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Life on the moon? A short history of the Hansen hypothesis

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In 1856, Peter Andreas Hansen, one of the leading mathematical astronomers on the Continent, proposed a theory of the moon which included the possibility of an atmosphere and even of life on the far side. The theory was quickly endorsed by many in the scientific community, allowing in its brief life speculation about life on the far side to flourish. It attracted the attention of such notables as Sir John Herschel and was exciting enough to play a large role in Jules Verne's fiction about the moon. The hypothesis met its end around 1870 when assumptions behind it were questioned by Simon Newcomb and others.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Notre Dame, P.O. Box 665, Notre Dame, IN, 46556, USA

Publication date: September 1, 1984

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