has inspired me in my geological work. You have done more
probably than any other living geologist to clothe the dry bones
of geological fact with the fascination of co-ordinating theories'.
In the same letter he predicted with remarkable foresight for
one so young that 'ultimately we may drop the use of sedi-
mentation and salinity etc. as methods of measuring time, in
favour of that which employs the rate of radioactive disinte-
gration as its chronometer'.
Thus inspired, the young man realised that a study of mete-
orites might help him understand the origin of the Earth and its
crust: 'It is manifestly impossible ever to know directly the
chemical constitution of the Earth's interior. However, we may
study in the laboratory the disrupted fragments of some other
world, for it is now believed that meteorites were once . . .
parts of a cosmic body. If this be true it seems highly proba-
ble that the constitution of the meteoritic parent body thus
determinable was essentially similar to that of the earth.' So
he wrote to Dr Prior at the British Museum in the hope of obtain-
ing some meteoritic material to work on: 'I am attempting at
present to work out some deductions from the Planetesimal
Hypothesis of Chamberlin, concerning the evolution of the
Earth's crust. Analyses of meteorites are of great use in this
Unfortunately, samples of meteorites were di~cult to get
hold of. Dealers would sell them for astronomical prices that
were usually well out of the range of university budgets, and the
British Museum was reluctant to part with those o¬ered to them.
A letter from a Major R. Archer Houblon describes one such
On Thursday 12th last a meteorite fell close to my house. The hole
made exactly resembles the whole [sic] made by a “dud” shell. It fell with
a blinding flash and simultaneously a very violent detonation, the con-
cussion killing 3 sheep. Before digging it up, I propose leaving it until I
hear from you incase you wish any particular report or investigation