Robert N. Clayton, ‘one of the giants’ of cosmochemistry, 1930-2017

Scientist conducted pioneering research on meteorites and lunar rocks

University of Chicago Professor Emeritus Robert N. Clayton, whose pioneering research on the chemistry of meteorites and lunar rocks helped shape the field of cosmochemistry, died on December 30, 2017. He was 87.

In the foreword of a book dedicated to Clayton, Smithsonian geologist Glenn MacPherson wrote that Clayton “could easily wear the name ‘Mr. Oxygen.’” Clayton pioneered the use of oxygen isotopes as “fingerprints,” creating a relatively simple test to distinguish meteorites from ordinary rocks as well as a revolution in the burgeoning field of cosmochemistry. Read more.

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