Selections from article on Prof. Napier's theory about debris from a comet impacting the Earth 13,000 years ago...
An hour-long hailstorm from space bombarded the Earth 13,000 years ago - plunging the planet into a mini-ice age, scientists claimed today.
The catastrophe was caused by a disintegrating comet and saw the planet sprayed by thousands of frozen boulders made of ice and dust.
The collisions wiped out huge numbers of animal species all over the world, disrupted the lives of our stone age ancestors and triggered a freeze that lasted more than 1,000 years.
The theory is the brainchild of Professor Bill Napier, from Cardiff University, who says it explains the mysterious period of extinction around 11,000 BC.
Scientists have long been puzzled by what caused a sudden cooling of up to 8C (14F) just as the Earth was warming up at the end of the last ice age.
The change in climate caused retreating glaciers to advance once again, and coincided with the extinction of 35 families of North American mammals.
[From another article...]
Napier points to a flurry of near-Earth objects (NEOs) called the Taurid Complex, which he suggests came from a comet 50-100 kilometers (31-62 miles) in diameter -- a truly giant hunk of rock and ice -- that entered the inner solar system between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago. The Taurid Complex contains some of the largest NEOs we know about.
"Palaeolithic extinctions and the Taurid Complex"
03 Mar 2010
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Intersection with the debris of a large (50-100 km) short-period comet during the Upper Palaeolithic provides a satisfactory explanation for the catastrophe of celestial origin which has been postulated to have occurred around 12900 BP, and which presaged a return to ice age conditions of duration ~1300 years. The Taurid Complex appears to be the debris of this erstwhile comet; it includes at least 19 of the brightest near-Earth objects. Sub-kilometre bodies in meteor streams may present the greatest regional impact hazard on timescales of human concern.
Link: Paper: arXiv:1003.0744v1
Link: Discovery.com article
Link: Daily Mail Article
This area will cover relevant news of the threat to the planet from Near Earth Objects (NEOs) including concepts and designs for mitigation. All opinions are those of the author.
01 April 2010
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