[meteorite-list] A vote for the Thomson Structure (and previewing 'The Fall of Aguas Zarcas CM2')

From: Mike Bandli <fuzzfoot_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2019 13:18:15 -0700
Message-ID: <000001d5304a$1e3c2930$5ab47b90$_at_comcast.net>

Hello Kevin and List Members,

For anyone curious to see the original 1804 engraving found in Bibliotheque Britainnique, I put up a brief write-up of the original report a while back. It is not linked to the site, however, it can be found here:


Another vote for Thomson.

Best wishes,


Mike Bandli
Historic Meteorites
and join us on Facebook:
IMCA #5765

From: Meteorite-list <meteorite-list-bounces at meteoritecentral.com> On Behalf Of Kevin Kichinka via Meteorite-list
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2019 9:03 AM
To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
Subject: [meteorite-list] A vote for the Thomson Structure (and previewing 'The Fall of Aguas Zarcas CM2')

Team Meteorite:

Richard Montgomery references the 'Thomson Structure' today in a note regarding the sale of a Sikhote-Alin. Let me expand upon this topic, which I first wrote about in Meteorite (February, 2004), and again in my book in 2005.

On February 6, 1804, the first description of the process that produces the mis-attributed 'Widmanstatten Pattern' in Irons was published, written by William Thomson. For various reasons, this paper was disregarded until some forensic science work was done in 1939 by R.T. Gunther.

Alois von Widmanstatten (mit umlauts) duplicated the experiment in 1808. Karl Neumann published those results as a 'new discovery' in 1812.

Francois P. Gillet de Laumont repeated the process, identifying the etched results, and published a paper in 1815.

Carl von Schrieibers, director of the Vienna mineral and zoology cabinet, again published the results of Widmanstatten's 1808 work in 1820, naming the pattern after him.

This was an un-earned honor, and many illustrious people have agreed.

R.T. Gunther wrote about this error for Nature in 1939, attributing the discovery to Thomson.

Max Hey, Keeper of the Minerals in the British Museum (Natural History) read the article and agreed with its conclusions.

F.A. Paneth, in a paper published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (1960) wrote...."Thomson undoubtedly...has priority."

Charles D. Waterson published Thomson's biography in the University of Edinburgh Journal (1965) stating, "Thomson's discovery and description clearly has priority over Widmanstatten."

Marjorie Hooker found Thomson's 1804 paper, and in 1974 wrote, "One of Thomson's contributions, long unrecognized, was the discovery of the Widmanstatten Pattern..."

Roy S. Clark of the Smithsonian, wrote in Meteoritics (1977) "...Thomsons 1804 paper seems to have been completely ignored...", then he and Joseph Goldstein emphasized "Thomson's singular achievement" in Smithsonian Contributions to the Earth Sciences.

Richard Norton wrote in 'Rocks from Space', "Thomson serendipitously discovered the figures first in 1804."

In Norton's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites, he also hoped, "In all fairness, this unique texture should have been called the Thomson...Structure."

Hap McSween, former President of the Meteoritical Society, advises that he will now credit Thomson with the discovery in all future editions of Meteorites and their Parent Bodies.

The Thomson Structure.


I worked the fall zone of Aguas Zarcas before the rains here in Costa Rica, and have written a memoir of my experience for the Meteorite Times. It's going to Paul Harris for his review and lay-up as soon as I finish this message. Look for it in the next issue of this excellent, on-line journal.

Kevin Kichinka
mailto:Marsrox at gmail.com
Costa Rica

"The Art of Collecting Meteorites" available on Amazon.
Received on Mon 01 Jul 2019 04:18:15 PM PDT

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