Astrophysics: Primordial Pebbles

Most scientists believe that the solar system—sun, planets and all—condensed out of a vast nebula of gas and dust. Graduate Student Craig M. Merrihue of the University of California at Berkeley is even convinced that some of the first objects that condensed are still around and can be identified. They are "chondrules"—round, pea-sized or even smaller globules of stony material. When they happened to be embedded in meteorites, the tiny pebbles were preserved by the cold and vacuum of interplanetary space and lasted for billions of years.

Merrihue started his research by cadging a 4-lb. chunk of the stony Bruderheim...

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