Saturday, June 29, 2013

Immature dinosaur fossil from the Alaskan Arctic further evidence for earth's "Big Roll"

Another special thank-you goes out to Mr. TRB of California, who noticed this story entitled "Juvenile Dinosaur Found in Alaskan Arctic" and immediately realized the importance of such a find to the subjects regularly discussed on this blog.

The article reports the recent discovery of a skull believed to belong to an immature pachyrhinosaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur of the Ceratopsidae family of horn-shaped dinosaurs (other members of this family include Styracosaurus, Monoclonius, and the famous Triceratops).

The full research article about the find was published on June 19th of this year in the journal PLOS One, and is entitled "An Immature Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum (Dinosauria: Ceratopsidae) Nasal Reveals Unexpected Complexity of Craniofacial Ontogeny and Integument in Pachyrhinosaurus," by Anthony R. Fiorillo and Ronald S. Tykoski. 

As shown in the map above, the fossil discussed was discovered well north of the Arctic Circle, in northern Alaska south of Prudhoe Bay, in the vicinity of the Kikak-Tegoseak Dinosaur Quarry.  Numerous other fossils have been found in this same quarry in the past -- including a tyrannosaur, other pachyrhinosaurs, and even insects, according to this list from the Smithsonian's ETE (evolution of terrestrial ecosystems) paleobiology website.

The discovery of so many dinosaur fossils in a quarry so far north of the Arctic circle is remarkable in and of itself, and raises questions as to how they found food to sustain their massive bulk so far to the north, especially the plant-eaters such as Pachyrhinosaurus.  Scientists generally believed that dinosaurs ranging so far were probably migratory adults, who would head back south during the long, cold, Arctic winter (above the Arctic circle, there are days during the winter in which the sun never emerges above the horizon). However, this newly-discovered skull of a young Pachyrhinosaurus in the same formation appears to upend that theory, causing scientists to conclude that the dinosaurs perhaps lived there year-round, and even had offspring there.

Here is a description of the region from the original research article announcing and discussing the find:
The Kikak-Tegoseak Quarry is a monodominant bonebed deposit [13] with a minimum of eleven individuals represented in the quarry, based upon the number of occipital condyles currently known from the site (including that in the nearly complete skull DMNH 22558). The specimen was collected as a float block found within a meter of the main Kikak-Tegoseak Quarry edge. We are confident that the new specimen can be referred to P. perotorum and that it does not represent a second ceratopsid taxon from the site. The specimen is notable because it comes from a smaller, relatively immature individual, contrary to previous published statements about the individuals from the quarry all being of similar ‘adult’ ontogenetic stage [13] and therefore expands the known age profile of this taxon from the site.
As discussed in previous posts, the discovery of any fossils at all, anywhere on the planet, should raise questions as to how those bones were preserved and petrified, because under normal conditions the bones of animals that die in the wild are decomposed by microbes and other factors long before they can turn to stone.  Special conditions, such as rapid burial under thick mud, are probably required for the creation of most fossils.  The fact that there are so many fossils around the world points to the possibility of some sort of cataclysm or cataclysms that created such special conditions in the ancient past.  

Further, this fossil bed contains numerous fossils of the same species, as well as of a few other species, as mentioned in the article and in the list of taxa linked previously.  Could this concentration of fossils represent numerous individuals who fell victim to a single catastrophic event?  

Finally, the fact that these fossils are found so far to the north -- and include the remains of an immature Pachyrhinosaurus -- is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of all.  Are we really to believe that these were all representatives of a species of "polar dinosaur," who spent their year at such extreme northern latitudes, near the northern coast of Alaska, and even bore their young there?  These are reptiles, not warm-blooded caribou.

All of the difficult problems listed above, however, are explained by the hydroplate theory of Dr. Walt Brown.  That theory proposes that there is substantial evidence to support the possibility that a catastrophic world-wide flood once erupted with great violence and covered the earth, accompanied by massive amounts of sediments which would have rapidly buried and fossilized many animals and plants.  

Even more importantly for the understanding of how so many seemingly incongruous fossils are found at latitudes so far to the north (and so far to the south as well), Dr. Brown's theory discusses why the principles of physics would have caused the entire earth to undergo a "Big Roll" in the aftermath of that flood event, a roll which would have brought latitudes that were formerly further south "up" towards the Arctic, as well as (on the other side of the earth) latitudes that were formerly in more temperate climates "down" into the Antarctic as well.  

You can envision this event by taking a basketball between two hands and looking down at it, imagining that the point on the ball that you are looking down on represents the north pole, and then rotating the ball forwards using the rotation of both of your wrists -- bringing "latitudes" on the ball that were formerly further south up into the "north pole" area that you are looking at from above.  Acknowledgement goes out to Rand Flem-Ath for this basketball metaphor, which he used in an interview in 2009 (for the record, this mention is not intended to suggest that Mr. Flem-Ath supports the hydroplate theory; he appears to believe something different, although he also believes that the conventional theories generally taught as undisputed fact have serious problems and probably are not correct).

Of course, when you rolled that basketball, you moved a lot of fossils that had been buried at more temperate latitudes on the ball up towards the "Arctic" part of the ball, and on the other side you rolled fossils from more temperate latitudes down towards the "Antarctic" part of the ball.  So, those animals did not need to actually live in those latitudes before they were buried and before the earth experienced its "Big Roll."  According to Dr. Brown's theory, events that took place after the rapid burial of plants and animals led to the physics that caused the roll of the earth.

Previous posts have discussed the many fossil findings which have surfaced over the years in both the Arctic and the Antarctic that support the idea of a "Big Roll."  These include:
This discovery of the immature Pachyrhinosaurus would appear to join this list of evidence pointing to the earth's Big Roll at some point in the ancient past (and there are other pieces of evidence, not found in the Arctic or Antarctic, which also support the Big Roll conclusion).

More evidence for Dr. Brown's theory continues to show up around the world.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The cat's eyes in the Scorpion

This is a beautiful time of year for observing the constellation Scorpio, who is easily seen rising up from the horizon in the hours after sunset.  

Scorpio is a like gleaming string of jewels in the southern sky (for northern hemisphere viewers), with brilliant red Antares at his heart -- the constellation's brightest and most distinctive star and the largest in the chart above (marked by the Greek letter lower-case alpha, and the word "Antares").  Currently, Antares reaches its highest point on its arc at about 11 pm, and then reaches it about four minutes earlier each night as the earth continues its orbit around the sun (for more on that process, see the discussion in this previous post and the video in this one).

If you can observe Scorpio around that point of its highest elevation (also known more precisely as its transit across the meridian) or in the hours after that -- for instance, around midnight -- you will have an opportunity to see the charming pair of stars near the end of its stinger-tail, a pair of stars known as "the cat's eyes."  As Scorpio begins to arc back down towards the western horizon, the cat's eyes become nearly horizontal, and they really do look like a pair of cat's eyes, gleaming out at you in the night sky!

The cat's eyes are pointed out by the two arrows in the above chart.  They are a bit further apart in the night sky -- the chart makes them look as though they overlap, because it depicts each star as larger or smaller depending upon its brightness, and the "eye" on the left is a bit brighter than the other, so its depicted size is larger on the chart than it looks when you go out into the night.  In actual fact, they are about as far apart as . . . the eyes of a cat!

In his superlative book for star-gazers, The Stars: a New Way to See Them, author H.A. Rey writes: "Look for the CAT'S EYES, a close pair of stars in the Scorpion's tail.  You will find the name quite fitting" (52).  They are especially easy to spot on nights like tonight (and the next several nights) when the moon does not begin to rise in the east until nearly midnight, and getting later and later each night as it wanes.

Once you have located the cat's eyes, you will want to look for them again and again!  

For previous posts discussing Scorpio and how to find that constellation, see here and here.  For a previous post with an image of cat's eyes, see here.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The geology of the Little Colorado River Gorge

Over the weekend, on Sunday 06/23, aerialist Nik Wallenda crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge on a two-inch-wide steel cable, taking approximately 22 minutes to make the journey.

Many watched the event live on the Discovery Channel, which sponsored the c
rossing.  Some of the footage can be seen here at the Discovery Channel website.

Some Native tribes protested the event, arguing that the canyon is sacred to their people and should not be used for a publicity stunt.  Others assisted in the event, and the Navajo Nation provided the permit in exchange for the clean up of some platforms and cables left behind for decades after a planned crossing in the 1970s that never took place due to lack of funding (according to this article).

Whatever your opinion of that controversy, Wallenda successfully accomplished the incredible crossing over the 1,500-foot chasm.  The geology of the location is absolutely breathtaking.  It also provides important clues about our planet's past.

Below is a map showing the location of the Little Colorado River Gorge.  It empties into an area of unusual erosion called Nankoweap Canyon, near the point where it comes together with the Colorado River.  This junction of the the Colorado and Little Colorado is called the Confluence and is sacred to the Native tribes of the area as the site of the most ancient inhabitants of the region.

Both Nankoweap Canyon and the Little Colorado River Gorge are important clues to the mystery of the formation of the Grand Canyon, and they present geological evidence that confounds conventional theories.

Dr. Walt Brown, the originator of the hydroplate theory, believes the Grand Canyon was formed by events that took place in the aftermath of a global flood, and his theory provides an explanation for the Little Colorado River and Nankoweap Canyon (as well as for the very difficult-to-explain turn in the Colorado River seen in the map above, where the river that was running generally north-to-south takes a hard right turn to the west and plows right through the enormous massif of the Kaibab Plateau, which is colored green in the map).

Previous posts have detailed Dr. Brown's theory for the creation of the Grand Canyon -- see for example:
n and surrounds, see for example:
Dr. Brown believes that the mechanisms that formed the Grand Canyon and surrounding features began with two large bodies of water that were trapped after the floodwaters drained off the earth, and uplifted by the physics related to the rapid formation of the Rocky Mountains, whose weight caused them to sink downwards, forcing the Colorado Plateau upwards.  

Dr. Brown calls these two lakes "Grand Lake" (further north) and "Hopi Lake" (further south), and diagrams where they were on this map. He believes that Grand Lake eventually breached catastrophically due to increased rainfall and runoff after the flood (caused by warmer oceans). The tons of water cascading out of it eventually undermined the walls holding in Hopi Lake as well, and it breached as well.  The Little Colorado River Gorge marks the location of the breach of Hopi Lake.

About halfway down this webpage, Dr. Brown discusses Nankoweap Canyon and the evidence there which is very difficult to explain by proponents of the conventional theory for the Grand Canyon's formation.  Discussing the detailed image of the Nankoweap Canyon region shown there, he writes:
Nankoweap—Region of Unusual Erosion. This view is looking southeast from 4,400 feet above the ground. The Little Colorado River enters the southern end of Marble Canyon at the top center. The yellow line encloses a region of unusual erosion. Notice that on the top of the high Kaibab Plateau, streams do not flow into the many canyons that are cut into this southeastern portion of the Kaibab Plateau. So, what cut these side canyons, and why are they in such a localized area? Why would the terrain east of Marble Canyon, which is at least 2,000 feet below the top of the Kaibab Plateau and most of this erosion, be so smooth? On top of Nankoweap Mesa are slumps, landslides, and rockfalls. How can rocks fall and mud flow onto the top of a mesa?  
Another point of difficulty for conventional theorists is the origin of the Little Colorado Gorge in the first place.  As you can see from the map above, it seems to spring from out of the desert itself.  Dr. Brown's theory argues that subsurface water burst out of the water table after Grand Lake and Hopi Lake began to empty, and it was this subsurface water which was responsible for creating many of the major canyons that we see emptying into the Grand Canyon from the sides.  The canyons themselves, such as Marble Canyon and the Little River Gorge, are cracks created when the ground arched upwards after the catastrophic breaching of Grand Lake and Hopi Lake removed the material above.  The subsurface water then flowed out the sides of these cracks, creating the side canyons we see today, including the Little Colorado Gorge.

The fact that Nankoweap Canyon was the site of the earliest known habitation in the area is also problematic for conventional geological theories, because they have a hard time explaining where all the water came from that attracted the Old Ones or Anasazi to the area in the first place, and what caused it to disappear, causing them to leave.  This article by Terry Hurlbut discusses this question, and interestingly enough does so in light of Dr. Brown's theory, which provides a satisfactory explanation for the human history of the area.

We can all be glad that Nik Wallenda made it safely across the canyon on his first try.  His feat should cause us to examine the amazing geology of the Little Colorado River Gorge and the Grand Canyon, as well as to reflect upon the sacred traditions of the Native tribes who still remember and honor their ancestors who lived in the region so long ago -- and to consider the ways in which the geology and the human history of this beautiful area are intertwined. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer solstice 2013 (June solstice)

In less than a half an hour, the earth will pass through the point of June solstice -- summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. This means that the earth will pass through the point at which its north pole points most directly at the sun in its annual orbit.  Earth will cross this point at 10:04 pm Pacific time (here in California in the US) on 20 June -- although it will already be 21 June in most of the rest of the world, including the east coast of North America.

Above is a video showing the earth orbiting around the sun with its axial tilt.  Note that the axis always remains pointed in the same direction as the earth orbits the sun.  In previous posts, I have used the "earth-ship metaphor" to help visualize this concept.  You can imagine the poles of the earth as being the prow and the stern of an old-time sailing ship, and as the ship circles the sun, the prow and stern remain pointing in the same direction, so that at the summer solstice the prow points towards the sun as the ship sweeps by, and at winter solstice the stern points towards the sun as the ship sweeps by.

If the north pole is the prow of the ship (blatant northern-hemisphere centrism here), then the prow will sweep by the sun and point at it (or as towards it as it ever points during the year) at 10:04 Pacific time tonight.

Below is a video of a talk by physicist Nassim Haramein explaining that because the sun is actually streaking through space rather than staying in place, the traditional image of a stationary sun with circular static orbits around it is not correct.*  In fact, the orbits of the earth and other planets around the speeding sun are vorticular, as shown in the video.  This important fact is discussed in this previous post as well.  However, it does not make the earth-ship metaphor incorrect -- it just makes it more exciting!

* If you are wondering why all the background stars still look the same if the sun (and the planets that follow it) streaks through space billions of miles each year, the reason is simple -- those background stars are incredibly far away!  How far away?  Take a look at this recent blog post, and be sure to watch both of the videos in that post.

Alfred Watkins and Ley Lines, 20 June 1921

In New View Over Atlantis, writer John Michell gives this description of an influential inspiration that took place this day, some ninety-two years ago:
One hot summer afternoon, 20 June 1921, Alfred Watkins was at Blackwardine in Herefordshire.  On a high hilltop he stopped and looked at his map before meditating on the view below him.  Suddenly, in a flash, he saw something which no one in England had seen for perhaps thousands of years.

Watkins saw straight through the surface of the landscape to a layer deposited in some remote prehistoric age.  The barrier of time melted and, spread across the country, he saw a web of lines linking the holy places and sites of antiquity.  Mounds, old stones, crosses and old crossroads, churches placed on pre-Christian sites, legendary trees, moats and holy wells stood in exact alignments that ran over beacon hills to cairns and mountain peaks.  In one moment of transcendental perception Watkins entered a magic world of prehistoric Britain, a world whose very existence had been forgotten.  22-23.
Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) was an Englishman who delighted in traveling the countryside of his native Herefordshire, and in the country people he met and the stories they told -- stories that were often handed down for generations.  His keen eye and open mind (he was also an accomplished photographer and inventor) and his love of the countryside of his native England enabled him to perceive the network of alignments running for miles and miles and connecting ancient megalithic sites, landmarks, monuments, and natural features such as mountain peaks and high hills.  He called these lines "ley lines," or "leys," because (as Michell explains):
A peculiar feature of the old alignments is that certain names appear with remarkable frequency along their routes.  names with Red, White and Black are common; so are Cold and Cole, Dod, Merry, and Ley.  The last gave Watkins the name of the lines, which he called leys.  24.
As Michell goes on to explain, "The idea of leys found little sympathy among Watkins's archaeological contemporaries.  It contradicted all their assumptions about the nature of prehistoric life" (25).  If that was true in 1921 and in 1969 (when John Michell published his first edition of View Over Atlantis), it is still true today.  The idea of leys turns on its head the conventional timeline of human history.  How could such precision and vision and engineering capability be possible to the "primitive" denizens of the British Isles in the days before Stonehenge and Avebury were even contemplated?  Note that this system must have been created before Stonehenge and all the other ancient sites in Britain were erected, since it ties such sites together with perfectly straight lines that would be impossible to design after the fact.

While these straight leys are often attributed to the engineering skills of the later Roman invaders, Michell notes that many Roman roads have been found to have much older paving stones underneath the layers of Roman construction, indicating that the Romans found the lines when they arrived and then sometimes built on top of them. Also, leys are present in Ireland, where the Romans never conquered.

Modern skeptics continue to try to write these alignments off to mere coincidence, or the human mind's tendency to find patterns in random sets of data.  For example, the Wikipedia entry on ley lines makes sure to cast frequent aspersions on the original concept and on John Michell's later examination of the phenomenon, saying: "Both versions of the theory have been criticised on the grounds that a random distribution of a sufficient number of points will inevitably create 'alignments'."  The Wikipedia entry then goes on to cite critics who say that "given the high density of historic and prehistoric sites in Britain and other parts of Europe, finding straight lines that 'connect' sites is trivial, and ascribable to coincidence. A statistical analysis of lines concluded that 'the density of archaeological sites in the British landscape is so great that a line drawn through virtually anywhere will 'clip' a number of sites." [18]"  

While these criticisms sound valid if Wikipedia is your only source of information about this concept, the interested reader is invited to read through John Michell's books (as well as the earlier books by Watkins and his contemporaries, and the many others that have been published since) and analyze the evidence for himself or herself.  The aerial photographs in Michell's books alone should be sufficient to dispel the notion that these alignments are the product of coincidence or trivial "dot-connecting" -- lines can be seen going for miles and miles and disappearing into the distance, and incorporating hilltops, gates, church steeples, and other landmarks.  

Further, as John Michell demonstrates, this phenomena is by no means isolated to the British Isles, but can be found around the world.  He provides extensive evidence from China and from North and South America to support the idea that the ancients appear to have created ley line grids around the globe.  Previous blog posts which have touched on the undeniable world-wide geodetic networks apparent in ancient monuments and sites include "Did mankind known the precise size and shape of our earth many thousands of years ago?" and "Rock Lake, Wisconsin and the Code of Carl P. Munck."

Again, this is a subject where individuals are encouraged to examine the evidence and analyze the situation for themselves.  The conclusions drawn by Alfred Watkins (and expanded upon by John Michell) have profound paradigm-shifting implications.  It is a subject too important to simply ignore, or to "outsource" to someone else to decide.  

Surely June 20th is an appropriate day on which to spend some time in consideration of the important subject of ley lines!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cosmography of the Local Universe

Above is an astounding video of the "Cosmography of the Local Universe," created by a team of scientists including astrophysicist and cosmologist Professor Helene Curtois, who narrates the video.

Pay close attention beginning at about 01:57 as the video takes you towards the tiny blue dot representing, not the earth, but the entire Milky Way galaxy during a "zoomed-in" view on our local region of the "local universe."  To paraphrase Professor Curtois, the enormity of what we are seeing is almost "overwhelming."

The effect is reminiscent of the famous 1977 video "Powers of Ten," which seeks to convey the scale of the universe by increasing (and then decreasing) the field of view by a power of ten every ten seconds (actually, every two seconds on the way back in).  That video, however, "only" takes the viewer out to a hundred million light years before streaking back in towards earth -- far enough to cause the Milky Way galaxy to shrink to a dot among its entourage of nearby galaxies, but still not much further than the "zoomed-in" 6-megaparsec cube from the segment just mentioned in the "Local Universe" video.   

A parsec is a unit of measurement whose name means "one parallax arc-second."  It measures 3.26 light years in distance.  A megaparsec is a million parsecs, or 3.26 million light years, equivalent to about 3.09 x 1022 meters. For more discussion of these distances, and the dimensions of the map in the "Local Universe" video, see this article from the LA Times.

These mind-numbing distances, and the scale of the universe they were created to help measure and define, invite profound existential reflection.  The wisdom of the ancients taught that every man and woman is a microcosm of the macrocosm of the universe, into whose vastness we stare every time we gaze into the starry heavens.  Videos such as this new "Cosmography of the Local Universe" help us to grope towards the meaning of such an assertion.

We should all be grateful to Professor Curtois and the team responsible (as well as to those responsible for the "Powers of Ten" video, produced thirty-six years ago).

Friday, June 14, 2013


Special thanks to Main Man who contacted me all the way from 37 degrees South latitude with this outstanding infographic on Matariki, the Maori new year, published in the New Zealand Herald.

As you can see from the article, Matariki is the Maori name for the beautiful Pleiades, discussed in these previous blog posts, which all contain some discussion of how to find them in the sky (see here, here, and here).

The Herald infographic explains, "The reappearance of Matariki in the eastern sky before sunrise marks the beginning of the new year."  The phenomena of a star or group of stars reappearing in the sky in the east before the sunrise is called the heliacal rise of the star or group, and it is caused by the fact that as the earth goes around the sun through the year, stars rise a little earlier each day due to the progress of the earth around its orbit.  This means that they will be further and further along each night when you see them in their journey from east to west across the sky, and eventually a star will have set before the sun goes down and the stars become visible (unless the star is one of the undying stars, near enough to the pole to be visible all year around).

After that happens, the star or group of stars will be up during the day for a period, but it will still keep rising earlier and earlier and after some time of this, it will rise before the sun again, and there will be a special morning on which it will rise far enough ahead of the sun to be just visible in the east above the eastern horizon in the early morning sky, which will be lightening as the sun's rising approaches but still dark enough to perceive the returning star or stars.  When this happens for Matariki (the Pleiades), it marks the new year for the Maori.

Currently at my latitude, Matariki rises around 5 am (and getting a little earlier each day).  The sun rises about forty-five minutes later.  Therefore, if you look to the east before the sun rises, you can find the beautiful cluster of stars above the horizon, before the rising sun fills the sky with his rays.  So, no matter where you are on the globe (unless you are so far north that the sun is not currently dipping below the horizon at all), you should be able to rise early and take in the glorious spectacle of the glistening stars of Matariki, hanging in the deep blue predawn sky, signalling the start of a new year and the connection of heaven and earth.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Comet Tempel 1 and the Deep Impact mission of 2005

(image above: Wikimedia commons).

Comet Tempel 1 is a short-period comet with an orbital period of approximately 5.5 years and a perihelion of about 1.5 AUs (an AU or "astronomical unit" is a unit that is roughly the mean earth-sun distance, and the perihelion of 1.5 AUs means that Comet Tempel 1's orbit takes it further from the sun than the orbit of Mars but not as far as Jupiter).  

The comet was discovered in April of 1867 by Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel, of France, who was looking for comets at the time (see this discussion of the comet's history from the NASA webpage). As that page explains, the comet was observed that year using telescopes until it was lost from sight in August of 1867, but it was reacquired at its next visit in 1873, then again in 1879 (when Tempel himself recovered visual observation of his discovery), after which it was lost to observers on earth until 1967.

In 1967, Professor Elizabeth Roemer, an American astronomer, took several photographic images of the area in space where the comet was predicted to reappear.  Her initial inspection of the plates turned up nothing, but upon re-checking them the following year she noticed a very faint (18th magnitude) object near the location that the comet's return had been calculated to be, in the plate from June 8th of 1967.  Later analysis of the comet confirmed that this image was indeed Comet Tempel 1, reacquired after all those years.

On its next visit in 1972, Professor Roemer and another astronomer successfully recovered observation of Comet Tempel 1, and it has since been observed on every subsequent visit, according to the NASA site linked above.  

The most remarkable history of the comet, however, was yet to take place.  In 1999, planning began for a mission to study the composition of comets by firing a "smart impactor" into a comet, releasing material from the comet into space from the impact.  This material could then be observed up close by the spacecraft that had fired the impactor, and the spectrometry and other data studied to reveal information about the makeup of the comet itself.

The mission was dubbed "Deep Impact," and the Deep Impact spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (Cape Kennedy) in January of 2005, on its way to a rendezvous with Comet Tempel 1 in July of the same year (see this NASA page for details of the launch).  The Deep Impact spacecraft was a two-part system consisting of the flyby spacecraft (described as being about 11 feet by 8 feet by 7 feet) and the smart, instrumented, self-guiding impactor (which weighed about 816 pounds counting fuel at the time it was launched).  The impactor was made largely of copper (it was 49% copper) to minimize interference with the comet's material.

At this time eight years ago, Deep Impact was speeding towards Tempel 1, taking images as it approached.  From the images, scientists have calculated that the comet's nucleus is roughly 7.6 kilometers (4.7 miles) by 4.9 kilometers (3.0 miles), and venting or outgassing sporadically as it orbits the sun.  At twenty-four hours before intended impact, the impactor separated from the flyby vehicle and shot towards the comet's nucleus.

What happened next is astonishing.  The impactor successfully struck the comet and created an enormous cloud of debris (often referred to as the "ejecta" by scientists writing about the event).  The spectral analysis revealed a host of amazing material from the comet, including organic material!  How did that get there!?

In addition to this perplexing discovery, scientists found numerous materials in the debris cloud that also create some explanatory difficulties.  This discussion of the analysis of the ejecta pubished in 2006 indicates that the spectral analysis of the debris thrown up by the tremendous impact included: "both crystalline and amorphous (glassy) silicates, amorphous carbon, carbonates, clay minerals (phyllosilicates), water in both the gaseous and solid states and sulfides."  This page on the NASA website also discusses the material ejected when the impactor struck the comet.

Dr. Walt Brown, the originator of the hydroplate theory, provides extensive discussion of comets in his book (which can be read in its entirety online or purchased for reading in hardcopy), because comets have so many features which confound conventional theories, but which can be satisfactorily explained by the hydroplate theory (previous blog posts on this topic can be found here and here, for example, or found by using the blog-specific search window at the upper left of this page). 

Dr. Brown points out that the ejecta from the impact of the 2005 mission pose numerous problems for conventional comet theorists.  For example, the fact that the comet contains crystalline dust is difficult to explain if comets form in deep space.  Dust formed in outer space should be noncrystalline, posing a serious problem to the theory that comets form in a hypothetical "Oort cloud" beyond the solar system, as well as to other theories that posit a deep-space origin for comet dust, as Dr. Brown explains in the section of his book comparing various comet-origin theories in detail (that section begins here).  

Dr. Brown also notes that the organic material found in the comets poses serious problems for most conventional comet theories.  Vegetation or bacteria capable of producing the organic readings found in the spectra of Comet Tempel 1 would not be expected to originate in the cold, dark reaches of space where most conventional theorists believe comets come from.

Additionally, note that the 2006 list of debris ingredients includes silicates (which Dr. Brown points out contain considerable oxygen, "a rare commodity in space"), carbonates (they found calcium carbonates, or limestone, a mineral that forms in liquid water -- something difficult to explain in the frigid vacuum of space where the Oort cloud is supposed to reside), and clay (another mineral substance that requires liquid water).

All of these findings, however, including the presence of organic methane in the comet's ejecta, are completely predictable if the origin of comets was the planet earth!  According to the hydroplate theory, comets originated when subterranean supercritical water was ejected at tremendous velocities during the events surrounding a catastrophic flood in earth's past.  

Dr. Brown's explanation of this comet-origin theory can be found in the paragraph that begins below the long table (Table 13) on this webpage (a little over halfway down the webpage).  He explains that: "Carried up with the water were eroded dirt particles, minerals that form only in scalding-hot, high-pressure, liquid water, pulverized organic matter (especially cellulose from preflood forests), and even bacteria."  This explanation accounts for all of the surprising features of the composition of Comet Tempel 1.

For example, silicates are one of the most common components of earth's crust, and the fact that they contain oxygen is no problem if they originated on earth.   According to Dr. Brown's theory, the material that escaped earth's atmosphere and formed comets originated in the hot, mineral-rich water that had been trapped beneath the earth's surface under great pressure.  This theory would explain the presence of minerals and clays that form only in the presence of hot, liquid water (see this portion of Dr. Brown's book, point 7 near the bottom of the webpage).  Dr. Brown's theory also explains the organic materials: "Organic compounds—including methane, ethane, and the amino acid glycine—are found in comets,1 because that water contained pulverized vegetation from preflood forests (as well as bacteria and other traces of life) from within hundreds of miles of the globe-encircling rupture."

Further, comets contain significant amounts of heavy hydrogen -- about twice the amount that is found in the oceans on earth today.  This actually accords quite well with the hydroplate theory:
Comets are rich in heavy hydrogen, because the water in the subterranean chambers was isolated from other water in the solar system. Our oceans have half the concentration of heavy hydrogen that comets have. So, if half the water in today’s oceans came from the subterranean chambers (as assumed on page 118), then almost all heavy hydrogen came from the subterranean chambers. (This will become even more clear after reading the radioactivity chapter on pages 350395.)  
Other theories have difficulty explaining the presence of this heavy hydrogen because, as Dr. Brown explains, "The concentration of heavy hydrogen in comets is 20-100 times that of interstellar space and the solar system as a whole.  Evidently, comets came from an isolated reservoir."

This information is probably not common knowledge to many members of the general public.  This NASA page discussing the ejection plume mentions the "substantial amount" of organic material measured and speculates that other similar comets "could have brought this material to Earth early in our planet's history."  Such speculation, however, does not provide much detail as to how that organic material could have gotten into the comets in the first place.  A far more likely conclusion at this point, given all the evidence discussed above, seems to be that earth sent the organic material out into space, rather than the other way around.

The evidence in support of the hydroplate theory is extremely wide-ranging and not limited to our planet (although there is plenty of evidence here on earth as well, from the tops of the tallest mountains to the bottom of the deepest trenches of the Pacific).  The mysterious properties of comets rank high among the list of evidence that is very difficult for conventional theories to handle, but which strongly support the hydroplate theory's explanation of the events of the ancient past.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Two very disturbing developments

Recently, disturbing news involving genetics has been making headlines in the US.

On May 29, the US Department of Agriculture announced that test results of wheat plants growing on an Oregon farm confirmed the presence of genetically-engineered wheat, despite the fact that genetically-engineered wheat is not approved for human consumption.

Here is a link to the USDA's press release on the discovery.

This discovery is disturbing in that it reveals the clear possibility that genetically-modified wheat has already entered the food supply, unbeknownst to farmers, regulators, or consumers.  Most commentators are assuming that this GMO wheat is somehow descended from genetically-engineered plants that the USDA allowed to be "field tested" in sixteen states from 1998 through 2005.  

How this wheat spread to fields under cultivation that were not part of the test, and how many such fields are now contaminated, is unknown.  What is known, however, is that it not only did spread but that wheat being grown today is descended from this genetically-engineered variety.

Here is a recent article from the New York Times downplaying the safety concerns of this discovery, saying "Absent any proven health threat, the most common fear is economic — that organic farmers will lose crops, or that food exports to countries that ban imports of gene-altered products will suffer."  In other words, farmers and exporters and other business entities participating in the sale of wheat are the only ones with anything at stake here: no one who consumes such wheat has anything to worry about. 

However, that statement is debatable.  Numerous previous posts have looked at the subject of genetically-modified food, such as this one and this one, and noted that this issue is related to the overarching theme of this blog, which is that individuals should consider the evidence for themselves about important subjects.  

The safety of genetically-modified foods is far from a settled issue.  In fact, there are serious reasons to investigate this question further.  Even if the safety of such foods were settled beyond any doubt (which it is not), there may be reasons of conscience, religion, etc. why some individuals may wish to refrain from consuming genetically-modified foods, and the fact that genetically-engineered wheat may be entering the food chain without their knowledge means that consumers have a stake in this issue, and not just the growers and the exporters as the New York Times story alleges.

Further, the "safety" of this genetically-modified wheat appears to be based on the assertions of its developer, according to the USDA press release.  The USDA release states that:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004.  For the consultation, the developer provided information to FDA to support the safety of this wheat variety.  FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, meaning that this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market.
This is a very illogical paragraph.  It asserts as a conclusion that "FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, meaning that this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market."  The conclusion that "this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market" does not follow at all from the fact that the "FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions."  

All we can conclude from that is that the FDA decided not to question the developer any further.  They could have decided that for a number of reasons, but it does not follow automatically that we must conclude from this that the GMO wheat is "as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market."

The fact that wheat is used in a tremendous variety of foods, and that the US exports a huge amount of wheat to nations around the world, makes this a very important and disturbing development.  In fact, wheat has been referred to as "the staff of life."  This particular phrase may well descend from the venerable English translation of the 105th Psalm, verse 16, in which we read that, "he called for famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread."

Elsewhere in the news, the US Supreme Court this week decided in a case entitled Maryland v. King that individuals who are arrested may be compelled to yield a DNA sample, which can then be entered into federal crime records.  The case was decided by a vote of 5-4, with an eloquent dissent written by Antonin Scalia, in which he asked why an arrest entitled such an invasion, when an arrest does not entitle a warrantless search of someone's house, for example.  "But why are the 'privacy-related concerns' not also 'weighty' when an intrusion into the body is at stake?  (The Fourth Amendment lists 'persons' first among the entities protected against unreasonable searches and seizures)" (page 35 of the pdf file of the decision).

Remember that an arrest is not a conviction -- a person who is arrested is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.  The Fourth Amendment codifies the inherent right of all men and women to the security of their persons, houses, papers and effects, and declares that this inherent right shall not be violated except by a legally-issued warrant, and that such warrant must specifically -- in fact, "particularly" -- describe exactly what is being searched and what particular person or thing the searching agent is looking for.

This new decision completely overturns that requirement, allowing the state to compel an arrested person (who is innocent until proven otherwise) to give up his or her DNA, which will then be searched not for anything in particular.  It is almost as if the court had ruled that agents could come snooping through someone's home, not looking for anything in particular but just for anything that might tie the resident to any crime, except that snooping through someone's DNA is even more intrusive, at least according to the dissent authored by Scalia and signed by three other justices.

The entire decision can be read online here, with Scalia's dissent beginning on page 33 of the pdf file.

The majority opinion asserts, "By comparison to this substantial government interest and the unique effectiveness of DNA identification, the intrusion of a cheek swab to obtain a DNA sample is a minimal one" (page 27 of the pdf file). 

So, instead of saying, "Papers, please," arresting agents can now say, "open wide" and gather a DNA sample from a citizen, which is a far more comprehensive form of identification than anything seen in the past.

Thus we now have a situation in which citizens apparently do not have a right to know the genetically-modified status of the wheat in their pizza, but the government has the right to demand to know the entire genetic content of an individual who is arrested by authorities.

These developments highlight the importance of thinking for yourself, and not simply accepting at face value every assertion made by the "experts."

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2 and its newly-discovered asteroid moon

Earth was recently visited by a large asteroid, first discovered in 1998 and ironically given the name Asteroid QE2.  

As this page from the NASA website explains, the asteroid made its closest approach to earth (until it returns in another 200 years) on May 31 at 1:59 in the afternoon, Pacific time (4:59 pm Eastern / 2059 UTC).  Its approach only brought it to a distance of 3.6 million miles away -- about 15 times the distance of the earth and the moon, according to NASA.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this flyby was the discovery based on radar imagery, captured on the evening of May 29 this week, that Asteroid 1998 QE2 has its own small "moon" traveling in tandem with the asteroid on its lonely journey through space.  Scientists estimate that Asteroid QE2 itself is 1.7 miles in diameter, while its partner is only 2,000 feet wide.  Asteroids that travel in tandem with another asteroid are sometimes called binaries, and as the NASA site says, scientists estimate that about 16% of the near-earth asteroids 200 meters in size or larger (655 feet or larger) have moons.

While the asteroid and its companion received a lot of press, very few of the articles tackle the question of how an asteroid could capture another asteroid as its moon (including the NASA discussion of Asteroid QE2 and its moon).  No mention is made of just how difficult of a physics problem that is, and the general public is basically left with the impression that binary asteroids are not difficult to explain.

In fact, asteroids like QE2 that possess moons are very difficult to explain under conventional theories, as Dr. Walt Brown, originator of the hydroplate theory, discusses in the chapter of his book devoted to "The Origin of Asteroids and Meteorites." 

Conventional attempts to explain the origin of the asteroids that orbit the sun in our solar system often posit that they are space rocks that were on their way to becoming a planet, but never quite managed to do so -- the so-called "failed-planet theory."  Another theory, a bit more out on a limb, is the hypothesis that the asteroids are the remnants of an exploded planet.  Some analysts even believe that this exploded planet was destroyed in a cosmic war, rather than exploding due to some kind of natural event.

Dr. Brown explains that neither of these theories can easily explain the presence of asteroids with moons.  Part 6 of "Question 7" located just over halfway down this page in Dr. Brown's discussion of asteroids and meteorites outlines some of the problems in explaining binary asteroids:
Some asteroids have captured one or more moons. [See Figure 168.] Sometimes the “moon” and asteroid are similar in size. Impacts would not create equal-size fragments that could capture each other.48 The only conceivable way for this to happen is if a potential moon enters an asteroid’s expanding sphere of influence while traveling about the same speed and direction as the asteroid. If even a thin gas surrounds the asteroid, the moon will be drawn closer to the asteroid, preventing the moon from being stripped away later. An “exploded planet” would disperse relatively little gas. The “failed planet explanation” meets none of the requirements. The hydroplate theory satisfies all the requirements.
In addition to their problems explaining asteroid moons, the failed-planet theory and the exploded-planet theory have problems in and of themselves.

This previous post, entitled "Comet origins and the mysteries of mankind's ancient past" discusses some of the work of the late Dr. Tom Van Flandern, who was a proponent of the exploded-planet theory, as well as an astronomer who pointed out the numerous problems with the conventional explanations for the origin of comets (a subject discussed in that and several other previous blog posts).  In spite of the fact that the exploded-planet theory has some problems, those who are exploring that theory should be commended for realizing the many problems with the conventional paradigm that is usually offered as the only explanation (whether the paradigm of mankind's ancient past or of the origin of the various bodies in our solar system).

This previous blog post, provides a list of evidence that appear to cause serious difficulties for either the exploded-planet theory, the failed-planet theory, or both.  It also discusses the asteroid-origin theory put forward by Dr. Brown, who believes that most of the asteroids are actually fragments violently ejected from earth during the rupture that led to a cataclysmic global flood.  While such a proposal for the origin of asteroids may initially sound preposterous, it turns out that this theory explains many of the puzzling aspects of asteroids (as well as meteoroids and comets), including the presence of binary asteroid pairs.  The interested reader should take the time to read Dr. Brown's entire chapter on the subject for the complete discussion (and then to peruse the other chapters of his book, which detail thousands of other geological pieces of evidence on our planet which support this theory of a catastrophic flood).

On the very first page of his chapter on asteroid origins, Dr. Brown has posted a photograph of asteroid Ida, taken in 1993 by the Galileo spacecraft.  That image shows Ida to have a mile-wide moon, orbiting about 60 miles away from Ida (the moon was then named Dactyl).  In his discussion of Ida and Dactyl, and asteroid binaries in general, Dr. Brown writes:
Asteroid Ida and Its Moon, Dactyl. In 1993, the Galileo spacecraft, heading toward Jupiter, took this picture 2,000 miles from asteroid Ida. To the surprise of most, Ida had a moon (about 1 mile in diameter) orbiting 60 miles away! Both Ida and Dactyl are composed of earthlike rock. We now know at least 200 other asteroids have moons; nine asteroids have two moons.1 According to the laws of orbital mechanics (described in the preceding chapter), capturing a moon in space is unbelievably difficult—unless both the asteroid and a nearby potential moon had very similar speeds and directions and unless gases surrounded the asteroid during capture. If so, the asteroid, its moon, and each gas molecule were probably coming from the same place and were launched about the same time. Within a million years, passing bodies would have stripped the moons away, so these asteroid-moon captures must have been recent. 
From a distance, large asteroids look like big rocks. However, many show, by their low density, that they contain either much empty space or something light, such as water ice.2 Also, the best close-up pictures of an asteroid show millions of smaller rocks on its surface. Therefore, asteroids are flying rock piles held together by gravity. Ida, about 35 miles long, does not have enough gravity to squeeze itself into a spherical shape.
These are important issues surrounding the question of asteroids with moons.  The point about the moons being stripped away after a million years (or less) is very important, especially since most proponents of the conventional "failed-planet theory" believe that the asteroids are leftovers from a very early period in our solar system's history.  Elsewhere in the chapter, Dr. Brown also points out that tidal effects (which he describes in the "Technical Notes" section of his book) would "limit the lifetime of the moons of asteroids to about 100,000 years."  

For some reason, the recent articles proclaiming the discovery of the moon orbiting Asteroid 1998 QE2 do not seem to mention these problems.

The discovery this week of the moon orbiting QE2 is just another example of the wide array of evidence that the hydroplate theory can explain but which conventional theories have serious problems explaining.  It is interesting to consider that, since the moon around QE2 was only discovered on May 29 of this year, Dr. Brown could not have known about its existence when he wrote his book.  

The existence of another binary asteroid, however, is not as surprising to those who know about the hydroplate theory as it should be to those who do not.