeting a Tom Gold back in the '80s
>>at a
>> >workshop in Mont Ste. Marie, Quebec.
>> Yes that is the same guy. ...
> Also the Gold of the Bondi & Gold original paper on the steady
>state cosmology.
> & (I think?) one of the first to propose neutron stars as the explanation
>of pulsars.

Apparently so. I will share one more tidbit from the book "The Rocky Moon"
by Don Wilhelms. Apparenlty Wilhelms isn't a great admirer of Gold but
here is what he has to say on pg. 26-27. Gold certainly sounds like a
flamboyant character and apperently was very popular among the press and

Begin quote:
By concentrating on the train of thought that began with Bilbert and
Baldwin and came to govern the course of American scientific exploration fo
the Moon, I have had to ignore the competing, mostly endogenic, views
developed in Europe and America before the Space Age and still held during
its early years. Suffice it to say that most of them were knowing or
unknowing adherents to Spurr adn his lunary grid. But not account of the
preparations for lunar landing can omit the name of stronomer Thomas Gold
(b. 1920). Gold, born in Vienna, spent part of the Second World Way in a
peculiar Canadian camp for educated German-speaking jewish refugees where
the main recreation was intellecutal exercise. He never obtains the Ph.D.
"ticket" that buys professional status. His standing was enhanced,
however, in 1948 when he enjoyed success as coformulator (with Fred Hoyle
and Hermann Bondi) of the (now unpopular) steady-state theory of the
universe. In a paper published in 1955 the scientific world learned of
another intersting idea of Gold's taht it would not soon forget. he
favored the impact hypothesis for crater origin and realized that the
differences in sharpness of upland craters were the result of erosion. Fro
this impeccable starting point he concluded that the eroded material was
just about right to constitute the maria. Small impacts and "electrostatic
forces" arising from such otherworldly phenomena as solar radiation would
loosen the dust and keep it moving until it settled down into the mare
basins. This dust is darkened by radiation damage. His mathematics fit
his ideas perfectly, or course, as mathematics can always be made to do.

Gold clung tenaciously to his idea of oceans of lunar dust even after the
Apollo missions had returned many kilograms of solid rock from the lunar
maria. When robert Hackman once mentioned to him that lunar lineaments
were probably faults, Gold's eyes grew wide as he said, "Ah, but wouldn't
it be wonderful if they were comething more interesting!" His creative
imagination was sometimes vindicated, as in 1968 when the astronomical
establishment scornfully rejected his interpretation that the
just-discovered pulsars are fast-spinning neutron stars, only to have the
idea proved correct a few months later and gain a Nobel Prize for its
discoverers. But the Gold-dust straw man cost the community of lunar
scientists and engineers considerable time and money before it was finally
disposed of."

Pg 347 notes:

"Four Surveyor and six Apollo landing established the strength, thickness,
block content, impact origin, and paucity of meteoritic material in the
Moon's regolith. There is fine pulverized soil, but it is weak only for a
few centimeters of its thickness. Yet Thomas gold is still fighting the
battle. Still believing radar more than geological sampling and evidently
unaware of Apollo 15's sampling at Station 9A, he wrote in 1977 that "there
has been no suggestion that any lava flow has been sampled"; adn "the
(radar) evidence does not fit the lava flows, but most investigators will
not believe the large-scale migration of powder. This is the impasse at
which we are at the end of the Apollo programme." Nevertheless, he has
told some of his astronomer colleagues that he never said there would be
deep dust."

JD: I found this intersting because it appears that Gold argument is not
based on influx of meteoritic dust but was based on slumping of eroded
material into basins. It appears that is is this "Gold-dust" that is
responsible for the popularization of dust on the moon and certainl
inspiration for Clark's book since he deals with dust filled craters.

Joel Duff

>George L. Murphy