Copyright 2011 - M.Bandli - Historic Meteorites
THE MYSTERY OF THE "LOST" ETCHING
Above: an original copy of the 1804 report in our library depicting the etched surface of the Pallas Iron (Krasnojarsk). In an effort to remove the patina, Thomson treated the surface with nitric acid, thus revealing the hidden structures.
This particulare book was purchased from the Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli (1909-1996) Estate. Broccoli was best know as the Producer for the original James Bond films, up through Golden Eye.
The first published "Widmanstatten pattern" predates Count Alois von Beckh Widmanstatten's discovery by four years. Hence the alternate name: “Thomson Structures.” The original 1804 report and drawing remained unnoticed and unreferenced until its (re)discovery in the early 1960's.
From Marvin, U.B. (2007) Metallography of Irons. Met. And Plan. Sci., 42, p B52:
“No English original of Thomson's 1808 article published in Italian has ever been found, but in the early 1960s a French version was discovered by Marjorie Hooker (1908-1976)…The article has been in plain sight for more than 150 years; it was published in two parts in 1804, volume 27 of Bibliotheque Britannique! It's title began with four words in English and continued in French… The article clearly qualifies Thomson as the discoverer of the metallurgical patterns that are unique to the nickel-iron in meteorites. These figures could and, indeed, should have been named for Thomson in 1804… But Thomson's paper seems to have met with a resounding silence. Hooker found no references to it in contemporary literature."
Today, of course, either Widmanstatten or Thomson structure is accepted.