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Managing moon math.

Managing moon math

The moon has undoubtedly accompanied the earth throughout much of our planet's 4.5-billion-year history. But earth scientists have few clues to help detail when this relationship started and how the two bodies have affected each other. To learn more about the relationship, Robert Malcuit of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, has constructed a mathematical model of the earth-moon system.

He started with the long-accepted theory that the moon has slowed the earth's rotation through friction caused by tidal forces. He assumed the rate has dropped by one-thousandth of a second per century. By plugging this into his model, he calculated that 3.8 billion years ago, days would have lasted 14 hours and years would have been over 600 days long.

While these kinds of results were not unexpected, Malcuit was surprised to find that throughout time, the number of days per lunar month would have remained at a relatively constant number between 29 and 31. These results, he says, will alert geologists to the kinds of patterns in the geologic record that might be evidence of ancient tides.
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Title Annotation:mathematical model of earth-moon system
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 7, 1987
Previous Article:An answer to the sphinx's problem.
Next Article:You just can't wear them down.

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