Think Like a Scientist

All humans have an innate curiosity that fuels our “need to know”. The scientific process helps us explain how things work.

Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert
Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert. Image: USGS

Raising questions is the first forward step to discovery. Scientists use observations, testing, data-gathering, sampling, and a variety of technological tools to find answers to their questions. Combining field geology work with lab experiments, scientists study impacts because they understand their importance in planetary processes. Scientists also use models to give simplified explanations of processes or concepts, and proxies that substitute for actual data to help them analyze clues as they work to answer questions.

The Battle for the Impact Theory

Fifty thousand years ago a gigantic hole was made on the floor of an immense desert on the North American continent. With no one to record the event, its origin was a mystery to the Europeans who first discovered it! In 1891 U.S. Geological Survey geologist Grove Karl Gilbert conducted the first scientific study of the crater in Arizona that began the heated debate on how it was formed.

View the slideshow “Weighing the Evidence” to learn how evidence from the crater site fueled differing scientific arguments!