25 March 2010

7 Moon Craters named for Universalists and Unitarians

. . . Actually this is a list of six craters and one moon ridge named for Us, Us and UUs.

Unitarian Universalists (they were two separate denominations in the US until they consolidated in 1961) are two long-lived liberal branches of Protestantism that believe, among other things, that the ideas of religion and science can be in harmony. Thus one finds many scientists among the ranks of UUs. These data are excerpted from my little booklet, A Who's Who of UUs, now in its 4th edition.

The following are listed in reverse alphabetical order because doing everything in alphabetical order gets pretty tiresome.

1. Wiener moon crater named for Norbert Wiener

120 km in diameter, far side of the moon

Norbert Wiener (26 Nov 1894-18 Mar 1964), Ph.D. Harvard 1912; American mathematician, communication theorist; created the field of cybernetics and coined the term cybernetics (mathematics applied to feedback, computer control of machines); professor of mathematics at M.I.T. 1919-64 (45 years); honorable Sc.D. Tufts 1946; author Cybernetics, or Control and Communication in Animal and Machine 1948 (seminal work), many other scientific books and hundreds of articles; Wiener process, Wiener filter, Wiener equation and many other items named in his honor; Unitarian of Jewish heritage

2. Peirce moon crater named for Benjamin Peirce

18 km in diameter, near side

Benjamin Peirce (pronounced purse) (4 Apr 1809-6 Oct 1880), American astronomer, mathematician; researched orbit of Neptune and rings of Saturn; tutor 1829-31, professor of mathematics 1831-80 (49 years) and professor of astronomy 1842-80 (38 years) at Harvard; founded Harvard Observatory 1843; appointed to the organizing committee of the Smithsonian 1847; director of longitudinal determinations 1852-67 and superintendent 1867-74 of the US Coast Survey; author Physical and Celestial Mechanics 1855 (first book in field) and other mathematical textbooks; coined algebra terms idempotent and nilpotent 1870, created Peirce's criterion (in statistics) 1852 and 'Peirce decomposition' (in algebra) 1881; Unitarian

3. Mitchell moon crater named for Maria Mitchell

30 km in diameter, near side

Maria Mitchell (pronounced ma-RY-ah) (1 Aug 1818-28 Jun 1889), American astronomer, self educated scholar; first person to discover a comet visible only through a telescope 1847; first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1848 (remained the only woman member for 95 years) and to the American Philosophical Society 1869; among first professors at Vassar 1865; as professor of astronomy same 1865-87 became the first woman full professor in the US; one of three women first elected to the American Philosophical Association 1869; cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Women 1875; Gold Medal King of Denmark 1847 (excellence in astronomy); member of the American Hall of Fame; raised Quaker, became Unitarian

4. Lyell moon crater named for Sir Charles Lyell

32 km in diameter, on the edge of the Sea of Tranquility, near side

Sir Charles Lyell (14 Nov 1797-22 Feb 1875), Scottish Baronet; geologist; chief proponent geological uniformitarianism; author Principles of Geography 1830-33 (3 volumes, standard work), Elements of Geology 1838, Geological Evidences of Antiquity of Man 1863 and many other books and papers; first to explain the cause of earthquakes 1830; professor of geology at King's College, London 1830s; knighted 1848; raised to baronet 1864; Lyell crater on Mars, and also mountains in California, Canada, and Tasmania named in his honor; member of Little Portland Street Chapel, Unitarian, London

5. Dorsa Burnet moon ridge named for Thomas Burnet

194 km in length, western ridge of the Oceanus Procellarum, near side

Thomas Burnet (c.1635-27 Sep 1715), English scholar, theologian; fellow of Christ's College 1650s; proctor at Cambridge 1660s; master of the Charterhouse 1680s; involved in famous early court case regarding copyright 1721; author Telluris Theoria Sacra (2 volumes, 1681-89) and De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium (State of the Dead and Raised, posthumous, 1727), both arguing against eternal hell; published similar works by other authors; Universalist

6. Carmichael moon crater named for Leonard Carmichael

20 km in diameter, near side

Leonard Carmichael (9 Nov 1898-16 Sep 1973), Ph.D. Harvard 1924; American professor of psychology at Brown 1927-36; honorary Sc.D. from Tufts 1937; trustee of Tufts 1937-73 (36 years); as president of Tufts 1938-52 greatly expanded the size and diversity of the student population; author Manual of Child Psychology 1946 (classic of early childhood development, many editions); as chief executive of the Smithsonian 1952-63 expanded the Museum of Natural History, added the Museum of History and Technology; vice president of research and exploration National Geographic Society 1964- ; president American Psychological Association; president American Philosophical Society 1970-73; Leonard Carmichael Society at Tufts (working to alleviate hunger, homelessness, etc) named in his honor 1958; Universalist

7. Giordano Bruno moon crater named for Giordano Bruno

22 km in diameter, far side of the moon

Giordano Bruno (also known as Filippo Bruno) (1548-17 Feb 1600), Italian philosopher, cosmologist, author of numerous books; onetime Dominican monk; first to advance the theory of an infinite universe filled with stars like our sun; also believed in a human Christ and that all souls including the Devil will finally be saved; burned at the stake in Rome for heresy; philosophical Universalist and Unitarian


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