21 September 2007

May-June 2007

Mysterious Chunk Of Ice Falls To Earth


Sat, 05 May 2007 09:00 EDT

SILVERDALE, Wash. -- According to a construction crew working on a Silverdale apartment complex, several chunks of ice fell from the sky, pelting the site late Wednesday.

"This is a piece that came off that hit and landed right over there -- what's left of it, about a third of it maybe," witness Bill Clark said.

The chunks of ice fell from the sky, punching a hole in the roof of an awning and another tearing the gutter off the side of a building.

VIDEO BACKSTORY: Ice Falling From The Sky

"One hit right on this roof and went down through and caused that hole there, and then we had one explode up in that parking lot, and one exploded down in our lower parking lot," witness Kyle Harmia said.

"It was loud, probably like a tree hitting the side of a house or something. Yeah, it was pretty loud," witness Kenny Beam said.

Witnesses told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News that one ice ball was the size of a basketball when it hit.

Those who found it think it came off a passing airplane.

"You can tell if you look by the shape, there was something cylindrical that went right through there, like the antenna would be on the wing of a plane," Clark said.

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Kevin McCarty contacted a representative with the Federal Aviation Administration who said they had no reports regarding the mysterious ice so far.

Fireball over Colorado - outshines full moon

Cloudbait Observatory

Sun, 06 May 2007 23:43 EDT

This fireball occurred at 5:12 AM MDT over central Colorado.

[official explanation ]This meteor was produced by the annual eta Aquarid shower, which results from debris from Halley's Comet impacting the Earth's atmosphere. These fast (65 km/s, 146,000 mph) meteors usually burn up quickly; this one entered at a shallow angle high in the atmosphere, enabling it to survive longer and flare into a fireball. The meteor path was about 40 km (25 miles) long, traveling south to north between Colorado Springs and Denver. The red asterisk marks the radiant of the eta Aquarid shower. It is easy to see that the path of the meteor points back to this spot in the sky.

Meteors like this which originate from cometary material are not believed to produce meteorites. In this case, the high speed and presumably fragile meteoroid resulted in all the material burning up a high altitude.

Comment: Yes, just the usual Aquarid shower - just ignore the fact that it outshone a full moon - nothing to see here - move along.

Fireball over Colorado - sonic booms

Cloudbait Observatory

Sun, 06 May 2007 23:53 EDT

This fireball occurred at 11:00 PM MDT [April 20th, 2007] over western Colorado. Witness reports for the event began pouring in almost immediately, mostly from the Denver area.

The image above is from the Cloudbait camera. The bright spot just north of the meteor is the setting Moon, which at a 20% phase had a magnitude of -8.3. The meteor is clearly much brighter than this.

Multistation analysis of the event shows that the meteor began above Delta, CO, at a height of 97 km (60 miles) and ended over empty country about 15 miles south of Rangely, CO, at a height of 41 km (26 miles). It had a 140 km (88 mile) ground path. The meteor descended at an angle of 21.6° from horizontal, with an initial velocity of 23.5 km/s (53,000 mph) and a final velocity at breakup of 17.3 km/s (39,000 mph). The velocity profile is consistent with a 450 kg (1000 lb) stony body approximately 60 cm in diameter (~ 2 feet). The ground path is shown on the map below. Witnesses as of midday April 23 are shown as small black squares.

The meteor's radiant was RA 204°, dec -23°, in Hydra bordering Virgo. This is fairly close to the diffuse radiant of a family of showers called the April Virginid Complex. These related minor showers are poorly characterized, and it is not possible to say with certainty if this fireball was related to them or was sporadic, although the latter is more likely. April 20-22 marks the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, and some stories in the press have reported this event as a Lyrid. This is definitely not the case; it is purely coincidental that this fireball occurred during the Lyrids.

The meteor began fragmenting as it crossed I-70 between Akin and Palisade. Witnesses in Grand Junction and Fruita reported sonic booms following the event. The combination of acoustics, low entry angle, relatively low speed, and multiple fragmentations at low altitude make it likely that meteorites were produced. If so, they probably fell near the northern end of the path, in countryside that is rugged and largely uninhabited.

Researchers Find Meteorite Fragments In Altai


Tue, 08 May 2007 10:50 EDT

A group of Russian researchers looking for a meteorite that fell in January in the Altai Territory in southern Siberia has found an extraterrestrial substance which could be meteorite fragments, a coordinator said Monday. "We have collected about 50 samples, and vitreous threads (traces of comet substance) were discovered in the first of them using a microscope," Vadim Chernobrov of Kosmopoisk (space search) said.

"We will reach the meteorite site in a few days, but rocks which are probably meteorite fragments have already been found," Chernobrov said.

He said only laboratory testing could establish the rocks' origin, adding that there were many volunteers involved in the operation from Moscow, Novosibirsk, Kostroma and local areas. He said all finds will be given to a museum.

Earlier, it was reported that January 10, local motorists and residents witnessed the impact of a fiery ball, which eventually ended in a loud sound resembling an explosion.

"Witnesses called us. This must have been a meteorite," a senior scientist from the Barnaul planetarium said.

Natalya Pavlova said that since a fallen meteorite was discovered in 1840, some 20 meteorites, including 4 in the 21st century, have been registered in the area.

Stones keep falling on our heads: Experts checking reports on another Altai bolide


Wed, 09 May 2007 03:54 EDT

Experts of the "Kosmopoisk" all-Russia scientific research association are now checking the recent reports on a bolide, which had allegedly dropped to the earth in Altai Territory on Monday, Vadim Chernobrov, leader of the expedition, which is now searching for the meteorite that struck the earth there in January, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

He said local people had notified the expedition members that a new celestial object had hit the earth on Wednesday evening.

"They said a bright celestial body flew from west to east over Klyuchevsky and Rodinsky districts at 22.23 local time (19.23 Moscow time). It is difficult to say whether the object struck the earth or not," Chernobrov said.

However, local people claim that they saw how the "celestial guest" had descended and dropped east of Rodinsky District, setting the forest on fire.

"History knows very few fires, caused by dropping celestial objects, which are quite unbelievable. However, Kosmopoisk experts were sent to check the reports of eyewitnesses and to see whether the celestial body had dropped to the earth or not," Chernobrov stated.

It is worth noting that the "Kosmopoisk" expedition had earlier discovered traces of a large meteorite, which had dropped to the earth in Altai Territory last January.

According to Chernobrov, the expedition is now next to Kayaushka village of Uglovsky District, at the supposed place where a small fragment of the meteorite had struck the Earth.

The search will later be shifted to the place where the main part of the meteorite had possibly dropped. Local people are bringing to expedition members various stones, which they believe to be splinters of celestial bodies.

"Several stones they brought are quite trustworthy," Chernobrov stated. He also said the expedition members had taken earth samples in several places and had discovered two traces of meteorite dust: one is typical for the main "body" of a meteorite, and the other is only a trace left by a smaller fragment.

Chernobrov noted that one of the samples contained so-called chondrules - rounded particles 0.6 millimetres in diameter, which are the principal structural elements of meteorites. "This testifies to the presence of a most classical chondrite-type meteorite," the expedition leader stated.

Chernobrov noted that the press reports, claiming that local residents had found the January meteorite, held no water. Moreover, fragments that had dropped to the earth more than three years ago were adduced to prove this news.

The 30-man expedition includes some local residents, who come to its camp for one or two days, chiefly on days-off or holidays. Specialists and enthusiasts from Tomsk, Barnaul, Novosibirsk, Kostroma, Moscow and Moscow region, as well as from the Belarus Republic and Thailand are helping the expedition.

"The search for the celestial guest in Altai Territory is a non-commercial venture and all the jobs are being done for our own money," Chernobrov stated.

He believes it would be expedient for hand-gliders to join the expedition. They could examine from the air the supposed area where the meteorite fell. The expedition will continue its work in Altai Territory "until the meteorite is found", Chernobrov declared.

Did the earth move?

Sunshine Coast Daily

Fri, 11 May 2007 10:41 EDT

WAS it a bird? Was it a plane? Or was it, goodness gracious, great balls of fire?

To be honest, no one is entirely sure, but police were inundated with calls from Warana and Kawana residents who heard "some sort of explosion" just before 10.30pm on Wednesday.

Some reported seeing a bright flash in the sky at the time of the bang, with others claiming their house shook from the noise.

Kawana's Island Keys resident manager Chris Hobart and her husband Bob likened the noise to an explosion.

"We were working inside and heard it, and being a manager of a complex, we thought the gas bottles had exploded or something," she said.

"We went outside but we couldn't see anything. It was pretty loud. We had the television on and the computer on. It was like a big clap of thunder."

Other residents as far away as Marcoola reported hearing the bang.

The usual suspects were quickly eliminated yesterday, with the air force denying they had any jets in the area, no reports of power outages and no sign of an earth tremor.

Which left people looking to the skies and those in the know guessing that the Coast's big bang was more a case of small rocks.

University of Queensland astro physics lecturer Michael Drinkwater said it sounded like "what we call a fireball".

"Very high energy, very fast tiny meteors in the upper atmosphere," he said.

"They create a big effect because of the high speed they come in on. They are dumping a lot of energy, which can create the big bang and flashes of light."

Wappa Falls astronomer Owen Bennedick agreed.

"It sounds like the meteor was going so fast it broke the sound barrier and exploded. Anyone who saw it would have seen a very spectacular sight.

"When you have something with a tremendous amount of energy coming out of the atmosphere something has to go bang. Even something the size of a pea will make a spectacular entry."

Exceptionally Brilliant Fireball Seen Over Spain

El Mundo

Fri, 11 May 2007 17:25 EDT

The 112 Emergency switchboard collapsed due to the number of phone calls received.

Phenomenon "very likely to have caused meteorites", according to one researcher.

Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Toledo and Valladolid are some of the provinces of the center of the Spanish peninsula that witnessed the transit of an "impressive" fireball, according to Josep M. Trigo of the Red de Investigacion sobre Bolidos y Meteoritos. The 112 Emergency switchboard collapsed by phone calls from spectators only a few minutes later.

All witnesses agree that it was the "sudden appearance" of an "exceptionally bright" fireball that caused "great alarm" in small communities.

"The luminosity of the phenomenon was such that it was even recorded by pilots from the Torrejon de Ardoz air base who were in flight at the time," noted Trigo.

To this researcher and Jose L. Ortiz of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (CSIC), the case is "highly important" due to the fact that several communities in Ciudad Real were even able to hear the sonic boom produced by the meteoroid's entry under the 20-25 kilometer barrier, indicative of the "the possible arrival of meteorites on the surface."

According to Trigo, many of these bolides do not produce meteorites as they are completely disintegrated, but the one seen on Thursday "was very likely to have spawned meteorites."

The lagest fragment of the last meteorite seen in Spain - in December 2004 - was "removed" by a team of French "meteor hunters" thanks to information provided by witnesses, added the researcher.

The Spanish Historical Patrimony Law of 1985 protects all assets, including natural ones, and has posted penalties for those who engage in their illegal exportation.

"Amazing" explanation! Object that fell from sky not a meteorite. It's just a piece of scrap iron dropped out of the sky.


Sun, 13 May 2007 06:33 EDT

The mysterious metallic object that crashed through the roof of a central New Jersey family's home earlier this year was not a meteorite after all, geologists said Friday.

While the rocklike object looks like a meteorite, scientists say it is a stainless steel alloy that does not occur in nature and is most likely "orbital debris'' - or plain terms, scrap iron.

It's still a mystery where the object came from.

"That's the $64,000 question, and there's probably no way to answer it,'' said Rutgers University geologist Jeremy Delaney. "A piece of scrap iron dropped out of the sky. The question is how did it get into the sky in the first place? That one I simply cannot answer.''

Srinivasan Nageswaran, whose family discovered the silver object after it crashed through the roof and into the upstairs bathroom of his home in Freehold Township, was disappointed by the news.

"That's the nature of science,'' he said Friday. "If the conclusion from the test says it's not a meteorite, then it's not a meteorite. We have to move forward.''

The 46-year-old information technology consultant will now finish repairing his roof. The object, slightly bigger than a golf ball and about as heavy as a can of soup, crashed into his bathroom and dented its tile floor in January.

"It's still the world's most popular metallic object that fell from the sky,'' Nageswaran said.

Scientists had initially determined it was a meteorite. In late April, it was brought to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City so its composition could be examined by its new variable-pressure scanning electron microscope.

The testing took a few hours. The microscope shoots electrons at the surface of the sample, which causes X-rays to be generated, Delaney said.

"From those X-rays, you can tell the composition and what elements are present in the sample,'' he said.

This was the first diagnostic testing of the object, which previously been available only for visual examination. Nageswaran accompanied his object, which weighs 377 grams and is about 3-inches by 2-inches (7 1/2 by 5 centimeters), for the testing.

While extraterrestrial rocks fall to the Earth with some regularity, it is rare for them to strike homes.

The Nageswarans, originally from India, moved to the United States in 1997 and since 2003 have lived in Freehold Township, a town of about 34,000 about a half hour east of Trenton.

On the night of Jan. 2, Nageswaran walked into his bathroom and spotted a hole in the ceiling and noticed small chunks of drywall and insulation littering the room.

His mother, who has been staying with the family, heard a loud boom and thought it was a post-New Year's fireworks explosion, or that some kind of old patch job in the bathroom ceiling had come loose.

Federal aviation officials visited a few hours later and ruled it wasn't a piece of an airplane.

Geologists from Rutgers, along with an independent metals expert, concluded that the rock was an iron meteorite.

Delaney, who examined it at the police station, said his initial conclusion was based on the object's shape and density.

"I was wrong, no matter what it mislead me, sneaky little devil,'' he said.

Meteor delights B.C. Stargazers

Canadian Press

Sun, 13 May 2007 08:24 EDT

KELOWNA -- Startled stargazers were treated to a rare and beautiful sight this week when a brilliant meteor streaked through Okanagan skies.

"It was an amazing, vibrant sight, a fireball with a white centre, blue halo and a long pink tail," said Connie Denesiuk, who, with her husband, Bob, happened to see the meteor from the deck of their Summerland home.

The unusually large shooting star was visible for just a few seconds around 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

"It was like a piece of fireworks travelling horizontally through the sky, much bigger than the normal shooting stars you see," added Gary Nylander, a newspaper photographer who saw the meteor as he drove to his home on the Westside near Kelowna.

There are reports of people seeing the meteor all over B.C., said Ken Tapping, an astronomer at the White Lake observatory near Penticton.

"It sounds like it was a real humdinger, something that would have definitely given you a headache if it fell on you," Tapping said.

Most meteors, chunks of space debris left over from the formation of the solar system, burn up before hitting the earth, but one or two land somewhere on the planet every day, he said.

Meteor lights up eastern Idaho sky


Mon, 14 May 2007 08:06 EDT

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho A meteor lit up the night sky across eastern Idaho yesterday evening.

Residents from Pocatello to Driggs say they saw the bright flashes around nine P-M.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the striking sky show resulted from a meteor.

Cathy Paskin, of Driggs, took pictures of the event.

They show a jagged trail of light across the darkening sky _ easily visible to the naked eye.

Rumbling Wakes Up Dozens of Knox County Residents (Knoxville, TN)


Mon, 14 May 2007 04:16 EDT

Dozens of people in Knox County woke up to some rumbling this morning and investigators are still working to figure out what it was.

Dozens of calls flooded central dispatch at about 1:15am, mostly from two neighborhoods off Northshore Drive in West Knoxville; Admiral's Landing and Northshore Landing.

Many people tell us they woke up to loud rumbling and thought there were animals or prowlers in their basements or attics.

Others thought there was some sort of explosion shaking the ground.

J.R. Andrews lives in Admiral's Landing and says it woke his entire family up and they all ran outside to see what was going on.

"Half of our neighborhood had come outside and there was these constant shakes in the ground, constant thud. It felt like some type of missile attack," he said. "It wasn't an earthquake, I've been through an earthquake."

KUB not reporting any problems in the area and so far, there has been no reports of a possible earthquake.

Comment: Although some residents do not believe the sounds may be related to any seismic activity, the area sits just outside of one of the most active faults in the US - the New Madrid Fault Zone. A little history about the area, courtesy of the USGS (US Geological Survey):

In the winter of 1811-12, the central Mississippi Valley was struck by three of the most powerful earthquakes in U.S. history. Even today, this region has more earthquakes than any other part of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Government agencies, universities, and private organizations are working to increase awareness of the earthquake threat and to reduce loss of life and property in future shocks.

The 400 terrified residents in the town of New Madrid (Missouri) were abruptly awakened by violent shaking and a tremendous roar. It was December 16, 1811, and a powerful earthquake had just struck. This was the first of three magnitude-8 earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks to rock the region that winter.

Survivors reported that the earthquakes caused cracks to open in the earth's surface, the ground to roll in visible waves, and large areas of land to sink or rise. The crew of the New Orleans (the first steamboat on the Mississippi, which was on her maiden voyage) reported mooring to an island only to awake in the morning and find that the island had disappeared below the waters of the Mississippi River. Damage was reported as far away as Charleston, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

These dramatic accounts clearly show that destructive earthquakes do not happen only in the western United States. In the past 20 years, scientists have learned that strong earthquakes in the central Mississippi Valley are not freak events but have occurred repeatedly in the geologic past. The area of major earthquake activity also has frequent minor shocks and is known as the New Madrid seismic zone.

Earthquakes in the central or eastern United States affect much larger areas than earthquakes of similar magnitude in the western United States. For example, the San Francisco, California, earthquake of 1906 (magnitude 7.8) was felt 350 miles away in the middle of Nevada, whereas the New Madrid earthquake of December 1811 (magnitude 8.0) rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts, 1,000 miles away. Differences in geology east and west of the Rocky Mountains cause this strong contrast.

Source: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/prepare/factsheets/NewMadrid/

Here are a couple of articles related to the New Madrid Fault reflecting the severity of a significant seismic event in the area:

5.2 Earthquake Dead Center In Gulf Of Mexico - Precursor to a New Madrid Big One?

FEMA Worried About New Madrid Quake Zone

Meteor impact, extinction linked

Margaret Munro

CanWest News Service

Mon, 14 May 2007 07:35 EDT

A comet or some other extraterrestrial object appears to have slammed into northern Canada 12,900 years ago and triggered an abrupt and catastrophic climate change that wiped out the mammoths and many other prehistoric creatures, according to a team of U.S. scientists.

Evidence of the ecological disaster exists in a thin layer of sediment that has been found from Alberta to New Mexico, say the researchers, whose work adds a dramatic and provocative twist to the decades-old debate about the demise of the mammoths, mastodons and sloths that once roamed North America.

The sediment layer contains high concentrations of iridium, fullerenes and other compounds associated with space rocks and impacts, says Luann Becker, a geologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who has been analyzing the sediments.

"We have evidence for distribution of impact debris over several thousands of miles over the North American continent," says Becker, whose group will detail the findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting May 24.

The sediment layer formed 12,900 years ago coincides with both the extinction of the animals and the onset of a mini-ice age that lasted more than 1,000 years, say Becker and her colleagues from several U.S. universities and research labs. They say they are increasingly convinced the impact, extinction and cold snap are all related.

According to their scenario, a comet or large meteoroid generated a shock wave and threw massive amounts of debris, heat and gas into the atmosphere. This set off wildfires that raced across grasslands in southern North America, depriving the mammoths and other grazing animals of food.

The impact and heat also destabilized the ice sheet that blanketed Canada at the time, creating a flood of melt water that poured into the North Atlantic, according to their theory. The pulse of fresh water then shut down the ocean currents carrying heat from the tropics to the Northern Hemisphere, leading to an abrupt cooling. The resulting "mini-ice age" in the Northern Hemisphere, known as the Younger Dryas, lasted more than a thousand years.

Until now, one of the leading explanations for the disappearance of the mammoths and other animals is that they were hunted to extinction by the people who arrived in North America from Asia at least 13,000 years ago.

But Becker and her colleagues doubt there could have been enough people to drive the creatures to extinction with spears. "It would have been a real challenge to slaughter all the animals," she says.

Comment: More evidence that backs up the story that we relate in the article Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!. For an in-depth analysis of this event, check out the book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes: Flood, Fire, and Famine in the History of Civilization. See also Laura Knight-Jadczyk's The Secret History of the World, which covers this subject thoroughly.

Ice Age space rock blast 'ravaged America'

BBC News

Mon, 21 May 2007 10:54 EDT

A controversial new idea suggests that a large space rock exploded over North America 13,000 years ago.

The blast may have wiped out one of America's first Stone Age cultures as well as the continent's big mammals such as the mammoth and the mastodon.

The blast, from a comet or asteroid, caused a major bout of climatic cooling which may also have affected human cultures emerging in Europe and Asia.

Scientists will outline their evidence this week at a meeting in Mexico.

The evidence comes from layers of sediment at more than 20 sites across North America.

These sediments contain exotic materials: tiny spheres of glass and carbon, ultra-small specks of diamond - called nanodiamond - and amounts of the rare element iridium that are too high to have come from Earth.

All, they argue, point to the explosion 12,900 years ago of an extraterrestrial object up to 5km across.

No crater remains, possibly because the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which blanketed thousands of sq km of North America during the last Ice Age, was thick enough to mask the impact.

Another possibility is that it exploded in the air.

Climate cooling

The rocks studied by the researchers have a black layer which, they argue, is the charcoal deposited by wildfires which swept the continent after the explosion.

The blast would not only have generated enormous amounts of heat, that could have given rise to wildfires across the continent but also brought about a period of climate cooling that lasted 1,000 years - an event known as the Younger Dryas.

Professor James Kennett, from the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB), said the explosion could be to blame for the extinction of several large North American mammals at the end of the last Ice Age.

"All the elephants, including the mastodon and the mammoth, all the ground sloths, including the giant ground sloth - which, when standing on its hind legs, would have been as big as a mammoth," he told the BBC.

"All the horses went out, all the North American camels went out. There were large carnivores like the sabre-toothed cat and an enormous bear called the short-faced bear."

Professor Kennett said this could have had an enormous impact on human populations.

Population decline

According to the traditional view, humans crossed from north-east Asia to America at the end of the last Ice Age, across a land bridge which - at the time - connected Siberia to Alaska.

The Clovis culture was one of the earliest known cultures in the continent. These proficient hunter-gatherers developed a distinctive thin, fluted spear head known as the Clovis point, which is regarded as one of the most sophisticated stone tools ever developed.

Archaeologists have found evidence from the Topper site in South Carolina, US, that Clovis populations here went through a population collapse.

But there is no evidence of a similar decline in other parts of the continent. The Clovis culture does vanish from the archaeological record abruptly, but it is replaced by a myriad of different local hunter-gatherer cultures.

Jeff Severinghaus, a palaeoclimatologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, told Nature magazine: "Their impact theory shouldn't be dismissed; it deserves further investigation."

According to the new idea, the comet would have cause widespread melting of the North American ice sheet. The waters would have poured into the Atlantic, disrupting its currents.

This, they say, could have caused the 1,000 year-long Younger Dryas cold spell, which also affected Asia and Europe.

The Younger Dryas has been linked by some researchers to changes in the living patterns of people living in the Middle East which led to the beginning of farming.

A massive explosion near the Tunguska river, Siberia, in 1908, is also thought to have been caused by a space rock exploding in the atmosphere. It felled 80 million trees over an area of 2,000 sq km.

The new theory will be presented and debated at the American Geophysical Union's Joint Meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, this week.

Comment: And if it happened once, there's no reason why it couldn't happen again. Particularly if these type of events turn out to be cyclic, as the evidence suggests.

Did A Comet Hit Great Lakes Region, Fragment Human Populations, 12,900 Years Ago?

Science Daily

Wed, 23 May 2007 18:47 EDT

Two University of Oregon researchers are on a multi-institutional 26-member team proposing a startling new theory: that an extraterrestrial impact, possibly a comet, set off a 1,000-year-long cold spell and wiped out or fragmented the prehistoric Clovis culture and a variety of animal genera across North America almost 13,000 years ago.

Driving the theory is a carbon-rich layer of soil that has been found, but not definitively explained, at some 50 Clovis-age sites in North America that date to the onset of a cooling period known as the Younger Dryas Event. The sites include several on the Channel Island off California where UO archaeologists Douglas J. Kennett and Jon M. Erlandson have conducted research.

The theory is being discussed publicly, for the first time, in a news conference at the 2007 Joint Assembly of the American Geophysical Union being held in Acapulco, Mexico. Kennett is among the attendees who will be available to discuss the theory with their peers. The British journal Nature addressed the theory in a news-section story in its May 18 issue.

Before today, members of the team -- including Kennett's father, James P. Kennett of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Richard B. Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory -- had been quietly introducing the theory to their professional colleagues.

Douglas Kennett, with Erlandson watching, detailed the theory May 19 to a fully packed UO classroom, where students and faculty members from archaeology, art history, anthropology, biology, geology, geography, political science and psychology, pelted Kennett with questions.

The researchers propose that a known reversal in the world's ocean currents and associated rapid global cooling, which some scientists blame for the extinction of multiple species of animals and the end of the Clovis Period, was itself the result of a bigger event. While generally accepted theory says glacial melting from the North American interior caused the shift in currents, the new proposal points to a large extraterrestrial object exploding above or even into the Laurentide Ice Sheet north of the Great Lakes.

"Highest concentrations of extraterrestrial impact materials occur in the Great Lakes area and spread out from there," Kennett said. "It would have had major effects on humans. Immediate effects would have been in the North and East, producing shockwaves, heat, flooding, wildfires, and a reduction and fragmentation of the human population."

The carbon-rich layer contains metallic microspherules, iridium, carbon spherules, fullerenes, charcoal and soot. Some of those ingredients were found worldwide in soils dating to the K-T Boundary of 65 million years ago.

The K-T layer marks the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Tertiary Period, when numerous species were wiped out after a massive asteroid is believed to have struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico.

Missing in the new theory is a crater marking an impact, but researchers argue that a strike above or into the Laurentide ice sheet could have absorbed it since it was less intense than the K-T event.

Kennett said that 35 animal genera went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, with at least 15 clearly being wiped out close to 12,900 years ago. There would have been major ecological shifts, driving Clovis survivors into isolated groups in search of food and warmth. There is evidence, he said, that pockets of Clovis people survived in refugia, especially in the western United States.

"This was a massive continental scale, if not global, event," Kennett said. He and Erlandson say that they are currently evaluating the existing paleoindian archaeological datasets, which Kennett describes as "suggestive of significant population reduction and fragmentation, but additional work is necessary to test the data further." Earlier research efforts need to be re-evaluated using new technologies that can narrow radiocarbon date ranges, and, as funding becomes available, new sites can be located and studied, Erlandson said.

"As we have grown more confident in the theory," Erlandson said, "we've been letting some of it out in informal talks to gage the response to see where we are headed and what the initial objections are, which will help us to maintain our own objectivity."

The interest in pursuing both old and new leads could ignite a major surge of interdisciplinary questioning and attract a new wave of interested students, Kennett and Erlandson said.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Oregon.

Quebec crater is out of this world

Ingrid Peritz

Globe and Mail

Fri, 25 May 2007 10:30 EDT

A massive crater in Northern Quebec has been luring the curious for over 50 years. Diamond prospectors, Second World War pilots and National Geographic all made pilgrimages to the distant natural wonder.

Now, an international team led by Laval University in Quebec City has journeyed to the Pingualuit Crater near the Hudson Strait in hopes of unlocking 120,000 years worth of secrets about climate change.

The four-country expedition has just returned with sediments from the crater, formed 1.3 million years ago when a meteorite crashed to Earth with 8,500 times the force of the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

"This is like a natural archive of climatic and environmental change," said lead researcher Reinhard Pienitz, a Laval University geography professor.

Prof. Pienitz is the latest in a string of scientists and adventurers drawn to the haunting formation, described by a Globe and Mail correspondent on a 1950 expedition as the eighth wonder of the world.

Largely unknown to the outside world, the lake-filled crater had long been revered by local Inuit and known locally as the Crystal Eye of Nunavik for its limpid waters. Second World War pilots used the perfectly circular landmark as a navigational tool during reconnaissance missions.

Their observations spurred expeditions sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum and later the National Geographic Society, whose 1952 magazine featured at story entitled, "Solving the Riddle of Chubb Crater." The article's title referred to pioneering Ontario prospector Fred Chubb, who initially believed the crater could be a source of diamonds.

The crater was later renamed New Quebec Crater and, finally, Pingualuit Crater.

The crater is considered a scientific treasure trove because it's one of the deepest lakes in North America, fed almost exclusively by the skies above.

"It's like a huge rainwater collector set out in the tundra, catching rainwater for 1.3 million years," said Prof. Pienitz, whose expedition was funded by the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences. "This lake is really special."

Working with Inuit from the nearby community of Kangiqsujuaq, Prof. Pienitz's team travelled in freezing temperatures by snowmobile to the edge of the crater rim. They then slid down the rim and trekked to the centre of its ice-covered surface. They travelled on foot because the crater, located in a new provincial park, is subject to stringent conditions that ban fuel-powered vehicles.

The team then drilled a hole through the ice to open a window into natural history.

Lowering their equipment through the ice, scientists reached into the extreme depths of the lake bottom to extract a nine-metre sediment core. A scientific time capsule, it's filled with fossils of pollen, algae and tiny insect larvae that researchers hope will yield clues about climate change dating to the last interglacial period 120,000 years ago.

"These fossils will tell us the story about the past environment," Prof. Pienitz said. "We can learn about the fragility of the climate system, and how it responds to external forces."

Until now, most clues about Earth's climatic past have come from the ocean floor or from ice cores from Greenland and the Antarctic. The crater sediment provides another piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, scientists hope the various clues will help shed light on current climate change.

"To read the past," Prof. Pienitz said, "makes it much easier to read the future."

Pingualuit Crater

The crater, largely unknown outside Canada, was formed by a meteorite 1.3 million years ago.

Diameter: 3,44 km

Depth (total): 400 m

Depth (lake): 267 m

Fireball lights up Alberta night skies

Edmonton Sun

Sat, 26 May 2007 15:43 EDT

A mundane act became extraordinary event for Evelyn Bolton yesterday.

Around 1 a.m., Bolton and her daughter were taking the garbage out at their northside home when they saw an intense light appear and then disappear in the night sky.

"Our eyes hurt from the light," she told Sun Media, describing the one-minute blinding flash.

Though she found the event "freaky," Bolton didn't believe she witnessed a UFO.

But what she did see - a large glowing meteor - was rare, says University of Calgary geology professor Alan Hildebrand, co-ordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre.


"It was screamer," said Hildebrand, who's also the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science.

The light was so bright it was reported in Saskatoon, almost 500 km from our city.

Common meteors are only about the size of a grain of sand, explained Hildebrand.

To produce a "once-in-a- lifetime" spectacle like yesterday's, a meteor would have to be about the size of a soccer ball, he said.

And because there have been no reports of any sound accompanying the light, Hildebrand speculates that the meteor was made of cometary material and would have therefore left no remnants.

An explanation for the phenomenon is welcomed by Bolton.

"It was just too spooky to be nothing," she said.

Comment: "rare"?? "once in a lifetime"?? What planet is the Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science actually living on? Someone needs to send him a link to the Signs page so he can peruse the awesome number of fireballs and meteorites that have been peppering the skies of planet earth over the past few years.

40 Foot Crater Caused by Lightning?, Fire Continues to Burn


Sat, 26 May 2007 14:12 EDT

Smoke and flame are found emanating from a 40-feet long and two feet wide crater, caused by lightning which struck last afternoon at Talaikuda village on the outskirts of Udhagamandalam.

According to official sources, nearly 300 eucalyptus trees were burnt, following the lightning, which hit the area, and big crater was formed.

The smoke, which was found last evening, continued emanating heavily today and a flame was visible deep below eight feet, the sources said.

People, who went near it, felt burning sensation in eyes, headache and nausea.

Experts from Geological Survey of India, who visited the area, have informed their higherups in Chennai, about the development.

Some of them opined that the gas could be methane. However, they ruled out the possibility of earthquake or eruption of volcano from inside the crater.

But people in the area, majority of them tribals, were living in fear, the sources said.

Block of ice falls out of sky in Spain


Sat, 17 Mar 2007 07:44 EDT

A football-sized block of ice fell out of the sky on to the roof of an industrial building in Madrid, police say, denting the roof but without causing injuries.

"We don't know where it came from," a police spokeswoman said of the 20 kilogram lump.

"We've taken samples from the block which are in the process of being analysed."

A series of ice blocks fell around Spain in 2000.

Scientists have said the most likely explanation is a sudden freeze in the upper part of the Earth's atmosphere forming ice blocks that then fall into a restricted area.

Ex-Astronaut Says NASA Asteroid Report Flawed

Leonard David


Sun, 27 May 2007 14:54 EDT

A former Apollo astronaut blasted the U.S. space agency today in its handling of a Congressionally-mandated study on dealing with the threat of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) striking the Earth.

Russell "Rusty" Schweickart, the lunar module pilot for the Apollo 9 mission, called a recently issued NASA report on dealing with Earth-threatening asteroids, "flawed" and "not valid."

Schweickart noted that Earth impacts of huge space rocks are rare. But as history has shown, a cosmic-smashing event is a very real occasion-when both the Earth and an asteroid can be at an ugly intersection of time and space. "It's those circumstances which we want to avoid," Schweickart said here today at the 26th annual National Space Society's International Space Development Conference.

In fact, next year is the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Siberia-smacking Tunguska event of a 45 to 50 meter diameter asteroid. "Had it hit a couple of hours later it might have wiped out London or Moscow...instead it wiped out 2,000 square kilometers of Siberia forest and maybe a few reindeer," Schweickart observed.

Schweickart is Chairman of the B612 Foundation, a confab of scientists, technologists, astronomers, astronauts, and other specialists dedicated to significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015. He was also wearing his hat as a member of the Association of Space Explorer's (ASE) Committee on Near Earth Objects.

Through the ASE organization, a set of international workshops, stretching over a year and a half, are being held to further detail the NEO threat and promote a global response to potential Earth-menacing objects. The results of those workshops, Schweickart said, are to be submitted in the spring of 2009 to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Earth: Control-Alt-Delete

"What we're talking about here is the possibility-in an evolutionary sense-of a Control-Alt-Delete; a [computer-like] reboot of the evolutionary system that has already occurred many times on Earth," Schweickart said.

In any dealings with space rocks, there's need for early warning, a deflection capability and an international decision-making capability, Schweickart said.

Schweickart reported that by 2019 asteroid watchers will have on the books upwards of 10,000 objects with a non-zero probability of impacting Earth. "The bottom line," he said, "is that in the next 10 to 12 years, we are going to, in all likelihood, have to make decisions...not because one of these things is going to hit us...but because several of them look as though they might hit us."

"We're going to have to act in a timely way," Schweickart said. "What is changing dramatically in the next decade is our knowledge of the NEO environment. You have to take action based on your knowledge...your best understanding of the truth."

Civil disobedience

NASA recently responded to a study request from Congress-an assessment of how best to track, catalog, as well as deter a NEO found to be on a collision course with Earth. As one of its major conclusions, the study advised that use of nuclear explosions can deflect such an Earth-bruising event.

That approach is wrong-headed, Schweickart responded. Rather, using existing robot impactor technology, as well as a gravity-tractor method of altering the asteroids trajectory ever-so-slightly, would give you both the oomph and the precision that you need to re-direct a NEO from an Earth impact.

"Right now, I put NASA in the same category of technical accuracy as Hollywood with Deep Impact and Armageddon," he noted, two less-than-accurate movies that featured Earth-impacting objects.

"NASA did a terrible technical analysis which led them to that conclusion," Schweickart said. "It's wrong, wrong, wrong."

"The report as it stands is not valid. The recommendations that they made are based on an exceptional set of asteroids that they picked rather than what is most likely to be needed to be deflected," Schweickart told SPACE.com. "It's a flawed report."

Schweickart said that "NASA basically pulled off a federal agency version of civil disobedience" by not recommending a program or budget in dealing with the dangers from NEOs. "NASA has just refused to obey the law...that's not good news."

Wanted: mission rules

In dubbing the NEO issue as a "cosmic natural hazard"-nobody is responsible for handling the threat, within the U.S. government or any other government, Schweickart said. He urged conference attendees to write the U.S. Congress and demand a hearing on the results of the NASA report.

"In the next 15 years, the population of the world is going to be concerned about this issue," Schweickart said. The former Apollo astronaut called for "Mission Rules" for NEO deflection to be drawn up by the international community.

"If we do our homework right, never again should an asteroid that can do damage on the ground impact the Earth," Schweickart suggested. "We're living at a time -- with our technology -- we have the capability to eliminate this major shaper of evolution - the evolution of life on this planet."

"We're now on the top of the heap. Enough cosmic gardener, you're fired. That's the task...that's the challenge," Schweickart concluded.

Comment: Impacts of 'huge space rocks' are not as rare as people would hope.

Read 'Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!'

North Oregon Coast Beach Reveals Ancient Ghost Forest Again

Beach Connection

Mon, 28 May 2007 15:31 EDT

The mysterious chunks of wood have shown up periodically over the last few decades, sticking out of the sand like doomed creatures trying to make their last, desperate escape from a dreadful fate beneath the rest of the world. They make momentary impressions on passersby, who have no clue to the real meaning of these muted witnesses to an age practically before Mankind. They are unintentional memorials to the grandiose forest that once stood here, now reduced to twisted, tortured shapes that scream silently from another epoch.

The little village of Arch Cape, on the north Oregon coast, is the latest place where some weird remnants of prehistory are showing themselves again. Ancient forests - nicknamed "ghost forests" because of their gloomy look and their age - periodically appear on parts of the coast, the most famous and regularly seen of which are the prehistoric stumps at Neskowin.

But in Arch Cape, they're a real rarity, and likely much older than many of those that show up sometimes on the coast. Some are twisted, ragged structures that jut out of the sand in a dramatic manner. Others are tiny objects with just the tips visible. At other times, they're long slabs of something brown; occasionally so soft and flaky their texture is a bit like cooked fish, and it's easy to scrape off chunks of them.

Wild wave action reveals these things all across the Oregon coast, as it scours the beaches of sand and takes away layers of sand. The deeper you go, the further you're going back in time.

"We've got a really weird winter around here," said resident Bob Shaw, whose parents own Shaw's Oceanfront B&B in Arch Cape. "They show up in winters, when the waves wash away the sand and leave a lot of rocks. Then they disappeared. But they came back a couple months ago. You should've seen them then. They were all over the place, and you could see a lot more of them."

That kind of sand movement is unusual for the spring, as normally winter storms bring that kind of action. This year, some areas of the coast were so heavily scoured the sand levels were as much as ten feet lower than usual.

Roger Hart is a geologist with the State of Oregon based in Newport, and is considered the foremost authority on these stumps of mystery. He's studied them extensively over the years, and a decade ago came up with the main theories about their origin - theories that came into wide acceptance. But he later retracted those findings. Many of those in the geologist community still cling to his old theories and haven't caught up yet.

He says these stumps are almost 4,000 years old.

"Curt Peterson and I published a radiocarbon on a sample taken from the Arch Cape stumps in 1998," Hart said. "The age is 3,660 with an error of 70. This means these trees died at that time, were buried in sand, and have been preserved under a cover of sand until now. From the photos it appears that the stumps are more extensively exposed now than in 1998."

Regular tourists, on the other hand, have no clue what to make of it, and often don't even notice them. But when they do, Shaw says they're puzzled. "They don't know what it is," Shaw said. "They just kind of look at them."

This sort of wave action revealed similar stumps in Newport this winter - also about 4,000 years old - as well as remnants of a forest in the Hug Point (near Cannon Beach) area that could well be a whopping 80,000 years old.

Originally, one of Hart's main theories was that many of the stumps showing up in the El Nino years of the 90's were the result of a massive earthquake some 300 years ago that suddenly and violently dropped the ground some 25 feet or more, inundating these forests in sediment, sand, sea and water, thus preserving them.

Since then, Hart has retracted those findings and put forth that the Newport stumps and others were in fact more around 4,000 years old, and sand levels gradually rose to engulf and then preserve them, rather than the violent quake he theorized earlier.

"In my opinion, exposure of stumps are evidence that sand is being progressively being lost from the southern ends of littoral cells on the Oregon coast," Hart said.

Indeed, the Arch Cape stumps are found at the bottom of Ocean View Road, about a quarter mile from the southern headland. A littoral cell is the tract of sand between headlands or major outcroppings. The littoral cell where Arch Cape sits begins at that southern headland, and runs all the way through Hug Point and Cannon Beach, until the headlands of Ecola State Park.

Tom Horning, a well reknowned geologist on the north Oregon coast, looked into the Hug Point ghost forest this winter. He believes those are about 80,000 years old, dating back to the Pleistocene era. His initial thought was that the Arch Cape ghost forest was also about the same age, partially because Arch Cape and Hug Point are just a few miles apart.

"I have seen the Arch Cape stumps in the past," Horning said. "They are buried in clays and silts with spruce cones that the trees were dropping at their time of life. Also, there are cedar stumps.

"I have been told that a forester, now deceased, who lived at Arch Cape, identified redwood cones from the same layers. If redwoods were growing here, that adds weight to the Pleistocene stump origin, because none grows here now."

Horning also addressed how these 4,000-year-old stumps got where they are today.

"They represent a stand of forest trees that moved out onto the old beach when the land lifted up somewhat or the seas dropped, forcing the shoreline to retreat westward," Horning said. "Now that it is coming in, the surf has exposed the stumps of the trees once again. This latter hypothesis seems to work down in the central coast."

Right now, the Arch Cape stumps are disappearing quickly as the weather turns nicer and the wave action lessens. Shaw led a small tour of the area and pointed out how much of one structure was visible before. Now, it's just a patch of flat brown mystery material lying in the sand.

"This whole area was covered with these things," Shaw said. "It was really spectacular."

Meteorites hit near Redwater, passed over Edmonton

Nicki Thomas


Tue, 29 May 2007 20:41 EDT

The fireball that passed over Edmonton Friday night may have left more behind than experts originally thought.

"There's a good chance meteorites might have fallen," the University of Calgary's Dr. Alan Hildebrand told Sun Media.

Witnesses in Edmonton reported red fragments continuing toward the earth after the intense light of the meteor subsided.

This prompted Hildebrand and Dr. Martin Connors of Athabasca University to review footage from security camera systems to determine the location of the fireball in the sky.

"If the sky is clear, the lights cast a shadow," explained Hildebrand. By measuring the angles of the shadows they were able to calculate where remnants may have landed.

Hildebrand believes fragments of the meteor may be around Redwater, 68 km northeast of Edmonton, especially in the area of Township Road 574 and Range Road 220.

Unfortunately, no one in the area witnessed the fireball or falling debris.

Because they have no exact location, Hildebrand said scientists will rely on farmers in the area to keep their eyes open for chunks of the meteor.

Though it would be best if the pieces were handled as little as possible, Hildebrand isn't picky.

"If one lands in a manure pile, I'll still take it."

He warns farmers to watch their footing since the larger pieces can make deep holes. Meterorites are recognizable by their dark grey or black crust.

Venus (?!) causes a stir in Picton, NZ - UFOs, meteor showers?


Thu, 31 May 2007 12:03 EDT

Whatever their theory, Picton residents have been noticing strange lights in the sky in recent weeks, with people reporting spectacular, multicoloured lights dancing above the horizon to the west.

The phenomenon has a scientific explanation that's a little more mundane, said David Turner, a local member of the Royal Astronomical Society.

"It's the planet Venus," he said.

"It's an optical illusion - when Venus gets near the horizon it seems to change colour and jump around."

The illusion occurs as a result of heat rising off the Earth's surface, and is more marked after a hot, sunny day.

When Venus gets near the horizon, which currently happens in Marlborough at around 10pm, its light passes through a lot more of that heated atmosphere, causing the often spectacular effects.

"It's the same as the effect you get with heat rising on a hot tin roof," Mr Turner said.

Similar atmospheric disturbances cause the twinkling of the stars, he explained.

"Venus is the very bright planet that you'll see over to the west," he added.

"It's covered in white cloud that reflects all the sunlight, which is why it appears so bright.

Venus goes through phases like the moon, but this optical illusion happens all the time - and it's not just in Picton.

It's just that people seem to notice it more sometimes.

"The Astronomical Society often gets calls about these planets near the horizon.

"It happens with Jupiter as well."

Ice Age Ends Smashingly: Did a comet blow up over eastern Canada?

Sid Perkins

Science News

Sun, 03 Jun 2007 08:02 EDT

Evidence unearthed at more than two dozen sites across North America suggests that an extraterrestrial object exploded in Earth's atmosphere above Canada about 12,900 years ago, just as the climate was warming at the end of the last ice age. The explosion sparked immense wildfires, devastated North America's ecosystems and prehistoric cultures, and triggered a millennium-long cold spell, scientists say.

At sites stretching from California to the Carolinas and as far north as Alberta and Saskatchewan - many of which were home to prehistoric people of the Clovis culture - researchers have long noted an enigmatic layer of carbon-rich sediment that was laid down nearly 13 millennia ago. "Clovis artifacts are never found above this black mat," says Allen West, a geophysicist with Geoscience Consulting in Dewey, Ariz. The layer, typically a few millimeters thick, lies between older, underlying strata that are chock-full of mammoth bones and younger, fossilfree sediments immediately above, he notes.

New analyses of samples taken from 26 of those sites reveal several hallmarks of an extraterrestrial object's impact, West and his colleagues reported at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Acapulco, Mexico.

Samples from the base of the black mat yield most of the clues to its extraterrestrial origin, says Richard B. Firestone, West's coworker and a nuclear physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) National Laboratory. Some of the particles there are small, magnetic grains of material with higher proportions of iridium than are found in Earth's crust, he notes.

Also in the mat's base are tiny lumps of glasslike carbon that probably formed from molten droplets of the element. These lumps, as well as little spheres of carbon with a different microstructure, contain nanoscale diamonds formed under intense pressure.

A host of unusual geological features, collectively known as Carolina Bays, hints at the cataclysm's location, says team member George A. Howard, a wetland manager at Restoration Systems, an environmental-restoration firm in Raleigh, N.C. Around 1 million of these elliptical, sand-rimmed depressions, measuring between 50 meters and 11 kilometers across, scar the landscape from New Jersey to Florida. In samples taken from 15 of the features, Howard and his colleagues found iridium-rich magnetic grains and carbon spherules with tiny diamond fragments similar to those found at Clovis archaeological sites.

The long axes of the great majority of the Carolina Bays point toward locations near the Great Lakes and in Canada - a hint that the extraterrestrial object disintegrated over those locales, says Howard.

Because scientists "haven't discovered a large, smoking hole" left by the event, the object that blew up in the atmosphere probably was a comet, says West.

Heat from the event would have set off wildfires across the continent, the scientists suggest. The heat and shock from the explosion probably broke up portions of the ice sheet smothering eastern Canada at the time, they add. The flood of fresh water into the North Atlantic that resulted would have interrupted ocean currents that bring warmth to the region, and thick clouds of smoke and soot in the air would have intensified cooling across the Northern Hemisphere.

The inferred date of the event matches the beginning of a 1,200-year-long cold spell that geologists call the Younger Dryas, which in its first few decades saw temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere drop as much as 10°C.

Space Station holed by meteorite


Thu, 07 Jun 2007 09:41 EDT

A mini-meteorite has left a bullet- sized hole in a module of the International Space Station (ISS), but the three-person US-Russian team of astronauts inside are not in danger, a Russian official said.

The puncture, in an outer pumping component on the module, was detected in the Russia "Zaria" module of the station during a spacewalk by the two Russian cosmonauts on board, the spokesman for the Russian space agency, Vladimir Solovyev, said yesterday.

It was the first time a meteorite hole had been found on a module of the ISS. Several holes have been observed on the big solar panels that spread out from the orbiter.

Solovyev said the module itself was not punctured. Photos of the hole had been sent back to Earth for study.

The Russians, Fyodor Yurchikin and Oleg Kotov, who made their six-hour space walk yesterday, are joined on the ISS by a US astronaut of Indian origin, Sunita Williams.

Space debris, either natural or from parts of rockets and satellites, represent a serious danger to the ISS and its occupants.

Mysterious 'explosion' creates a tense situation in Sri Lanka


Mon, 11 Jun 2007 10:32 EDT

A tense situation was created in some areas in the Gampaha and Kurunegala districts last night following a mysterious noise similar to an explosion.

However later it was revealed that the noise and the light could be from a falling meteorite of some magnitude. The Arthur C. Clerk Center also claimed that the sound may have been caused by a meteorite explosion.

Police and the military confirmed there had been a loud sound of an explosion and a simultaneous glow in the sky but the cause of the noise is not known yet.

Giant ice cube smashes roof

Liz Fowler

The Courier

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 13:56 EDT

An Angus couple are recovering from shock after a giant ice cube plummeted from the sky at hundreds of miles an hour and smashed into their roof.

James and Flora Fleming were relaxing in the lounge of their home, The Gables at Barnhead, on the outskirts of Montrose yesterday when the ice meteor hit.

They dashed outside to find five slates broken on the roof and the ice block lying shattered on their lawn.

"It was around 1.30pm and we were sitting watching TV when there was a terrific bang like goodness knows what," Mrs Fleming said.

"At first I thought it might have been a crow hitting the window, but it was far too loud for that.

"There was white stuff lying all over the lawn. At first I thought it was bits of paper. I could hardly believe it when my husband said it was ice. Then we looked up at the roof and saw the slates damaged.

"It was very frightening. The block would have been about one foot square in size before it broke up.

"It had landed right beside my whirly washing line. I dread to think what might have happened if I had been standing there. I could have been killed."

Unless some freak climactic phenomenon, the couple believed the ice must have fallen from an aircraft.

"Where else could it have come from?" Mrs Fleming said.

"But we have saved a few pieces in the freezer in case anybody wants to have a closer look."

A spokesman for the Met Office agreed ice cracking off an aircraft was the most likely explanation.

He said, "There have been instances in the past when things like this have happened.

"An aircraft flying through cloud will pick up moisture which can then freeze. As it descends it can de-ice and in this instance a block has dropped off.

"I have heard of this happen maybe 15 or 20 times.

"An ice meteor, as they are called, can be significantly larger than one square foot.

"But even at that size if it had hit anybody they wouldn't be around to tell the tale, I can tell you that."

Experts reckon a 5kg block falling from a plane at around 1000 feet would plummet to earth at a speed of around 250mph.

No one was available for comment from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Was blinding light a meteor?

Shirley Wijesinghe

Daily News - Sri Lanka

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 17:58 EDT

COLOMBO: The object which spewed a blinding light that lit the night skies in several areas of the North Western Province on Sunday is suspected to be meteor.

The light was accompanied by huge booming sounds.

An unusual light was observed by residents and other neighbourhoods around 9.05 p.m. A resident of Bingiriya said he saw something like a fireball falling to the ground from the sky immediately after the noise.

The suspected meteor may have fallen somewhere in the Dambulla or Kandy areas, Dr. Jayaratne said. There had so far been no discovery of any fragments to arrive at a definite conclusion, he added.

Meanwhile, a resident of Andiambalama, Kimbulapitiya reported extensive damages to his tiled roof where some tiles had melted, apparently by extreme heat, Dr.Jayaratne said. A similar phenomenon was also reported from Maho, he added.

Residents of other areas of the North Western Province and Western Province too had heard loud booms.

Geologists may have found 'new' meteor crater - Montana

Annette Hayden

Havre Daily News

Mon, 11 Jun 2007 16:03 EDT

Two geologists from Washington traveled to north-central Montana last week after an accidental discovery of what they believe is a "new" meteorite impact crater, located just southeast of Thornhill Butte.

The Havre Daily caught up with the two St. Martin University students at Havre's Fifth Street Grind and Short Stop Thursday. The discoverers were on their way to a local laundry to dry their clothes, drenched in the previous day's rain, before heading back out in their home-built buggy, "the Mule" designed for rugged terrain.

Joe D'Alelio and Gabriel Mainwaring of Shelton, Wash. Said they had been using Google Earth to locate fossil hunting grounds when "dumb luck" led the satellite view to scan over a formation familiar, yet very exciting. "We zoomed in and saw it had the form of a meteorite impact crater," D'Alelio said.

"We checked with the USGS (United States Geological Survey) and there was no record of it. The only one they have is south of the Missouri River about 200 miles. This one is located north of the DY Junction (Highways 66 and 191). You can see it from Highway 66. We loaded up the Mule and headed out Monday and camped when we got to the crater. We studied the rim, the bowl and surrounding area and took samples."

Much like Daniel Moreau Barringer, who proved the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona in 1902, D'Alelio and Mainwaring said they had not spent a full day before they knew the crater had been caused by meteorite impact. "It's about a mile wide, rim to rim and the sandstone layers are upside down," D'Alelio said. "The white is on top from the impact. You can measure the red sandstone to see how thick it is and it tells you the age. We are guessing it hit between 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, which is relatively new.

"We collected samples of the rocks and we'll take them back to the University of Washington to analyze. We will be looking for basically two things. First is the presence of iridium, an element only found in meteorites. The second thing is when a meteorite hits the ground the heat and pressure cause what is known as 'shocked quartz.' It changes the crystalline structure, so we will check for that.

Then we will call the USGS and name the crater "Bender Crater," for Les and Karen Bender (owners of Havre's Bender Wild Game Processing)." D'Alelio and Mainwaring had completed their site research Wednesday and thought to do a little site seeing around the area before heading home, when they found the Mule's catalytic converter had become disengaged from the exhaust pipe.

It was Les and Karen Bender who became their rescuers. "We tried to fix the Mule with a tin can and a hose clamp," Mainwaring said. "Some people stopped and we asked them where the nearest town was. We showed them our photos and pointed out where the crater was.

Les and Karen said they had driven by there thousands of times and had never seen it, but once we pointed it out they could see. "We told them we had to get going, but then the Mule wouldn't go. The catalytic converter was still leaking. The Benders ended up towing us all the way to Havre, 96 miles. They fed us dinner and let us sleep in their home for the night. My wife is having a baby in September and Karen even gave me a baby blanket she had made. They were a real blessing to us."

D'Alelio said "They were so fantastic to us, a real testament to the people of Montana, Gabe is planning to move here now. He's going to go home and convince his wife. And we decided if this crater proves out, we Are going to name it Bender Crater in honor of them. Les even bought the parts to fix the Mule.

They were just amazing to us." D'Alelio and Mainwaring said they planned to do a little gold panning in Landusky then scope out another possible crater site, before returning home today. "We will defiantly let you know the outcome of the research," they said. "We can only say it is a possible impact crater at this point, but we feel certain and we think there are probably several more around this area, but we don't want to say where just yet."

Meteorite craters pull in tourists There is something about human beings' total lack of control over space and its affects on Earth that inspires great curiosity, and in turn tourism. One example is the Barringer Meteorite Crater (also known as "Meteor Crater") is a gigantic hole in the middle of the Arizona sandstone desert. The rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some the size of buildings, rises 150 feet above the level of the surrounding plain.

The crater itself is nearly a mile wide, and 570 feet deep. The crater, first proven in the early 1900s to have been caused by a meteorite crashing into Earth, is today a major tourist attraction.

The Meteor Crater Visitor Center includes displays on the never-ending process of impacts and collisions in the solar system; an interactive learning center with 24 hands-on exhibits; a theatre, gift shop, two restaurants; gardens; and offers tours of the giant crater formed thousands of years ago when a giant fiery rock slammed into Earth.

Along with Montana's Dinosaur trail, visitors may also in the future tour the meteorite craters once thought responsible for the dinosaur extinction. Dinosaurs, meteors and life today In 1902, Daniel Moreau Barringer, a successful mining engineer, heard about the crater in Arizona.

When he learned that small balls of meteoritic iron were randomly mixed with the ejected rocks of the crater rim, he immediately concluded that the crater had resulted from a meteorite impact. If the meteorites had fallen at a different time from the time than when the crater was formed, they would have appeared in separate layers from the ejected rock.

Barringer presented his impact origin theory of the crater to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia in 1906 and 1909. His evidence included a cross section of crater rim showing overturned rock layers. For years people involved in the historical sciences believed terrestrial impacts were something that only happened in Earth's very early history.

In 1980, Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvary and his colleagues published a paper in "Science" magazine, arguing that a cosmic impact had led to the extinction of dinosaurs. Alvary rested his case on large amounts of the meteorite element iridium being present in geological layers dating back to the time dinosaurs vanished.

By 1990, most astronomers accepted that craters on the moon had been caused by impacts of space debris and not by volcanoes as once thought. Astronomers Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and Dave Levy discovered a new comet in the Earth's solar system in orbit around Jupiter in1993. Tidal forces of the large planet caused the comet to disintegrate over the next year and astronomers observed the fragments proceed around the sun then head back on a collision course for Jupiter.

Between July 16 and 22, 1994, fragments bombarded the visible surface of Jupiter causing fireballs 500 times the size of Earth to leave huge scars on Jupiter's southern surface.

There are about 180 meteorite craters identified on Earth's dry land to date. While most cosmic debris disintegrates before ever entering Earth's atmosphere, the Jupiter attack proved that meteorites are not just a thing of the past.

Meteor shower lights up sky, Fort Worth - Texas

Andrew Chavez


Thu, 14 Jun 2007 17:30 EDT

Did you think you were wishing upon a falling star Wednesday night? Sorry, it was just burning space debris.

What many people saw was the beginning of a minor meteor shower, named after the constellation Bootes, according to Ron DiIulio, director of the University of North Texas' astronomy lab program.

What's causing this meteor shower? The Earth is passing through the tail of a comet.

"It's like going through an oil streak left by the comet," he said.

Wednesday's show was just the beginning. It will last until June 27, peaking about next Wednesday.

Look due south after midnight. The shower moves from west to east.

In 2004, the same shower yielded 20 to 50 of the streaks an hour, and the disintegrating debris will be easier to see as the sky darkens with tonight's new moon.

Did a comet zap the woolly mammoths? Scientists posit huge explosion over Canada 12,900 years ago

Christopher Lee

Washington Post

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 07:10 EDT

There are intriguing new clues in the mystery of how the woolly mammoth met its demise in North America more than 10,000 years ago.

For decades, scientists have debated whether the giant, elephant-like beasts were driven to extinction by the arrival of overzealous human hunters or by global warming at the end of the Pleistocene era, the last great Ice Age. Some say it was a combination of the two.

Recently, a group of more than two dozen scientists offered a new explanation. They have found signs that a comet -- or multiple fragments of one -- exploded over Canada about 12,900 years ago with the force equivalent to millions of nuclear weapons. That unleashed, they said, a tremendous shock wave that destroyed much of what was in its path and ignited wildfires across North America.

Another group, with the help of DNA evidence extracted from mammoth bones, teeth and ivory, has for the first time identified two distinct genetic groups among mammoths. They found that one group had died out by 40,000 years ago for unknown reasons, leaving the second to continue until the species went extinct.

The comet blast and firestorm could have dealt that deathblow to the mammoth and more than 15 other species of large mammals, or "mega fauna," including the mastodon, the saber-toothed cat, the American camel and the giant ground sloth, the other researchers said. They presented their findings last month at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Acapulco.

"The shock wave would have spread across the whole continent," said Richard B. Firestone, a nuclear chemist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who helped do the research. "This event was large enough to directly kill most everything instantly. Those that survived would have found their food sources devastated, their water polluted, all kinds of things that would have made it difficult to go on much longer."

In more than 20 locations from Arizona to Canada and California to the Carolinas, the scientists found glasslike carbon, microscopic diamonds, enriched iridium and other materials that they say are indicative of an extraterrestrial impact lying in a sediment layer corresponding to the time period. Just above that layer they found charcoal soot, decayed plant life and other debris consistent with widespread burning.

Above that, the remarkable thing is what they did not find: further evidence of the mammoth and the other large animals.

"The mammoths come up to the line and not beyond it," said James Kennett, a marine geologist and professor emeritus at UC Santa Barbara. "At some sites, the black layer with impact material shrouds the bones."

The explosion may also have spelled the end for the Clovis culture, the prehistoric North Americans who hunted with distinctive stone spearheads that have been found in the bones of the fossils of mammoths and other animals, researchers said. While humans as a species survived the cataclysm, the Clovis culture and its relatively advanced stone tools did not endure.

"At many Clovis sites, like in Arizona and New Mexico, you get the Clovis tools up to the impact layer, and then they never go beyond it," Kennett said.

The comet theory, while adding a new twist to the tale, is not wholly incompatible with earlier explanations for how the mammoth met its end. Researchers said it is possible that the Ice Age beasts, which stood about 9 feet tall and weighed three tons, struggled as the climate warmed, that increasingly skilled and numerous human hunters dramatically thinned their numbers, and that the exploding comet finished them off.

"Our theory is that if this event had not happened, that mammoths would still most likely -- not certainly, but most likely -- be wandering around North America now," said Allen West, a retired geophysicist who is a leader of the research team. "Almost certainly, humans hunting animals can have a major effect on populations. It seems like there was, in a sense, a perfect storm going on -- of overkill, the comet, climate change, possibly disease. I don't think this theory negates any of the other theories. It's just one more of a mix of things that were absolutely lethal to these animals."

The scientists have not published their findings, although two papers are under review by the National Academy of Sciences, Kennett said. Firestone said the lack of a distinctive impact crater -- the airborne explosion did not leave one -- has generated controversy. Even some who accept that the explosion occurred question whether it was the definitive blow, he said.

The second group of researchers, in a study published last week in the journal Current Biology, analyzed DNA from 41 mammoths from Europe, Asia and North America. Radiocarbon dating found the oldest of the mammoths lived about 50,000 years ago; the most recent from about 12,000 years ago.

Scientists found two distinct genetic groups among mammoths in northeast Siberia, indicating that the animals probably had existed in isolation during a warm phase thousands of years earlier and had come together when the glaciers expanded again. Why one group died out they do not know, but the loss of genetic diversity theoretically leaves a species more vulnerable because the remaining population may be less able to adapt to changing conditions, the researchers said.

They will discuss their research next week at the Fourth International Mammoth Conference in Yakutsk, Russia.

"In terms of understanding the process of extinction, we've learned something -- that it's not something that just happens in a flash everywhere and they're all gone," said Adrian Lister, a professor of paleobiology at the Natural History Museum in London. "It seems to have been a progressive reduction in the genetic diversity of the species over tens of thousands of years."

Space rock enters Earth's gravitational field


Fri, 15 Jun 2007 17:32 EDT

An irregularly-shaped space rock nearly 4 m in length and 1.5 to 2.3 m across has entered Earth's gravitational field claimed an amateur astronomer.

''The rock,named 6RIODB9, suddenly entered our planet's gravitational field on June 12 and is slowly making revolutions along the Earth. On June 17, it will be at a distance of nearly 203,000 km from our planet. A similar 'rock' was observed in September 2006 by The University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey,'' said Dr Ram S Shrivastava.

A group of scientists were considering that 'rock' as a spacecraft fragment of NASA's Apollo programme undertaken in the sixties.

''The present rock can be termed an asteroid of unknown nature,'' said Dr Shrivastava.

Sunlight reflecting off its surface proved that it is a solid mass of several tonnes and had there been strong solar activity at this juncture, the rock's path might have changed and it might have come more closer to Earth thereby endangering geostationary satellites.

''Most scientists are considering that the rock is nothing but a tiny part of the Moon ejected after a major asteroid impact,'' the astronomer added.

The Younger Dryas Impact Event and the Cycles of Cosmic Catastrophes - Climate Scientists Awakening


Signs of the Times

Fri, 15 Jun 2007 08:58 EDT

The eagle screams,

And with pale beak tears corpses. . . .

Mountains dash together,

Heroes go the way to Hel,

And heaven is rent in twain. . . .

All men abandon their homesteads

When the warder of Midgard

In wrath slays the serpent.

The sun grows dark,

The earth sinks into the sea,

The bright stars

From heaven vanish;

Fire rages,

Heat blazes,

And high flames play

'Gainst heaven itself"

R.B. Anderson, "Norse Mythology," 1875

NASA seems to spend a lot of time looking for and thinking of ways to divert errant asteroids that might possibly hit earth. However, they keep reassuring the public that the probability of actually being hit by an asteroid is extremely small. So why all the attention?

To David Morrison, a senior scientist at NASA, the Earth orbits the sun in a sort of cosmic shooting gallery. More than 1 million asteroids spin around the sun, and it is Morrison's job to figure out which of these bodies of rock, dust and metal could come crashing down on Earth.

Right now, NASA is tracking 127 asteroids that have a very small chance of striking the planet. That number is about to get a lot higher. Stronger telescopes, and a new mandate from Congress, will allow scientists to detect thousands of smaller asteroids more likely to hit Earth. And scientists are plotting ways to stop them, from "gravity tractors" to solar ray guns. "There is no question that these will hit the Earth," says Russell Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut who is involved in a group studying asteroids. "The question is how often we will have to do something about it." In fact, Schweickart thinks world leaders might have to do something about it very soon, within the next 15 years.

In early March, Russian, European, Japanese and American scientists held a Planetary Defense Conference in Washington to discuss the threats and plot a strategy for dealing with them. Identifying asteroids close to the Earth is the priority right now, says Dave Jonta, a conference spokesman. A large asteroid could cause what scientists call an "impact winter": a huge volume of dust gets thrown into the atmosphere, completely or partially blocking the sun's light, causing crop loss, disease and possible global starvation. And smaller asteroids could kill hundred of thousands, if not millions of people, Schweickart says.

A group of experts, scientists, diplomats and international lawyers will meet in May to confront issues such as what country will finance asteroid-destruction missions. One problem: Because of the difficulty in projecting an asteroid's orbit, scientists often can only predict the probability that a specific asteroid will hit the Earth. So international leaders might have to take action before knowing for certain what path an asteroid might take. "We may have to spend $300 million to fly a mission that, in the end, wasn't needed," Schweickart says, "but that's a lot better than living with a 10 percent chance that New York City will be hit."

Well it seems either their asteroid program is just another boondoggle meant to enrich contractors in the Military Industrial Complex or they're lying. Possibly a combination of both. If we can't stop an asteroid or comet from hitting us, do you think they'll panic the public by announcing an impending collision beforehand? Do you have a personal bunker?

I'm climate model analyst working at a major research institute. On March 1st of this year I received a curious email from a climate scientist, Prof. James P Kennett, of the University of California Santa Barbara addressed to a paleoclimate email list to which I subscribe. It was an invitation to submit abstracts for the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico in May of this year, 2007. It read:

"The Younger Dryas Impact Event": The deglaciation that followed the last ice age was abruptly and dramatically interrupted ~12,900 years ago by widespread cooling that marks the onset of the Younger Dryas. Much evidence shows that the Younger Dryas was marked by abrupt changes in ice sheet configuration, the sudden emptying of proglacial lakes, diversion of North American flood-waters to the northern Atlantic, and the reorganization of thermohaline circulation. Nevertheless, significant questions have recently emerged about timing and direction of major freshwater flows to the oceans, in turn raising questions about the triggering mechanism for the Younger Dryas.

The onset of the Younger Dryas also appears to have coincided with massive, widespread, and punctuated changes in animal biota and Paleolithic cultural development centered in North and South America. This is represented by the most recent of all mass extinctions, the disappearance of the megafauna of the Americas, including mammoths, horses, and ground sloths and the termination of Clovis and other contemporaneous Paleolithic human cultures.

The cause of these changes is highly controversial and much debated, but is likely tied to the severe environmental changes that occurred at the beginning of the Younger Dryas. Another hypothesis attributes the extinctions to overhunting by Clovis people and other Paleolithic hunters or to pandemics associated with human migrations. However, all these hypotheses appear to fall short in satisfactorily explaining much available evidence. A new hypothesis posits that Younger Dryas cooling was instead triggered by extraterrestrial impacts that caused ice sheet destabilization, flood-water rediversion, and changes in ocean circulation.

This work offers newly uncovered evidence for an ET impact or airbursts at 12.9 ka including end-Clovis-age sediments throughout North America with high levels of iridium, magnetic and carbon spherules, glass-like carbon, fullerenes, and ET noble gas ratios often in association with carbonaceous layers ("black mats") with unusual biota.

In this session, we invite abstracts that will explore the strengths and weaknesses of existing and new hypotheses that attempt to explain the cause of the Younger Dryas, changes in global climate, the extinctions, and human cultural changes.

We are interested in exploring new perspectives on the chronology, stratigraphic succession, and potential interconnections between a wide-range of processes that appear to have been associated with the Younger Dryas. These include abrupt climatic change, ice-sheet deglaciation, flood-water rerouting, surficial geology, iceberg discharge, ocean reorganization, including thermohaline circulation, and sea-level change.

Though I wasn't able to attend, the reports of the event made the news. Ice Age Ends Smashingly: Did a comet blow up over eastern Canada?

Evidence unearthed at more than two dozen sites across North America suggests that an extraterrestrial object exploded in Earth's atmosphere above Canada about 12,900 years ago, just as the climate was warming at the end of the last ice age. The explosion sparked immense wildfires, devastated North America's ecosystems and prehistoric cultures, and triggered a millennium-long cold spell, scientists say.

Well, the first thing you notice is that it wasn't an asteroid, but a comet. Likewise the Tunguska event in 1908 was a comet, not an asteroid. Norse mythologies talk about "Fenris-wolf" who "advances with wide-open mouth," the "upper jaw" reaching to heaven and the "lower jaw" to earth.

"The stars shall be hurled from heaven"...

"Then it shall come to pass that the earth will shake so violently that trees will be torn up by the roots, the mountains will topple down, and all bonds and fetters will be broken and snapped."

So why is NASA looking for asteroids?

Maybe because they're the only thing that they can observe in the inner solar system with trajectories intersecting earth. And at the same time they are the only thing they can make plans to divert years in advance. They can't bother with comets, because they come from the outer solar system without warning. In fact, there is no NASA program, publicly at least, that tries to detect comets. Almost all comets discovered in recent history were found by amateurs with backyard telescopes. One exception is comet Shoemaker-Levy, formally designated D/1993 F2, discovered by three professional astronomers, Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker and David Levy, the ninth short-periodic comet they had spotted. It was first detected on a photograph taken on the night of March 24, 1993 with the 0.4-meter Schmidt telescope on Palomar Mountain in California. The comet collided with Jupiter in July 1994.

This was the wakeup call for NASA.

But is there something more?

In Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article "Has Nibiru/Planet X Been Sighted?" (Don't worry. It hasn't.) she writes:

Immanuel Velikovsky demonstrated rather convincingly that there was massive evidence of both a literary and scientific nature that great catastrophic earth changes had occurred during the second millennium BC due to cometary showers and the close passage of Venus. He settled on a date of 1450 BC, but more recent scientific evidence points to the date actually being 1628 BC. There is also evidence for a disruption circa 5200 BC, 8,800 BC, 12,400 BC, 16,000 BC, 19,600 BC, and by logical extension every 3,600 years previously for an indefinite and unknown period of time. What is more, if the last "return" was in 1628 BC, we are not just due, we are overdue for the next one.

The theories about Nibiru do not take into account many of the literary reports from the ancients regarding these great bombardments of comets. Velikovsky tried to account for this by suggesting that a cometary Venus was hauling around a tail of rocks. It seems that Velikovsky and his supporters, and Sitchin and his supporters, although recognizing serious worldwide catastrophes, have failed to recognize the true nature of such events. Velikovsky proposed that Venus out of orbit was a more or less one-time event rather than a symptom of a long term cycle. Sitchin came closer with his understanding of the cycle, but he failed to consider all the variables in his solution. What is more, once he settled on his idea as the one and only solution, his efforts to make the mythical elements fit the hypothesis became almost as absurd as the efforts of mainstream science to avoid them!

The confirmed linchpin for the fall of the late Bronze Age cultures, the Middle Eastern Civilizations, and other recorded disasters that are found to be "around that time," seems to be the period from 1644 BC to 1628 BC. The ice cores show the disturbances starting in 1644 (registering in 1645) and the tree rings show a big spike in 1628, though the entire period was disturbed. Yoshiyuki Fujii and Okitsugu Watanabe's "Microparticle Concentration And Electrical Conductivity of A 700 m Ice Core from Mizuho Station Antarctic" published in Annals of Glaciology (1-, 1988) pp. 38-42, demonstrate that "large scale environmental changed possibly occurred in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of the Holocene. (Within the last 10,000 years). Their depth profiles of micro particle concentration, electrical conductivity and Oxygen 18 at circa 1600 BC indicates a spike in readings for all of these elements.

The evidence shows that this disturbance covered this designated period, but with a "huge spike" at c. 1600 BC. Similar evidence from the same source article exists at 5200 BC. This period shows a less severe but similar period. The oxygen 18 profile is close to normal, but there is a visible volcanic dirt band. The dating of this segment is less close because it is clear that nobody is really looking for this cycle, but it appears to correspond to the ash band from the Byrd station core.

I'll get back to these dates, but what I'd like to wrestle with is the allegation that there was a cometary impact or climate changing event in the 1628 BC. What is known to have happened in that year was the eruption of Thera (or Santorini) in the southern Aegean Sea. The ashes and dust loading could then be detected as micro particles in the Antarctic Dome C ice cores. The presence of micro particles, as Ms. Knight-Jadczyk points out, "the tree rings shows almost no registration in the Antarctic cores in terms of volcanic activity. But the northern cores show the activity beginning 1644 BC." In fact, it's hard to believe the eruption of Thera had any great impact on global climate:

The Minoan eruption of Santorini was a large-magnitude natural event. However, in terms of scale it ranks smaller in erupted volume and eruptive intensity than the historical eruption of Tambora in 1815 AD, and smaller in sulphur emission and, by inference, climatic effects than both the Tambora and Mt. Pinatubo, 1991, eruptions. Eruption statistics for the past 2000 years indicate that Minoan-size eruptions typically occur at a rate of several per thousand years. Eruptions resulting in a Minoan-scale injection of sulphur to the stratosphere occur far more frequently - at a rate of one or two per century. Inferences of massive sociological, religious and political impacts from such eruptions owe more to mythology than reality. [ The global impact of the Minoan eruption of Santorini, Greece, D. M. Pyle, Environmental Geology, Volume 30, Numbers 1-2 / March, 1997]

If one looks at the first time series EOF (Empirical Orthogonal Function) of the GISP2 (Greenland) ice core which is a marker of the circulation strength, one clearly sees other events which have triggered the reduction of circulation, but not the Thera eruption (see fig. 22 from Weiss et al. reproduced below with yellow box marking the time period.).

It's not to say that the eruption that killed thousands wasn't an awe-inspiring event, but it looks more and more like it had simply a regional impact, mostly on the political systems, but hardly any major impact on the global climate, perhaps reducing the global temperature a degree over the next year as happened with the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, before the dust settled - some of it in Antarctica.

Now, getting back to those other dates. Further on in her article, Ms. Knight-Jadczyk refers to another paper on the Antarctic ice cores.

Looking further: Michel R. Legrand and Robert J. Delmas of Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l'Environment published an article "Soluble Impurities in Four Antarctic Ice Cores Over the Last 30,000 Years" in Annals of Glaciology (10, 1988, pp 116-120). They graphed the Oxygen 18 variations and the ionic components Na = NH (sub4) and Ca (sup 2) and H and Cl and NO (sub 3) and SO (sub 4). The time scale for each ionic component level as well as the O (sup 18) levels stretches back 30,000 years. The graph shows correlations to spikes at 5,200 BC, 8,800 BC, 12,400 BC, c. 16,000 BC, c. 19,600 BC. All of these were times of great geologic stress.

However, if you look at the figure (see fig. 1 from the paper below) that was used in determining the dates of this recurring event it isn't very clear at all that these things happened at the times quoted. The time scale (Years Before Present) are given at the top of the figure. One can see a ~12,400 - 13,000 BP event in the d180 plot, but not in any of the microparticles. There is no 5,200 BP event in the d18O plot, but what looks like a 6,000 BP event in two of the microparticle plots. It's hard to narrow down precisely the 19,600 BP event though there is something going on around the 20,000 BP event. Anyway, the point is that the authors do not mention specific events in the paper and it's hard for the reader to interpret the timing of the events from the figure.

This is not to say there isn't cyclic phenomenon, but the best way to figure this out isn't to subjectively look at a curve dating back 30,000 years and pick and choose dates. No, there's a better way. And there have been many papers and much data gathering since the Legrand paper came out. We now have data going back hundreds of thousands of years in both the Antarctic and Greenland ice cores. In fact, if you're trying to understand cycles and their impacts on Northern Hemisphere cultures it's best to stick with the Greenland ice cores.

Harvey Weiss, an archaeologist at Yale U. wrote an article in 2002 called Environmental Disaster and the Archaeology of Human Response.

The earliest Holocene abrupt climate changes occurred at 12,800, 8200, 5200, and 4200 B.P. The 4200 B.P. abrupt climate change is especially well documented across West Asia, Central Asia, Africa, and parts of the New World. Limnological and speleothem radiometric dates situate the beginning of this event at ca. 3,800 radiocarbon years before 1950 (3.8 ka bp) or ca. 2200 B.C.

High resolution paleoclimate records, including the Greenland Ice Shee Project 2 (GISP2) ice core, Lake Van varve sediments, and U.S. Southwest dendrochronology, now also provide absolute calendar dating for this event in addition to quantification of its amplitude relative to prior and succeeding climate states. Social adaptations to this event are recorded in the contemporary archaeological records of southeastern Europe, North Africa, and West Asia: habitat-tracking, regional population abandonments, migrations, and sociopolitical collapse.

The first thing to notice is that he does not even mention the 1628 BC Thera eruption event. In other words, it's impact was regional, mostly in the Mediterranean area. Another thing to notice is that precise dating pins down the timing of the events. The only date that matches the above dates is the 5200 BP event, otherwise, we have adjustments to the other events.

And as you can see, the 3600 year cycle is harder to discern. But has it disappeared? What seems to appear in its place, excluding the 5200 BP event, is a ~4200 year cycle. But, as I mentioned, we have data now going back hundreds of thousands of years so if there is a 3600 year or 4200 year cycle and it's been going on for a long time they should appear in this record.

There's a data analysis technique known as the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) which basically extracts the spectral coefficients and returns the power of any cyclicity in the data passed through this mathematical filter.

Fig 2 shows the results of using FFT on the GRIP and NGRIP oxygen-18 isotope data. Before passing the data through FFT it was interpolated to yearly values. The NGRIP (left) data goes back 112,900 years, the GRIP data (right) 41760 years. And as can be seen in the GRIP FFT there's a rather strong signal at 4600 years, a broader, but slightly stronger signal centered around ~8200 years and a pronounced signal at 20,900 years.

For this type of data the errors on these signals increase as the period increases because the error is proportional to the number of cycles contained in the time period of the data. So for example the error for the 4600 years is 1/sqrt(N) where N=41760/4600 or 33% which is about 1500 years. For the largest period the error is quite high, but this signal is well known. It is one of the Milankovitch cycles, specifically the precessional periods of 19000, 22000, and 24000 years. There is 3500 year cycle, but this isn't as strong a signal, being less than half the strength of the 4600 year signal and is thus not as important to the cyclic nature of the data, however it does exist, though its significance is questionable. The error on this is smaller still at 29% or +/- 1000 years.

Looking at the longer time series from the NGRIP data we again see the precessional cycle more resolved at 25000 years and 20500 years. The larger signal at 41000 years is another Milankovitch cycle, the obliquity or axial tilt of the earth. The 61500 year signal is most likely picking up the 100,000 year eccentricity cycle given that the data set is only 112,900 years long and the error so large.

But what we're concerned with here are the shorter cycles. Because of the longer time series of the data (roughly a factor of three), the errors are reduced by roughly 1.7 (sqrt(3)).

As can be seen in the plot, there is a ~6000 year cycle which has been recognized in the Greenland ice core data ("A 6-ka climatic cycle during at least the last 50,000 years" [pdf]).

"[S]ignificant ice growth did, in fact, occur at around 6000 years BP. Studies of some of the largest of the 3000 small glaciers that occur in Fennoscandia today indicate that the majority of these started to grow shortly after 6000 years ago." The biblical flood of Noah is believed to date back to this time period.

According to recent archaeological research the flooding of the Black Sea dates to this period:

In 1998, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, geologists from Columbia University, published evidence that a massive flood through the Bosporus occurred about 5600 BC. Glacial meltwater had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes, while sea levels remained lower worldwide. The fresh water lakes were emptying their waters into the Aegean Sea. As the glaciers retreated, rivers emptying into the Black Sea reduced their volume and found new outlets in the North Sea, and the water levels lowered through evaporation. Then, about 5600 BC, as sea levels rose, Ryan and Pitman suggest, the rising Mediterranean finally spilled over a rocky sill at the Bosporus. The event flooded 60,000 mile² (155,000 km²) of land and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline to the north and west. Ryan and Pitman wrote:

"Ten cubic miles [42 km³] of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls. ...The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days."

The next largest signal below 6000 is ~4300 years, and then, below that, a 3600 year cycle. A similar spectral analysis using the Lomb-Scargle periodogram (not shown) shows that the 4300 and 6000 periodicity are significant, but not the 3600 year cycle.

So from the longer time series data we see a stronger, 4300 year cycle and an even stronger 6000 year cycle. These two (possibly three) cycles are unexplained. We do not know what causes them.

Or do we?

The answer is important for not only was there an global event 4200 years ago (and again at 8200 BP), there was one 6000 years ago (and again at ~12000 BP). On top of that, there was the rapid rise in sea level 19000 years ago and the associated warming of the North Atlantic region that began 21000 to 22000 years BP coinciding with the precessional cycle (see Rapid Rise of Sea Level 19,000 Years Ago and Its Global Implications[pdf]). Then there was an event 41000 years ago, possibly a supernova (Firestone, et al.), aligning with the obliquity cycle.

So we have four cycles, possibly five if you include the eruption of Thera as part of the 3600 year cycle, that are converging at the present moment. I believe my correction that it's a 4300 year cycle that we need to be most concerned about is the correct one, not a 3600 year cycle. Arguably, the 4300 year cycle could fit into the 41000 year cycle, but that wouldn't fit with the known solar forcing due to the obliquity cycle.

Just a quick look at the bottom plot from the wiki site (reproduced below) shows that if recent warm periods (or interglacials) are a guide, then we may soon slip into another glacial period and that whatever brings it about is due right about now as at least four cycles coincide to bring down global temperatures a few notches. The hype about global warming, (which preceded every glacial cycle for the past million years), is just mere distraction by comparison, because the bigger surprise is yet to come.

Now, getting back to the email, The Younger Dryas Impact Event. What's interesting about this story is that climate scientists, not being historians, archaeologists, astronomers or nuclear physicists (they're mostly geologists), tend to think that only the Sun influences the climate and that the Earth is pretty much a closed system that has periodic climate changes, probably due to the chaotic nature of the system. A comment by Dr. Peter de Menocal of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory pretty much sums up the views of paleoclimate scientists about the Holocene era:

The archeological community - and actually segments of the paleoclimate community - have viewed the Holocene as being climatically stable... And so they imagine that the whole drama of civilization's emergence took place on a level playing field in terms of the environment.

But a broader base of knowledge brought in by archaeologists, astronomers and nuclear physicists has rocked the boat and it has been going on for over a decade. A look at some of the abstracts presented at the meeting will give some flavor on how far things have come in the past few years:

Scientific Drilling, Impact Craters, Paleoclimate, and Mass Extinctions ; I D A Kring, Lunar and Planetary Institute; J Urrutia-Fucugauchi, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico

Did a Bolide Impact Trigger the Younger Dryas and Wipe Out American Megafauna? A Skeptic's Reaction to an Intriguing Hypothesis.; Fiedel, S J

Geophysical evidence of an impact crater in northwestern South America; Hernandez, O

Exploring the Human Ecology of the Younger Dryas Extraterrestrial Impact Event; Kennett, D J, Erlandson, J M, Braje, T J , Culleton, B J

The Younger Dryas ET Impact Theory and Terminal Pleistocene Mammalian Extinctions in North America; Erlandson, J M ,Kennett, D J, Braje, T, Culleton, B

Triggering of the Younger Dryas Cooling by Extraterrestrial Impact; Kennett, J P, Becker, L, West, A

Evidence for an Extraterrestrial Impact Origin of the Carolina Bays on the Atlantic Coast of North America; Howard, G A, West, A, Firestone, R B,Kennett, J P, Kimbel, D, Kobres, R

Evidence for a Massive Extraterrestrial Airburst over North America 12.9 ka Ago; Firestone, R B, West, A,Revay, Z, Belgya, T,Smith, A, Que Hee, S S

Extraterrestrial Markers Found at Clovis Sites Across North America; West, A, Firestone, R B, Kennett, J P,Becker, L

Kennett's abstract, Triggering of the Younger Dryas Cooling by Extraterrestrial Impact, reads:

The enigmatic Younger Dryas (YD) cooling episode (12.9-11.5 ka) is unique to late Quaternary deglacials; its timing is unexplainable by orbital forcing because Northern Hemisphere insolation was increasing at that time. The abrupt onset of YD cooling coincided with, and was likely partially in consequence of reduction in north Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC).

Triggering of YD cooling has often been attributed to major diversion of freshwater outflow from the continental interior via newly opened outlets resulting from ice sheet melt-back. However, an alternative primary trigger for YD cooling is actively being sought because of problems related to the timing of outlet openings and the relative importance of the magnitude and timing of freshwater input into the ocean.

We present evidence in support of the hypothesis that the primary trigger for YD cooling may have instead been an extraterrestrial impact (the YD impact event) over northern North America at 12.9 ka.

This impact event is recorded in a diverse range of impact-related proxies within the widely distributed YDB layer that indicates continent-wide impact effects.

YD cooling likely resulted both from a combination of short-term atmospheric processes due to the impact itself that reduced solar radiation and from reorganization of ocean circulation. The hypothesis also posits that the impact caused partial destabilization of northern ice sheets and the opening of freshwater conduits; ice sheet melting due in part to the deposition of impact related dust (i.e. albedo) on the ice sheets; freshening of Arctic and northern Atlantic surface waters, and resulting strong reduction in north Atlantic THC. The impact hypothesis for YD triggering explains the timing enigma of the YD episode and is consistent with much existing data:

1) Abrupt and dramatic switch in Lake Agassiz outflow at 12.9 ka away from the Mississippi River's southern outlet to newly-opened outlets to the east and/or north;

2) A major and abrupt drop in ice-margin lake levels at precisely the time of the impact, based on the chronostratigraphy at Lake Hind and supported by Lake Agassiz sediment records;

3) Evidence at the onset of YD cooling in northern Atlantic and Arctic sediment cores of widespread IRD (during Heinrich event H0) reflecting ice-rafting armadas, freshwater discharges and reduced sea-surface salinity that resulted from the partial destabilization and melting of the ice sheet;

4) Evidence for an anomalous peak in Greenland ice sheet margin melting at the onset of the YD during a time of abrupt ocean and atmosphere cooling.

The YD impact event supports the concept that extraterrestrial impacts, even of such limited geographic extent, can significantly and abruptly affect global climate change.

Comparison of the YD event with other even larger meltwater outflow events of the last deglacial that had limited affects on the THC, suggests that the YD cooling was not triggered solely by salinity-driven ocean circulation changes. Instead, short-term climate pertubations due to the impact likely played a key role in triggering initial cooling that was reinforced or enhanced by the ocean circulation changes. Thus, the YD climate episode would not have occurred in the absence of the YD extraterrestrial impact event.

Fiedel's skeptical abstract reads:

Perhaps there is credible physical evidence of a bolide impact in North America at 12,900 cal BP. However, several incongruous aspects of the paleoclimatic, archaeological, and faunal records of the Terminal Pleistocene must be addressed to allay skepticism about the hypothesis of dramatic effects upon humans or megafauna:

1) Paleoindian populations (e.g., Folsom, Dalton) thrived after the Younger Dryas (YD) onset;

2) megafauna, including giant sloths were wiped out in Florida, but medium-sized sloths in the Caribbean islands (including Cuba) survived into the mid-Holocene;

3) South American megafauna survived until at least 12,500 cal BP, probably longer; why was there not a synchronous extinction?

4) Late Pleistocene cold reversals in Antarctica and southern South America are not synchronous with the YD;

5) Bison and grizzly survived, and elk and moose expanded into North America in the Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene; why did they survive and thrive?

6) Mammoths survived on Wrangel Island and probably in pockets in Siberia well into the Holocene; why did the supposed impact in the Arctic not wipe them out?

7) Finally, the YD ended at 11,590 cal BP even more abruptly than it began (over less than a decade); does this require another impact? If not, why does the YD onset call for an extraterrestrial trigger?

While Fiedel's skeptical questions need to be answered, the appearance of a "black mat" and carbon spherules in the sediments scattered throughout North America , along with the Carolina Bays radiating from possible impact craters in Lake Michigan dating from this period is pretty convincing evidence that a comet or other bolide impacted over the Laurentide ice sheet approximately 12,900 years ago. And just recently this appeared in the news:

Two geologists from Washington traveled to north-central Montana last week after an accidental discovery of what they believe is a "new" meteorite impact crater, located just southeast of Thornhill Butte. The Havre Daily caught up with the two St. Martin University students at Havre's Fifth Street Grind and Short Stop Thursday. The discoverers were on their way to a local laundry to dry their clothes, drenched in the previous day's rain, before heading back out in their home-built buggy, "the Mule" designed for rugged terrain.

Joe D'Alelio and Gabriel Mainwaring of Shelton, Wash. Said they had been using Google Earth to locate fossil hunting grounds when "dumb luck" led the satellite view to scan over a formation familiar, yet very exciting. "We zoomed in and saw it had the form of a meteorite impact crater," D'Alelio said. "We checked with the USGS (United States Geological Survey) and there was no record of it. The only one they have is south of the Missouri River about 200 miles. This one is located north of the DY Junction (Highways 66 and 191). You can see it from Highway 66.

We loaded up the Mule and headed out Monday and camped when we got to the crater. We studied the rim, the bowl and surrounding area and took samples." Much like Daniel Moreau Barringer, who proved the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona in 1902, D'Alelio and Mainwaring said they had not spent a full day before they knew the crater had been caused by meteorite impact.

"It's about a mile wide, rim to rim and the sandstone layers are upside down," D'Alelio said. "The white is on top from the impact. You can measure the red sandstone to see how thick it is and it tells you the age. We are guessing it hit between 10,000 to 50,000 years ago, which is relatively new."

How about 12,900 years ago?

You can see the crater here. Notice off to the right (Northeast). There appears to be another, larger, crater, but there's no way to know for sure from the satellite image. How many more, "relatively new" craters are left to be discovered?

Firestone has written a book about this subject so I won't go into it here. New evidence of catastrophic changes appear in the science publications on a regular basis. The latest, A catastrophic meltwater flood event and the formation of the Hudson Shelf Valley. What is more, not only is it likely that Earth has been impacted by periodic comet swarms, these comet swarms are relatively new on the scene, geologically speaking. In a paper published in Science in March, 2000, titled "Lunar impact history from (40)Ar/(39)Ar dating of glass spherules",

Lunar spherules are small glass beads that are formed mainly as a result of small impacts on the lunar surface; the ages of these impacts can be determined by the (40)Ar/(39)Ar isochron technique. Here, 155 spherules separated from 1 gram of Apollo 14 soi l were analyzed using this technique. The data show that over the last approximately 3.5 billion years, the cratering rate decreased by a factor of 2 to 3 to a low about 500 to 600 million years ago, then increased by a factor of 3.7 +/- 1.2 in the last 400 million years. This latter period coincided with rapid biotic evolutionary radiation on Earth.

And the same swarm that hit the moon surely struck the Earth which has a much larger area.

As Firestone has speculated, the sun is now moving through the outer arm of the Milky Way galaxy which is cluttered with debris, remnants of supernovas and this probably means much more frequent gravitational encounters with errant stars able to perturb the Oort cloud or even be captured by our own sun.

The most dramatic increase corresponds to the time of the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago, and it continues to this day at a higher level than for most of the last 3 billion years. Clearly, the moon has been under a major meteor and comet assault in recent times, and this means that Earth has suffered from the same fate. According to Muller's research, we are still at one of the highest levels of bombardment that the Earth has seen in the last 3 billion years. There is absolutely no evidence that it is over; instead all the evidence suggests that it is continuing. [Richard Firestone, The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes p. 248]

There's an oft cited excerpt from "Critias" by Plato (c.428 - c.347 BCE) in which he describes an encounter by Solon, his ancestor, with an Egyptian priest. It's worth repeating here:

Critias: Then listen, Socrates, to a strange tale, which is, however, certainly true, as Solon, who was the wisest of the seven sages, declared. He was a relative and great friend of my great-grandfather, Dropidas, as he himself says in several of his poems; and Dropidas told Critias, my grandfather, who remembered, and told us, that there were of old great and marvelous actions of the Athenians, which have passed into oblivion through time and the destruction of the human race and one in particular, which was the greatest of them all, the recital of which will be a suitable testimony of our gratitude to you....


Now, the citizens of this city are great lovers of the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. Thither came Solon, who was received by them with great honor; and he asked the priests, who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old.

On one occasion, when he was drawing them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world--about Phoroneus, who is called 'the first,' and about Niobe; and, after the Deluge, to tell of the lives of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and attempted to reckon how many years old were the events of which he was speaking, and to give the dates.

Thereupon, one of the priests, who was of very great age; said,

'O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are but children, and there is never an old man who is an Hellene.'

Solon, hearing this, said, 'What do you mean?'

'I mean to say,' he replied, 'that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you the reason of this: there have been, and there will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes.

There is a story which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Phaethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt.

Now, this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving around the earth and in the heavens, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth recurring at long intervals of time: when this happens, those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the sea-shore; and from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing savior, saves and delivers us.

Plato goes on to write about Atlantis. But that is another tale... What's important here is that the Egyptian priest tells Solon that the myth reflects actual astronomical cycles of destruction and that they did not believe the myth as literal fact, but what it in fact represents.

Getting back to the present; Laura Knight-Jadczyk writes concerning the sudden appearance of new moons orbiting Neptune, Saturn and Jupiter:

[T]o get back to our conversation about humanity being past its "extinct by" date, I mused that anybody with eyes and ears and a bit of scientific knowledge can look around and see that something is going on "out there".

The problem is, of course, that the masses of humanity are so distracted by all the concerns of everyday life - many of which are quite serious nowadays, especially the threat of nuclear war brought to us by George W. Bush and the Ziocons - that most of them haven't got a clue that they probably don't have to worry about Global Warming. (And just because I say that people don't have to worry about Global Warming doesn't mean they don't have to worry!)

The evidence that is all around us nowadays even helps us to realize that there was nothing really magical or mysterious about the story of Noah. The Bible tells us that God told Noah that something was up, something was coming, and that he should build an ark and that would enable him and his family and a few critters to survive.

But obviously, in this day and time, we really don't need God to tell us that Something Wicked This Way Comes..

In any event, what is perfectly clear is that the story of Noah and the story of Atlantis are apocryphal: many groups of people survived the event of 12,000 years ago here and there, and very likely many of them survived because they realized what was coming. Afterward, in their stories and legends they ascribed their survival to the intervention of their particular deity to give that deity more authority.

There was another article recently by Alexander Cockburn, perhaps the only liberal writer out there speaking against "global warming" or the idea that man is the cause of it. He writes:

We should never be more vigilant than at the moment a new dogma is being installed. The claque endorsing what is now dignified as "the mainstream theory" of global warming stretches all the way from radical greens through Al Gore to George W. Bush, who signed on at the end of May. The left has been swept along, entranced by the allure of weather as revolutionary agent, naïvely conceiving of global warming as a crisis that will force radical social changes on capitalism by the weight of the global emergency.

Amid the collapse of genuinely radical politics, they have seen it as the alarm clock prompting a new Great New Spiritual Awakening.

Alas for their illusions.

Capitalism is ingesting global warming as happily as a python swallowing a piglet. The press, which thrives on fearmongering, promotes the nonexistent threat as vigorously as it did the imminence of Soviet attack during the cold war, in concert with the arms industry. There's money to be made, and so, as Talleyrand said, "Enrich yourselves!"

Now, some of the facts Mr. Cockburn confuses, but the gist of his article is correct (see comments in above link). What is happening is that the controllers are using Global Warming as a distraction to consolidate their hold on the public, the economy and now even the military:

A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.

The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.

'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life. The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.

The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Of course, it didn't prove humiliating at all to Bush. In fact, it played right into his hands as he has subsumed even more power like the python swallowing the piglet.

As I wrote at the beginning of this article, "If we can't stop an asteroid or comet from hitting us, do you think they'll panic the public by announcing an impending collision beforehand?" Nevertheless, panicking the public is de rigeuer for the Powers That Be, but only for those things they can manage. Global warming that would slowly play out over decades is the ideal problem for those seeking power: the ever more dire warnings feed into the controllers' hands as they use it to justify ever higher military spending, dismantling of civil liberties, more control for corporations, and "pre-emptive" invasions in the quest for dwindling resources. What the public doesn't realize is that this may very well be all in preparation for when that first comet swarm panics us little earthlings who have no underground bases, no stockpiles of supplies, no protocol for surviving such an event, to emerge on the other side still in control.

Whether it's a 3600, 4200, 6000, 20,000, 41,000 year cycle and that it was 3600 or is 4200, 6000, 12,000, 20,000, or 41,000 years ago doesn't make any difference to our "extinct by" date. As I noted above, the cycles are converging and the time is now. Indeed, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

If humanity could wake up to what is really in store for us, they might be able to throw off the ideological and cultural baggage strapped to us from our first breath and stop feeding a system run by psychopaths all too happy to enslave us with the yoke of fear and perpetual war and DO something.

And that's what They fear.

Unidentified light pulsates over town in New Hampshire

Maddie Hanna

Concord Monitor

Thu, 14 Jun 2007 15:25 EDT

A "strange bright light" flashing on and off earlier this week awoke a Chichester woman and her husband, who said it was unlike anything they ever saw.

Shari Demers, who lives on Main Street, said she looked out the window and saw other people pulled over in their cars - presumably also because of the light, she said.

"It was actually my husband who insisted on waking me up three or four times . . . it was just bizarre," said Demers, who described the light as a "huge camera flash that lit up our bedroom" every time it went off, for about 10 minutes after 1 a.m. Monday.

David McDonald, director of education at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, said he didn't know what the light was.

"We often get calls about Venus. It's getting very bright this time of year," he said, but he added that the planet sets about 11 p.m.

Sri Lanka: Catch a falling star

Ayesha Inoon

The Sunday Times

Sun, 17 Jun 2007 13:58 EDT

It was a quiet Sunday night in Kovinna, Andiambalama. At 9.05 p.m., 24-year-old H.T. Nadeeshani was having a bath at the well in her garden when she noticed something unusual in the western sky. A bright light, almost as large as the full moon, appeared to be moving towards her in a wide arc. Alarmed by thoughts of terrorist air attacks, she called out to her neighbour, Mrs. Renuka Jayakody. Together they watched fearfully as the glowing object drew closer, landed on the Jayakodys' roof and vanished completely. A few minutes later the air vibrated with a loud explosion.

The next day they discovered that parts of the asbestos sheets on the roof were charred and cracked. A few pieces of rock and sand were scattered around the damaged area.

Similar incidents were reported around the country that night. Several people in areas such as Puttalam, Maho and Bingiriya also noted the appearance of the bright light in the sky as well as the loud explosion. "We thought it was another air attack or the beams from the airport," says K. Sarath, a trishaw driver in Kimbulapitiya who watched a flaming object land on a house and heard the booming sounds soon afterwards.

In Campbell Place, Dehiwala, the roofs of two buildings were damaged, and a loud noise was heard. "24 asbestos sheets were broken," says M.D. Sampath who works in one of the buildings, adding that there was no sign of what caused the damage.

The strange objects that lit the night skies on June 10 have now been confirmed as meteors. "This is the first time that meteors of such magnitude have fallen in Sri Lanka," says Dr. Chandana Jayaratne, Senior Consultant at the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, who is currently gathering data and conducting studies on the incident. The shockwaves and vibrations have been heard throughout the country, from Galle to Puttalam.

He believes that two large meteoroids entered the atmosphere, the larger one splitting into two and the smaller one into about 25 fragments. The loud explosions, he says, were some of the particles exploding, probably about 50 to 100 km above the ground.

The peculiarity of this incident is that there was very little trace of the meteoroids even where extensive damage had occurred such as in Dehiwala. The meteoroid was travelling at such high momentum that all the particles must have dissolved or vaporised by the heat on impact, he explains.

Residents of Andiambalama say that they had noticed unusual movement of the stars for about two weeks continually prior to the falling of the meteor. "We saw many shooting stars, the children started gathering at about 8 p.m. every night just to watch this," says Prasanna Jayakody, adding that they even reported it to the emergency police hotline. Dr. Jayaratne however says that this has nothing to do with the falling of the meteor.

Meteor streaks over airspace - Sonic boom wakes many; miners see fireball break up

Todd Adams

The Challis Messenger

Thu, 21 Jun 2007 07:04 EDT

A very bright, loud meteor streaked over Custer County airspace early Monday morning. Two miners saw a large fireball light up the Squaw Creek drainage as bright as day, then break up into half a dozen smaller pieces and fizzle out.

The sonic boom woke sleepers and lit the skies from the Pahsimeroi, Challis and Clayton, to Stanley. The meteor was spotted from Pine and Featherville, to Boise and McCall.

Dispatcher Traudy Dunkle was on duty at the Custer County Sheriff's Office and reported what sounded like a sonic boom about 4:45 a.m. She received multiple 911 calls about rumbling and shaking of buildings, bright lights and explosions. Some callers weren't sure whether it was an airplane exploding, a meteor or an earthquake.

Thompson Creek Mine employees Robert Fisher and Dave Hewitt were carpooling on their way to work when they saw a huge, glowing red fireball with a vapor trail that lit up the sky with an intense blue light.

"It lit up everything," Fisher said. "You could see almost like it was daylight."

The fireball was flying from north to south, he said, parallel to their vehicle as they drove up Squaw Creek. They slammed on the brakes.

The meteor was fairly low on the horizon, said Fisher. The two didn't hear the sonic boom that others heard, but they saw the fireball burst into 5-7 chunks, producing other colors in the yellow to orange range. The smaller pieces then fizzled out like spent fireworks.

"It was spectacular," Fisher said. "It went out all at once. We were expecting an impact," Fisher added, but he and Hewitt didn't hear one. "It lit up the whole canyon," Hewitt said. The whole experience lasted about 10 seconds.

Up at the mine, other employees felt buildings shake and some thought the mill had exploded. They reported to the sheriff's office that it looked like the meteor broke up over Potaman Peak south of Clayton.

"You're lucky to see something like that once in a lifetime," Fisher said.

Fisher and Hewitt said it was hard to estimate the meteor's size, but the light was so intense it might have been as big as a school bus, with smaller pieces the size of refrigerators or basketballs.

"It was huge," Hewitt said, and flying low to the horizon. Both thought it was big enough to be tracked on radar.

As many as 15-20 Thompson Creek employees saw the meteor while commuting to work, including Don Rowles and Frank Robinson, who also saw the intense whitish blue light that lit up the whole Salmon River canyon.

"I thought it was a spaceship and I was going to be beamed up," Rowles joked.

The Challis Messenger called around to check, touching base with state and federal agencies from NORAD to NASA.

Michael Stickney, director of earthquake studies at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, said his seismograph network didn't record any earthquakes in our area Monday morning. The closest instrument that could register a sonic boom, at Clark Canyon Reservoir, didn't record any data, Stickney said.

The Bruneau Dunes Observatory, in Bruneau Dunes State Park, offered more information.

Observatory operator and state park employee Bob Niemeyer, said sonic booms are only heard within 50 miles of meteors as they enter the lower atmosphere, so based on citizen reports, Custer County was closest.

The reports from Pine, Featherville and Boise were all about 4:44 a.m., so everyone probably saw the same meteor, Niemeyer said.

Size can be deceiving. A meteor the size of a walnut can light up the sky brighter than the moon. "Small ones can be spectacular," he said. The fact that the meteor broke up into smaller pieces in mid-air, probably means no chunks of debris fell to earth. Splitting or exploding meteors are called bolides, said Niemeyer.

There were no reports of the Federal Aviation Adminis-tration tracking the meteor on radar from towers in Boise and Mountain Home, Niemeyer said.

The Custer County meteor was no doubt a "background" meteor, he said, meaning it's not part of a meteor shower associated with debris from comets orbiting the sun, but rather one from the asteroid belt or left over from the early formation of the solar system.

Meteor showers, produced by cometary debris, occur annually as the earth's orbit takes it through the path of the old comet. Debris is typically small dust ? or sand grain ? sized particles, Niemeyer said.

Debris from perhaps the most famous comet, Halley's, produces two meteor showers per year, the Eta Aquarids in May and the Oronids in October. The 2007 meteor shower calendar on the American Meteor Society's website, shows we are in- between the June Lyrid and Bootid meteor showers.

The plasma, or ionized gas trail, from a glowing red fireball can produce a blue light and indicates the meteor is primarily made of nickel and iron, according to Niemeyer, with traces of iridium possible.

Nebraska's Loud boom probably a plane, say officals

Bellvue Leader

Wed, 20 Jun 2007 19:56 EDT

It was just before 11 a.m. Wednesday when Bellevue police Capt. Herb Evers heard the boom.

Evers was in the city's fleet maintenance facility, talking to a mechanic.

"The windows in the garage doors rattled," Evers said. "It was like you could feel the concussion."

He thought a plane had exploded and called the base police at Offutt Air Force Base. The person who answered the phone said, "Yeah, I know. We heard it, too."

They weren't alone.

People heard the boom from Cunningham Lake on Omaha's northern edge to Cass County, from La Vista to the west end of Council Bluffs.

Sarpy County emergency dispatchers fielded about 100 calls, while Douglas County dispatchers were just as busy. OPPD also received a number of calls.

Officials ruled out a number of things the boom wasn't: Fire. Explosion. Earthquake. Meteorite.

So what caused metro-area residents to momentarily question their safety around 11 a.m. Wednesday?

Most authorities are content with believing that the noise was the result of an airplane exceeding the speed of sound, an event known as a sonic boom.

Offutt has no planes that can make a sonic boom, but an F-16, which can fly at twice the speed of sound, was flying over the central United States Wednesday, said Lt. Col. Les Carroll of McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, S.C.

He's still investigating to see if the plane was responsible for the boom heard in the Omaha area.

Carroll said planes aren't allowed to fly fast enough to create a sonic boom over U.S. land, except over some remote areas. They do conduct training missions over the ocean, where speed isn't restricted the same way.

"It's rare," he said. "I'm sure if someone is responsible, they didn't intend to do it."

Carroll did not identify the plane's destination, but said it was scheduled for a paint job.

The lower the aircraft is traveling, the louder a sonic boom would sound, said Ken Plotkin, chief scientist at Wyle Laboratories in Virginia.

He said sonic booms aren't dangerous, but they can be startling to unsuspecting people and damaging to fragile objects, such as glass.

Reports Pour In About Big Boom

KETV.com, 20 June 2007

A loud boom was heard before noon, and Sarpy County officials said they are checking on what may have caused it.

KETV NewsWatch 7 received several calls from people who said they heard or felt a boom in Douglas, Madison, Sarpy and Cass counties in Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Across the region in cubicles and neighborhoods, the boom was all people could talk about. Shirley Jefferson, in Irvington, said the boom shook her house. Treasure Baker, who lives at 1917 Military Ave., said her house shook and the dog went crazy.

People as far away as Tabor, Iowa, and Fremont, Neb., also reported the boom.

"Just like a clap of thunder -- loud thunder -- between two houses," one witness told KETV NewsWatch 7.

"I work around 60th (Street) and Ames Avenue, and I also thought somebody came down our alley and hit our building," one poster wrote in a KETV.com forum.

Experts said the big boom was most likely sonic, though air traffic controllers from Eppley Airfield to Offutt Air Force Base said they saw nothing unusual in the skies and nothing that would make a sound as loud as people described. Offutt air traffic manager Don Hughes said there was an F-16 flying high overhead at about 18,000 feet. As it was making its descent to Sioux City, Iowa, it was clocked at about 530 knots, or just less than the speed of sound. Hughes said that under the right atmospheric conditions, that speed could cause a sonic boom.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, the speed of the planes had not been confirmed.

Flying faster than the speed of sound is illegal over land.

Experts said that sometimes a moisture cloud forms around airplanes as they break the sound barrier. In rare occurrences, a sonic-boom cloud can be dramatic.

"On a day like today, the air would be a little less dense, (decreasing the speed of sound,)" said Creighton University physics profess Dr. Michael Cherney. "A sonic boom is a kind of shockwave. What happens is, if the object creating the shockwave goes faster than the wave can go, all the waves created build up to give you a great big wave. That's the bang you hear as a sonic boom."

The Sarpy County sheriff said he had investigators look at a gas regulator that was found on its side on Sheridian Road and 36th Street between Bellevue and Papillion. Just before 3 p.m., the Metropolitan Utilities District said it looked at the regulator and didn't find any disturbance or leaks.

Mystery Object Crashes Through Massachusetts Ceiling - Meteorite?


Thu, 21 Jun 2007 16:37 EDT

At Gerrity Stone in Woburn, they know a lot about rocks. But they can't identify the one that punched a hole through their roof the other day.

NewsCenter 5's Kelley Tuthill reported that experts are examining the object, trying to determine exactly what it is.

"No one around here has ever seen anything like this. A real mystery," said Gerrity's Alan Weiner.

One would expect to find granite and marble at the stone warehouse, but workers were surprised to find the unusually heavy object on the floor.

"Then we looked up at the ceiling and, 'Oh my God. It fell through the ceiling,'" Weiner said.

For answers, Weiner headed to Sky And Telescope in Cambridge where J. Kelly Beatty examined the object.

"I'm suspicious that it's rusty and it shouldn't be rusty," Beatty said.

Beatty did some tests on the object, which weighs about 1.24 pounds.

"This is interesting. It's clearly got some metal in it. The magnet does attract," Beatty said.

Beatty said there is a chance the object could be a meteorite.

"A third of me says 'yes,' but two-thirds says 'no,'" Beatty said.

Beatty was intrigued enough by the object to take photos and e-mail them to an expert at Harvard University. Beatty said meteorites are rare.

"The only one known meteorite to have fallen in Massachusetts and that was in Northampton in 1963. That was iron, as this appears to be," Beatty said.

Meteorite or not, it's a mystery how the object fell from a warehouse ceiling.

If the object is a meteorite, experts said it could be worth a couple of thousand dollars.

Has a Tunguska Crater Been Found?

David Tytell

Sky and Telescope

Fri, 22 Jun 2007 18:32 EDT

Here's a story that just hit our radar screen, and we wanted to share the news immediately rather than wait for further facts to come out. In the online journal Terra Nova, a team of Italian researchers led by marine geologist Luca Gasperini reports on what may be the missing Tunguska impact crater.

Tunguska is a household name for meteorite enthusiasts. It's the best-known destructive impact to have occurred in the modern era, a blast that destroyed some 800 square miles of remote forest near the Tunguska River in eastern Siberia on the morning of June 30, 1908. Something - a small asteroid or comet - entered the atmosphere and exploded with a force equal to about 15 million tons of TNT. That's 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Experts think the blast occurred some 5 miles above the ground, and - here's the catch - no crater, not even the tiniest trace of the impactor, has ever been found.

Gasperini's team suspects that Lake Cheko, located some 5 miles north-northwest of the blast's suspected epicenter was gouged out when the impactor struck and later filled with water. The region is remote, and it's unclear from old maps whether the lake existed before 1908.

The team's investigation of the lake bottom's geology revealed a strange funnel-like shape that differs from those of neighboring lakes but is consistent with an impact origin. They go on to say that it might have formed from a fragment of the main-body explosion.

They hope a future drilling effort will settle the mystery. We'll dig a little deeper too and share more as we learn it.

Comment: Here is the conclusion of the study cited above:

Cheko, a small lake located 8 km from the alleged epicentre of the 1908 Tunguska Event, has an unusual funnel-like bottom morphology, with 50 m maximum water-depth near the center and a 0.16 depth-to-diameter ratio. This morphology is different from that of subarctic Siberian thermokarst lakes, and is also hard to be accounted for other 'normal' Earth-surface tectonic or erosion/deposition processes, but is compatible with the impact of a cosmic body. Based on diameter, depth and morphology of the lake crater, and assuming that the impacting object was an asteroid, a mass of 1.5 × 106 kg (10 m diameter) was estimated for the projectile. However, this estimate is probably too large, because the crater was enlarged by permafrost melting and release of H2O, CH4 and other volatiles induced by the impact into a soggy ground. The projectile that formed Lake Cheko might have been a fragment of the main body that exploded in the atmosphere 5 - 10 km above ground. A prominent reflector observed in seismic reflection profiles 10 m below the bottom at the center of the lake indicates a sharp density/velocity contrast, compatible with either the presence of a fragment of the body, or of material compacted by the impact. Drilling could solve this dilemma.

Hubble Photographs Two Huge Asteroids

Robert Roy Britt


Sat, 23 Jun 2007 06:19 EDT

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged two of the largest known asteroids, revealing craters and other features that will soon be the targets of close-up observations by NASA's Dawn spacecraft.

Ceres is round, like a planet, and 590 miles (950 kilometers) wide. The rock, about the size of Texas, contains some 30 to 40 percent of all the mass in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Thought to be a planet after its discovery in 1801, Ceres was later reclassified as an asteroid. But under the new and controversial planet definition that demoted Pluto, Ceres is now considered a dwarf planet.

Vesta, the other target, is irregularly shaped and about 330 miles (530 kilometers) wide-about the size of Arizona.

On July 7, NASA plans to launch Dawn-a mission that had been cancelled but was reinstated last year-on a four-year journey to the asteroid belt. The robotic probe will go into orbit around Vesta in 2011 and Ceres in 2015. The new images will help astronomers fine tune mission plans.

The images, released today, were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.

The picture of Vesta allowed astronomers to map the asteroid's southern hemisphere. A crater there, caused by an ancient collision, is a whopping 285 miles (456 kilometers) across. Researchers have known that the collision spawned many smaller asteroids that they call vestoids.

Color differences in the image reflect differences in surface chemicals, some of it possibly due to volcanic activity, that Dawn will explore for clues to the asteroid's interior structure. The effects might be similar to dark "seas" and bright highlands on Earth's moon, astronomers said in a prepared statement.

The picture of Ceres reveals bright and dark regions that could be topographic features such as craters, researchers said. Or they could just show areas of different surface material.

Ceres' round shape suggests its interior is layered, like Earth's is, astronomers said. It might have a rocky core, an icy mantle and a thin dusty crust. There could be water inside, too.

What was that? Loud Boom over Vermont

Kate Duffy


Mon, 25 Jun 2007 19:36 EDT

Middlebury - A quiet summer afternoon was shattered around 3:00 Monday, when a loud boom could be heard and felt for miles around.

"It was very loud," Bob Bergstrom said.

"It was impressive that the whole building shook," Netaka White said.

The loud boom was followed by the sound of people asking -- what was that?

"Really nobody knew the source of this," Middlebury Police Chief Tom Hanley said. The department took numerous calls from worried residents. "Big mystery, but we weren't getting any calls of anything bad happening so that was comforting."

From Middlebury to Monkton, Ferrisburgh to Bridport -- even Moriah, New York -- people reported hearing and feeling something unusual. No one had an answer, but everyone had a theory.

"I guess there was a momentary thought that it was a gas line," White said.

"We heard this huge boom, but we thought it was an explosion from the gravel pit mining," Cindy Fox said.

"We figured it must be a meteor or something going fast to break the sound barrier," Hanley said. "We couldn't find any rational explanation for this."

Turns out it was just what it felt like -- a sonic boom. The Vermont Air National Guard said an F-16 broke the sound barrier.

"The aircraft was doing a mach run, which means he broke the sound barrier," explained Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow. "He was exceeding the speed of sound and that's what makes the blast you heard."

The pilot was in the sky over Vermont and New York doing what's called a functional check flight. The Air Guard does them about three times a year after major maintenance work, but Goodrow said it is unusual anyone on the ground would hear it.

"We always do these at 30,000 feet. In this case, our pilot was at 40,000 feet. To be honest, he was a little surprised there was any, any knowledge of it down below."

No explosion, no meteorite, not even construction -- just a lesson in the science of sound.

"People get concerned when they hear a loud boom," Chief Hanley said, "so at least we have an answer now, so we're happy."

Comment: If hearing the sonic boom from the check flight is unusual, then maybe another explanation is in order?

From Cassiopedia, Sonic boom:

The sound of a sonic boom depends largely on the distance between the observer and the aircraft producing the sonic boom. A sonic boom is usually heard as a deep double "boom" as the aircraft is usually some distance away. However, as those who have witnessed landings of space shuttles have heard, when the aircraft is nearby the sonic boom is a sharper "bang" or "crack". The sound is much like the "aerial bombs" used at firework displays.

Crater Could Solve 1908 Tunguska Meteor Mystery

Dave Mosher


Tue, 26 Jun 2007 10:44 EDT

In late June of 1908, a fireball exploded above the remote Russian forests of Tunguska, Siberia, flattening more than 800 square miles of trees. Researchers think a meteor was responsible for the devastation, but neither its fragments nor any impact craters have been discovered.

Astronomers have been left to guess whether the object was an asteroid or a comet, and figuring out what it was would allow better modeling of potential future calamities.

Italian researchers now think they've found a smoking gun: The 164-foot-deep Lake Cheko, located just 5 miles northwest of the epicenter of destruction.

"When we looked at the bottom of the lake, we measured seismic waves reflecting off of something," said Giuseppe Longo, a physicist at the University of Bologna in Italy and co-author of the study. "Nobody has found this before. We can only explain that and the shape of the lake as a low-velocity impact crater."

Should the team turn up conclusive evidence of an asteroid or comet on a later expedition, when they obtain a deeper core sample beneath the lake, remaining mysteries surrounding the Tunguska event may be solved.

The findings are detailed in this month's online version of the journal Terra Nova.

Submerged evidence

During a 1999 expedition, Longo's team didn't plan to investigate Lake Cheko as an impact crater, but rather to look for meteoroid dust in its submerged sediments. While sonar-scanning the lake's topography, they were struck by its cone-like features.

"Expeditions in the 1960s concluded the lake was not an impact crater, but their technologies were limited," Longo said. With the advent of better sonar and computer technologies, he explained, the lake took shape.

Going a step further, Longo's team dove to the bottom and took 6-foot core samples, revealing fresh mud-like sediment on top of "chaotic deposits" beneath. Still, Longo explained the samples are inconclusive of a meteorite impact.

"To really find out if this is an impact crater," Long said, "we need a core sample 10 meters (33 feet) into the bottom" in order to investigate a spot where the team detected a "reflecting" anomaly with their seismic instruments. They think this could be where the ground was compacted by an impact or where part of the meteorite itself lies: The object, if found, could be more than 30 feet in diameter and weigh almost 1,700 tons-the weight of about 42 fully-loaded semi-trailers.

Caution for now

From a UFO crash to a wandering black hole, wild (and wildly unsupported) explanations for the Tunguska event have been proposed. Alan Harris, a planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said the proposal by Longo's team isn't one of them.

"I was impressed by their work and I don't think it's something you can wave off," said Harris, who was not involved in the research.

Longo and his team "are among the recognized authorities on Tunguska" in the world, Harris told SPACE.com. "It would be thrilling to dig up chunks of the meteor body, if they can manage to. It would lay the question to rest whether or not Tunguska was a comet or asteroid."

Some researchers, however, are less confident in the team's conclusions.

"We know from the entry physics that the largest and most energetic objects penetrate deepest," said David Morrison, an astronomer with NASA's Ames Research Center. That only a fragment of the main explosion reached the ground and made a relatively small crater, without creating a larger main crater, seems contradictory to Morrison.

Harris agreed that physics could work against Longo's explanation, but did note that similar events-with impact craters-have been documented all over the world.

"In 1947, the Russian Sikhote-Alin meteorite created 100 small craters. Some were 20 meters (66 feet) across," Harris said. A site in Poland also exists, he explained, where a large meteor exploded and created a series of small lakes. "If the fragment was traveling slowly enough, there's actually a good chance (Longo's team) will unearth some meteorite material," Harris said.

Longo's team plans to return to Lake Cheko next summer, close to the 100th anniversary of the Tunguska Event. "This is important work because we can make better conclusions about how cosmic bodies impact the Earth, and what they're made of," Longo said. "And it could help us find ways to protect our planet from future impacts of this kind."

1 comment:

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